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Dear Chump Lady, I’m working with the OW

Hi Chump Lady,

Thank you so much for all of your help! You gave me the backbone to go no contact 3 months ago. I am finally starting to feel some relief and peace after dealing with a cheater and a liar for the past 4 years. I feel that I am getting closer and closer to meh, but had a set back today that I could use some advice on.

Background: I met my ex when we started medical school and ended the relationship this past summer after trying to get over his numerous infidelities and habitual lying. Upon graduation in May we were both hired by another physician to run his outpatient clinics while we apply for residency. We do the same job, just different shifts. The catalyst for me to finally buck up and end my misery occurred in July on the one day we were at the office together. We got in a fight on the way to work, and he was just nasty. Then, I watch him being sooo nice to one of the nurses, and thought….. she is his next pick. We went home that night and I ended the relationship. I was tired of being treated disrespectfully and knew that he was making his mark on the nurse, so I removed myself from the equation.

This nurse got wind of our relationship demise and told me that she just wanted to make sure that she wasn’t the reason for our break-up. She also told me that nothing was going on between her and the ex-boyfriend, and that she can’t even get him to talk to her. I was shocked as I had told no one that we were no longer together. I thanked her for coming to me, but assured her that she was not the cause of our break-up. Since then I have overheard her telling co-workers that she was dismissed from the military for getting pregnant by a married soldier — and she followed that gem up with — don’t you all have stories like that? The other nurses said NO and scattered off. I will admit that when I heard this I thought they are PERFECT for each other.

Fast forward to the last couple of weeks. A colleague, and friend, shared with me that they (ex and nurse) are getting close and I told her that I didn’t want to know about it. The nurse has been acting strange since then. She has asked me twice if I was still single, and then asked me to grab a drink with her sometime because “we single ladies should stick together”. Today, she kept talking about her “friend” who had told her this and that about computers. All the same verbiage that I have heard the ex use over the years. Then, she starts talking about how she has plans tonight, but becomes coy when other nurses ask her who with. Five minutes later she starts laughing at her text messages, but won’t tell anyone who she is talking to. She follows this up with, “SmmGood, aren’t you so glad that you are single?” (What? Where did that come from, and why are you asking me?)

The last time I didn’t listen to my gut, I ended up in a hellish relationship with a POS where he repeatedly cheated and lied to me. My gut is now telling me that this nurse and the ex have something going on, and she is being passive aggressive and acting as if she is getting one up on me with her secret. As much as I try to not let it bother me, it does. My rationale side tells me that I should be happy that the trash is collecting together, and that she is just another pawn in his game. My ego wants to tell her that last week he sent me an email entitled “Our Love” that I promptly deleted without reading (aka, no one is special to him so get over yourself). I feel like I am getting wrapped into a mind game AGAIN, and do not want to go back down that road. I am not leaving this job until March 2015 (contract), and need to figure out a way to keep my sanity. I was doing okay with the job since I never see him, but do not know how to handle this nurse who I do see everyday. I am afraid that I am going to say something bitchy and unprofessional to her, and the ex and she will relish in my unhinging.

What would you do — let the cray-cray out and say something to her about the passive-aggressive comments or just keep ignoring it?

Thank you,


Dear SG,

This is one of those situations that you think is a problem, but really isn’t a problem. You have a non-problem.

Staying four years with some idiot’s “numerous infidelities and habitual lying” is a problem. You solved that problem. You dumped him.

Let that problem stay solved. He’s out of your life. Who he dates, who’s next in line for his mindfuckery and cheating isn’t your concern. If this nurse was a nice person, a chumpy innocent, who was being buffaloed by a smooth operator I might say you had a closer call. You could warn her.

But you’re not dealing with a nice person. You’re dealing with an experienced Other Woman. Who is brazen about poaching people’s partners and who wants to rub your nose it with her “Aren’t you glad you’re single?” crap.

Yeah, bitch, I’m glad I’m single. Much better than being hooked up with that man-whore you’re with.

All of this “Are you still still single” crap is her trying to goad you into the pick me dance. Ignore her. It’s what these wing nut cheaters do. “Oooh… don’t you want what I have? Dontcha? Huh? Boy, you must be so LONELY there, all single and alone while I enjoy your boyfriend!”

Your ex is so much more delicious if she thinks she won some victorious pick me dance, and then continues to win it each time you’re visibly annoyed with her.

Refuse to dance.

Next time she starts in, if you look at her like she’s the delusional idiot that she is, a) you keep your sanity and b) you suck the joy out of their affair because you won’t play hypotenuse. Win, win for you.

Project an air of WhatthefuckEVER. You want that cheater? That piece of garbage? He’s ALL yours, sweetheart.

Trust that he sucks. To project that he sucks, YOU have to believe it to your core. This woman is getting NOTHING of worth. She will be briefly valued (kibbles!) and then devalued, just like you were, and the next, and the next.

When she natters on with her stupid, just smile at her benevolently. Like you would a small, dim-witted child presenting you with a nightcrawler she dug out of the garden. “Oh that’s marvelous. Aren’t you a clever girl to dig that up! You must like slimy creatures. Go toddle back into the mud now and set it free. That’s a good poppet.”

(Pat, pat, pat…)

SG — you’re a doctor. You’re going places. You were a chump for a few years. You learned from it, and you managed come out of it with a medical degree. These weren’t wasted years. It’s all good going forward. Are you going to let this silly girl derail you from the peaceful path of meh and better living? Of course not.

You’ve got six short months of this situation. Whether she’s dumped before Thanksgiving or she hangs in there as his miserable chump in perpetuity is their fucked up business. Don’t make it yours.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • SG ChunpLady is so right hang in there. And Chumplady…
    “But you’re not dealing with a nice person. You’re dealing with an experienced Other Woman. Who is brazen about poaching people’s partners and who wants to rub your nose it with her “Aren’t you glad you’re single?” crap.”
    Wow so dead on. These BOWs — Brazen Other Women get their own kick out of tormenting us. And yes, to them it makes the prize more delicious. Mine wants to be my BFF and commiserate with me over him.

    • SG, you need to look at this situation another way. Firstly, consider the character of a person who delights in sticking it to someone that did absolutely nothing to them. Does it look like she ever has a chance in hell of ever having a healthy relationship with anyone? Aren’t you really thankful that instead of being filled with such nastiness you are filled with sweetness? You’ll get over this and live a full life….she’ll always be her own worst enemy.

      Second, you know what game she’s playing, and you’re smarter, so play it. Just not in a way that brings satisfaction to anyone but you.

      And believe he’s a turd, and that she’s a turd. Take a long hard look at them, and their character, and believe everything you see….AND BE DISGUSTED by it. Meh is somewhere just past that.

      • Oh Einstein, you are so right. I experienced an OW who tore into me viciously from day one (d-day – first I knew of her) and continued to stalk me even after I threw Cheater out and went NC. I had to get a restraining order on her!

        I have, from afar, watched the sideshow they conduct quite publicly via blogs and trash TV appearances (yes, really – incredibly disordered people). Not all chumps have the pleasure of such schadenfreude, but it has taught me firsthand that there are some truly evil people who walk amongst us normals.

        This wingnut hosebag nurse that is waving her titties in front of SG is no different. She must be brick walled if SG is to retain her sanity over the next 6 months. I cannot imagine having to take the high road in the constant daily presence of such a creature. It is bad enough to even have to work with folks you know have cheated (I have a current colleague who stole a husband from his family). If I had to face the OW each day, not sure I’d keep my cool.

  • Spot on advice, CL, and may I just say the nightcrawler illustration is exactly the kind of hysterically-funny-yet-completely-true gem that’s going to make you sensational on live tee fee? : )

  • Chin up, SG–you’re free of the POS cheater!

    You’re living Rent-Free inside that silly nurse’s head, while she scarfs up your left-overs. That *must* be a blow to her (insecure? hyper-competitive?) fragile ego, or she wouldn’t be trying so hard to get response from you.

    Laugh it off and enjoy your freedom! You are Mighty!!

    • It’s hard to tell what motivates these women, jealousy, insecurity, being goaded on by their slime-ball. It’s incurable though, and it’s a sign of somebody that is fixing to have a life that will never be worth living.

      Happy people, and people that are capable of being happy, have no need to inflict pain on others. When I compare myself to one of those misfits, I feel nothing but grateful to be me.

  • In terms of actual retort whilst there at the time, just smile very vaguely and say ”um… okay, yes… ” and look a bit distant and mysteriously happy (practice it in the mirror) as though you really are thinking of other things, but if-you’re-happy-then-yay… if you see what I mean? If she starts bringing up stuff ”her friend” said ”just say ” Delilah, I’m quite busy at the moment, this and other things you are bringing up are all things I have heard many, many times before and I’m not playing. Your personal life is not interesting to me and I genuinely do not want to hear from you other than in a professional capacity.” Be very calm and not even remotely upset, just pleasant and chatty. This way she will be mortified and leave you alone, but it is essential that you don’t snap or give her any sense of victory. Just tell her as though you’re telling a 6 year old that you know the dog didn’t eat his homework, so let’s just leave it at that, okay lovie? It will kill her and you will be rid of her for the next few months and then, lucky you, you get to spread your wings!

    • Agree! Let the skeevy woman know that the only relationship you want with her is a doctor-nurse professional one. Tell her you have no interest in her personal life and that she should leave her personal life at the door, or you’ll report her for unprofessional behavior.

      • SG, I agree. Tell her, “I am not interested in your personal life.” Only speak shop at work. Hang out only with good people outside of work. Start fresh. Start looking for a new position so you do not have to deal with this shit come March. When you start paying attention only to your life, better people and situations will come. I am practicing this daily. I know how hard it is, especially when she is in your daily life….so minimize contact and absolutely no unprofessional conversation or discussion. Talk of patients ONLY, if you have to.

        You are lucky that you did not marry or have kids with that liar. Figure out what kept you in his shit for four years and learn about who you are, go toward a better life and leave these misery-making creepy people aside. You are not looking to cause pain and misery, they are. Don’t let them have another minute of your time, “I do not want to know anything about your personal life.” Period. Then refocus.

    • Spot on advice. SG, when you do not act defensively, this whole interaction with die. So if the Olympic Gold Medalist OW tells you she’s so happy or shares some “wonderful news”, just say, “Good for you” and move on. What can she say to that? Engagement over.

  • SmmGood – when she asks if you’re still single, smile brightly and say ‘yes’!

    Then continue about how great it is to be out and dating, with so many fantastic guys out there! It will kill her to know that she’s hooking her claws into one bloke when there is so much other cake around!

    Alternatively, just tell her yes, you are single and it’s such a relief to be free of the fucktard. That will take the sting out of her view that she has one a fabulous glittering prize.

    Either way, be safe in the knowledge that you have lost a pile of dog turds and have a fabulous life ahead of you. He and she? They have a life ahead of them of desperately seeking ego kibbles and affirmation and the fear that must come with realising one is not actually splendid.

  • I agree with Caroline above – end any conversations with her that delve into personal matters. She starts going commenting about anything, just be polite and say, “you know what, I need to be somewhere. Excuse me.” “Mmhmm. Well, time for me to get back to work.” “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have something I need to attend to.” Then walk away.

    And, do not go out for drinks or coffee with her! If you are in a social situation at work, quietly move away if she tries to join your conversation. If she tries to corner you, again make excuses and walk away. “I need to freshen my drink. Excuse me.” “Did you see that amazing looking cheese plate? I am going to check it out now.” “Oh, I see someone I need to chat with. Have a good night.” And walk away!

    You might want to prepare a short response if she actually comes to ask you to talk about him specifically, to try to drag you back in. Something like, “I am no longer involved in x’s personal matters, so do not want to get involved. Good luck.”

    It might be tempting to be snarky, but remember that is ego kibbles for narcissists. That only gives them fuel for gossip and drama.

    You are soooo much better than both of them! Focus on how you will be free of them both someday. Good luck!

  • SG, you’re a doctor, she’s a 2-bit loser (and so is he). You’re the one who’s got it going on. Fuck em. She needs to believe she has what you want, don’t give her the satisfaction.

    Chump Princess once gave an example of how you should look at them when they’re playing their games (a bit like CL’s little girl with the nightcrawler): “pretend a chicken is taking a shit on his/her head, and you are friends with the chicken.”

    • KellyOne, good point. The nurse needs convincing that she’s special because he picked her. Sounds to me that she’s not getting that from the cheating doc. What a train wreck. Isn’t life wonderful that as ex-chumps we are no longer sitting on those tracks with deer in headlights syndrome?

  • I’d just belt out, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty I’m free at last!”. That ought to get the point across. You can also point out it’s not a coincidence that there are snakes on the caduceus.

  • In my own experience with being similarly goaded by the new OW, I wish in retrospect that I had not engaged in conversation with her AT ALL. I too got tired of her bragging, blogging, being very public with her new relationship…tacky as it was. The first chance I got (when she gave me the chance) I told her good riddance, you’re welcome to him…and she tried to publicly shame me by claiming I was “bitter” by editorializing about me on twitter. I actually was GLAD he was gone … i threw him out! I should never have said a word to her…she is crazy/nuts/twisted and it’s not possible to trach such people moral lessons or mak them feel shamed. She probably wants a doc for a spouse and thinks she’s winning a lottery. You know differently.

    I guess what my message is — do not give them any ammunition to quote you. If they then try to quote you(to colleagues or others who may matter) just say “I have never spoken with her about the subject”. Why bother trying to warn her, or tell her what a schmuck she is? She already knows you think that.

    • YES. She wants attention and that is all. He’s feeding off of it secondhand. How pathetic that you’re a central part of their trashy relationship. Excuse yourself from it and start meeting good, decent people (dating-wise or friends). You won’t care soon because you’ll have a different circle, and he will dump her, like CL said. It will still make you smile even though you’re over it 🙂 I speak from experience. AND March is only 6 months away, get excited for that because you’ll be on with your fabulous life!!!

        • I have just over 8 months before I can leave my living situation. I kept 10 stones in 2 jars, and on the first of the month I move a stone over. It’s a big deal for me and the kids on the first of the month, and I know June will be here before long. March is even faster. I love my little ritual, the happiness it gives us makes my h crazy. Best things about the day after Halloween? All the candy and I move another little stone.

  • As an aside, I’d say for now, if in the workplace she asks you about your personal life, you could simply state that your personal circumstances are happier than they have ever been. Leave it mysterious and if she digs, respond that your personal life is private and off-limits for questions. Then walk around smiling to yourself and DO NOT discuss your business with anyone in the office…they are all ears. I’d be tempted to invent a mysterious beau, drop one hint to just one colleague then clam up and smile on.

    • Or just blow it off with a smile and a raised eyebrow, as in “why on earth would you care about that???” What you’re going for is the amused look. You’re giving her NOTHING, and shutting down future attempts to quiz you.

  • Same dysfunctional triangle as seen on “True Tori,” and you are Mary Jo Eustace. Steal Mary Jo’s line and repeat it to yourself whenever Nurse Tori slimes her way into your area: “He’s a knob, but he’s your knob now.”

    Wishing you happiness and health in your new knob-free life.

  • Never match wits with a fool !

    It will have you sitting in HR !

    • I have another for you –

      “Never argue with a fool. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience”!

      It has happened to me and we did end up in HR.

  • SG, before I read Tracy’s response, I thought, “And the problem is …?” I was seriously baffled why you thought you had a problem. You’re making a choice to make this a problem. You need to look closely at that. There seems to be a part of you that still wants to be engaged. Not engaging with this silly nurse is part of the No Contact deal. Do this for yourself. Do you have to be rude to this ignorant person? No, you just see her for who she is exactly. A seasoned OW as CL says. She knows how to play the game but you don’t have to play with her. When we don’t give energy to anything, they die as a natural course of action. Think about how our cheaters treated us – they didn’t put the time and effort to make our relationships work. Guess what? These relationships DIED. Implement the same attitude to your dealings with this nurse. Make a commitment to yourself that you will not engage. Keep telling yourself over and over that “It doesn’t matter” because really, it doesn’t. If you’ve been reading CL, you might have noticed a consistent advice here: Surround yourself with people who value you. Those who don’t do NOT belong in your quality circle. Clearly, this nurse does not. You’re a doctor. I come from a family of doctors. I have great respect for your work. Now, focus that energy to healing yourself and others.

    • Really? This wouldn’t bother you? This would bother me too, especially if i just ended things with him. I would still be in the process of trusting that he sucks not to mention that is jarring whenever someone purposefully tries to hurt you, which obviously the nurse is trying to do. I would also be floored by the lack of respect on his part although i guess not really if he cheated, but still!
      Anyway, i get where you’re coming from SG. I would struggle with this too. It always amazes me how little we actually know people and how cruel those who once loved us (like yesterday) can treat us. But anyway, i guess listen to the advice of everyone else here, sounds good. How challenging! Keep your chin up!

  • CL’s right. This isn’t a problem. You are allowing it to be one.

    The first thing–about Nurse Ratchet? Sweetheart. Seriously? She’s a bedpan. YOU KNOW THIS ONE. She’s full of shit and gets dumped regularly! 🙂

    Secondly, it stood out to me that Dr. Douche there can still get emails to you that are of a personal nature. Why is that? If he has to communicate with you for work purposes, then using that email for sending love letters is grounds for his dismissal for sexual harassment. Period. If he is using a personal email account…..why is he still popping up in your inbox? You need to either block him or you need to close that account and get a new one. Period.

    Lastly, I know you can’t quit just yet, but it’s the proximity that’s giving this diwit duo any traction. They can keep tabs on you, and you on them (whether you want it or not). It’s hard to achieve meh when you see them constantly. When you match into your residency–you make sure 1. you do not tell a soul until you are packed and moved into your new digs and 2. you make sure from that point on, you never knew him. Healthcare is a big place–there’s no reason the drama should follow you.

    There was some study that showed that a high percentage of people that you see deep in conversation on their cellphones—are faking it. Anybody who has to call attention to themselves while on a phone or texting or whatever? They are faking it. She’s not deleriously happy, SG, or it would not matter to her if you know it. He’s probably working a third or a fourth or a fifth mark—and she is taking it out on the only person in her path—YOU.

    I heard all of the things that my ex told the OW that I found out about. It’s the same story, different bimbo. It’s a schtick that they use because it works on the dimwitted. I heard all about how “needy” I was, how I pursued him relentlessly when he just wanted to “be free”–how I stalked him and was crazy. Don’t go there.

    You do realize why he downgraded, right? You’re too smart, independent, confident and successful. It’s THREATENING to him. He didn’t even go for one of the “good ones”—he went straight to the garbage heap! You’re being bothered by THAT?

    One thing that you can do that will drive them nuts, if you really really really want to continue to engage in this mindfuckery—wear a ring. On your left hand. A nice one. Go to a pawn shop, buy a nice diamond for yourself—and wear that fucker every single day to work.

    You’ll get everyone asking you about it—taking attention away from Dr. Douche and Raunchy Nurse Ratchet (which is gravy enough)—and your response will be—“I DON’T TALK ABOUT MY PERSONAL LIFE AT WORK.” Do it nicely, do it with a secret smile. (I had a colleague who would keep his professional/personal life so separate, we didn’t even find out he’d gotten married in the middle of his tenure with us until he LEFT!)

    That ring? That is a reminder to you. It’s your promise ring to yourself. You are on a stratospheric trajectory, your whole life is waiting for you to get on with it and leave these two douchebags to each other.
    Good luck!!

    • You can get a very good cubic zirconia in a white gold setting that can only be identified as fake by a jeweler’s loupe. So sez my jeweler friend, who found me a ring for a similar purpose years ago. I’ve often told beginning teachers–wear a ring. Have a picture on your desk, even if it is just a group of adult friends who look happy. And don’t talk about your private life!

      • I was thinking the same thing. A fake engagement ring, paired with a coy and mysterious attitude when asked about it, would take the wind out of her sails in a hurry.

  • CL has this absolutely right– the cheaters love nothing better than triangulation. My ex and his Owife continue attempting this even to this day; it’s been almost three years to the day when I found out about his cheating, and even though I am NC with the ex-cheater, don’t ask my kids about him, and avoid him when we’re in the same place, he still tries to pull me back in and create drama.

    I think that when the chump partner is out of the picture, it’s just a lot less fun and exciting for the cheaters, so they do what they can to suck us back in. They love the “us against the horrid ex” angle; I think they get off on it, and when they can no longer inject that twisted form of excitement into their relationship, then things start to get… dare I say it… too ordinary and normal! I mean, their relationship is borne from their manipulation of us; that’s part of the excitement. Once the chump walks away and no longer cares, they are left without any impediment to their relationship. No more secret meetings are needed; no more excuses need to be fabricated, and what was once a star-crossed relationship is now (in their eyes) a typical, bland relationship. No one cares if they’re seen together. They don’t need to secretly meet two towns over for illicit sex in the car. Ho-hum.

    So, please stay out of it– don’t give Nurse Ratched even a hint of annoyance or resentment on your end. Put on your Mona Lisa smile, act as though you don’t have an extra second to waste on her, and move on with your fabulous life! 🙂

  • You had me at “she got dismissed from the military for getting pregnant by another married soldier”.

    That’s all you need to know about her; that and the fact that she was willing to share that information with everyone in the office. She has no shame because she doesn’t believe what she’s doing/done is wrong.

    Continue to ignore her and be happy you got rid of that piece of trash you were dating before you married him and had children. You’re a doctor; you’re mighty for dumping a cheater; you’re young with your whole life ahead of you.

    She’s a nurse who has been dismissed from the military who gets off on poaching other women’s men! SG-you shouldn’t even be able to see her because she is so beneath you.

  • Jeez. Her behavior confirms she’s emotionally stuck at maybe 15yrs old. So how would you respond to a 15yr old trying to goad you, covertly, into something?

    As the adult, address her question in a positive one word statement that gives her ZERO ammo for continuing the conversation. I like the CL response. Don’t let her manipulate you into involving yourself in ANY of her drama. Always be 1000% professional with her.

    Most pre-teens and teens get a clue after several failed attempts to hook someone into their soap opera; she’ll eventually stop because like MaryJo said, ” he’s your knob now”.

    Great job dumping the cheater, by the way!

  • I’ve been around this site for a couple of months and am still continually amazed at all the collective wisdom here. CL always nails it dead on, and the crew always adds a ton of value.

  • “Trust that he sucks. To project that he sucks, YOU have to believe it to your core.”–This is the key, SG. As long as you allow doubt on this truth to grow, there’s an opening for her and your ex to mess with your mind and heart. Don’t give them the opening. It may help to write on some note cards a few “low points” as to why you dumped him (i.e. why he sucks). Use these to help buttress what you already know and squash any doubt that he sucks (and she is just getting a sucky-cheater).

    • DM, that’s when I got to meh when I internalized that he sucks. And boy, does he still suck! I’m working on forgiveness by opening my heart to meet his suckiness with compassion. Nope, not planning to welcome him into my life, just muster enough compassion to treat him without malice.

      • UM,

        Truth has to come first in the process or you have nothing to forgive. So, trusting that he sucks is a good first step towards actual forgiveness. Civility is a good goal as well.

  • Eeeewww, eeeewww! These two cretins are going to be practicing medicine somewhere near one of us. How many patients until he is sued and loses his license do we bet on?

    • I would like to explain my reaction to this post.
      When I was in my early 20s I had my first child. My husband’s business took us to a new town so we knew no one. I needed to visit an ob/gyn so I left my baby with husband as I was to have a pelvic exam. After the examination the doctor did not ask me about my health or about the baby. He began to ask me extremely personal questions. They were about penetration, orgasms etc. I was so young and naïve that I had no idea what he was doing. Evidently my responses were not what he was hoping for because after a while he got angry and dismissed me. It took me years to realize what he had been doing because I had never had an experience like that before. My response to this post is because I see this woman’s ex being the same kind of doctor. I hope he is not but his behavior so far speaks of a narcissistic person. You are very lucky to be away from him.

  • SG, my first thought is that you have here a golden opportunity to shape how you will conduct your whole professional life. You are operating as if you were still in “student” mode, mixing your work with your private life. That is not a great idea, as you are finding out. Your Cheater X will no doubt continue to use hospitals, clinics and his medical practice as a cheaterpants playground. You need to go a different route.

    Make it a practice not to socialize with people from work.
    1. This job, in particular, is simply a placeholder for you as you get ready for a residency. None of these people are going to have a meaningful role in your life. Spend your off-work hours in the gym, at yoga, at the movies, resting and enjoying life after a long slog through med school and internship. If you are living in a city or town where you have actual friends, spend your down time with them. Get a makeover or a new haircut. Make some visible changes to mark you new status as a doctor and a woman. Enjoy this time when you have regular hours and a paycheck. Use it to leap to the next level of professional development, which does not involve schooling or position (the residency) but rather working to shift from student mode to full professional mode. And while doctor/nurse affairs are so common as to be a cliche, as in all other areas of life, those who conduct themselves with honor and integrity will be admired and respected in the professional world.
    2. It is very important not to get involved in relationships that cross lines of supervision. You are in charge when you are on shift, are you not? You are running this clinic and the nurse is not? It’s shocking to read that people are playing these sorts of games in a clinic, hanging on their cell phones, calling and texting instead of doing their jobs. One thing you might profitably do with your own down time is to study how healthy, successful, respected doctors carry themselves in these settings, how they set standards for those under their supervision. I would be SHOCKED if my primary care doctor had this stuff going on in the office, or the renowned plastic surgeon who operated on my hand, or chiropractor who treats my athletic injuries. You are letting this stupid nurse with no morals or professional standards set the bar for you. Are there no rules about personal calls and texting during work hours? What are your responsibilities as the person “running” the clinic during your shift in terms of maintaining a professional environment appropriate for patient care?

    Go back to basics and re-think how you present yourself in the workplace. I’ve worked at the same institution for over 20 years. I’ve made a few friendships that extend beyond business hours–none of which center around drinking or gossip. I would never date a colleague, a supervisor, or a subordinate. One of the great pleasures of my life is having a personal life away from work. If things go wrong at work, my friends are a source of wisdom and comfort. If things go wrong in my personal life, work is a respite. I had to learn this the hard way, sadly. You’ve been mixing work with your personal life, although as a med student it probably didn’t seem that way–you were dating a fellow med student, like dating someone at college. However, you can see how that causes problems once school is done because a problem in any area of your life infects your whole life. The best advice I can give you? Find someone who isn’t a doctor. Or a doctor who will never work with you. Put a permanent firewall around your personal life.

    As for the OW. understand the purpose of the triangle. She likes men who are involved with other women. From your description, she likes the “game” of taking someone away and relishes the “pick-me dance,” as she believes she is likely to win, according to how these sad, desperate people keep score. And in the case of your OW, she is not even fazed by massive consequences. This is a person who is so toxic you should not even speak to her unless you are required to do so in carrying out your responsibilities. Once you put some professional distance around yourself at work, most of this should go away on its own.

    You are still recovering from the relationship, including the betrayals. So this OW rubbing her (likely or wannabe) affair in your face is galling. Concentrate on you. On your recovery. On becoming a whole, healthy woman with good boundaries. On building a life that has strong, vital, and supportive components outside of your work. And block your X’s emails and texts. Trust me–he wants you in the pick me dance, just as Nurse Skanky does. But you’ve chosen not to dance. So go full No Contact. Cut the communication lines. Put on your best professional demeanor–be smart, cool, professional and lovely.

    Here’s one good line to try: “We’re here to treat patients. I am not going to discuss my private life with anyone here. And I don’t want to know about yours. Let’s get back to work.”

    • Excellent advice here.

      This is a great time to learn to be a workplace leader. Go spend the next few months upgrading to a professional wardrobe. Yes, maybe you’re wearing scrubs most of the time at work, but you want to have some outfits that you can wear that tell the world that you’re a kick-ass grown-up.

      Watch how the senior physicians handle staff. The good ones are able to recognize the professional competence of their nursing staff, talk nicely to them, but have that line between personal and professional down pat. Especially watch how they handle your Nurse Wing Bat. Dollars to doughnuts that your Ex is not the only man she’s bagged over the years. Word gets around, and I bet you’ll notice that when she starts talking, the room starts to get empty.

      You know your Ex sucks. Nurse Wing Bat sucks. That two people, so clearly sucky, have found each other surely proves that Nature abhors a vacuum, and that their suckitude has helped them find one another to suck each other dry. Spend a moment rejoicing that you’re out of that, and then put Nurse Wing Bat’s personal suckiness out of your mind and focus only on how she deals with patients.

      If you feel she is ignoring patient care , then that is a professional matter, and needs to be taken up with the appropriate people. If she does her job, then just let her know that you have strong workplace boundaries.

      • I love the wardrobe idea. Doctors wear those cool white coats, but many of them dress very well under the coat. SG can rock a v-neck sweater, pencil skirt and pearls with nice shoes under that coat for very little money (for example). Years ago, a young graduate student colleague asked me why I never had discipline problems when teaching college kids. I said, “I’m not wearing the same clothes they are.” How we present ourselves physically can be a first step in establishing boundaries in professional settings.

        • Chump Lady, thank you for your quick and excellent advice. After I sent you this message of Friday, the ex showed up at my door around 7 o’clock with a bottle of wine to thank me for everything I had ever done for him. I promptly shut the door in his face. (Really, I haven’t had contact for 3 months and you think you can just show up?) Anyways, this is when my CORE finally understood how much he sucks. I know that he cheated on me with 3 ex-girlfriends, and the fact that he thought he could just come to my door like that. He just makes me sick.

          As far as the professionalism comments…. I completely agree with keeping the professional and personal life separate. I had a therapist about a year ago when I first learned of all his infidelities and lies, and she told me that he would ruin my career. I knew she was right, but it took me seeing him “being nice” to the nurse in July to fully get it. My goal is to find a mentor when I enter my residency program so that I can excel in my career. I have interviews scheduled for the next 3 months, so right now my focus will be on nailing my interviews and landing an excellent residency position.

          My main role at my job is to instruct and supervise medical students and to oversee the medical records. The nurse is directly under the physician I work for, not under me. If I continue to have problems with her, I will go to him with my concerns. I really just want to squash it on my own because I do not want the drama to circulate around me.

          We usually wear scrubs to work, but today I decided to wear a dressy, sassy outfit to help me feel more confident. It worked! Of course the nurse wanted to know why I looked so nice and did I have a date? No comments from me, just walked away to assist a medical student. The nurse did not approach me again.

          Lastly, I entered medical school to become a pediatrician but switched to family medicine with a women’s health focus due to what I learned from dealing with a cheater. I know it sucks to have to ask for an STI/STD check. Just remember that the clinician helping you is human too, and may have been in your shoes at some point in their life.

          Thank you Chump Nation for all of your words of wisdom!

      • SG – To add to the professional angle, you are in a position senior to this nurse, correct? I’m a manager and if this were someone on my staff that insisted on continually bringing inappropriate, personal information into the workplace to the point that it was distracting and unprofessional (and this is anyone, not someone doing what this POS is doing with your ex), I would sit them down, privately, and explain, calmly, that it’s inappropriate to continue discuss such personal information at work. (Since she’s being passive aggressive and all secretive, you can play dumb on letting on what you know she’s hinting at) It’s becoming disruptive to the staff, all of whom need to focus on work – including you. I would set the boundaries by stating that I expect it not to continue. “However, if it does continue, you need to understand that it will impact your (the POS’s) performance review.” If she gets defensive or tries to interrupt you, I would say, calmly but assertively, “I’m going to stop you right there. When you get defensive, you get in the way of me coaching you. Now, I need to know that you understand what we’ve discussed.” Then be quiet and wait for her to answer. Hopefully, she’s not stupid enough to say anything other than “yes”. And then you just say, “Okay, then let’s get back to work.” If you are not in the appropriate management position to have this conversation, then I suggest you speak with her immediate superior or that person’s boss and ask that they have the conversation with the nurse. If you feel like everyone knows that she’s seeing your ex and that this might just seem personal (it is, but she’s still being unprofessional and disruptive), then ask your friend who confided in you if she’d be willing to have the discussion with the nurse’s boss. This is unprofessional behavior and it should not be tolerated. Take control, you’ll feel better rather than being subjected to her passive-aggressive bullshit. Just treat her as if she’s a piece of shit stealing drugs from the office and you’re addressing it for the good of the practice. You’re better than her. And him – that goes without saying. Go kick ass!

        • Had a similar sort of situation at my old job (though it wasn’t infidelity-related, it was abuse-related) – you need to make sure that the supervisors aren’t condoning that behaviour themselves.
          Otherwise things get pear-shaped very quickly (in my particular case it was a nutjob nurse trying to undermine my patient care at every opportunity as well – and the supervisor unfortunately supported the nutjob because she herself was passive-aggressive and a bully. To cut a long story short – they lost one of their clinicians (ie. me) as a result – because I did my version of ‘non-contact’ by leaving.)

    • LAJ, that was excellent. Absolutely spot on. I live in a remote area where work is the center of everyone’s life and it’s been where I get my social and friendship needs met for many years. I’ve always thought of work colleagues as my family, but I think your view of keeping private and professional lives separate is the more healthy approach. I met my ex-husband at work and then many years later (well after the divorce) also had a foolish relationship with a supervisor – both situations became very messy which was totally predictable to anyone outside looking in.

      SG, LAJ is right, this is a chance for you to decide how to conduct yourself in any situation with a toxic coworker (and there will be plenty in your future, believe me), so might as well practice now.

      • Ha, I learned all of it the hard way. There’s nothing worse than a messy relationship break-up (divorce or otherwise) in a small office setting. Suckitude on every side.

  • as always, good advice from CL and others.

    I am still amazed at the OWomen. OWife told my 13 yr old daughter she wanted to talk to me to “explain things.” Um, you were married, he was married. She and exH decided to marry 2 months post divorce finalization, before the kids had even met her. Nothing else to say.

    The OW of an earlier EA is a work colleague (yes, I believed exH lies when I confronted him…chumpy chumpmeister that I am). She thought the divorce was due to her, and came to me to comfort me. WTF? We had agreed to no contact 1.5 yrs before, stay away. The next day, she went to exH proclaiming her continuing undying love. Ha, got shot down there! Schadenfreude (I got the details over a year later, when I was much closer to meh.

  • One off my favorites is the phrase “good for you”. Look it up on urban dictionary, its a riot. Ive become an expert at saying it, then quietly exiting the situation. Mine is a relatively small town so when i see the exes relatives and friends they all get “good for you” with a fake smile.

    • One my kids taught me, “Cool story!” Then you walk away.

      If it’s to a guy, “Cool story, bro! It needs more lasers and shit, though.”


      • The Queen of England has a stock phrase for people who are oversharing or boring her, when she’s a at a public event and can’t escape, “How nice for you.” And we all know what it means when a southern woman tells someone,”Bless your heart!”

        Sometimes I have been able to pull off,”I can’t think why I should pretend to care.” complete with a puzzled look, when someone has tried to pull me into some mess. In this situation,”I don’t know why you pretend to care.” might work, but the situation has to be just right.

      • Miss Sunshine,

        “Cool story, bro! It needs more lasers and shit, though.”

        LOVE IT!!!!! I will be using it.

    • The phrase I used with my ex when he was sending/telling me crazy shit was “That’s really something.” Said with bland expression, it could mean anything and really means nothing. Normal people get that, but my narc ex always took it to mean I was complimenting him, LOL.

      • A friend of mine like, “I had no idea.” I’ve used that one to good effect.

        • I used to smile and say lightly, “You could be right” (while I was thinking…….”ON AN ALTERNATE PLANET WHERE MORONS RULE THE UNIVERSE…”

  • SmmGood, I agree with other posters that you simply need a stock script for when the woman crosses the line from professional, work related conversation, to your personal life. It’s not like you were friends before, so there is no reason to give explanations. Find a couple of scripts you are comfortable with and repeat them as necessary. If she does the “but, whyyyyy” crap, just repeat your statement and walk away, divert to work. You must do this consistently, if you give in after 10 times, all you did is teach her that she will get a rise if she keeps trying.

    “SmmGood, aren’t you so glad that you are single?”

    Nurse, I’m not interested in talking about my personal life, . Or walk away if you are not in the midst of a work thing.

    “SmmGood, we should go out for drinks”

    Nurse, I prefer to keep our relationship professional.

    “SmmGood, buy whyyyy, I thought we were buddies”

    Nurse, I have no idea why you would think that, prefer to keep our relationship professional.

    • Wordpress messed up the first script, it should read: “SmmGood, aren’t you so glad that you are single?”

      Nurse, I’m not interested in talking about my personal life, now (insert work thing). Or walk away if you are not in the midst of a work thing.

      Also for when she starts telling you her personal life, use the same script. Be boring, very, very boring.

      • Good strategies.

        I think with wing nut office bullies, it’s good to practice an air of haughtiness. Just out-bitch them. Not verbally, but stand very tall and practice withering disdain.

        Oh. Oh really. Whatever.

        And then walk away. Not every provocation deserves a response. Idiots tend to take that as an invitation to keep engaging.

        • Quote I’ve read several times:

          “You do not have attend every argument to which you are invited.”

  • Children are not dim witted. Cheaters and their affair partners are— but not children.

      • I’ll remember that the next time some kid has kicked my airline seat for 4 hours. 🙂 Or wants to argue about why he got a failing grade in a course he didn’t attend…

  • So, how DO you respond to the OP or ex who baits you with, “You’re obviously very bitter.” Because ANY reply, even a giggle, could be seen as evidence of bitterness. And, so, isn’t that a beautiful weapon? “You’re bitter.”

    Maybe an exaggerated look of amused pity? A bright-eyed smirk that says, “Oh, you’re ADORABLE when you try so hard!”

    • What about – with a puzzled look – “Interesting. Hmmm.” And appear as if you’re contemplating it. While this is happening, envision your ex sitting on the toilet.

    • You could visibly lick yourself and exclaim “Gee, I think I taste like chocolate marshmallows!”

    • response: “if I had any respect for you I might actually care what you think” with a shrug and walk away

      • What I’m trying to say here is; why do you give a shit if they think you are bitter?

        • Good question. It’s an ugly way to be, bitter. I suppose I have every right to be bitter. But my bitterness is private, shared only with people I trust can handle it.
          Bitterness is repulsive. I can’t have anyone seeing bitter.
          But your question is important. I don’t have to wear what they tell me to wear. I don’t have to take any bait.

    • Miss Sunshine,

      I think as human beings, and as Chumps, many times we feel the need to respond in any way to something which really neither requires nor deserves a response from us. Our tendency to respond to those things is usually rooted in our need to be polite and courteous, even to pigs from hell.

      My one daughter, who has boundaries of absolute iron, has had several occasions when someone (including a colleague or supervisor) has asked her a question of a personal nature which she felt was overly familiar or which she felt was prying. She has answered them with a composed stare and uttered absolutely nothing. Her face is completely relaxed, devoid of any expression, her body language is relaxed and open – she simply does not respond. She openly and politely stares straight at them as if awaiting their next question. After a few minutes the person who has asked the question either moves on and asks a question of a non personal nature or executes a polite exit.

      Polite silence with no evidence of any positive or negative emotion is an excellent and effective means of communication. When anyone attempts to bait you for any reason, they are not entitled to a response of any kind. Polite silence is one of the most difficult but most effective means of dealing with disordered people. It is truly amazing how loudly silence says you’re an inappropriate, disordered baboon and I’m not. Move the fuck on. 😉

      • That’s right. Silence is golden. And then nobody can accuse you of being anything. It’s a huge show of strength.

        My father also taught me this one when I was very young. Someone accuses you of being bitter or something equally offensive. You reply, “I can see why someone in your position would need to believe that.” Or, “I can see why someone like you would think that.”

        I do also like, from a reply above, “Oh, bless your heart!” And a laugh.

  • Thank God that guy is your ex. You are obviously smart and strong, since you dumped his cheating ass and moved on. The pathetic nurse seems incredibly insecure to me, sounds like she is scared he is going to get back together with you, so she tries to goad you into a pick-me me or tries to fuck with your mind to prove to you that SHE is the winner of the glorious prize of a bag of cheating shit. Either way, I do not envy you having to work with such a drama queen. I suggest ignoring her as much as possible, walking away when you can and not discussing your personal life at all. She sounds like the type who might make trouble and spread rumors behind your back, so be careful.

    Treat yourself kindly during non-work hours, do things to relieve the stress, and keep a calender to mark off the days until you can get out of there and away from her.

  • The OW was my work colleague. The only one I trusted with information about my XH’s alcoholism and hence business collapse. I was going to do the ‘he said, she said’ tale of what happened but then I got bored. The upshot is OW and XH both lied and manipulated. It is a double whammy when the OW is someone you know (?) and trust. When it’s a colleague, it’s an invasion into a very public part of your life in addition to the private hell you’re already going through. I had to deal with the fall-out of the OW’s treachery, with my colleagues, my managers. It really tested my ability to hold my head high and to know the shame was on OW/XH, not me. And I had a few meltdowns- the whole work place became a trigger as everything reminded me of the OW, and therefore XH. I didn’t have the luxury/ ability to be able to go to work to focus on me and forget about them. Horribly, even though I was able in the end to ensure we never worked together again (through management changes to the rota), OW offered to recompense me for lost shifts. I refused. Was she paying me off? Was it guilt money? Did she really think this was the right thing to do? Well, another skein of fuckupedness to not untangle.

    In the end I left but only as part of my greater, Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life strategy. I was underemployed anyway- a job taken because of XH’s business fail (with my money). I’ve moved on now- geographically, professionally. So I guess OW helped me leave both a husband and a job that were redundant. Oh, and she’s now in business with XH, and he’s still drinking. I hope she’s got some trusted colleague to talk to……

  • I am sure you are familiar with the term “positive reinforcement”. In the area of child psychology this is to help children learn how to manage their behavior. This is a perfect opportunity for you to teach this woman without ever telling her what you are doing. Every time she makes a comment, giggles or does anything inappropriate you just do not react. By this I mean no twitch, no sucking in of breath, no shrugging, nothing. You may look at her if you wish but I think you would be best served by simply acting as if she is not there. At some point she will have to make a remark or leave. At that time you turn around to another doctor, a nurse or a patient and begin discussing whatever needs discussing. In this way you have made it obvious to her, and anyone else, around that you will not participate in anything having to do with her personal life. If you do this every single time she will stop. You have, without saying a word, reinforced positive behavior and discouraged negative behavior. Also, because you have not commented you cannot be misquoted.

  • Yuck- This reminds me of finding out ex screwed a woman I worked with. Seriously, she was such an absolutely dumb person and that’s one of the people he chose to fuck.

    BE grateful you are out. Take a deep breath until March, then never look back.

  • oh gawd, ExBF screwed someone at my work too, but I did not know until about a year after we split. Luckily we don’t interface much but she has been ‘dumped’ from dept. to dept. and ended up in the final resting place of undesirable workers.
    We used to rag on her together and then one day he didn’t anymore. I thought it was ‘funny’ but let it go.
    The part that sticks in my craw is that after that, whenever I mentioned a certain construction project at work and the folly thereof, he would go into rant mode about the rightness of it…so happened her office was greatly expanded under said project.
    To this day he does not know that I know.

  • You could be proactive. When she makes a comment about you being single, simply say that you decided to focus on your career for the next few months and wait for the right man because you are done wasting your time with guys who are not worth it.

    Then you can sweetly say “I don’t mean that as a criticism of YOUR lifestyle. I understand that some girls think they are nothing with a guy. In fact, after getting to know you a bit, I think my ex would be PERFECT for you. Would you like me to set you up with him?”


  • While reading today’s post (this isn’t a Problem) i encountered a real problem.

    My 21 year old daughter is watching Greys Anatomy from this week. (This season Meredith Grey finds out she has a half sister from her mother’s affair with a married man.). I walk in as this Cheater explains to Meredith he fathered a love child and regrets all his mistakes. She looks at him forgivingly and validates his pain. HIS pain. Next scene, flashback between Meredith and her mother her recounts how, as the OW, she knew Cheater would go back to, his wife BECAUSE HE WAS AFRAID TO BE HAPPY.

    This narrative is The Problem. And, to my still confused daughter, it fits with her Cheater father’s justiciation to her: He was unhappy and he is happy now. (With the OW who broke up another family prior to ours, while still married, and only recently confessed to her husband (2 years post DDay for me).

    My response while watching the scene of “He went back to his wife because he was afraid to be happy” was “OMG, that’s crazy”.

    i no longer eat shit sandwiches. But she is still eating them from her cheater dad..and this week, Grey’s Anatomy.

    CL & other Chumps….what would do or say to a young adult daughte in a teachable moment like this??

    • I would go back to basics… and line out, who was hurt and how that hurt could have been avoided. Like you dad was unhappy… ok, so how would a mature person have handled that. He would have told me, his wife and give us the chance to either fix it or go our separate ways. If you were in my shoes or even his, wouldn’t that have been the better, more far way to approach this? It is a life lesson not just for cheaters but for every relationship, friendships and work too. Something is going wrong, talk to that person… learn and find out more. Then you can either fix it, or decide can’t be fix, not worth fixing. But then both parties have a fair shot at it.

      • Thanks ringinonmyownbell. My daughter gets the basics. It is the deeper “happy” narrative that troubles me for her.

        I do not believe any marriage partner is supposed to “make the other person happy. ” That is the Disney-Hollywood-June Cleaver-codependency myth. i bought it as a young woman because it was the only car in the shop.

        Fast forward to second half of marriage to cheater, post PhD and women studies courses..i learned that mature marriage is two individuals, responsible for their OWN happiness, and who create a relationship together, human flaws and all. I was a better wife when i realized this, but i suspect my kibble feeding slowed down considerably. he started cheating five years after this. (Btw, he ended his 1st marriage with secret affairs, so there may have been others in ours)

        Oh how i wish i knew then what i know now about cheating. But at least i have the Happy part figured out, for myself anyway.

        Am looking forward to chronic Meh instead of brief episodes..

        • You’ll get there, Chumpette, you really will. Fortunately, my son gets it because he has seen so many of his friends get devastated by cheating boyfriends/girlfriends. A few months before he found out about his father, one of his best friends contemplated suicide when he found out his long-time girlfriend cheated on him. That friend is now happily partnered with a lovely young woman.

          I wish all those romance novels that tout the crap about marriage that you mentioned should be banned.

    • I agree–back to basics. I might just say how much these characters bother you, because as a woman who has been betrayed by a spouse, you know that the choice to have an affair comes down to character–and that you surely hope that whomever she marries doesn’t father a love child with another woman to feed his ego or stay with her “because he is afraid to be happy.”

      It’s a chance to talk about the person whose viewpoint isn’t represented in your post–the woman who got stuck with a cheating husband–and how much you hope she will have the self-esteem and character to insist on fidelity and respect from anyone she is involved with. It’s not so much her loyalty to her father and the wish to find something good about him to “forgive,” that worries me but the likelihood that she is setting herself up to be a chump when she gets married.

      • Yes, yes. This is my concern. The set up for her – and others – to be vulnerable to the happiness tripe and being chumped.

        Her father’s character is the problem. We understand this here in Chump Nation. How to educate our children so they do not become chumps is the theme of many of my posts.

        Thanks….I really the idea of discussing the perspective that is not presented in a situation like Grey’s Anatomy.

        I also agree with teaching our children about expecting respect in relationships. Obviously her father’s disrespect of her (long story, awful) is a puzzle to her now and there is still a LOT of cognitive dissonance in our new family. I need clear statements to say to my adult daughters. This helps.

  • SG, you’re a doctor and I hate to sound all elitist and shit, but you need to stop fraternizing with the nurses. They aren’t your friends. That does not mean you don’t respect anyone who does their job well and of course you can enjoy the ones you connect with but it’s time to prepare yourself, as others have said here, for the job you’ll be getting once your contract is done. If you don’t command respect, you’re not going to be given respect. If you need some support, don’t hesitate to find an individual counselor to help you find your self esteem. You’re a doctor, that despicable OW will never be a doctor, the closest she can get is screwing them. Will they marry her? Doubtful. She’s only worthy of a fling.

    I’m in the camp of not addressing her comments at all because ANYTHING you say can and will be used against you. You’re better than that woman — don’t sink to her level.

  • How about, “I am really flattered you are thinking about me so much, but I have to go.”


  • I agree to ignore her and if she approaches you to talk act like you’re in a very busy and peaceful mindset. Blow her off. I had to work with my x’s ow a few times and her personality type HATED to be ignored. So I ignored her as much as possible. Not in a bitchy way, just completely acted as if she and I were coworker who didn’t need to know each other. The one time I spoke up about things was when she approached me in front of my other coworkers about me not eating lunch with her (wtf? are we 12 year olds??!), I calmly said something like “I’m not friends with people who sleep with my husband behind my back. I was trying to avoid this exact scenario by being cordial but we’re not friends.” It worked I think. She was publicly dissed and I remained professional. Sorry you have to work together. It’s a true test, for sure. I was boiling inside whenever I saw her at work. Even though she and I had talked several times outside of the workplace while I was gathering facts that my x was lying about, I like my job to be a place where I can focus on my job! Power to you!

  • I have a line that I use with friends and family members who badger me. It is “I have a policy that I don’t …….”

    I have a policy that I don’t entertain gossip. If they continue to gossip, I repeat that I don’t entertain gossip and I hang up the phone or walk away if they continue to gossip. They get the message if I do it every time. They either have to change the subject or I am done with the conversation. Most every person who wanted to use me to gossip about others has moved on and now just gossips to other people. I am out of that circus because I made my rule and did not break it. Also, if people pushed, I would say that it is not a negotiation. I just don’t listen to or speak gossip or about others who are not present in the room with me, period.

    Another rule I have is that I don’t talk about my plans to others while I am seeking God for direction. That way, I don’t have to hear their comments and criticisms until after I have made the plans and they are done. This is better than hearing all the negative stuff in the middle of trying to make decisions. You could say something along the lines that you have a policy that you don’t talk about your plans and activities outside of work at work. You are at work to focus on patients and charts and not on what you are doing before or after your work shifts. If people think that you are rude, so what. You get to not be asked every week what you are doing or would you like to join her for this or that. You just don’t talk about your plans at work. Also, this keeps from having to report what you did over the weekend or last night when it comes up. You don’t have to say that you went out, stayed in, watched a film, went out of town, etc. You have a policy to not talk about your plans.

    Also, you could have a policy that you do not socialize while at work. That way, you can just keep saying it and you get to refuse conversations and go do some work-related tasks. You have a policy that you don’t socialize at work. Don’t go into details about your past (since you did date someone from medical school) or don’t go into when you decided to make this rule. Just use the broken record technique and keep saying the same thing over and over.

    This will also help you if anything goes to HR. If you act the same with all of the nurses, you are instituting a professional relationship with everyone at work equally. You don’t know about who is gossiping with who so if you stay out of all of it, you will not be accused of having personal problems with specific people.

    I have been in many work settings where gossip ran wild. I have also worked in places where people were hooking up with each other. So, I wanted to stay out of all of the crazy, immature stuff. I began someone who was left alone and was able to get my work done. If anything came up later, I had no knowledge of it. It was easier to just play hard ball and keep myself out of the craziness than wonder who I could trust or not and what might come back to bite me even if I just listened to something without commenting. People tend to think that you agree with them if you are silent. So, I just took myself out of all conversations that weren’t work-related. It gave me a ton of energy to just do my job and I found that I could cook and do all kinds of things after work since I was not drained from all of the crazy high school drama at work. I just did not engage in it and eventually people knew to not tell me about it. I think if you don’t care if they like you or not and you stick to your role as a physician and a professional, you will leave there without a battle in HR or an emotional roller coaster that could break you down one day.

    Take the high road and if you need to get a calendar and go home and mark a red X over each day that you held your place, do it. It will keep things to one day at a time and it will show you that you can make it.

    I had a housemate who went through medical school. I saw the exhaustion and the ups and downs depending on exams and presentations, etc. The crash after an exam, the build up for the next thing, the crash after it, the cut throat atmosphere where friends were lost, and the long nights on end with little sleep, etc. You have been through a long, exhausted time period where you had to be “ON” all the time.

    You may feel like you need to crash after not only this but a breakup to boot plus having to work in the same place as him and hearing about his new conquest. I would do everything that you can to do self-care for your heart and your body and nurture yourself. You only have to serve your patients and your boss. Let the rest of the staff there go. Take care of yourself and do what energizes you. Don’t open the door to talking about yourself. Journal your celebrations or talk to people outside of work about them. If you don’t waver at work by opening up, you won’t then have to deal with having them approach you daily or every couple of days about stuff. You want all of the nurses to just let you do your thing and leave you be.

    I worked at a top medical center in a clinic and we were so busy and so focused on our patients that we rarely talked to one another other than “Hey” and “Thanks for that” On Friday afternoons when people were finishing charts before they went home for the weekend was the only time all week that staff would actually have a short conversation. It was an awesome place because no one brought their drama or problems to work. If there was an illness or something major, we donated sick days and rallied around a person, etc. But, for the day-to-day gossip and water cooler talks and he said, she said…. we did none of it. We were focused on healthcare and what we had to do for the patients and we all loved our jobs. When I was in the gossip-have places, most people hated their jobs. I found that to be the most interesting insight! That was part of my establishing a no-gossip policy. If I am with someone, we can have fun without bringing other people down. And, if someone has an intention to mock or bring a person down, they know to not do it in front of me. They wonder why I am a peaceful person but it is right there in front of their eyes. They don’t want to give up things that are coming from the wrong intention which could be meanness, anger, spite, jealousy, pride, pettiness, etc. I love not needing that around my peaceful life.

    • Marie, there’s so much wisdom in this post and such good advice for anyone starting a new job. It’s the opportunity to lay the ground rules and set boundaries. Is easy to think a tiny bit of gossip is fun and it bonds people together, but then it forms cliques and gets out of control, and it’s just better to have the no gossip policy, period! I hate seeing people being left out and I hate all that clique stuff and once you start to gossip it’s harder to convince people you don’t want to do it anymore. I’m going to take your words to heart even though I’m not a peaceful person — I’m quite high strung, but that doesn’t mean I need to try to fit in by gossiping. I haven’t had a paying job for ten years and I have a second interview this week. I’m a nervous wreck! One of the things I’ve been thinking about is that I hope it’s not a gossipy place. I, too, just want to do the work and go home. Thanks for your wise words.

      • Moving Liquid:

        I heard this advice for interviews. A man had to interview in front of a panel. Their job was to put him on the hot seat with questions that might make him answer in a manner that would not fit the character traits of what they were looking for. So, he wrote the word PAUSE on a piece of paper in front of him. He said that it saved him from any knee-jerk responses but gave him a few seconds to collect himself and answer objectively. He got the job. You could just think PAUSE in your thoughts before speaking. It may help deal with the nervousness. Or, you could say, “That’s a good question” before responding which would give you a few seconds to think about it.

        Also, in two organizations where gossip ran wild and I stayed out of it, I was promoted due to my work ethic and maturity. So, remember that if you do end up in a gossip work environment, you can rise above it and be noticed for your maturity and good work. We don’t get points for behaving like junior high school students but so many people seem to think that work is a place to throw their needs out to the group, etc.

        Best of luck in the interview!!

        • Yes, good luck, ML! Hugs and prayers your way…

          Marie, i read somewhere (can’t recall) that gossiping or critiquing someone who is not present is an attempt to have a relationship with a person (or a group) at the expense of the person who is being trashed. Seen from that perspective, your policies are so healthy for all your relationships.

  • SG,

    I cannot improve on any of the advice you have already been given. I will just add that in your capacity as a doctor, you are higher in the food chain than the nurse. This is definitely not to denigrate good nurses who don’t get nearly enough credit for their commitment to patient care. I’m not sure what kind of nurse this particular twit is, but she is a rancid human being.

    One of the ways to kill a living thing is to deprive it of oxygen. Stop giving this crusty crab of satan your air. Ignore her so hard that she will begin to doubt her own existence. As I mentioned in a response I made above, be cool, collected, polite, distant and silent unless you are discussing business/patient matters. Practice having a pleasant non expression and a polite stare.

    Neither of these two people is worthy of another moment of your valuable time or attention. In the entire trajectory of your life, this woman is merely some dog shit you have stepped in and which you need to make haste to remove from your shoe so you don’t end up smelling like shit. Nothing more, nothing less. Treat her like it.

  • If you are disciplined enough to get a medical degree, surely you are disciplined enough to ignore this idiot woman.
    She is not worth even thinking about. She is an idiot.
    Glad you are rid of your asshole ex.

  • SG, I am a Chump RN. The next time the OW tries to discuss anything with you of a personal nature, I would tell her (in you best, business only MD voice) it is inappropriate to discuss personal matters at work and walk away. Please continue to treat/talk to the other staff members the way you are now. Just exclude her from anything other than professional conversations. If she tries to join a discussion you are having with others at work excuse yourself from the conversation and walk away. Because she is a hateful, vindictive B, she will continue to try to engage you in “friendly” conversation but always restate its inappropriate to discuss personal matters at work. If she tries to sit by you at lunch or catch you in the parking lot, tell her you choose not to get to get friendly with your coworkers and walk away/change lunch tables. If she continues to pursue you more than a couple of times, I would speak to the practice manager about her stalking behavior and how you expect it to cease. You seem like a very nice, sensitive young woman, do not let her or the ex-POS take one more second of your time. Your ex and the OW (for now) are unholy people who will do anything to please themselves. Figure out why you chose to engage in a relationship with your ex and why you stayed so long with someone who was treating you so badly. Then start dating again and proceed with your life. (I had to have a short course of therapy to figure out why I would let someone treat me like crap. I advise you do the same). Let me say one additional thing, this “nurse” OW is shameful and an embarrassment to the nursing profession. I am so sorry this is happening to you but this too shall pass and your going to be so much better off!

  • “Aren’t you glad you’re single?

    Just smile broadly and say cheerfully “Why do you ask?”
    most likely she will say, “Oh, just asking.” If you want to have the last word, you could say “Oooh, you must have a secret.”

    If you try that, let us know how it works out.

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