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Dear Chump Lady, Do I have to be friendly with my ex?

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Hi Chump Lady,

My question is about whether I’m supposed to be friendly to my cheating ex-husband when around the children (14-year-old twin girls). We are divorced now, it’s been 2 years since D-Day and after a bit of spackling and pick me dancing (around 5 months) I decided enough was enough and I wanted me back and my self-esteem. I asked him to leave, consulted a solicitor, got a full time job to pay my way, retained my home, negotiated a settlement I was happy with, have started studying towards a possible new career and have a wonderful new man in my life.

I’ve practised serious no contact with him and it has helped no end. We email when necessary regarding arrangements for the children, holidays and the like, but I won’t even say hello to him when he comes to collect the children — I just stay out of the way, having said my goodbyes prior to him arriving at the door.

I’ve had to attend school events with him. At one, a careers fair, again, I found that I just didn’t even want to acknowledge him, we walked around as a “family” but I didn’t say goodbye to him, we didn’t discuss anything and each focused on the children. On another occasion, an awards ceremony, I attended with my children and my new partner (him at one end, the children at the other next to the empty seat we had saved for him) — but he refused to sit with us and his children, preferring a seat far away.

I don’t ever think about him anymore, I don’t really feel anything for him anymore — not angry, bitter or sad. I’m happy with my life and where it has the potential to go with me at the helm. He’s just someone I used to know. However, am I really at Meh if I can’t bring myself to exchange pleasantries with this man?

He was after all totally responsible for breaking up my family, trampling all over me and my hopes and dreams, lying to me and the children for God knows how long and putting us all in financial trouble, not to mention the emotional trauma and dodgy PAP smear test results as so many of those in Chump Nation are all to well aware. I don’t like him, there’s something fundamental wrong with him and I don’t want to be friends or even pleasant to him. I will not bad mouth him to my children, I respect their love for him and they see him regularly, he pays regularly and collects and returns them on time, I ask how their weekend was and ask after him and his family to them. But, should I force myself to say Hi, how are you, or chat about the weather for the sake of my children at events we all have to be at together and when he comes to collect them? Am I taking no contact too far?

Thanks!

IntheDriversSeatNow

Dear IntheDriversSeatNow,

This is a very chumpy, “Am I beyond reproach?” sort of question. It’s admirable you want to examine your behavior and wonder if you’re doing this co-parenting thing right, but absolutely nothing in the bylaws says you have to make inane chitchat with your cheating ex.

The bar for pleasantries is set pretty low — you can discuss the weather with strangers you meet in an elevator. The Bar set for not bad-mouthing the person who intimately betrayed you, broke up your family, and risked your health, however, is set high. It takes a LOT not stay forever pissed. Are you backing over him with a truck? No? Give yourself a break.

It’s okay to be nothing toward your ex. It’s okay to not get up off the sofa when he arrives. It’s okay to skip phony pleasantry exchanges. That doesn’t make you BITTER. (An adjective I noticed you were quick to denounce.) That makes you a person with something better to do. Excuse me, I have a very important appointment with a hairball my cat just barfed up. Ta-ta. 

It’s not like I’m pro-bitter here, but chumps are so twitchy about being judged as lacking in magnanimity. It’s not your job to smooth this shit over. It’s OKAY to be DONE with his shit. You’re no contact for a REASON. Probably a thousand of reasons, really. All very good ones.

Save the difficult displays of superficial pleasantness for the occasions that really matter — like your daughters’ weddings. You can nod to each other across the punchbowl. Everything else? Why? Who are you trying to impress here? Let’s make a list.

People who would judge you who haven’t lived this? Fuck them. Him? Double fuck him. (And it doesn’t sound like he’s longing for further impression management anyway. Some do. Be glad he doesn’t want to Be Friends.) Your daughters? You’re already being mighty by not bad mouthing your ex, not standing in the way of their relationship, and modeling to those girls that a person can move on to a better life after infidelity. That’s ENOUGH.

What would faux friendliness do? It would feel like an endorsement. Like what he did wasn’t That Bad. And it would sap you of precious energy you could be giving to hairballs.

Oh, but can’t you put all that aside and be the Bigger Person?

Sure, if you WANT to. And if you DON’T want to, that’s FINE. I suggest you have a very short list in life of those people whose toxicity and harm merits social shunning. A cheating ex, a drug-addicted sibling, a brutal dictator who annexed your country. It’s a short list. I’m sure you’re a very pleasant person in the other facets of your life. This guy is an EXCEPTION not the rule.

He EARNED your no contact. There’s the entire rest of the planet to talk with about sport scores. I think the Nats might have a shot at the World Series. Have a lovely morning. Bye!

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • My STBX can’t understand why we can’t have a friendly conversation/relationship. After all we spent 30+ years together and both of us were not happy. Nothing pisses me off worse than him trying to justify his actions be telling me how I felt. He is a sick little emotionally retarded infant monkey. He probably would rethink us having any contact if he knew how often I have pictured myself punching him in the throat then kicking him while he down. That image makes me giggle. Anyway I am am so grateful that finally the only feelings I have for him is anger and disgust. Not a good basis for a conversation “Hello fuckhead had any unprotected sex lately with your friends on the “fuck me” web site you frequent? “Hey loser, has your latest GF found you cheating yet?”

      And then the whole thing makes me tired and bored. So…. I think about all the fabulous things that are in my life now and how excited and amazed I am that I am here. I’m finally up off the floor, excited, moving forward… Guess what I actually feel PEACE!!

      I don’t feel lonely, or scared or anxious or crushing grief anymore. Six months ago I did not see any reason to keep living (a very scary time). I wish I could go back in time and hold that poor lovely person and tell her it will be OK. Better than OK and to remember that fabulous optimism and joy you are capable of…it will be back and shining soon.

      I’m back and shining!! I’m going to go now and look in the mirror and make sure it’s me 🙂 Thanks Chump Nation…keep the faith!

      • Wow! All these shitfucks seriously come from the same shit as low end of the gene narcissistic gene pool, don’t they?! You described my feelings perfectly! What part of “go fuck yourself, you sick fucking pig” do you not actually get? We are NEVER exchanging pleasantries- because your a fucking monstrous lying creep….and I don’t exchange pleasantries with people that should be in jail.

      • I love your comment Spoonriver about going back and holding yourself and saying “it will be okay”. That totally resonated with me. I was so shattered and would love to have been able to hope that it would all be okay in the end. It is okay – more than okay!! Once the reality of everything sets in and you see your X for who he/she truly is, there is only happiness ahead. Thanks.

      • I loved reading this!!!! Good for you Spoonriver!!!! I am a newbie and keep doing better everyday! Your post gives me hope! Keep being mighty!!!!

      • Thank you Spoonriver!! You made my morning with this😊 Especially the “he is a sick little emotionally retarded infant monkey.”

  • if there were physical marks from being beat would you think the same thing? would anyone expect you to be friendly with them? that’s how i approach those thoughts with my ex, while there are not physical marks, there is damage that no one can see and there is also the fact that i don’t trust any conversation i have with her about the kids, i stay no contact so i don’t get lied to anymore, abused, taken advantage of. while she is a stranger now, i still know her better than anyone else does

    • Dad, this is spot on “if there were physical marks” yes indeed the damage done to families doesn’t show on the outside especially to the children. Cheaters would like nothing better then to be all chummy chummy and move forward, that way they can tell themselves “see I’m not that bad”. There is a fine line between being bitter and being weary of these people. As chump lady says a nod over the punch ball at the kids wedding is acknowledgement enough.

      • If there are “physical marks” I think a nod over the punch bowl is too much. I wouldn’t do it. My ex- never touched me this way, but he left other kinds marks, he was cruel.

        • ClearWaters,
          Your post reminds me of a feeling I have regarding a saying I wrote in my heart years ago. I have shared it with CN once before.:
          ” When someone beats you on the inside, you can never see the bruises. You can only feel them.”
          This saying is very poignant, but to me it says a million words that are impossible to get out.

          In theDriversSeatNow,
          You are doing what is best for your daughters. If they are ok with how things go when you are also present with them and their Dad, then perfect. Keep doing what you are doing, how you are doing it.
          I think you are mighty, putting your precious children first.
          Kudos to you Classy Lady.

          Love,
          Peacekeeper

          • Peacekeeper, Hi.
            I remember your post about the bruises inside. Thanks for bringing it up again.

            And that is exactly my point with my son. Would it have to take his father to beat me and paralyze me for him not to want father at his wedding?

            Hell, their father stole from THEM, my sons! They now have two old people to look after in our old ages with less than half the resources, but double the expenses thanks to debts fuckwit made for sluts and divorce.

            As another chump mentioned here once (can’t remember who): it is in our children’s interest to know who their cheating breeders are, especially the adult children.

            I wish I could be sure it not’s the case that my sons are falling into sparkledick’s impression management game.

            I don’t want to use my children to get back at cheater. I want to FORGET the bastard.

            I guess I don’t understand what true Meh is: walking straight past the cheater and not feeling a thing? Forgetting the stealing, HPV, bullying, demeaning blameshifting and soul-beating?

            The bottom line is I just don’t understand how my son would want his breeder at his wedding, of all the ceremonies to go through in life.

            • “I wish I could be sure it not’s the case that my sons are falling into sparkledick’s impression management game. “. I am with you on this one. My 34 year old son believes everything his father says to him. I HEAR his father in some of the statements that my son makes. I am so sad that my son’s opinion on what has happened is based on lies. That is one of the problems when older children do not actually witness what has happened. Even though I try to point him towards pages such as this, he just does not want to believe that his father is that diabolical!

              • NotMyFault,

                I also hear my ex in my sons’ words.
                We both know it is hard to admit that a parent is evil, but the bottom line really is about honesty and justice! Children who fall for these lies are, at the least, either dim or weak.

                A good test is: if your parent were a slave trader would he/she be part of any moment in your life except your legal responsibilities towards him/her? Didn’t Madoff’s sons turn him in?

                The problem is the banality of evil. My father-in-law did the same thing to my mother-in-law and my cheater ex did not learn a damn thing.

                What a mess these idiots create! And we have to clean it up.

        • I guess I didn’t express this very well I wasn’t suggesting that if there were physical violence it was ok to have contact. I was trying to equate ‘physical marks’ with the emotional scars that we carry around because of these bastards. Especially the kids.

      • I guess I didn’t express this very well I wasn’t suggesting that if there were physical violence it was ok to have contact. I was trying to equate ‘physical marks’ with the emotional scars that we carry around because of these bastards. Especially the kids.

    • dadnebraska, yes!!

      I didn’t have kids with my ex, so I’m floored when someone asks if I still keep in touch with her…especially given I now live 2,500 away from her. I left her more than 4 years ago!

      Why in the world would I “keep in touch” with the person who did that to me?

      The last time I had any contact with my ex was when I bumped into her at a professional event two years ago. The last time I had contact with any “shared” friends was three months later.

      These people battered the shit out of us, after swearing to cherish us above all things. No need to say anything about them, or give them an inch.

    • So true on multiple counts. If they had physically abused us the concern for friendship and/or pleasantries wouldnt even exist. We also know these people better than anyone else. Probably always will… which is a burden I dont like or want to carry!
      The friendship is what I find I miss sometimes…but then I remember as Ive heard from some of you before…I miss who I thought he was being 🙁

      • OutofAshes, I was stuck in the same house with soon-to-be-X cheater and I was still making conversation and sharing my day with him. At some point I outright said to him “I have no one else to talk to!” (not totally true, but in terms of immediate adult company, he was it!) He agreed, and so we were doing this for while, but it petered out over time…it was a very palpable change over time. By the time I left the house for good and moved into my apartment, I was just done with him. Unless they were 100% horrible or just up and left, it’s hard to shake that relationship that you (thought) you had entirely and right away…we see bits and pieces of who we thought they were and we have to ween ourselves away. I feel stupid sometimes for having done this — not sure if it was sending him a mixed message or was disingenuous of me — but I realize it was just the relationship slowly dying, and me having to go through the process of backing away and letting it go.

        • Also, coming to terms with my real feelings. The anger came out in bits and pieces initially…and then it was just all anger toward him, no good words or thoughts left.

          • I was so angry for a long while that I was dangerously close to becoming permanently jaded.

            These are the questions a life coach(!) gave me. They seem Polly Anna at times but maybe they will help a good soul here. They do help! They at least interrupt fantasies that involve him, duct tape and salt water crocs. 🐊

            Is your anger doing you any good?
            Is your anger solving the problem?
            Is it changing the person you were angry at?
            Is your anger increasing your joy and peace?

            • LoveDay, thank you, those are helpful questions. I really do have to pause and ask myself this stuff sometimes…the anger can sometimes continue far longer than it needs to (even when I vent to friends/family).

              • Champ on it (yes that was intentional)

                Oh yes. I have seen the barely disguised look of exhaustion when I want to do a deep dive into analyzing the cheater again. Even people who have the best intentions just can’t sustain the energy that we have because it didn’t happen to them.

                My anger was like a burning hot ruby that I guarded closely and I never wanted to put it down. I believe that served a purpose in the beginning stages to propel me to escape a dangerous man. I have the mind movies and the rage that accompanies them. So I make a Herculean effort And I try to think of something positive joyful or a good memory that does not involve Mr. pretentious douche baggery.

                I believe one thing that will help us let go of the anger is when I realize that he didn’t even love me enough to be angry. Just bathing in all that draining toxic energy is just spinning our wheels.

            • Love, the answers are Yes, Yes, No and No.
              Yes because it helped me protect myself. No because he is a lost cause and because I should not waste my precious energy and time on a lost cause

        • ChumpOnIt,
          Your’s is a very kind, easy to read post.
          You simply made the best you could of what could have been a most unpleasant living arrangement.
          You are noble and wise.
          This worked for you and that is all that matters.

        • I totally get this. My marriage also died in slow motion after DDay. That is part of why it took me so long to get to the point where I was ready to initiate the divorce. He left me for another woman, but he did it in slow motion. I continued to smoke the hopium until I saw the pattern, realized it was two steps away, one step back and divorce was inevitable anyway. Even then, I was never able to just rip off the band aid and to NC or even gray rock. It has been a slow death. I just wasn’t capable of doing it any other way. Maybe this makes me weak, but it’s who I am, and quite frankly who he is too. After 20+ years, neither of us was able to just up and go cold turkey. Not him is spite of having schmoopie to cling to and certainly doing her best to push him away from me, and not me in spite of all of the pain he had caused and was still causing me. All of this is delaying meh, but as long as I am gradually moving in that direction, I still have hope that I will get there and if I can get there with as little drama and open hostility as possible, that may just suit my personality better. I am fortunate that Almost Ex doesn’t seem to be the drama seeking kind like so many others. If he was, then gray rock or NC would be the only solution.

          • I hear you. There are so many ducks to line up. I need to get info like bank acct numbers, etc if I am going to move forward with the breakup. Why am I not making this a priority? Why can I only handle one little task per day (if that)?
            Is there some part of me that wants to stay in this relationship? If so, how sick is that? Maybe I am more messed up than he is. Grrrr.
            I wish I had strength to say “as long as I am gradually moving in that direction I will get there” like you, chumpinrecovery.

            • How long you have really depends on your particular cheater. If he is screwing you financially you need to get out ASAP. If he is “lost in the fog” of Schmoopie you may have more time. If he feels guilt, you need to act ASAP to get a good settlement. You can go through the motions of divorce without being openly hostile. It does help to be angry inside, however, to keep you motivated to get it done.

              • I’ve heard that before about acting quickly if they’re feeling guilty. After a few months you’ve lost your opportunity. Unfortunately there are so many laws that prevent it. I had to wait 6 months. Others are forced to wait even longer.

              • Yes I was lucky. It is only four months in my state and that is about how long it took to deal with all of the divorce paperwork and the marital agreement anyway even more or less getting along.

    • Spot on, DadNebraska.

      Gaby posted this link to a column by Omar Minwalla yesterday, in which he spelled out the most dire aspects of “the damage no one can see:”

      “The process of gaslighting an intimate partner (Jason, S., 2008), the process of intentional psychological manipulation of victim’s reality (Jason, S., 2008) or any human being over time is a form of emotional and psychological abuse and torture, eroding and damaging the victim’s survival instincts and intuition (Minwalla, O., 2011), regardless of sexual behaviors (Jason, S., 2008).”

      • Agreed.

        I abhor being around my ex and wouldn’t ever keep company with his sort, married or not. (Among other stuff, the dude frequented places that look like human trafficking depots! And he’s a dad. Eww!!)

        My daughter pressured me just once to go out with her and her father (I suspect he was behind it). i resolutely told her, “I refuse to spend time with anyone who has abused me.”

        She’s young (18), naive, and unaware of the full extent of the damage he caused and of his character. But this took care of her pressure to make nice instantly and hopefully, set the example. You should never apologize for sticking up for yourself.

        • Right on, Lifeisgood! Who the hell wants to have small talk with the person that damaged them so deeply? It’s insane for anyone to expect that to be ok. Love your comment.

      • Tempest – which article is this? I love to read and am fairly new to CN. I have been reading everything that has been recommended. Thank you!!!! 😃

    • Yes, Dad. We have to associate with our abuser, the destroyer of our marriages/relationships. People can’t physically see this, but I think most can understand (if it’s a concern of what being so “cold” looks like to others). It’s almost like you have to have an out-of-body experience to deal with them…more so if you’ve experienced sufficient trauma. What’s important is that you remain in as comfortable a place as you can be. Impressions are secondary. Leave that to the impression managers (i.e. cheaters)!

    • dadnebraska:

      Yes yes yes! “While she is a stranger now, I still know her better than anyone else does”.

      This is exactly how I feel about my XH. After being together for 40 years, I know where every hair on his ass resides, that he chews his food on the left, and how much he hates the texture of mushrooms. But that does NOT mean he’s worthy of conversation.

      Like you, I could never trust any conversation I might ever have with him. He lied to me for 4 decades, so why would he suddenly start telling me the truth now that we’re divorced?

      I maintain Zero Contact for one reason: to protect myself from further abuse… it’s probably the single most beneficial decision I’ve ever made. After having to “make nice” during our first two sons’ weddings, I know that breathing the same air as XH disturbs my emotional equilibrium and plain and simple, makes me terribly anxious. It’s as if he emanates a highly poisonous gas and my immune system immediately screams “Danger, Will Robinson, danger”! Yes, I know that visceral reaction means I haven’t yet arrived at the Land of Meh, but I’ll keep trying to get there…

      Our triplet sons are in their early 30s now, so coparenting isn’t an issue; I actually can’t think of a single circumstance which would require XH and I to ever speak again. Granted, things might get a little stickier now that grandchildren are on the way, but I’ll do what’s necessary to maintain the Cone of Silence. Mow that he’s marrying AP #14 (the married coworker he left me for), I’ll have two toxic people to navigate around, but that’s a burden I’ll gladly shoulder if it maintains my sanity and brings me peace.

      I do wish I had a unanimous endorsement from the boys (they all know about XH’s serial cheating) … Son #1 respects my ZC choice and calls his dad’s pending nuptials “creepy”, Son #2 (the family peacemaker) seems to gloss over the abuse I received and asks (while looking in my direction), “Why can’t we all just get along?” (Oh, like one big happy family?), and Son #3 knows an asshole when he sees one and enthusiastically endorses my silence.

        • ZC is the only way to stay sane after 4 decades. I was with x for 32 yrs, 3 grown kids and now 3 grand babies. The family we once shared and now that he divided himself out is never going to be the same, Why in gods name do people want to know if I still hear from him or do we have a cordial relationship for the kids. I owe him NOTHING. EVER AGAIN. Our sons were married before the divorce and the oldest daughter wrote us both off as “toxic” during the divorce so she is the only one I grieve for. Not the cheating slutboy.

          However, in the last 3 years grandchildren have now entered the picture, Sitting in waiting rooms for the delivery, baby showers, baby reveals all have been extremely difficult for me as you describe “sharing the same air”, it horrible. I have avoided him like he doesn’t exist and I hate him being able to share in the family events that he blew up and ruined over and over during our marriage. My 2 sons and 1 DIL work for xAH so they have more to say to him than I do.

          I stand my ground in ignoring and avoiding him at all costs. He is a pitiful, self centered, arrogant, entitled, porn loving, serial cheater, user, liar, (did I forget anything) 60 yr old AH who has made his own bed and is 100% responsible for shattering the family. Life goes on and everyday gets better. Over 3 decades I gave him more than he ever deserved,

          Glad he’s gone, now stay GONE.

          • Fireball: First, I was sorry to read that you’re estranged from your daughter. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be for you, and I pray that someday, she’ll come to understand how things really were and is able to reengage.

            With our first grandchild due in April, I’m trying to steal myself against what I expect will be a very uncomfortable scene in one of those maternity waiting rooms, especially since his AP will be with him; by then, she’ll be legally masquerading as his wife (Son #1 says he already has a mother – me! – and he refuses to call AP “Mother”, Step- or otherwise. I, on the other hand, would gladly allow the name “Motherfucker”). But I’ll try to imitate what I did at our Son #3’s wedding last year: sit next to him in the front row during the actual ceremony (albeit with my chair moved 6″ to the left) only because wedding protocol required it, dine at a different table during the reception, and ignore him for the rest of the evening. I had a completely fabulous time surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends (including XH’s former BFF, who also got dumped when he confronted XH about his appalling behavior), while XH looked positively miserable sitting alone at a table of strangers (DIL made it crystal clear that AP was *not* invited). My cousin said he looked old, fat, sick and lonely. Too bad, what a sad sausage! I still don’t think he understands cause-and-effect… that the reason he was sitting alone among strangers – on what should have been a joyous milestone event shared with his WIFE, the mother of that child – is because of his own poor choices. Maybe he’ll never get it, but he’s no longer my problem.

            Thanks for bringing up all of the additional character traits I didn’t mention in my original post (I didn’t want to look petty LOL)… mine loved porn, too; this probably explains his (mostly) flaccid member (which he blamed on age).

      • MyRedSandals, I’m coping with some of the same issues you are. My oldest son in his early 30’s tells me to just let all contact drop with my ex’s side of the family. He doesn’t seem to expect me to have any relationship with his dad. My other son, however, has been lobbying both me and his dad to celebrate holidays and special events together for the sake of the grandkids. I can’t for the life of me figure out how this would work. I told my youngest that the last thing I wanted to do was hang out at his dad’s place and see all the money he’s spending while I’m living frugally and cutting coupons. Not to mention what it would be like to bring along whoever we’re both dating.

        It’s difficult on the kids and they hate leaving one of their parents out of special events, and to be honest I hate being left out too. Recently my two grandchildren met each other for the first time and I wasn’t there. That hurt. But my ex has been gray rock for a long time, and no matter how many times I was “the bigger person,” he never reciprocated. He recently lied to me again about something that was supposed to have been taken care of 5 years ago. So what do I have to talk to him about? We’ve both been in self-protection mode for too long now to have a decent relationship. Some people are able to accomplish this but I’m not sure how.

        It is very strange to have spent so many years with a person but not recognize them any more. It’s like they were taken over by aliens or have been affected by traumatic brain injury. They have become strangers to us even though they look the same.

        • Lyn, your first son sounds like my Son #3; he sees the value in cutting ties and creating distance. But it seems your other son doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to accept all of the underlying emotional damage which took place during your marriage to his father (enter my Son #2). I did not proactively badmouth my XH to my sons, but when, as grown adult men, they asked me outright what happened, I was honest and told them the truth, no more, no less. I didn’t embellish, but I also didn’t feel any need to protect XH from the swirling vortex he created. As I said, Son #2 has thrown the “Why can’t we all just get along?” line in my direction a few times, which I have summarily ignored. I’m sure the real source of that question is my XH; he’ll tell anyone who will listen that he’s confused as to why I don’t want to “be friends”. I’m not sure how I would react if one of my sons (probably #2) actively pressured me to make nice just so the family could gather in one room for some special occasion other than a wedding (still have one to go), a birth or a funeral. I’d try to resist as long as possible because the reality is, when XH set off his own version of a neutron bomb – blowing our intact family apart – HE is the one who set us up for a future of celebrating special moments separately, not me. I accept that in order to feel emotionally safe, I must keep my ZC boundary in place whenever possible. As a result, there will likely be events that one of us will have to miss, and if that person has to be me, it is what it is. What I don’t want to do is to make my children feel as if they need to choose which parent is present and which is not, which parent gets invited and which does not. Right now (and I realize I may change my mind in time), I’d prefer to shoulder that burden and proactively make alternate arrangements so that we can both experience the happy moment, just not together. I don’t see that as him winning and me losing, I see that as responsible self-care. So far, I’ve successfully navigated through several Thanksgivings, Christmases and 2 weddings, and while the atmosphere was very different than it used to be, I walked through all of them with my head held high and was still able to celebrate.

          If your ex has been employing the gray rock method with you, why keep trying to break through that? There is no need for you to be the “bigger person”, just be you! You’re wonderful just like you are and you have nothing to prove to anyone.

        • Yes Lyn!!! I say this all the time that my STBX has been taken over by an alien! Totally u recognizable!!!! It’s like the person I knew died to be replaced by this scum!!!! Ugh!!!!

      • Red Sandals,
        Are you me? Our situation is so similar! From being cheated on for 40 years down to three adult sons who have different positions/feelings/understandings about their cheating father.

        Your point “I maintain Zero Contact for one reason: to protect myself from further abuse…” is exactly how I feel about my health.

        To have to sleep under the same roof as cheater at my son’s wedding (a weekend at a B&B; he would like his father there), to touch the same water faucet, makes me puke. It will ruin this happy occasion for me, I will be miserable. Haven’t I been through enough? He cheated and stole for 40 years and then was cruel during the divorce.

        I just don’t get it.

        • The hell you do.

          Find accommodations elsewhere and do not allow your son to manipulate you into compromising your well being for his sake, because that’s what he’s doing.

          You love your son, you’re happy for him. That doesn’t mean you have to compromise your boundaries for his sake. His insisting you do, is unfair.

          He’s made his choice, he chose his dad to be there. I’m sure he’s not seeing it that way, but he’s doing it and I am sure you want to be at his wedding, so go. That doesn’t mean you have to put up with the emotional abuse and manipulation.

          Just because you have to eat a shit sandwich, doesn’t mean it has to be the size of a sub….you can eat shit finger sandwiches instead.

          • Thanks Sunflower. Will think about how to downsize the shit sandwich. What really hurts is not eating it, it’s having it served by my son.

            • I am sure he does not realize what he is doing. It’s because he doesn’t understand boundaries. He’s never been betrayed the way you have and children have different perspectives than we do because of it.

              This is not a matter of you simply sucking it up. This is a matter of you avoiding hurtful, life threatening pain. It’s like your kid expecting you to eat peanuts because he likes peanuts and wants you to like peanuts, but you have an allergy that will cause anaphyactic shock. That is how important this boundary is to you.

              • Sunflower 36:

                “He’s never been betrayed the way you have”.

                Ding ding ding! This absolutely hits the nail on the head when it comes to my Son #2. In his own relationships with women, he’s always the dumper and never the dumpee. Also, he was off living his own life as an adult when his dad walked out on me, so he didn’t witness the collateral damage first hand. I’ve often said that what he needs in order to put himself in my shoes is for someone to bash the hell out of his heart and suck the life out of his soul. Don’t get me wrong, I would never wish harm upon my son, but on the other hand, a little bit of a life lesson might help him to be more compassionate toward my position on ZC.

        • I am with you. The thought of being in the same room with he and the woman that destroyed my marriage is unthinkable. Never mind the ex family that cut ME off entirely based upon his lies, the lawyer friend that “advised” the ex on how to steal and hide money from me or the person that my ex consults for that filed a false subpoena in court (omitting the fact that he paid my ex commissions)! My sons wedding in August 2018 should be something I look forward to, but, I am not. (Also, my son and his fiancée have not told her family WHY we got a divorce!) An omission of a material fact…still a lie.

          • Why is it your son’s and his fiancee’s responsibility to tell HER family (I’m assuming you mean the fiancee’s family) anything about the reason why you and your ex are divorced? How is that information something her family needs to know?

        • ClearWaters: When Son #1 got married almost 4 years ago, XH and I had been separated for about 14 months but were still on speaking terms. The bride’s family thought they were doing us a huge favor by renting – a year in advance – a 2 BR-2BA apartment in a NYC AirBnB brownstone for our family; their larger family would split up between the other two apartments in the same building. XH and I flew to NYC together, stayed in that apartment together for a week (we stayed in separate bedrooms – forcing our other two sons to sleep on the living couch – and we also had to share a bathroom), cooked meals together, then got through the rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception, and flew back together. It was a very confusing time for me; one minute, XH was perfectly happy playing the liberated man, giving me the silent treatment and leaving me behind while he went out to explore the city, etc. The next minute, he was the most attentive husband, carrying my suitcase, asking if I need a refill on my iced tea, sitting next to me at the rehearsal dinner and putting his arm around me, asking me to dance at the wedding reception, etc. By the time I got home, I thought I would lose my mind so decided right then and there that ZC was what needed to happen. Thankfully, I was very quickly able to see that week in NYC for what it was: carefully orchestrated impression management, not true love or concern for me or regret over what he was putting our family through.

          Knowing what I know now, I would NEVER EVER have stayed in that apartment with him, regardless of the extra money it would have cost me to stay elsewhere. PLEASE do what you need to protect your heart and make arrangements now to stay somewhere else. Your son’s wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and I am sure you want to Be fully present and enjoy it!

          • Wow! I’m in the same spot. Married 37 years- 10 months DD. I filed for divorce in February.
            I also have 3 boys 29,27,20. Oldest is very helpful to me, but has contact with AH.
            Middle got engaged December -wanted to get married this November. I told him I thought it was best since in the middle of high conflict divorce to wait. Now getting married next April – he thinks I should just move on and be excited about the wedding.
            Youngest won’t speak to AH- except for his educational financial needs. This has all caused upheaval in their relationships with each other. I try to stay out of it. It is just very sad that one persons poor choices and selfishness can hurt so many!

            • Therapy might be helpful Mocham. Why cant you be happy about your son’s marriage. It worries me that you are influencing dates for your son’s wedding. His happiness and future need to be separate from your divorce and pain. He cannot delay his life because yours is crumbling. Sorry if I have misunderstood. You need to be careful not to create problems with him and future dil because you are so stressed. I was married 43 years. My kids are understanding and helpful but they need to continue with their own lives and not be overwhelmed with my problems . Good luck.

            • Mocham:

              I must agree with NoGuilt, that trying to influence when your son gets married is imposing your pain and marital issues on him and your future DIL. I’m sure he feels badly about what you’re going through, but as a young man in love, he’s probably anxious to get on with his own life and build a family with his new wife. As difficult as things were between me and my XH, I would not have thought to ask either of my sons to delay their nuptials.

              I, too, found counseling to be incredibly helpful when it came to beefing up my battered self-confidence and more important, coming up with solid strategies on how to handle the extremely difficult face-to-face interactions with my XH.

              And practice does make perfect! When Son #1 got married 14 months into our 3-year separation, and I had to spend that hellacious week in 2BR NYC apartment with XH, I think I did an OK job of managing that experience, but looking back, I see that I could have done much better. I was so flummoxed by his unpredictable zigzagging good husband/bad husband behavior that I allowed myself to get confused about who he really was and what he really wanted from me. I lost my focus and regretted it as soon as I got home. But when Son #3 got married last year, I had 3 years of great counseling under my belt and had successfully practiced ZC for 3 1/2 years. The counseling gave me the tools to keep my power where it belonged (with me) and the ZC boundary enabled me to conduct myself in a classy yet firmly distant manner. I ended up having an absolutely fabulous time, while he looked miserable… I guess no one was willing to throw him a bag of kibbles.

          • MyRedSandals – sharing that apartment with him must have been so hard!!!! I know I 100% don’t want STBX back and divorce papers will be finalized soon but at 3 months out it is very confusing for me to navigate the whole NC thing when we have a 9 year old son we both adore and are both actively co-parent. I go from being “friendly” with him for our son’s sake and texting/emailing him about our son to telling him I will be amicable for our son’s sake but never to txt me again/to use OFW scheduling app to co-parent. It is so confusing and emotional!!!!! Part of me wants to be the bigger person and be friendly with him in front of our son bc this is my personality to make nice and part of me never wants to talk to him again! Co-parenting with these cheaters is a shit sandwhich for sure!!!!

            Don’t get me started on the dangerous/toxic AP that he’s with that right now isn’t allowed to be around our son. If she comes into the picture so help me god!!!!

            Ok rant over – thank you guys!!!! I hate all these cheaters!!!! You guys are mighty!!! ❤️

            • mil23: IMHO, it seems to me that you are sending your STBX mixed signals. One minute, you’re “friendly” for the sake of your son, and the next minute, you’re admonishing him for not using OFW. The goalposts keep moving! I believe you need to choose one path and stick to it so you have the appearance of consistency.

              Only you can answer the question as to why you feel the need to be “friendly” with him. And before you answer that question, dig deep and don’t immediately point to “doing it for your son” or your “make nice personality”; I suspect there’s something floating beneath that which needs exploring. Remember, you can be polite and cooperative in your coparenting role without being friendly.

              • Thank you so much MyRedSandals – I really need to figure out what I need. I’m only 3 months out so it’s all new to me….ugh!!!! Sending hugs!

    • dadnebraska (waving! I’m also in Nebraska!) –

      “While she is a stranger now, I still know her better than anyone else does”.

      ^^^You are SPOT ON. I was with my douchebag ex for 18 years. I know him better than anyone else (including his whore) but now? Yes. He’s a stranger. And I want to get to the point where I look at him with complete indifference.

    • dadnebraska,

      “while there are not physical marks, there is damage that no one can see and there is also the fact that i don’t trust any conversation i have with her about the kids, i stay no contact so i don’t get lied to anymore, abused, taken advantage of. while she is a stranger now, i still know her better than anyone else does”

      ^This!^

      It’s uncanny that however diverse chump nation is, we find our experiences eerily the same. I still cannot trust my f’d-up ex-wife in even the simplest of matters. She recently agreed to do something regarding our kid (EXPLICITLY IN WRITING in an email exchange) and then totally flaked and went back in her word. When confronted, she lied and denied.

      But I wasn’t upset. I didn’t argue. This is what it’s like dealing with the disordered. I’ve now learned to anticipate her not keeping her word. I can’t wait until my kiddo is older so I don’t have to deal with ‘crazy’ as much anymore.

  • This is so ape that apt today. I just hadn’t to attend a curriculum night and XDbag was there. I didn’t even acknowledge him, but had to at the end because the teacher had a parent/teacher conference list set up and XDbag had already signed up for a spot. When I asked the teacher if we could have two spots she said not really. So I had to go talk to him about attending at the same time. He started talking to me about how he “didn’t realize” how much I have to do with DS for school (the teacher had been describing all the 2nd graders homework type assignments, etc). He was so morose and delicate with his questions I wonder if he felt some sort of guilt or perhaps the reality of being divorced and not knowing what the hell your child is up to most days was sinking in. He asked if we might talk more as school continues to keep up with everything going on. I have no desire to interact with him except for when absolutely necessary. I was doubting my gray rock status just yesterday, thinking it might be good to give him a weekly update or start to have a short convo at pick up about our child. But then I pictured that devolving into fake niceties over time if there’s nothing to discuss. I just don’t see the need to tell him about my son’ nightly reading routine or practice spelling exam. i send relevant notes from school in his folder, I update him via email if something important comes up. My son is 8, I feel like he can talk to him about school on his own. Am I wrong? If he is sad now that he’s not able to be totally involved I guess I say, tough shit. I don’t like a lot of what happened and the fact that I have to be a single parent most of the week and everything that entails, you don’t see me crying (in public 😂).

    • Respectfully, you go to the school Principal if the Teacher is not responsive. There is NO REASON that you should have to have your Parent Teacher meeting with your X sitting there. This is the 21st century and it isn’t the first time they’ve been asked to do it.

      When Mr. Sparkles left, I met immediately with my son’s 3rd grade Teacher and the Principal. They were wonderfully supportive and I never had to ask again.

      Not long after, Mr. Sparkles stopped scheduling/attending his own Parent-Teacher meetings.

      • Good for you, ICanSee. In addition to not want to deal with their stupid face, I think that they expect you to continue to do all of the heavy lifting of life (i.e. scheduling parent-teacher meetings). Once you put your foot down and discontinue that “service”, they will reveal who they really are. Sometimes we’re just making it easier for them to look good and we don’t even know it (because we’re kind and considerate people who are used to doing these things)!

      • His teacher actually pulled me aside at the end of the night and told me she could set aside a separate time for me to meet her either before or after school, but I just said it was fine. It’s a 15 minute meeting and I made him change the date to be more convenient for me (they have a half day scheduled on Halloween, I am a room parent and helping to set up the party for the kids and then the parade, not to mention I am doing my son’s costume and taking him TOT, so I thought hm, this is not a good day for me, so no dice). I can sit there with him at the same table, while she talks about our son. I’m sure this interest will probably fall by the wayside in the future. Maybe. He’s trying to be more involved than he ever was when we were married, that’s for sure.

        I told his teacher we are just so new to this whole divorce thing, we haven’t figured out to manage everything yet. Clearly douchebag did not take into consideration the scope of how our lives would be affected but that’s no surprise.

        • >>”Clearly douchebag did not take into consideration the scope of how our lives would be affected but that’s no surprise.”

          I love this point — it is so accurate! These asshats have no depth on any level — emotion, understanding, forward thinking. (Not saying they are dumb — just that they refuse to look beyond the end of their own noses — or other choice body parts.)

          STBX is “shocked” (insert facepalm) that we won’t be spending holidays together as a family. He’s even more shocked that he will have to come up with present ideas and ways of celebrating all on his own. And, horror of horrors … he doesn’t have anyone with whom to spend the holidays. (He has supervised visits … so he will get a few, supervised hours on each holiday with our little one since the older two refuse to see him. By that time, the girls and I will have already celebrated — as a family.)

          I carried the holiday decorating/planning/present buying through our entire marriage. So, of course he didn’t think about how this stuff would change — he had no clue what went into it (nor did he care). Now he’s flopping around like a fish out of water. So, while I hate all of this for our little one … I have to admit it is kind of fun to see the asshat suffer a bit from his self-imposed blindness.

    • Or your ex can talk to your son’s teacher if he really does give a damn.

      I’m in the same boat. My ex “says” he cares about the kids, but I am seeing ways he’s managing his image with me…. he doesn’t give a shit about me, but has figured out ways to control me and my time through the kids.

      He very rarely calls them, they call him… and he uses me as the reason he doesn’t.

      Anyway, I have no desire to make chit chat with him ever again. I’m done exchanging a single cell more energy than I have to.

    • There is no way on earth I will be able to “make nice” for the sake of the kids when all he does is use them as chick bait because they are adorable, wonderful and help the ex attract women who assume he’s a great family guy. The children provide the sparkle and perfume he uses to disguise his turdliness.

      At some point the kids’ little hearts will break when they realize they are props, not people. I think they are figuring it out already because he spends no time alone with them despite being 50/50. I will not participate in the betrayal by pretending to get along and sing kumbaya with the dirtbag and his latest victim.

    • 12YearsWasted – we are newly separated/divorce will be finalized soon and have a son in 4th grade. My STBX has always been a great involved father and I hate saying this but he is still being a good father outwardly towards our son (despite him breaking up our family which obviously is awful!). So he has been involved in the back to school night with me and as my son is at his house on certain nights I feel like we have to communicate on homework assignments/projects, etc. As involved as his father has always been he works a lot so I have always been the one to oversee homework/projects, etc. This is a shit sandwhich for sure! I think some of my need to make sure he understands what our son needs to do is because it is hard for me based on my personality to let go of control of my child.

      I really don’t know – honestly I’m having trouble with how much to talk, how friendly to be when we are at social events w our child. It all sucks!!!!!

  • You have attained what we all work for and could give meh lessons. He is not worthy of your niceness. Shower your new partner with that

  • In the same spot as @12YearsWasted. I was at a divorce support group that I attend this week, and there were lots of people there talking about how they’re now friendly with their exes.

    And I sat there thinking, “Not me.” Feeling discomfited, and starting to wonder “Is it me?’

    It is me. I have worked hard to establish healthy boundaries to protect me from my toxic narc ex. My communication with him regarding our son is largely done via email or text because every single thing with him is a battle.

    Gray rock is what works for me, because it is the only way to deal with my ex. And I need to own it with pride!

    • kmanning, good point.

      Lack of healthy boundaries was exactly what set me up for this “disease” in the first place. So I feel that if I am susceptible to this kind of disease I have got to keep up the prevention and treatment, especially since the pathogen still retains all of its virulence.

      • That’s what I think too. I spent years spackling, pick-me dancing,. in my efforts to keep my marriage. I willingly shouldered the blame for why my ex was so unhappy. Shudder.

        Guess what, we’ve been divorced for two years and he is still a miserable, disordered, person. I didn’t break him, I couldn’t fix him.

        Time to focus on what’s healthy for me.

      • kmanning & ClearWaters So true:

        “Lack of healthy boundaries was exactly what set me up for this “disease” in the first place. So I feel that if I am susceptible to this kind of disease I have got to keep up the prevention and treatment, especially since the pathogen still retains all of its virulence.”

        My X chose to trample my trust by cheating on me, then move in his mistress 4 months post-separation, did everything he could to make the divorce as slow as possible, and then marry his mistress 2 months post-divorce. Yet we share custody of our kiddo for several more years… So people have plenty of advice about how I SHOULD handle the situation… When people ask me to remember the good times prior to my discovering his affair in order to become friendlier with my X, I say something along the lines of “If you had lost all your money when Madoff’s ponzi scheme was uncovered, and the court ordered you to still have to employ Madoff as your CPA to manage your savings and retirement money for the next decade, how would you feel?”

        Once cheaters are uncovered, it is best to go NC and grey rock when it comes to shared custody logistics… I will make sure our kiddo and myself have the best possible life despite his presence in our life…

  • Your one statement that he has something fundamentally wrong with him gives you permission to carry on with your own life. Toxic people don’t stop being toxic. Just think of him as a serial poisoner and stay away from him. It worked for my brother.

  • I feel the same & rarely see or talk to my ex, unless he rings on the home phone & I cop a tirade of expletive-riddled venom for “treating him like shit” (ie grey rock from me, rather than the “we’re all friends now” or ” I’m so grateful you pay maintenance” he expects). I do occasionally try to say hello to him but only because I worry that it pains my teens to have divorced parents that don’t speak.

  • Question? How do you not come across as “Bitter” but “holding your ground of no contact”? I’m currently being accused of being “Bitter” by my ex Narc and some people he has convinced. He is trying to use it against me in our custody hearing. The communications counselor we went to eluded to this as well because I wouldn’t talk openly with my ex. or “exchange pleasantries” in person. It pissed me off that a dipshit would take a douchbags pitty and switch it back on me when they have seen the evidence of Narcs toxic behavior in black and white (all communication is in writing). When I asked what the alternative was the communication counselor told me to open up and receive him. I told him that is opening up for more abuse and I’m done with that! Now we are moving to a custody evalution. My ex is fighting bc he wants to be custodial parent and make all the decisions even though I have a laundry list of evidence of him not having the best interest for the kids. How do I present this to the custody evaluator so they know I’m not bitter but protecting myself?

    • If you have to impress a custody evaluator? That’s someone whose judgement matters. I would eat the shit sandwich of fake pleasantries until it’s over. And yes, that’s super unfair.

      Think of how long it’s taken to move the needle on domestic violence and making nice with abusers. Infidelity? We’re just beginning to try and change the narrative. So I wouldn’t expect these folks to get it. Abide by your court order and don’t be openly hostile, would be my advice. And I’d ask the counselor for SPECIFICS of what she’s looking for that denotes “openness.”

      I’m curious what other people who’ve lived this have to say. I’m really sorry, but I’d play it safe. The person who wrote is two years out from a divorce. Different situation.

      • I’m 3 years out of my divorce and both of us are remarried. My ex is a controlling naracissist. I’ve been custodial parent since D-day and he can’t stand that I have decision making authority. He is taking me back to court on lies and his families money backing him. Post divorce he has aggressively pushed me and my husband, gotten into our mail box, stalked us, got into my face at baseball games, neglected the kids, etc etc etc. Y’all know the list. What is the most frustrating is professional people actually buy into his pitty even AFTER they see the evidence of his toxic behavior and then they turn to me to fix the problem because they actually believe they CAN fix it/him. They view me as the weak link so I’m the one they work on to bend. CN please pray that this custody evaluator gets it! They were recommended by domestic violence victim turned lawyer and counselor.

        • SC–did you document (with dates) all the instances of abuse & stalking? There is NO way on this green earth you should be forced by EXPERTS to have enhanced contact with someone who has exhibited violent behavior toward you.

          How old are your children? If they are at least 11, their wishes will matter.

          • Southern, I have been in court many times. You might be emotional but try not to be. The court only wants facts. Write down everything. Copy every email and every text. I mean everything. If he’s in the room with you notify him that you are recording him. Do not leave one thing out. This man is a raging narcissist and you need to be prepared for how ugly it can get.

            • Your state might allow you to record without his knowledge but you need to find out. Also every judge is different. Your attorney will guide you on that. Some like the minutiae and others want a succinct report. An example is: he is late bringing them back every time. The long version is every date. You need the number of times etc. so be a good record keeper but don’t appear petty.
              I wish you luck
              Btw, in my state, unless there is a compelling reason not to, a child can choose which parent after age 14.

        • I’ll pray, but they are not going to get it.

          You’ll have to win an Oscar for acting; I’m so sorry. Be the sweetest, nicest, most deferential person you can possibly fake. It’s just for a few hours. Be as lovely as you possibly can; I guarant-fricking-tee you your X will be piling it on as well. Don’t try to manipulate HIM, just find your inner lovely. Which shouldn’t be hard, because you do actually have a soul. Then all X complaints will make HIM look cranky.

          Mirror back verbally word for word what they say. It’s a linguistic tactic that makes them feel agreed with. That way you don’t have to make up lies. “So, you’re saying I need to be more open?” (Inner gag reflex.)

          Good luck.

      • I can say for a fact that we have not really moved the needle on domestic violence very much. Cheating is on the list for abusive behavior, not that anyone really takes it seriously. Bottom line, if you have proof of physical abuse, stalking or other threatening behavior you have to take it to court and get a protective order. Record interactions, get a surveillance system, you need proof and circumstantial evidence and character witnesses that can attest to violent outbursts and such. if some of your evidence is weak you really need the last bit more. I know from experience, I am so glad I had no children with exasshole.

        • I really think it depends on where you live. I too, have experienced DV, just not with this cheating husband. My first husband was a physical abuser and the last go-round he threatened to kill me in front of our 5 kids. Our sheriff’s department and county attorney got on it and did everything they could to help me and I took it. I also live in a rural area where not a whole hell of a lot happens and resources are not stretched as thin. It helps when a domestic abuse victim has no say as to whether or not charges will be pressed. That’s strictly up to the county attorney where I live. He was prosecuting it as far as he could and what I had to say about it didn’t matter much. It takes a lot of pressure and responsibility off the victims.

          I was very fortunate.

    • I went through this 5 months ago. I explained that I have adopted a method of parallel parenting in which we dissociate from one another and only focus on our daughter during exchanges to avoid any conflict in her presence. The evaluator thought it was a very good approach. Remember, if your divorce has gotten far enough to need an eval, everyone obviously knows there’s lots of conflict.

    • First, maintain a calm and pleasant demeanor. Do not think this counselor is your friend and confidant; she isn’t. Treat her as you would the judge. Explain to her that your X has a history of abusive and manipulative behavior. If necessary, provide one or two of the worst examples such as “he was impaired at my daughter’s birthday party” or “he failed to pick our daughter up for his scheduled visitation” or “he threatened me physically in my child’s presence.” Document that he has never taken her to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist, etc. In fact, document everything..

      Do not be defensive, Instead, be “sad” and regretful that you cannot have a relationship with him, because to do so will only damage your daughter further. What folks like your X try to do is make YOU look like the unreasonable one, and manipulative people are very good at directing the narrative.

      In child custody matters, being the most reasonable, calm person is the going to get you very far. Make it clear that you want your child to have a relationship with her dad (try not to throw up in your mouth when you are say this), and that you believe it is in her best interest to develop her own relationship with him. You should not be the intermediary between the two of them.

      At the same time, say that it is best that your daughter be shielded from the “conflict” which led to your divorce in the first place. Turn the narrative around! Explain that you are interacting with your X in a way that protects your child from confusing signals which might lead her to believe that reconciling with your X is a possibility. It is very, very important that you discuss this in a very calm, almost analytical fashion and make it clear that your primary focus is the well-being of your daughter.

      By the way, I personally think this counselor is full of shit, but she holds a certain power, so you cannot ignore her. You can, however use her own reasoning to your advantage. After all, it’s all about your daughter’s best interests, isn’t it? (Excuse the sarcasm; if your X gave a shit about his daughter, he wouldn’t have cheated in the first place, right? Not that you will get many so-called therapists to acknowledge this very basic fact).

      • All of this is great advise and will be re-reading this over and over again as I prepare. Thank you! Any other advise anyone can throw my way will be helpful.

        • Southern Chump – I just wanted to wish you luck!!! He sounds like a psycho narc!!!! There is good advice above. Stay calm, bring all documentation and put on the best performance of your life! Sending hugs

  • From personal experience IntheDriversSeatNow you can go either way. Once you have achieved “meh” which it seems you have then you are free to decide what you want.

    If you feel comfortable saying hello then say it.

    If you feel comfortable keeping things the way they are then keep it that way.

    You are in the drivers seat now (not him) and you decide what you can and can’t do.

    If he is being a good farther to the children and not doing any of the stupidity that most cheating narcissist do after divorce then maybe he earned the hello. Either way it is you who decides!

    ——————–

    Not to be selfish but to bring my own life experience into this. My X has done everything wrong once DDay happened to the max extremes of lying under oath and accusing me of some of the most horrific crimes a parent can be accused of such as sexually molesting and physically abusing our daughter. She still to this day continues to do so and our daughter fights her every step of the way that she is lying.

    In that situation there will never be any circumstances that I would say “HELLO” to her. Hell we do not even go to each others doors to get our daughter. At one point my x (to put on a show) demanded all drop offs and pick ups be made at the police station. This continued until a judge said ENOUGH this is effecting your child with this nonsense and said drop offs and pick ups can be done at each-others homes just DON’T get out of the damm car! (Yes the judge said that).

    Point being IntheDriversSeatNow is that you make the decision, some cases (like mine) the decision was made way before I reached meh.

    • Thanks! He did lots of the crappy narcasistic things I know so many of you have had to put up with including cutting my child support to the bone 12 weeks into separation because I was too aggressive lol! I wasn’t I just stopped bowing to him and his wants! There was more than one other woman, he’s a naracisstic little man and choosing to ignore him and going no contact has been the best way to deal with him. I just wonder how having separated parents that don’t speak affects my girls – they occasionally say they wished we got on like some other divorced parents friends of theirs. I hope like I’m modelling its ok not to be friends with someone who treats you like crap!

      • “I’m modelling its ok not to be friends with someone who treats you like crap!”

        Yes, you are doing this for sure! Your X sounds just as petty and childish as mine with all of these accusations of “aggressive” behavior. It’s not aggressive to turn your head to someone who did such horrible things to you and your family, then ramps it up with retaliatory behavior like cutting child support. Screw him! He gets nothing from you. Your girls will hopefully come to know in time that you are drawing boundaries/standing up for yourself in the face of devastation, and that spackling over a bad situation does nothing to help it. Dollars to donuts, many of those divorced parents of their friends are “friendly” with each other in appearances only.

      • I think the key thing here is whether you’ve been upfront about the reason for the divorce. You can report the fact that the divorce is due to cheating (in whatever age appropriate way you’d like to use to explain), but you don’t need to editorialize (the Cheating X is a lying coward who deserves to have his dick fall off).

        If the children know the reason, then when they wax nostalgic about how much they miss everyone getting along, you can say things like, “I know how you feel, but unfortunately that’s not possible after your father broke his vow to me.” Modeling how you draw and maintain boundaries will be important for your children.

      • Driver, very good point: “I hope like I’m modelling its ok not to be friends with someone who treats you like crap!”
        Keep it up!

        I don’t think Meh is equivalent to being able to exchange pleasantries with soul-torturing cheaters. I think it is removing them totally from our thoughts. I still curse my cheater and I want to stop cursing. I still think of how it could be if he were the decent man I thought he was. I want to stop wasting my time over this. I want to walk past him and not recognize the face!

        But we could have a definition of Meh survey, that could help us!

  • “Save the difficult displays of superficial pleasantness for the occasions that really matter — like your daughters’ weddings. You can nod to each other across the punchbowl.”

    “And it doesn’t sound like he’s longing for further impression management anyway. Some do.”

    Well, that is exactly my current difficulty with Sparkledick, there is a grey line for what “really matters”. My ex-H, who stole and cheated on me for years as I found out in the process of D-day (HPV, paying his siblings debts, $$sssss spent on schmoopies and getting into debt, etc.) wants to be at son’s wedding. And my son says he would like it if I were OK with this, but respects my wishes….

    Guests will stay at a B&B in the country for two days and I know sparkles will prance around trying to be cool and play the poor misunderstood man. He is the king of impression management and, according to what my sons pass along to me, he is full swing at it: “it’s your mother’s fault I did not have a good career”. On what would have been our wedding anniversary I get a text (I’ve blocked him) “I betrayed my promises to the priest, but I will always love you”. Give me a break!

    I am so divided. I don’t know how you stomach this DriversSeat. I will be alone, you have a partner to back you up. When I think I’m reaching Meh, new shit pops up. The unending suffering of breeding with a fuckwit….

    • Oh Clearwaters, I just went through this in July. My son got married here in France and the ex and latest Schmoopie (I have no ax to grind with her) came over from the States. I do not have a partner. On the Monday night ex phoned and asked if I wanted to go out for a drink with them!!!! so I just said no thanks, I’ll see you at the wedding. We were civil at the wedding and luckily not seated at the same table so the evening was ok. True to form, ex propped the bar up until 5 a.m. (I looked at my sister and said “thank God I’m no longer having to deal with that”!) and Schmoopie left at 10.30 pm because “she couldn’t deal with all this French” – she was seated at a table of English speakers. The next day the kids had a brunch so I ended up talking to him for quite some time and you know what, it was ok. Schmoopie was definitely weird but I was polite, as was my family, but man, did she behave like she had a poker stuck up her ass! It had me leaving there thinking “ha, bloody ha, he’s getting what he deserves”, which was confirmed a couple of weeks later by my youngest son telling Schmoopie was a nag, and weird and spilling quite a few beans what had obviously come from his dad. I don’t know what you will decide but I would be inclined to have your son invite him if that is what he wants, then surround yourself with family/friends and stay the hell away from him. Failing that, a couple of stiff G & Ts might help. Good luck – I don’t think it will be as bad as you fear.

      • I should add that ex was violent and left me in a mess financially but he now lives in the States and I am in Europe so I have nothing to do with him. My son, the one getting married, still wanted his dad there and I went with that for his sake. After that – no contact. One down one to go.

    • ClearWaters, I know how your are feeling and had a lot of anxiety about being around my ex during our son’s wedding. Just wanted you to know that it went much better than I thought it would. We were each surrounded by our own friends and family members. My ex actually seemed to be having a harder time than I was, he was on the verge of tears at one point and spent much of the night trying to avoid me and my parents (I think he was especially afraid of my dad). In the end I even walked over and asked him to dance, and we danced a few songs but could think of nothing to say to each other. Finally I left and didn’t bother to say goodbye to him. The whole affair was a little awkward but not too bad. Honestly, it was fairly early days so I took a small amount of Xanax just to stay calm which helped a lot. Just be sure to surround yourself with good friends for support.

      • Thanks Attie and Lyn for sharing your experience. You both are brave.

        I think I could handle briefly glimpsing sparkledick’s shit-eating grin during a party (Lyn I KNOW my ex would not have a hard time like yours did; he has what we call in my country a “wooden face” and he would buy out the stock of furniture polish before hand).

        But I guess deep down my true issue is my son wanting his dad at his wedding and wanting me to be OK with this and criticizing me for not being cool about it.

        • Clearwaters, my oldest son (the one that got married) also wanted his dad at the wedding. I felt like I had “lost” him to an extent because while he may not have sided with his dad he never cut him out. He once told me that he worried about his dad because I was tough and dad was fragile (sure didn’t feel like that when he was beating the shit out of me). But I know what he means. I am tough and always will be while his dad is a whirling dervish of chaos who staggers from one self-made catastrophe to the next. He earns more than me, has the same bills, and Schmoopie works and even now I have money in the bank and he is slowly sinking down the financial plug hole. So I get it. His dad will always be a part of his life but they were both so relieved when dad moved back to the States – just get him the hell out of here. That being said, my ex left me almost 8 years ago and I am 6 years divorced and it is only recently that I am just indifferent to him. I was just to tired of hating him. In the end, he will be his own prize – Schmoopie’s a cow, he can’t live on his own, it won’t be too long before there are money problems again and he is a drunk. His prize is being him. Big hugs to you – you will be ok in the end.

  • So glad this was the blog post today!! I’ve been struggling with this very thing for so long. I am no contact unless we’re sitting in our court ordered parenting therapy session, which forces me to engage with him on child related matters, otherwise it’s all email. He petitioned for parenting therapy, bitching and whining for months about how I won’t talk to him or model to our daughter what forgiveness and friendship could look like between her parents. It’s all a mind game and his ongoing attempt at portraying himself as the victim in all of this. Makes me sick. Thank you CL for your thoughts on this matter.

    • NO you are modeling mightiness which is worth more! That’s rich that he seems complaining about you not modeling good behavior when he’s the one who is a lying cheater! Gosh, their level of hypocrisy is just astonishing.

    • ChumpyChump, my ex also had plans for us to be “friends” immediately after D-day, and got really mad when it didn’t work out that way (I asked him to stay away from me during our separation). After that he went gray rock and has barely answered even an email regarding financial with a full sentence. At first it really bothered me that we couldn’t communicate, but now I know he just decided to cut off contact because he couldn’t control the narrative. My counselor backed me up and said not to even try to be friends for many years..that possibly we could manage when grandkids came along but not to be surprised if it never happens.

  • I can’t imagine engaging in civil pleasantries with stbx. I regret being nice during the pick me dance- falling right into his hands. I wrote him an apology letter which I regret. He has never once apologized for anything and says I never did until he was leaving which is not true.

    He is disordered and has said he wants to be friends. He doesn’t meet my requirements for a friend. He is too disordered to get that and he doesn’t really have friends, everyone is disposable.

    I hate being being polite in my emails to him concerning the kids. They are few and I follow the BIFF model but it feels so fake and forced because it is. I saw his father at the deposition and just stared at him. He is in a wheel chair and can’t speak. I think some people think I should feel sorry for him but his mind works and he is supporting his son and his whore. We are not divorced yet. STBX and inlaws are one unit and I have to divorce all 3 of them. His mom is involved in helping him try to hide assets and fil goes along with it all.

    This weekend, I was shopping with my daughter and dd saw mil walk by. I did not see her but dd is pretty sure she saw us. She has not seen us since last December and she avoided us. I can’t ever see being around any of them again. They have hurt me to the core. No matter what they think I did, I never lied to them. They are pure evil in my book.

    I read about someone on this site months ago who sent the inlaws she liked an email stating she appreciated them but was breaking all contact. I get that and need something like that to send to the family and friends that don’t understand that you can’t have Switzerland when you are betrayed this deeply.

    • I also wrote a letter and apologized for anything I did in the marriage that led to that point. He also said I never apologized throughout our marriage. Mine wanted to be friends too. I told him “I don’t want a friend. I wanted a husband. A friend would never do what you did to me. I can make new friends that won’t hurt me.” The more I read here the more I realize they are ALL THE SAME.

      • “He doesn’t meet my requirements for a friend.”

        That’s definitely how I felt when my ex started pressing me to be friends for the sake of the kids after D-day. He even told me we would still have many good times with our sons and their “lovely ladies.” I thought that was downright creepy.

      • This was one of the final things that pushed me over the “need to divorce” edge … after reading something here (sorry, I’ve read so much — I can’t recall which post!), I thought, “Would I ever choose to be friends with someone like my husband given what I’ve found out about him?”

        The answer was an unequivocal “NO.” I don’t purposefully hang out with people self-centered, moral-less, perverted, entitled assholes.

        Worse than that … it then dawned on me that I would never, ever knowingly allow someone like this around my kids ……. Definitely a wake-up call.

  • I felt the same way, Driver’s Seat! I wondered if I was “the bad guy” now because I am no contact. I think my kid’s dad really thought I would just buck up and keep sending him pics and manage his relationship with her as I did when we were married. (He even used to joke that I was a single mom from the get go!) The last time I spoke with him in June he “accused” me of treating my daughter “like a busines” because I am not coparenting with him, i.e. being nice to him or exchanging pleasantries. After that, I realized that I have a right to NOT have this knucklehead in my life! My kid’s relationship is hers to have with him. I make sure she is safe and am the sane parent. I am responsible for putting the monthly calendar for school on “my family wizard” and other info about school, medical and after school activities. I am responsible for helping to facilitate his parenting time and that is pretty much it. He chooses not to show up to schoolparent night or claim he didn’t know about such and such and i can direct him to the app. I always inform him about her in the app. If I slip back into my old way of enabling (reminding him about things, making sure he shows up to pickup, etc.) I will help him to not be responsible for his own relationship with her but continue to look as if he is…It doesn’t help anyone, most of all, my kid and me. And, I also refuse to give him any help with his image management. I am so done with that.

  • Funny this column appears today after a meeting with a nurse, who divulged confidential health information about my ex to me and a social worker that shamed me for the lack of contact FOTY has with his son – Foty left when DS was3, he’s 11 now. I squelched the urge to The expectations we have ourselves and society has of us. I applaud the author for being able to forego fake friendliness/interest/small talk with the person that blew up their family unit.

    I fought the urge to do an info dump on the social worker about Foty’s transgressions. I cannot be at meh if this crap still triggers me. I should be at a place of “Bless your heart for your concern”.

    Bravo to you all that navigate this better than I.

    I actively avoid contact with my ex. It’s exhausting. I spend far too much mental energy on our communications. Since our visitation is reasonable access upon reasonable request – which I used to figure out a schedule and ensure he complied but after 7 years, I said enuf. If He wants to see his son (DD refuses to have anything to do with pink cow 2.0 – the affair partner replacement) HD can do the work.

    True colours appear when you lift the filter of we need to get along. No parenting requests since April 2017.

  • Thanks Chump Lady and for everyone’s comments. This blog has been a revelation to me and aided my recovery no end. I guess I want to make sure I’m doing the best for my girls and behaving in the best way for them (even if it isn’t what I want to do). I’m trying to be the bigger person but I just can’t bare him!

    • I did tell my kid that it although I am happy for her to have a relationship with her dad (and that the relationship is hers) that I will not be friends with her dad. It is still confusing for her even though I have told her age appropriate truth minus the commentary. I told her that the reasons have nothing to do with her relationship with him. I keep encouraging her to let him know how she is feeling or to tell him when she is uncomfortable or has questions…she has flat out told me she doesn’t want to talk to him about anything and wants answers from me. This is so hard to get right and it is a work in progress…
      I just cannot bare him either!

      • that’s the one I have trouble understanding. My stbx is not capable of a healthy relationship with his children. He is so narcissistic that everything is about him. He doesn’t get their needs at all. He continues to tell the kids that he was so abused and they need to be nice to him. He is hurting. He doesn’t get at all that his leaving hurt them.

        If they challenge him on anything, he responds with an attack on me. You are using feeling it’s words, she taught you well or some form of that. If I really am this mentally ill bitch that he tells them I am, shouldn’t he be trying to rescue the kids? I have this image in my head that the house was on fire and he ran out and didn’t mention to the firefighters that his kids were still inside. It is not true though. The therapist the kids are seeing have told both me and the kids that if I were as crazy as stbx says, it would have left a mark and it just isn’t there. They are doing too well in their lives for me to be so insane.

        He is the one who has cut off contact because he says the kids are disrespectful and it is all crazy feelingit’s doing. When asked about custody under oath, he said doesn’t want physical custody and he is undecided to what he wants outside of that. ??? who is crazy?

        He doesn’t want to parent and he shows no sign of knowing how. How did I miss that for 24 years? Spackle is amazing stuff.

    • Leave the fake pleasantries for the new man in your life. Let him be the one to shield it. A good man will smile, help the kids carry all their stuff from his car, shake hands at school events, bitch about the Dallas Cowboys needing a new defensive coordinator, and think nothing of it.

    • If you don’t NEED TO bare him (see a serious situation above that is an exception) then don’t. Give yourself permission to continue on in your current manner and then forget about it. My thoughts to my x are as follows:

      Dear x – I own a claw hammer. See how it is not buried in your windshield? Or in your forehead? Please consider that your “Hi, how are you?!”

    • “I don’t like him, there’s something fundamental wrong with him and I don’t want to be friends or even pleasant to him.” InTheDriversSeatNow, this is EXACTLY how I feel about X, and I’ll be damned if he gets anything else out of me for the same reasons you give (shattering a family, health concerns, etc.) I have found that I have to be careful, however, because if I even phrase something not to his liking he gets way overly defensive to the point of victimizing himself — pretending (honestly, maybe he even believes it, who knows) to be afraid for his safety, illogical passive aggressive behavior — or he pretends not to understand what I’m saying in an effort to get me riled up/make me look like the bad guy. For the most part, I have been able to go as no contact as I can with success (we have a 2-year-old daughter, so kind of impossible to do it completely, or it would have been done and done), but the forced interaction alone has made me tight-lipped — not saying hello/goodbye, not acknowledging him beyond anything having to do with our daughter. Impolite? Sure, but he did the most “impolite” thing of all when he undermined our marriage with prostitute use for years. It’s hardly unfair/mean when you really think about it. Especially when I’m not able to be rid of him for another couple of decades. Kids will grow, and it will be “over” at some point though. Hang tight, enjoy the kids and your new life. *hugs*

      • ” I have found that I have to be careful, however, because if I even phrase something not to his liking he gets way overly defensive to the point of victimizing himself — pretending (honestly, maybe he even believes it, who knows) to be afraid for his safety, illogical passive aggressive behavior — or he pretends not to understand what I’m saying in an effort to get me riled up/make me look like the bad guy”

        Omg ^^^^This exactly^^^^

        It’s like they ride this imaginary high horse where they are doing their very best at coping with your inadequacy. Their behavior is completely left out of the equation, but your responses are under constant scrutiny.
        – They notice the kids are sick, why haven’t YOU taken them to the doctor? Even though they were with them.
        – They refuse to give you money (during divorce with no court order yet) and then act shocked that you didn’t order the kids sports pictures while you are struggling to put food on the table.
        – insert 500 other examples here.

        It’s a one way street with these crazies! They wouldn’t know the meaning of reciprocity if it hit them in the forehead with a sledge hammer. They are just so perplexed and don’t understand “why” you can’t get it together!

        I especially despise the implied messages to the kids that their is something wrong with me because I can’t just “be his friend for the kids sake” and how “sad he feels for them that they have to go through all of this. Then he throws in some minor compliment to make it seem like “he cares about me.” The intended message is received but then covered up with the impression of caring. The kids walk away thinking “oh, he says nice things about mom, too bad she can’t be his friend.” The magical high horse is similar to the unicorn, it seems real to the outside observer, but it is just another smoke screen to cover up their bad behavior. They get sprinkled in victim dust, their behavior is wiped away, and the only thing that remains is the scrutiny of your response. Unless you’ve lived it, it’s very hard to understand. It’s often chalked up to labels like, bitter, unforgiving, failure to move on, when really it is simply a boundary for self-preservation and a choice that was made in response to a long standing pattern of behavior that you finally caught in to.

  • Sounds to me like you have healthy boundaries. In fact, it’s possible that your healthy boundaries are exactly what’s keeping the BS at a minimum. My vote is, keep on keepin’ on, just as you are. 🙂

  • I’m cordial around my ex when the kids are around. They witnessed enough dysfunction while we were married, and I don’t want to put them through any more. If that means I need to be “friendly” with my ex when they’re around, then so be it. It sucks, but I get through it with the mindset that it’s for my children’s benefit. They certainly didn’t deserve to have their lives torn apart, so I’m willing to suffer their mother at their activities if it’s for their benefit.

    Does it suck, do I sometimes feel like I want to rip her a new one, do I still think about what happened every time I see her? Yes, yes, and yes. But my children are way more important to me than worrying about seeing my ex from time to time.

    • “They certainly didn’t deserve to have their lives torn apart, so I’m willing to suffer their mother at their activities if it’s for their benefit.”

      Agreed, Blindside. X already dealt my daughter a bad hand before she was even born, and I don’t want to continue the trend. With so much else out of our control throughout this whole ordeal, we still have control over this. That BS stops with me.

    • I do the same thing. We are amicable and get along when we need to be together for our son’s sake. My STBX did something terrible but he is still being an actively involved loving/father, happily paying for everything our son needs, co-parenting well No arguments from him over a very good settlement for us/time sharing, etc. I know a great father wouldn’t do this to their child but outwardly he is good to him – it’s confusing- like the sick compartmentalization that he used to separate our family and his AP. Every situation is different and people are different but for me for now this works.

      We’ll discuss again in the future how amicable I will be if he ever brings around his dangerous psychotic AP around our son!! Then the claws will come out!

  • InTheDriversSeat, I barely acknowledge my exh. We do talk or text when it comes to the children or particular situations. Since the divorce, however, there is no small talk or chit chat. I don’t say “hello” when he comes to get the children and I would not acknowledge him if I saw him out in public.

  • If it ever comes up and is so far has not, I intend to ask if they seriously (whoever it is) want me to be friendly to my soul raping abuser! Nuf said…

    • Newlady 15, THIS^^^! I have given aversion of this response. Will we sit together at the graduation? I don’t sit with criminals( my ex forged my signature on a second mortgage and had my money refunded to him from a doctor’s office). Will you invite dad to the party? I don’t attend parties with abusers. I didn’t invite the man who mugged me in Chicago either–same thing.

      If a stranger approached you on the street, verbally abused you, stole your life savings, threatened to kidnap your children, and then injected you with a vile of an incurable disease, NO ONE would say that it wasn’t a crime and then have the nerve to suggest you become “friends” with the person. The fact that I knew my soul raping abuser for a long time does not cease to make it abuse!

      • Yeah, Jojobee! Well said. I wish my sons would get this point!!!

        If their breeder owned slaves would they want him at their weddings?

        Hell, the father of Maxima, the current queen of the Netherlands, could not attend her wedding to prince Willem-Alexander because he had been a minister of the Argentinian dictatorship.

  • I was incredibly “nice” after D-day because that’s who I am and I thought things would work out and I had only found reconciliation blogs
    But being “nice” only prolonged the cake – as cheater still had access to my friendship and wisdom and family management – and it made it seem to outsiders and kids that what he’d done really wasn’t that bad
    I also missed him after 30 years so no contact was incredibly hard
    Then I realized being “nice” WAS HURTING ME – and finally went no contact for my own sanity and healing (die hopium die).
    So I don’t badmouth him to kids but I am clear that we are not only not married we are not “friends.”
    People want you to be “friends” because it makes it less awkward for them!
    As I’ve moved through divorce – destruction of finances – stress on kids – a better question to me is why do we expect kids to be “friends” with cheater as the entire family was betrayed and abused! Is it reallly best for kids to be friends with liars and cheaters?

    • So many things in this post that I am nodding my head to…

      “But being “nice” only prolonged the cake – as cheater still had access to my friendship and wisdom and family management – and it made it seem to outsiders and kids that what he’d done really wasn’t that bad”

      Yes, even as the relationship petered out, I was wasting my kindness and wisdom and heavy lifting on someone not worthy. He got the support he needed during this “tough time” and I got…??? Also, impression management — not on me! I was living in reality and remaining true to myself and my principles. I might look like a cold-hearted bitch to those who can’t see that he was the one who totaled the marriage and allowed a child to be brought into the world without her mother knowing the depth of his selfishness.

      “Then I realized being “nice” WAS HURTING ME – and finally went no contact for my own sanity and healing (die hopium die).”

      We need distance to get some perspective. Once I had this, nothing about him looked appealing at all. Then I could start to cut those strings and forge ahead on my own, growing stronger by having a better grasp of what was and was not acceptable to me.

      “So I don’t badmouth him to kids but I am clear that we are not only not married we are not “friends.””

      This is a fine line, but I think the way you word it is right where it should be drawn. Saying bad things in the vicinity of the kids is damaging to whatever relationship they chose to have with X (and might make you look “mean” in their eyes), but they do need to know that you are not friends so their expectations are not high (and therefore dashable) for things like the possibility of you getting back together, interactions in public, etc. AND they have an idea of how to behave in respect to your feelings too. This is not to say it is preferable to have any communication regarding X quashed or have kids bend to your wishes, but rather that they see you as a human being and are respectful of things that make you sad/uncomfortable, just as you would for them.

      “People want you to be “friends” because it makes it less awkward for them!”

      Yes! And this is why this whole “conscious uncoupling” agenda is being pushed society-side, even in the case of cheaters and chumps. I say that once all of the damage is done and it’s all out on the table (or at least as much as we’ll ever see of it), it’s no longer about appearances and becomes about healing and righting oneself. If that bothers people NOT directly involved with the relationship and/or they can’t quite wrap their mind around this level of devastation, let them go/don’t engage. It’s not their mess, they don’t have to deal with the clean up.

    • TiredChump – I think I’m kind of stuck here in the being nice for our child’s sake. I only interact w him when I have to at an event for our son that we are both at. But when I see him we get along. I’ve told him I only want to talk to him about co-parenting matters through OFW app and no texts/emails. We are only 3 months out/divorce almost final, so I am still finding my way!!!! It’s a shit sandwhich all around!

  • My children are older, and I’ve been very forward with them. I tell them their dad is not my friend, he is their dad. It is okay for them to love him, but I do not have to be his friend. The best thing I can do for them, is model that they should never accept bad treatment from someone.

    When he was living here for the six months of hell after I filed, they witnessed their dad come and go as he pleased, with no consideration for them, or me for that matter. Talking to his girlfriend on the phone, missing kids school appointments so he could sleep with smoopsie, sleeping in the guest bedroom (with its own bath) but Comming into my room every morning to get ready. Putting off moving his things down to the guest room because “he was super busy!” For a long time I let this go on because I was not going to do the work for him, but it got to the point where he was doing whatever he wanted and I suffered (pretty much the pattern of our marriage). One overnight with smoopsie… oh, uh… “work meeting” which resulted in the rescheduling of our sons IEP meeting, I took every item of his in our bedroom and dumped it on the guest room floor. The kids were horrified at MY BEHAVIOR. There were a ton of other instances that I had to establish that I was not putting up with his desire to do whatever he wanted at my expense. For their entire lives I modeled “smooth it over, make him happy,” so the transition to modeling standing up for yourself was a shock for them. Of course he used this norm to his advantage to paint my behavior as “out of control.” It took a long time and some hard lessons for them to understand I was NOT smoothing things over at my expense. My daughter graduated this year and I had a graduation party for her that ass-hat and his smoopsie came to. My kids asked, “you and dad are Going to get along for this right?” My response was, “As long as he respects my boundaries we will be cordial.” I am showing them that people who do not respect you do not get a pass.” I’m pretty sure I’ve established that boundary and ass-hat seems to have gotten the message. I am not his friend, I am the mother of our children together and though ” conscious uncoupling” would have been the ideal situation for them, but that isn’t the reality. He is the one who chose that path. I even gave him a second chance to go that route, even after he was screwing hookers… as long as he could respect a few simple requests; spend time with and take care of kids on your days (even though he still lived here). Consider he was not the only one living in this house, not coming in at all hours of the night. Refrain from openly dating until after he moved out. Move his things to his space, and show me a little respect and consideration. Even after serial cheating I gave him the second chance (actually after 2 d-days I’d say it was a 3rd chance) to do what was best for our kids, and he basically had the attitude of “you can’t tell ME what to do!” He had his chance to be friendly, but he chose the path we currently walk. Now he gets what he gets as a result of HIS behavior. My response to it is not the problem.

    • “My children are older, and I’ve been very forward with them. I tell them their dad is not my friend, he is their dad. It is okay for them to love him, but I do not have to be his friend. The best thing I can do for them, is model that they should never accept bad treatment from someone.”

      Got-a-brain — you have got quite a brain. Your kids will see that too (and I’m sure already do)!

    • Good God, Got-a-Brain. I could not stomach one trillionth of the shit you put up with. Getting ready in your room??? Schmoopie at a pijama party at your house? I would be in jail!

  • Everyone on here has a different situation and everyone has to do what works best for him/her. In my case, I have a generally cordial relationship with my almost ex (should be tomorrow) because it makes everything else easier if I do. It makes it easier to coordinate parenting and it makes it easier for the kids to see us generally getting along. It also made it easier to get a good settlement and it will make it easier to get him to follow through on the things that might be difficult to enforce through the courts. It makes it easier to get his help with the kids when I need it outside of his regularly scheduled kid time. Not going off on him around his relatives also makes it easier for me to maintain relationships with them as they are still important to me (they have been as supportive of me as they can be under the circumstances). All of that being said, however, it is a very fine line to walk because I don’t want to be seen as condoning his choices or his relationship with Schmoopie. I display just enough ire and disappointment to him and others to let it be known that I don’t hate him but I hate what he did and I am not ok with it. I have also made it clear to him that I have no intention of ever making nice with Schmoopie. I won’t stand in the way of whatever relationship the kids choose to have with her and I won’t do anything to make them feel guilty, but as for me, I want nothing to do with her whatsoever. I have a good reason not to like her and I will defend my right not to like her. Realistically, I have every reason not to like almost ex either, but we share kids and my life and the kid’s lives will be easier if I can at least fake it. I see no need to do that with Schmoopie (other than maybe over the punch bowl at a kid’s wedding) and I would like to think that, as long as I keep all of those imaginary rants about her to myself, other people will be considerate of and in most cases even understanding of my choice to not make friends. It would be unnatural for me to be friendly towards her. For many here, it would be unnatural to be friendly towards the ex too.

    • Chumpinrecovery – I feel the same way as you do. It. Is a very hard personal choice and all situations are different. They all suck!!!

  • I was just thinking about this topic as Back-to-School night was this week for my youngest child who is now in high school. Found out X, who rarely attends BTS nights was attending (because impressiom management, I guess). I did not sit with him, chit chat or “act friendly” and never do at public events such as this. I will not pretend we are a happy family or friends – we are not. He thinks we should be and still berates me regularly for not “putting on a united front for the kids.” I do worry that others (those who have no first hand experience with infidelity) may judge as “bitter” and I was thinking how to respond if someone asked me why I can’t “just be friends” with X.

    What I want say: I cannot be friends with X because
    10+ years of cheating
    2 years of pick me dancing
    6 OW
    10 (or more) prostitutes
    $60,000 in dissipated marital assets which I did not recover
    $40,000 of college savings spent on divorce and establishing separate residences
    $35,000 in legal fees just for me
    1 child with confirmed PTSD
    And of course, the general lying, discard behaviors ans STD testing.

    What I decided to say instead: Fool me once, shame on him. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  • Thank you so much inthedrviersseat and chump lady for this blog today! I needed it. I have a 8 month old daughter and have been really struggling with how the relationship between myself and POSH will be for the rest of her life. Right now I do not speak to him. Unless it is about my daughter “her food is in the fridge” “please put diaper cream on her becuase she has a little rash” etc. Well the divorce is about to be settled and finalized and I got this email from him “I wanted to talk to you about a few things but since you do not speak to me I figured I would email”. It really upset me becuase I thought “why do I have to talk to him!” HE LEFT US! Also, he never speaks to me either. Never asks about the baby. Nothing. I don’t want to be the bigger person. I am much happier not talking to him. But he still gets in my head and makes me feel awful like I’m not doing the right thing by my daughter.

    Honestly, I’m a better mom because I don’t talk to her dad. I’m in a better mood and am happier not speaking to him. I think she deserves a happy mom rather than an upset distraught mom who fakes a conversation with her dad.

    • Sad sausage speak. You feel guilty because you were the party in this relationship that cared. All he wants is to not be the bad guy. Honestly, as much email communication only as you can manage is for the best. I have a folder in my email for information exchanged about our toddler-aged daughter for my reference (having proof I told him because he frequently “forgets” and just in case). Your last paragraph says it all…and it’s something about which I feel the same. We’re better without them and their continued mind games.

    • IIWII, it just breaks my heart that he can abandon his wife and 8 month old innocent newborn. It’s just awful that he never asks about he baby. For the life of me, I see so many of my friends that wanted to have children, but life made it so they never did, and how they would die to have a child. And this guy was blessed with a daughter and doesn’t even ask about her. It just disgusts me. He must be severely disordered to not even have bonded with his own daughter. He must have some mental screws loose in the head. There is no way a normal human being could abandon their child like that. You have every right to be pissed at him. He’s a vile excuse for a human. BIG HUGS to you and your daughter.

    • It is so annoying that these creeps think they are entitled to decent treatment from their spouses. If any of us are cordial to our exes it’s a gift and they should treat it as such and be grateful. Obviously that’s not going to happen, however, as they were clearly nevergrateful for how well they were treated in the marriage.

  • This is another timely post and is so helpful to chumps. After asshat left the first time for schmoopie 1.0, our kids were 2 & 4 years old. Until our home sold that he insisted on putting on the market right away, I would find him sitting on the couch after he had moved out for the twu wuvs. He would eat the dinner I prepared, eat the kids leftovers, and sit on the floor playing with them then leave. I was left consoling a 4 y.o. little boy in hysterics after he left and crying ‘Why doesn’t my daddy love me anymore?’. Shit got real when the kids and I moved into our new smaller home and he got visitation Wed nights and every other weekend. Came a begging back as I get the twu wuv sparkles loose their shine when you can’t come and go as you please and play family man/dad.

    I recognized the signs when he was pursuing our daughter’s 20-something y.o. high school coach years later. I immediately booted his ass to the guest bedroom and told him he needed to live somewhere else. He moved out about 3 weeks later, and yes he came and went as he pleased to date his young schmoopie–dressed up and lots of cologne on the 48 y.o. man child.

    I guess he thought I would continue being accomodating as he would ask permission to come into the house to check on our daughter or to pay the bills. I was finishing up those ducks and allowed. Then I changed the locks. He initially asked me to continue sitting with him at kids events. He texted me about the kids. I found CL and CN and went no contact. They are teenagers, have cell phones, and are perfectly capable of managing their communications with him. Teenage daughter didn’t speak to him for months.

    Now he and young schmoopie are all hot and heavy. Doing things with my teenagers. She’s trying to be the super cool fun girlfriend of their dad. Trying to plan risky, exciting things with them all. They want to chill, watch tv, and eat 😛 They aren’t extra sparkly.

    He is not my friend. I don’t chat with him. I text the very basics like “I got an overdue notice for daughter’s dental bill. Can you check on your part?” I don’t want nor need him in my life. I do feel bad for my kids. I do think about upcoming events like graduation. Thanks to the nation for helping each other!

  • My two narc cheating exes only ever wanted to send me idiotic nostalgic texts anyway, in some cases to triangulate me with their current woman.
    So I blocked ’em.

  • I sometimes think would it be better for my children if I just ate the shit sandwich and was friendly to STBX. The children are 3 and 3 months so I have a long time to have to share parenting. The problem I have with this is I think he is a horrible person. I’m not friends with people who used to bully me in school so why should I be friends with someone who willfully betrayed me, cheated whilst I was pregnant and lied to me.

    I think people still believe he just made a mistake and so I should just forgive him for the sake of the children. They still see him as a good guy who did some silly things. The fact he isn’t sorry and choose himself over me and his children and left me to be a single mum to two those small children shows to me that he isn’t a good guy.
    I also think that if my mum had not remained friends with my cheater father there is a possibility I may not have ended up as a chump myself. I can just see the cycle continuing and I would give anything to stop this happening to either of my children.

    • Pregnant chump,
      Please go with your gut. He is not a GOOD GUY. You KNOW this. We don’t have to partake in gaslighting ourselves. And, we don’t have to gaslight our children by showing them that no matter how horrible people are to us we have to just suck it up and still be “nice” to them. My dad was also a cheater and I agree that the fact that everyone thought he was a great guy set me up for chumpdom in a big way. Our society seems to be sending the message that some people are entitled to be endlessly abusive jerks and some people are just destined to be their whipping posts. I refuse to go along with that narrative. I don’t give a shit how jokey and shmoozy, and fun the Ex cheater SEEMS, I am not going to act like that makes his absolutely criminal behavior okay. And I am not going to show my kids that they are part of the chump underclass who were born to just take abuse.

    • I used to suffer from similar self doubt about my feelings, views, and actions. After being put through the chump meat grinder, I finally stopped doubting myself and dug into my resolve. Don’t let other people guilt you into doubting what you know to be right and true. My theme song is Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Put that song on repeat and STAND YOUR GROUND.

      (Note: That doesn’t mean closing the door to reasonable discourse and changing your mind when presented with compelling evidence. But if someone challenges you and you find their evidence or justification to be crap, then trust yourself first and foremost.)

      • I doubt I’ll ever be able to trust him again. This situation came after I gave him a 2nd chance not for cheating but for lying. He is a liar and our whole relationship was built on lies from the beginning. He is so covert in his activities that I still struggle to understand what happened. He couldn’t possibly be a lying, cheating emotional abuser because he is so nice. If he’s not those things then he is right there is something wrong with me and I am the real reason our lives got blown to pieces.

        • Pregnant chump you are not alone. I found out POSH was cheating when I was 7 months pregnant. He filed for divorce when baby was 1 month. I keep hearing “y’all are going to have to get over this for the sake of baby” “yall are going to have to grow up and learn to communicate”. I shouted at my very loving parents who I am so thankful for helping me with the baby “I’m not part of a “YALL” anymore”. I had to explain to them I can’t control anything that man does. If we could communicate we wouldn’t be getting divorced. I can only do what I feel is right for me and my daughter. And for right now that is not speaking to the bastard.

          Go with your gut. If you don’t talk to him who the hell cares. The kids are young so they don’t know right now. And eventually they will learn and understand why. If anyone understands what its like having an infant with a cheater it is me. You have to do whatever it is to keep you sane. And right now keep up the no contact!

          Stay strong for those precious angels! You are a great momma!

          • In 1992, I had a 3 year old and a newborn with hemophilia (bleeding disorder). He was carrying on with coworker EA he claimed. Nothing physical but he told me that he respected her more than me and cared for her more than me. I threw him out but a day later I took him back. My family was not supportive of me and they said he was such a “nice guy.” So I danced. Fast forward..married 29 years to an abusive, lying, raging, cheater. He never changed just got better at hiding it while I twisted myself into an unrecognizable version of myself. I swear I would have died, if I hadn’t found the courage to leave. November will be 2 years since I discovered the Craigslist solitations, the Ashley Madison account, the sexting..it has been a difficult road but worth it. I only wish I could turn back the clock and changed the locks 25 years ago. Starting over after a trauma like this has its challenges but believe in yourself and trust that you are worth it. Keep fighting. It gets better! I just graduated with my medical assistant certificate @ 50 and I look forward to my new life. Sure, I am facing challenges but it is so much better to be in control of my life and have peace in my home than have to deal with that worthless POS. He has a wonderful education, makes great money but he is soulless, porn addicted narc. No amount of money, material things, or trips can make up for the hell you will live if you decide to stay.
            Be smart. Choose to put yourself and your children first. Lord knows, he never will make you or the children a priority. I live with my 2 youngest and he has basically abandoned them in favor of new pursuits. I am left picking up the pieces as he just wants to be friends with all 4 of his kids. Three of his kids can’t stand him and our youngest (22y/o) told him to “fuck off ” after receiving a late evening happy birthday text. Second year in a row and idiot can’t even be bothered to call his child and talk to her. Geesh. Asshat says I’m mean. I just won’t engage. He wants to be friends..image mangement. They don’t deserve our friendship. He got the best years of my life. He gets nothing more from me but my disapproval and my unending distain.

  • One of the things I value most about my discovery of CL and CN is that I finally found the validation I needed and the empowerment I needed to say that what happened to me WAS NOT OK.

    It wasn’t ok that he could look me in the eye, say he was going out with friends, and went to hotels to meet Craigslist hookers instead.

    It wasn’t ok that he solicited sex online with women, couples and groups while I was busy caring the kids, working full-time, and running the house.

    It wasn’t ok that he wouldn’t so much as get a blood test and wear a condom to earn back my trust after D-day #3 and our sex life died.

    It wasn’t ok that he lied to another woman and abandoned his family to be with her and developed an attachment to her kids all while he was still active on Adult Friend Finder.

    And, if he had gone to jail for any of those abusive acts, I would not visit him. So, just because he’s walking around like nothing happened, doesn’t mean nothing happened… and he isn’t accountable.

    I, too, worry about the “she’s just bitter and angry” narrative that gets played around me by him (and his current brain-dead Schmoopie who is moving his parasitic whore-ass self into her home this month). Because I’m none of those things (prior sentence not withstanding)! I’ve moved past all that and those aren’t my emotions at all. Melancholy, yes. Happy, yes. Blessed, yes. Angry, bitter… can’t be bothered to care that much.

    When I’m sitting on the sofa while my son is being dropped off, I’m enjoying the final moments of a television program I can’t watch with an 11yo in the room. When I sit on the other side of the auditorium at his school play, it is because I have to get up before Intermission to go and sell 50/50 tickets. When I schedule my own vacations and birthday plans with the kids and just put the dates on the shared calendar, I’m wistful about the fact that I am solely responsible for being the sane parent.

    So, is it ok to not talk to your X. I’m gonna get in line here and say yes. You’ve got much more important things to be doing… like living your mighty life.

    • Yes. This is an excellent place to go to get validation that it’s the cheaters who are wrong and we are right and there is no gray area. Wrong is just wrong and there is no justification for cheating on your spouse ever under any circumstances. Anyone who thinks we played any role in the destruction of our marriages is a willful idiot with no moral compass.

  • IntheDriversSeatNow,
    In a word: no.
    I’m the same way. I don’t talk big issues, I don’t talk small ones. I don’t have to be nice to the person that ruined my life.

  • Part of the narcissist game is image management. Many NEW partners understand that no contact from an ex partner is a big red flag. So, they have to present to the public that everything is “cool” between them and the “ex”.

    How many chumps here get the “we will still be friends, right?”, “we are going to be best friends”, “we will get along for the sake of the kids” stuff. Same reasoning. Mine bawled uncontrollably when he realized that I would never speak to him again, but out the door over to his girlfriends place he left a few minutes later.

    THe new reality is that cheaters do not get to call the shots anymore, they do not get to define the rules of the relationship. I think that is a more bitter pill for them to realize than anything.

    The “don’t be bitter” naysayers have not been in your situation, how can they dictate how you should feel?
    In fact, I believe they want the nicey, nice social interactions because THEY don’t want to be uncomfortable, nor be reminded of cheater’s actions.

    • And they HATE that new reality where they don’t get to call the shots anymore or define the rules of the relationship within the family he choose 100% to leave and cheat on for over 3 decades. The narcissist absolutely has NO LOYALTY to anyone or anything as it is. They rely on “image management” at all cost when they are in contact with their past (family). I have sat back a few times and chuckled to myself at him scrambling about like a cockroach trying to hide or better yet find someone who wants to hear his bull shit.

      He asked be 2 years ago when we were almost divorced IF we could just stay friends! WTF …… Oh hell no! I told him NO Thank you, You couldn’t keep your wedding vows with me, why would I now want to trust you to ‘be friends”. Such crap. they just don’t believe its them EVER,

      • Exactly. The “let’s chat and be friends”is due to two things: (a) their desire to be in control of the narrative [as they typically need to be in control of EVERYthing], and (b) impression management for those who know they cheated on us; if we are friendly with them, they must be okay, right?

        BS on both counts–my X will never control any aspect of my life ever again, if I can help it, and I want the world to know he is a colossal jackass & I don’t forgive him his perfidy.

        • This!

          Copping this big time at the moment. The whole, ‘it’s you who doesn’t want to be friends!’ But only interested in what it looks like to others.

          And the inevitable gaslighting that goes along with it.

          Actually hardcore gaslighting.

          Oi.

    • It’s absolutely the loss of control. If you talk to them friendly, in their mind they have control “see I can cheat on her and leave her and she is still going to be my friend” or if you engage arguing with them “see she still loves me enough to bicker with me”. So when you go no contact they don’t know WHY? Is it because you are purposefully not talking to them? Do you still hate them? Do they still make you sad? Or is it because you are at MEH and don’t give a fuck? There is no way for them to know. That is the control they have lost.

  • I am 2 years out from d-day and 18 years of horrific sociopathic mindfucking abuse. As everyone here knows the pain of betrayal, I don’t have to explain any of the direct, indirect, and collateral damage.
    I am in process of moving out of our 40 acre beautiful secluded property. I’m moving to another house I own. At present I cannot take my three horses with me, and I refuse to give them up. The ClusterFuck B Sociopath has offered to let me keep them here. Ba ha ha ha ha. So I am. Fuck him, I will do what I have to do for now to keep my animals. With winter coming, me moving, etc, I have no choice but to accept his “graciousness” (which by the way will allow him an opportunity to stick it up my ass in the middle of winter)
    No contact is my preferred choice, but in this case I have to dial back the fire breathing Godzilla in me and test the waters to see if I can trust him. Listen, I don’t trust him at all concerning anything, however, he much prefers me as a chump than the alternative fire breathing Godzilla. Believe it or not, he tiptoes around ME now for fear of triggering 18 years of pent up anger, frustration, pain, confusion, blah blah blah.
    Newbies on your journey of hell: I promise you the pain goes away. I promise you can live without these fuckers who blow up everything (then wanna come home🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕)
    I promise CockSlobber is right about now on the receiving end of his fury. There you fucking bitch, I KNEW you would be the new emotional and physical and financial punching bag. The honeymoon is over and he hoovers like a bitch.
    Nah bro I’m busy, but I will accept your offer to keep the horses here. If you fuck me over I will unleash my own brand of fury.
    If it weren’t for my animals and their respective happiness and safety, I’d never speak to the fucker again. I mean, why???
    It’s just lies that emanate from his Satan pie hole mouth. I immediately dismiss anything he says and I think to myself “fuck me over bitch and see what happens”
    Make no mistake, he is manipulating me as well. He is a sociopath. It’s like dealing directly with the devil.
    I’m so happy CockSlobber stole him away. I pray every night to God thanking him over and over and over again.
    Chump Lady and Chump Nation saved my life, I will forever be grateful.

  • I needed this today. Lord, did I need this today! I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of us being separated – we live in a state where you have to be separated for a year before you can file for divorce – and will be filing at the beginning of October. I can see the light – BUT we have a 9.5 year old daughter, so no contact is not ideal. I struggle with grey rock vs exchanging pleasantries. I’ve tried to put my daughter first – going out to brunch with them at her request and not stabbing him in the eye with a fork, amusement parks trips where I did not push him off a roller coaster ride, lacrosse games where I have not spit in his face – you know, the little things so she’s not traumatized for life. However, my patience is running thin, I see him EVERYWHERE – the school, on weekends, we even take the same Metro stop, so as I get off the train every day I see our old car (which he kept while I got a car note…sigh!) and he parks one space over from me all the time – despite there being other spaces to park. We had back to school night a couple of weeks ago and people are starting to find out (which, as a chump I think is awkward because we were such a great “public couple” and folks are expressing shock and dismay), and we had to sit together at her desk like all the other parents and he was introducing himself and had the nerve to put his hand on my shoulder! I wanted to bite him, but instead smiled politely. One friend in the know who was there texted me later and was like, “you are such a great actress! And so strong, hang in there!” which was nice, but I feel like I’m perpetuating a fraud because I really don’t like him, but I feel like I would be a bitch if I acted the way I really want to act! The teacher sent out an email for us to have a 10 minute getting to know your child conversation with her, and I went alone because I figured he got the email, I’m not his secretary and if he wanted her to know something about the situation or our daughter (as I imagine any concerned parent would) then he would have made an appointment with the teacher – but a small part of me felt like I was being petulant. I wish I wasn’t so damn nice and chumpy because he’s getting the benefit of my grace in public!

    • We were the great PUBLIC couple also. Dr. Personality was so fun and engaged and I spackled when he was not. I knew he didn’t behave normally. He was either all in (time and money wise) or he was all out. There was no middle ground for him. No slow let down. It makes more sense now knowing about the narc cycle if pedastal, devalue, discard. He was such a high maintenance, miserable, bully at home.

      When he started pursuing schmoopie 2.0, our daughter’s 20-something assistant high school coach at our kids school, I knew I was done with him. But the faking it at the kids school is almost more than I can take sometimes. When I see our kids coaches, teachers, kids friends’ parents and I bite my tongue on what he did makes me almost want to implode.

      I figure the kids have been through enough drama and humiliation with the luv which could not be denied between a 48 year old and 28 year old. Schmoopie is making herself a little more public these days as it’s been a year since I divorced him. I know he wanted to divorce quickly when I wouldn’t respond to the 3 channeled mindfuck, so it would look all legit when they started their dating in public. I did get mighty early on and let her boss know what happened. They both got fired-her from her job and him from volunteering (screwing around with her in secret).

      I want to scream to the world that he is not the great guy he portrays to everyone else and currently to schmoopie. But I don’t think it would make me feel any better. I think it may make me feel worse by further embarrassing the kids.

    • Why are you going to brunch and amusement parks with them? No, no, and NO! I know that we would all go to the ends of the earth to buffer our kids from this crap, but you cannot do that at the expense of your boundaries and your mental and emotional health. If you have to be at the same place for your daughter (school, sports, etc), fine. But you do NOT have to pretend. You do NOT have to sit with him. You do NOT have to be an actress. Frankly, all that does is teach your daughter as she grows up that her emotions and reactions to difficult situations are wrong and must be repressed. “Mom was fine when dad cheated and left, so my hurt and anger must therefore be wrong. What’s wrong with ME?” Just because she wants you to be a happy family doesn’t mean that you are. Your 9-year-old needs to be parented THROUGH this, not indulged and protected FROM it. It’s heartbreaking and unfair, I know. Channel that rage at your ex for putting you both through this needless pain.

      Big hugs.

      • Free Vix – thank you for that 2×4. I have been protecting her from him because he’s such an asshole. She’s been diagnosed with anxiety, has tics out the wazoo that seem to get worse every time she has to spend alone time with him. And that makes me feel so guilty. He picks at her and tries to make her feel bad all the time for decisions HE made. Case in point, he’ll try to put rules on what she can and can’t do in my house (she can’t watch Boss Baby without him, telling her to NOT put her tooth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy, getting mad at her if we go to brunch without him – just stupid shit) and when I’m like “the hell with that!” I can just see her tensing up because she’s such a people pleaser. She calls him a bully and you’re right, I’ve been putting myself in harm’s way to keep her from harm. And it breaks my heart that the person I feel like I have to protect her from is her father! It’s all gonna come to a head soon and when I go off, that’s gonna be it, I’ll be done with pleasantries, but a huge part of me feels like I’m sending my baby lamb into the jaws of the lion because he’s such an asshole that he thinks there’s nothing wrong with his behavior! Ugh!

        • I’m so sorry you and your daughter have to deal with that. I don’t blame you one bit for wanting to protect her from him. But despite your best efforts and putting yourself in the middle, you haven’t stopped it from happening. If it’s going to happen anyway, you’re better off to remove yourself and focus on giving her the tools she needs to deal with him. Can you help her come up with prepared responses to some of his more common tactics? Can acknowledge that he does behave like a bully and go online together to research tactics to deal with bullying behavior from authority figures? When he gives her rules for your house, can you talk over it together and see if you can determine if it’s a reasonable rule or if he’s exhibiting bullying behavior? It sounds like she needs a framework for understanding what to expect from him, the emotions she can expect to feel when it happens, and the best way to respond and work through it. I’ll also suggest that his behavior toward her could be a way to get to you. If you’re not there, his triangulation doesn’t have the same effect, and he might let up after a while when he’s not getting kibbles from your response.

          Having a father like that will continue to be hard on your daughter, there’s no way around that. All you can do is help her through it and be the strong, stable, loving parent that you are.

        • Putafork in it. I will share with you some advice I received. One was You are not God and can’t control his actions with the children. While I may hate it, I can’t fix it. He will self destruct with or without you.

          If you don’t let your daughter find out for herself, who her dad is, it may backfire and she may not trust herself to make judgments or she may not trust you. I know it is hard as hell but if you are the sane parent and teach them well, they will see behind the mask. You don’t have to continue testing gravity to know the glass breaks when you drop it. Your daughter is younger than my youngest so it may be harder but if you have to let her go with him, do and then be there for her when she gets back. He will screw up the relationship just fine with out your help. Don’t be the bridge.

          I have seen first hand that I was that bridge before and guess what, he burned it! Now, he has no effing idea how to build a new one because he is disordered.

  • He chose to leave, he didn’t want to be part of the family unit…so give him his wish! All you are obligated to do is share the kids. I feel like if he doesn’t want to be the husband…he doesn’t get ANY part of a wife. No need to speak or support or acknowledge! Let him seek comfort in his skanks arms!🤢

  • My kids are all grown so I don’t have to interface with Pervy Pants for shared custody purposes. My heart goes out to Chumps who are in co parenting situations.

    I have no reason or desire to be “friends” with a lying, deceptive man Not for the sake of the kids……not for the sake of decency. I do not have or want friendships with deceptive liars. That’s like having a pet rattle snake.

    • Exactly. Like having a pet rattlesnake. Thank you for this. That analogy helps me understand all this much more clearly.
      In my part of the world we don’t have rattlesnakes so a more vivid metaphor is a badger.
      Let’s say a badger got into your home. It caused you and your children to evacuate in a panic. You called Animal Control and waited outside for hours before it was removed. You then open the door to poor fido’s mangled carcass, your furniture in ripped shambles with badger shit all over the carpet.
      Gonna go out to the truck, grab the badger cage and open it up in the foyer?
      Didn’t think so.

      Sorry if this triggered anyone. I don’t know why I am feeling extra angry today.

  • InTheDriversSeatNow,

    “However, am I really at Meh if I can’t bring myself to exchange pleasantries with this man?” Yes, you are at meh. You’re the poster child for meh. Being at meh doesn’t mean that you’re willing to let him reopen old wounds. You’re doing the right thing in doing civil N/C with him at these events, not only for your kids (modeling that you don’t have to have a tantrum every time you see him), but also for yourself (not exposing yourself to the possibility of more damage). He hurt you, and while your current life is much better, and you’re healed from those hurts, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen, that you don’t remember them, and most importantly, that those old hurts don’t have the potential to be opened again, causing you more hurt.

    I have one quibble with CL’s take on all of this – “You’re already being mighty by not bad mouthing your ex, not standing in the way of their relationship, and modeling to those girls that a person can move on to a better life after infidelity. That’s ENOUGH.”

    I think enough is not sufficient. You’re doing AWESOME. You’re doing a great job doing what’s best for your kids. If you didn’t have kids with your ex, you’d probably never see him again, and be happy about that. But you do have to see him from time to time. You don’t fight with him, you don’t argue with him, you don’t use the kids against him. (From what you say, it seems like he’s trying to do right by the kids as well, with regular visitation and support payments.) I’d venture to say that something like 95% of the people on this board wish their situation vis a vis ex and kids was as good as yours is.

    Bottom line, you’re doing everything almost perfectly. Modeling to your kids that you can put a fake veneer over your dislike of your ex to exchange pleasantries is in many ways a less healthy choice for you and for them. Keep on keeping on, and glad your new life is going so well.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.
    aeronaut

  • I’m a pretty friendly person by nature and so it sometimes takes effort for me to NOT be friendly with my ex. But I have to manage our interactions because where I see cordiality, he sees an open door. If I’m too nice, he sees it as a sign that I’m “over it” and that I’ve finally come around to realizing that what he did was justifiable and all for the best. When I was pleasant and he thought there was an open door, he tried to start doing things as a family (I don’t think thought of it that way, but that’s how our son would view it), he asked to see a therapist together regarding our son, and other similar requests. Coming from a non-disordered person, these might be reasonable requests. But he’s not a normal person, and experience tells me that he’ll just use it as an opportunity to manipulate and seek advantage. I’m not having it. In any case, it seems that his request to work with a therapist was mostly just a temperature check to see if I’d dance for him. I saw this tactic a mile away, and I told him I’d consider it if he has a specific objective and sets up an appointment. As I predicted, that was the end of that.

    To summarize, this issue reminds me of the old saying: good fences make good neighbors. Don’t put a gate in your fence.

    • Oh wow. YES. When I was being friendly to the ex, he definitely saw it as an open door. Texted me every single morning. Wanted to come over and have sex. And I was falling for it, chump that I am. Now I MUST keep the barely cordial mantra in place just to keep him away.

      These disordered people are just unbelievable.

  • My ex told me repeatedly that he wanted to be friends, that we get along for the sake of our daughter, blah, blah, blah. For awhile, I went along with it – until he betrayed me again (he said he wasn’t dating anyone, I thought about having goodbye sex, then found out he was with the whore again) and ever since that time, I flat out refuse to have anything to do with him. I am NOT friends with people who betray me, who put my health in jeopardy, who break their vows, who lie and deceive and manipulate.

    But despite me telling him we are not friends, he crosses boundaries constantly. I broke my NC rule the other day when he told my daughter something very hurtful and the Mama Bear would not be contained – I texted him and told him to leave our daughter alone. But you see, I think he THRIVES on any kind of contact with me at all – anything he can do to push my buttons, he’ll do it. He showed up at my house unexpectedly to see our daughter and I was furious: I told him to call or text next time to see if it was ok and he said he “couldn’t promise it.” When I told him it was the rule, he said, “Not mine.”

    WHY does he continue to do this? As my therapist said, “Because he can. Because that’s what he’s always done.” You would think that since he has his whore in his life now and they’re engaged, that he would leave me the hell alone. If I had a boyfriend, I sure as hell wouldn’t be spending my time trying to irritate my ex. So why does he?

    Unfortunately, this has been a pattern with us for 18 years. Now, no matter the contact, polite or rage-filled, it feeds that empty, bottomless pit he calls a soul. He thinks he can do whatever he wants – and he does. My challenge is now not about being polite to him – I treat him with barely concealed disdain – but to keep him from destroying my emotional and physical security.

    • He’ll discover that the rules apply to him when you enforce them. Next time he shows up unannounced, the doors stay closed and locked.

      I had to do a lesser version of this with my ex, who lives in another state. I told him twice to stop putting schmoopie on facetime with our son in my home. I told him that our son can talk to her during their visitation on his time, but not on mine. When he did it a third time, I pulled his facetime privileges at his home for a month. Ex was MAD, but I reminded him that he had been warned twice and that if he fails to respect my rules and boundaries he will face consequences. I also reminded him that he was free to call from other locations, but he was so pissy about it that he mostly didn’t. My son was also disappointed, but even at 5 he understands the nature of rules and consequences. He hasn’t put schmoopie on facetime with our son since then.

      Enforce those boundaries, expect a tantrum, and stand your ground.

      • My therapist told me that next time he shows up unexpectedly, I do not answer the door. I wouldn’t have answered the door in the first place, but the screen door was open and I thought it was a neighbor, so when I went to see it was him, I was NOT happy.

        They DO throw tantrums, don’t they? They can’t even agree to common courtesy! Such a complete nightmare.

        • Right??? I feel like I’m dealing with a child. Actually, I felt like that for most of the 18 years of our marriage.

          • OMG Keepin Calm – he’s insane!!!! Just showing up like that? And saying it’s ok if he does it again bc it’s not his rule? What a disordered jerk! I agree next time don’t open the door! If he won’t go away call the police! Jackass!

    • Expecting the person you shit on to be nice back is just such an entitled attitude. These people truly don’t understand how much damage and pain they have caused. They don’t get what assholes they really are. If they did they would just stay away out of embarrassment. Maybe those whose exes do stay away and initiate very little contact can take comfort in that perhaps their exes do realize that what they did is unforgivable and they don’t deserve your good graces so they just stay away.

      • Entitled should be my ex’s middle name. He thinks that we should just forget about his cheating, lying, manipulative actions and go on like everything is normal. My daughter refuses to and he can’t handle it.

        I really wish he would move far, far away. He’s 40 miles away now, but that’s not nearly far enough.

      • Expecting the person you shit on to be nice back is just such an entitled attitude.

        I am going to have this made into a poster- it should be a billboard!

  • How is it you seem to post exactly what I am going through on a particular day? Chumpy me wants to be pleasant to my STBX. I feel hurt that he drops our child off at the door, says goodbye to her and doesn’t even acknowledge me. Last night I actually said “BYE! I’m a person too you know!” But then this morning when he did say goodbye to me, I didn’t want to say it back.

    I don’t know why I feel this need. Maybe because I feel so discarded. I got cancer and me tossed me aside like trash. Doesn’t ask a single thing about me or my treatment. I don’t know why I keep expecting him to. It’s not like he’s cared about my emotional or physical well being for the entire marriage. I don’t like him as a person. I think he is horrible and disgusting … and yet there is some tiny sliver of me that just wants him to acknowledge my presence.

    • Hey Cancer Chump… I’ll tell you what he never will… YOU MATTER.

      YOU MATTER.

      YOU MATTER.

      YOU MATTER.

      He, truly, does not.

    • As I just noted above, maybe he realizes that he doesn’t deserve anything but distain from you and there isn’t any point in pretending to be friends. Not that that makes him a decent person. He is still an asshole who deserves nothing but distain from you. He is just a slightly more aware asshole than some.

  • What a cheater says and he does are two different things. They all ask if we want to be friends. It’s not the same friendship that we envision.

    For them being Friends, means access to us so they can have sex, so they can use us. It’s never the real friendship as we understand it, where a true friend offers kindness, caring and real empathy. For them Friends, mean let’s leave the door open so I can use you further in case *I* need you in the future. It’s never friendship out of concern for our well being, it’s them looking out for their own needs, which is mostly having sex and using us in some shape or form. Forget it!

    • In my case, it’s simply to make his life easier. He doesn’t like dealing with the bitch on wheels that I have become.

      He doesn’t want my friendship, he wants validation through my silence and not holding him accountable. He wants my perception of him to be that he’s a reasonable human being and that it was MY fault that he stood in my living room and gave me an ultimatum that if I didn’t put out more, he’d find someone else. He wants that to be MY fault, and merely gives lip service to it being his.

      Fuck that shit. If he was in a fiery crash, I wouldn’t piss on him to put him out. He’s lucky I just keep my distance.

      • I know Sunflower36! It’s always for a self-serving reason they want to be friends, not because they care about us. And had you put out more, he would have found another excuse as to why he needed to cheat. Whatever. He is free now to pork whoever he wants and have sex all the time, 7 days a week, 24/7.

        • You know, Mr. Twatwaffles once complained how he feared what I would become when we split up because he had seen how I was with my 1st ex husband who I shared 5 kids with.

          He actually thought I was unreasonable with a man who BEAT me, threatened to KILL me in front of our five kids, and who was charged with 2 felonies and a misdemeanor for that assault. He did not have ANY understanding, let alone admiration, for the shit sandwiches I had to eat sharing custody with that monster and keeping my older kids away from his craziness as much as I could.

          I was so emotionally abandoned by his a very long time ago.

    • I don’t think it is even that. It is just image management so that others will not think poorly of them. They want you to eat the shit sandwich so you can be friends while they get all of the credit. Look at me. I am such a great person for deigning to be friends with the person I discarded.

  • CancerChump: “How is it you seem to post exactly what I am going through on a particular day?”
    PutAForkInMe: “I needed this today. Lord, did I need this today!”

    DriverSeat, thank you for bringing this up. And you are fantastic!

    CL thank you for the brilliant reasoning (except I still can’t swallow the “nod over the punchbowl”thing; see about Queen Maxima below)

    And all other similar comments from Chump Nation today: I REALLY needed this too!

    I sum up all the comments as: cheating, stealing, etc., is abuse and it is unhealthy to accept abuse; we do not have to be friends and SHOULD NOT be friends with our abusers.

    Some of us feel we have to share some special moments like our children’s weddings with abusers. Some do not. As I reminded chumps on a post above, the father of Maxima, the current queen of the Netherlands, could not attend her wedding to prince Willem-Alexander because he had been a minister of the Argentinian dictatorship. For the moment that is my position about cheater being present at my son’s wedding.

    I still need to understand my son’s point of view about wanting his father at his wedding.

    • Clearwaters, I’m so sorry about your difficult situation. But I have a story to tell you.

      This is the short version… a good friend of mine was cheated on horribly by her first husband, when they had a grade school son. Divorced, she moved across country to be with her family. She raised her son “Robby” who visited his dad once or twice a year.

      Fast forward 25 or so years. Robby is engaged, and planning wedding with his bride-to-be.

      Robby’s mom has been happily remarried for many years. Yet she is still understandably troubled by the idea that Robby’s cheating dad could possibly attend wedding (with wife #4). She adamantly takes the position that ex-husband NOT be invited to wedding. She wants to really enjoy the occasion and exH’s presence will ruin it for her.

      Robby loves and respects his mom greatly, and so to make her happy he gives in a bit and they reach a compromise… cheating dad will be allowed to attend the wedding ceremony with wife #4, but be excluded from the reception. All goes as planned, dad accepts this arrangement and mother enjoys the reception evening very much.

      HOWEVER. There is a ongoing price to pay for that request.

      It turns out that Robby confided in his new wife (DIL) that he really, really wanted his dad to be at the whole wedding, and he felt very bad about what happened. He felt guilty and sad for something that he could never change or reverse. Now, sadly, whenever there is family tension or disagreement about anything, especially between MIL and DIL, this subject is brought up and my friend is blamed for preventing her son from having his dad at his whole wedding.

      There is no moral to this story, except as a cautionary note. This is your son and his bride’s wedding. Forcing the issue about his dad not attending *for your sake* may cause you untold heartache later down the road, when the wedding is far in the past, and you want to enjoy a good relationship with your son, DIL and grandchildren.

  • Even if you are at meh, The cheater exes are still shit bags.

    You have every right to have no toxic people or situations in your life by choice.

    Absolutely you do not need these people as friends. You should be polite when forced to engage, but you can make a very quick exit.

    I can be within an inch of my ex and have no problem with making absolutely zero contact in anyway, speaking or eye contact.

    She often tries to put her hands on me in some affectionate way, and I just totally not acknowledge it and walk away. Works every time.

  • I so needed to read this today.

    The cockroach lied and gaslighted and did false wreckconciliation to protect his image.
    Well guess what that didn’t work. You don’t get to lie cheat betray and keep the good guy image. He has blown that with me and his sons.

    I will never speak to him again, why would I, why should I. If anyone else had behaved like this they too would be cut from my life.
    Others struggle with this, but hey I struggle with what he has done daily. The only way I will get to meh is by zero contact. I will not be played further, exchanging niceties would make me feel worse and him comfortable that his shitty behaviour was alright.
    Hell no

    • Well said Completechump! They don’t deserve our niceness. Were they nice to us when we were devoted, kind and caring towards them? No, they screwed us over without a care for our well being. Their shitty behavior deserves to have consequences, and big ones.

  • My Ex deliberately refused to provide financial support for our family while he was on a duty assignment. When I finally got my hands on some money I immediately gave an attorney a retainer and filed for divorce on grounds of non-support and abandonment. My children were both tiny (ages 3 y.o. and less than one year old), and I never mentioned to them why the divorce happened. Fortunately he’d already found another stupid woman to deal with his lying and financial stupidity. When my son was 9 y.o. he asked me why his daddy and I were divorced. I told him a greatly edited tale about untruths and abandonment, explaining that his dad had left us. My son never asked me again. Heaven only knows what his dad told him, I didn’t ask.

    I was polite when doing drop-offs, etc., but nothing more.

    • Polite for me right now is refraining from giving him the finger at pick ups and drop off….out of the kids’ viewing, of course.

      For awhile, it was a double-barreled finger flipper. Over time, when my head was LESS likely to explode, I occupied one hand, so that I could only flip him off with ONE finger.

      The last few drop offs, pick ups, I haven’t raised my hand. I even managed to bite my tongue when he told me he was driven from the park while taking our girls on a picnic, by hornets. I WANTED to quip, “They must have been attracted to the scent of asshole.”

      But I didn’t.

  • It is a fine balance between doing what is the right for you and not letting it morph into something thats destructive. This is something I will discuss with my counsellor this week. Thanks CL and CN for once again sharing your wisdom

  • No, you don’t have to be “friendly” with an X. That word “friendly” (and its root “friend”) implies a positive connection.

    It is useful to be civil in the exchange of information (and hostages). That means “showing good manners and being polite.” Even that can be a bridge too far in the face of provocation, but at school events, graduations, and weddings, civil can make our lives more pleasant and livable, in the we follow our own standards of behavior.

    In cases of physical abuse, attempted financial ruin of the chump or psychopathic behavior, civility has become beside the point. No contact is necessary.

  • In my situation, I got blindsided with the “I’m unhappy” talk before I ever suspected an affair. In MC, he clearly was just going through the motions.

    After D-Day, he couldn’t understand why I couldn’t talk about our “marriage problems” without bringing up his cheating. He couldn’t see that his cheating WAS the problem.

    All along, before and after D-Day, he maintained that he and I were great friends and should always remain friends. He didn’t think that should change because of divorce and cheating.

    He accused me of lying about loving him and about being surprised by his actions. He projected his gameplaying onto me, as if we’d both been unhappy, dishonest, and/or unfaithful.

    He didn’t recognize that:
    a. I saw him as more than a friend throughout our marriage and right up through the “I’m unhappy” talk. I truly loved him.
    b. The betrayal of divorce and ESPECIALLY cheating nullifies my love and friendship toward him. There is no going back to how things were.

    Now, it’s BIFF through gritted teeth in emails and texts, and occasional coattendance at school events (that is, when he bothers to show up). But never friends.

    • Maybe they just don’t know what it really feels like to truly love somebody so they can’t comprehend why it hurts so much to be discarded by someone you thought loved you back. To them it really isn’t a big deal. They’ve got theirs, so why are you so bitter about being left alone and holding the bag?

  • Fuck no you don’t need to be friendly with the ex. Follow the Jedi way.

    “Good relations with the Wookiees, I have.” – Yoda

    “Time to play nice with assholes, I have not” — Datdamwuf (on Yoda’s behalf)

  • At the end of the day, I’m a chump. I’d much rather be a chump than a cheater. I’m also an empath. I feel other people’s pain. Especially my children’s. If being cordial to their asshole father at events where the whole family is there takes away some of their pain from this whole shit show that was no more their fault than it was mine, then so be it. I can stop being his wife, but I can not and will not stop being their mother and all that entails. Can we say “mamma bear?”

    • Wait…. stop…. let’s be factual here. All of our lives have been forever changed. We will struggle with trust and betrayal issues due to the lying, stealing and cheating. The ultimate humiliation and embarrassment all made by the least expected person and yet additional dictation of why we should compromise and be NICE!

      HELL No! They get the same damn respect they gave not only their children, wives and families which was absolutely NONE. Spending family money on hotels, gifts, dinner, etc which took away from their family. Selfish! Self serving acts!! While I will not act shamefully or disgracefully, I cannot muster up enough to give thoughts of being nice. I don’t expect my children to ever have to kiss anyone’s ass after they have been wronged.

      Morally unacceptable! No longer am I compromising to make the bastard feel better about what he did. Mental abuse in the form of cheating will never ever be recognized as an offense if continued show of acceptable is done. The laws changed to no fault for a reason – to allow habitual cheating offenders to get the red carpet treatment. I don’t want any of my children to ever go through the reality of this mental abuse treatment.

    • This. Cordial. Civil. At family events for the sake of my kiddos. They are adults now but no need to add to their pain. I love my kids.

  • Not friendly, but not an asshole either. Maybe don’t bad mouth them to the kids, because they don’t see things the way you do. Also the idea that there might still be conflict will stress them out.

    It’s kind of easier on you to just treat them like a very casual acquaintance. You don’t need to be any more invested than that.

  • One of the things that can evolve after one ends things with a cheater, is that they will embark on an impression-management campaign in their “new life”.

    Our divorce was not acrimonious because I chose not to engage when he tried to push my buttons…I just filed. Any necessary correspondance was fairly icy and civil. We did have some practical conversations about our sons’ financial welfare, but our personal lives going forward were out of bounds. I simply accepted that he had thoroughly deceived me over many years, and saw the raw sociopath for what he always has been.

    However, in the seven years since the divorce, he has enlisted the help of his vile sisters and OW to pretty much vilify me around the extended family and friends. When I returned for my son’s wedding, people who had been lifelong friends, distant relatives, turned away from even greeting me on the day of the wedding. If they happened to drift past during the reception, they would briefly make eye contact, say oh hi how are you, and keep walking. In a couple of cases, this was like a knife in the gut. None of these people appeared to have any idea what happened. I cannot begin to imagine how they have characterised me in the intervening seven years.

    And guess what….I don’t care! I have a new life and because I don’t have to see any of them, I just live in my new headspace.

    What he has done is carefully bring Camilla into the social mix as if she were not his mistress all along, as if they had “met” after the divorce. Of course, switzerland friends love to go along with such charades. There’s nothing in it for them to call out a cheater.

    So, my only communication with him that day was when he was gregariously laughing, turned around and there i was. He asked if I was,enjoying myself. My answer? “You should be ashamed of yourself. Only you and I know deep down what a complete fake you are”. He maintained the same sociable laughing tone, and said “well I guess the answer to my question is yes”. He then turned to a stranger and offered to get them a drink….just sailing on in his arrogance.

    This is why I moved 3000 miles away. I never would have come out of it with my local life intact.

    I know I spent a total of 35 years with him, from age 17 onwards. However, I now think of life as a series of episodes, each the result of the choices we make, or the occasional unexpected event. I turn 60 soon, and my remaining time will not be spent trying to impression-manage!

  • In July, my son insisted I attend their baby reveal. However, x would be there with trollface and” you need to be nice. “(Our divorce won’t be final until November). He had some nerve suggesting I couldn’t be civil and it takes balls making both requests. The separation has been especially tough. I did my best to ignore them. She was laughing loudly at one point bringing attention to herself. Fat old whore. Holding hands. Kissing. I swear my x and son are both in for some serious karma coming their way. The baby shower in a two weeks, I’m sure she will be there. I cannot wait to see what happens after baby is born. Asshat loves to post his new life on fb. He has abandoned his 2 youngest bc they won’t give him the respect he wants. They won’t acknowledge trollface or condone his behavior. Both told him they are not interested in his excuses for what he did to our family. He claims he just left me…doesn’t understand he left the kids too. I stay out of it. I’m not his pr manager. He keeps fucking things up with them and making things worse. Not my problem. He sucks.

  • A short list, I subscribe to that!
    my xhusband and his new found love at the expense of our family, the narc I gave myself to and he used me as a sex object. Really short list!
    It is also a reminder of my own principles. I recognise these kind of fuckwits from a mile and I don’t mingle with them. I watched them unravel many times and there is nothing more comforting than to be at a distance from their mess.

  • Wow, I’ve been grappling w this for a bit. Almost 2 years since divorce w an almost 7 yr old, and I feel like I’m finally coming out of the fog. Of course he’s already expecting his 2nd child w AP turned wife; so we have no business speaking outside of logistics, if that. There have been times I let my guard down and engaged in “friendly” conversation during pick-ups, because of the leftover primal panic of being a separated family. There are other times, where the kid exchange is so quick, we don’t even acknowledge eachother. When that happens, he’ll usually send a text about how hard it is to be away from his son (he has 4 week days in exchange for my one wknd a month, not to mention he has chosen to move 3 different places that were not the same town his kid attends school.) My responses are now only facts, and he calls me cold. I call him out on things he’s said, or proposed in mediation and somehow it becomes my fault for divorcing him. I disagree with how much traveling our son does in the middle of the school week to go to his town which is 75miles away, w proof that his behavior is affected, and he calls me high conflict. I ask him to pay his child support on time so I don’t have to bug him, or I ask him to help take our son to his extracurricular once a month so he doesn’t get burned out and they don’t all fall on my 3 week days and he responds with an, “I pray to God every day you stop hating me…” Because I asked him for mutual help w our son. I’ve worked very hard to choose my words carefully w this man, to not insult his ego, and I only spout facts and it seems anything and everything I say is the wrong response for him, so yes, I’ve decided to not respond at all – generally so I don’t get myself in trouble and to guard myself emotionally from the times I think we might be having a real connection. It’s not. I don’t even have friends who have treated me like this man, ( and no, I wasn’t all pleasant either-especially after his 2 years of appearing to want reconciliation, using the kid to tug on my heart strings, when I continuously found him lying about petty things and still carrying in w his AP. ) So why would I pretend to like him? Or care about the things going on his life he feels the need to share- like what kind of brand new vehicles he bought even though he supposedly couldn’t pay his child support at the 1st of the month. Um…yeah, I’ve concluded that our very minimal contact and cold calculated response is best. It’s ok to be indifferent to someone the rest of your life, even the father of your child. I’m hoping to reach indifference eventually, and working on healthy ways of expressing my anger and frustration with this irritating passive aggressive dick, outside of our minimal interactions.

    • I’ll just add the point…the problem is that this guy has no problem engaging in bullshit interaction, but when it comes to real issues…
      it just doesn’t make sense to operate in this fashion or to continually play some kind of egotistical, manipulative cat and mouse game… I don’t want to have to stoop to his manipulative level of using gifts and flattery just to work with him or work him, rather. I became that in the marriage and I’m not that silly little girl any more.

    • THIS!!! Thank you EMC! Your words described exactly what I’ve been facing since I am making choices that are best for the kids (requesting a hair follicle drug test from him, keeping their routines, trying to find a place when I move that keeps them in same school systems) and myself (going NC except for kids/finances). Every interaction with Tweaker (STBX) is just twisted, negative, and selfish.
      I’m new to this site and it’s been a life line. I’m lucky to have family and friends that support me and my kiddos (ages 8 and 10 months) but CL and CN have been a life line. You guys get it! I’m certain my recovery is going faster because of this site😊

  • I don’t know if this will help any of you because it does not have to do with cheating. Many years ago a couple that I know went to a party where everybody was very busy showing off. My husband calls them pseudointellectuals. They knew the latest wine and the nearest place to vacation and the latest books to read. They were just obnoxious according to my friends. The husband said at one point his nerves got so stretched that he thought he was a rubber band getting ready to tear apart and so at the top of his lungs he yelled “fuck!”. The people in that room who felt like he did glommed onto him like nails to a magnet and the other people went against the walls with their mouths hanging open. I don’t expect anyone of you to do something like say, “does everyone in this room realize that he/she was cheating on me with this person for a long time before we divorced and it nearly killed me. Do any of you realize that”. It may not change anything but you got it out there.

    • Hahaha, sounds like something I would do…say Fuck! out loud along with some extreme eye-rolling, as it ties into my vulgar nature. I would describe the ex’s family as your husband put it-pseudointellectuals; and I never fit it, even though I have continually pursued higher education to validate my existence and opinion with them. There’s no real substance w these people-it’s all about image and money, good “God-fearing people” w the newest iPhones, fancy cars and lavish family vacations; throwing around financial figures at the dinner table, while simultaneously belittling the clients that have allowed them to aquire their wealth…(they’re divorce lawyers and real estate agents…and how convenient that my ex was able to commission the family to handle his side of our divorce, with no financial consequences even though their lawfirm was involved in legal matters of our co-owned business in the divorce litigation….uh, conflict of interest much? I digress.)
      Yes, my ranting on here has allowed me to release these emotions and understand that I’m not alone. Glad to no longer have to call these people “family.”

      • If you have a read most of this blog you know that nice, kind, and thoughtful people get shit on by people who have thought they are entitled to do anything they want to. I don’t know why we haven’t learned that it is OK to say “no”. Just make it “no” with no excuses.
        I want young women to read four books before they marry. First is CL’s book, then THE GIFT OF FEAR, and two really old ones that still hold true. I found them in a used book store and gave them to people who needed them. They are MEN WHO HATE WOMEN AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM, and GAMES PEOPLE PLAY.
        Young men should read three of them..

  • My husband gaslighted, lied,cheated on me. He wronged ME! His family has stood by him welcoming trollface meanwhile, HIS family has essentially cut off my kids. His mom has not sent one bday card or phone call in 2 years. When our daughter married last December, NONE of his family came or called or sent a thing. How’s that for 30 years of marriage and never having a conflict or issue with any of his family members. Assholes, all of them. My kids don’t deserve this.

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