I have been an absolute idiot and an asshole. For almost one year after X and I split (we hadn’t gotten married yet, I am forever thankful) I did great with NC. I went to therapy. Got my head on straight and started recognizing weak boundaries in my life and fixing them. But chumpdom is hard to squash.
A year ago X’s mother passed away from a nearly three-year fight with cancer. I loved that woman. A former chump herself (X’s father), she listened and supported me at every turn. She was a wonderful grandma.
In grieving I allowed myself to speak to X and wound up sleeping with him. I regretted it immediately (then I did it again after my brother died in April), but still left the door open to be “friends.” This lead to the last year of me doing stuff with him and the kids, behind OW’s back. I thought it was nice to be able to get along (now I look back and think, hello? Cake anyone?) He kept saying he wanted to leave her but — insert excuse here. I told him in no uncertain terms that I would NOT take him back. He continued to proposition me, so the walls went back up and for the last month it’s been all business. Then yesterday, having a disagreement over something concerning our son, he said he would be more inclined to cooperate if I were sleeping with him. I am livid over this. I know I have made horrible choices in the last year, and am taking steps to make things right in my life again.
My question is, do I tell the OW anything? A part of me thinks she should know (I am likely not the only person he has propositioned) and a part of me thinks she knows what she’s dealing with. I don’t want to act out of anger, I am waiting to cool down and think. I just don’t know what is right. And please hit me with the 2×4, I have done awful things. My grieving is not an excuse for poor character.
It’s hard to 2×4 someone who is already beating themselves up, but I’ll do my best.
As you know, sleeping with your ex is a DREADFUL idea. It’s the bargaining stage of grief, and the pick me dance performed naked. It’s the ultimate falling off the No Contact wagon.
And yet, it’s a pretty common chump phenomenon. (I know I will now hear from all the chumps that wouldn’t touch their cheating ex with a barge pole. Hurrah for your boundaries! The rest of you, read on…)
To make sure you don’t do it again, be clear on why you did it in the first place, and shore up your defenses.
1) Bargaining stage of grief. When you break up, and grieve the loss of what you Thought You Had, it’s natural to bargain and try and salvage some sort of lesser relationship. Well, if we can’t be partners… then maybe we friends with benefits… or just friends!
Answer? Remind yourself — this relationship is DEAD. And remember why it is dead — he killed it.
2) The nature of grief itself. Grief amplifies loneliness. It is totally human to want to be held, especially during hard times. What’s chumpy is wanting to be held by the very person who gutted you.
Answer? Get support. Surround yourself with people who really care about you, and will talk you off the ledge when you want to reach out to your ex. (An online forum like Chump Lady is perfect for 24/7 bitchslaps as needed.) And don’t be afraid to hug others or ask for hugs. A dog is great for hugging too. There are other ways to lessen the hunger of wanting to be held.
3) The pick me dance. Sleeping with your ex tells him that what he did isn’t so bad. Your mouth says, “I am never taking you back” — your body says you are. The cheater revels in cake. And knowing that he is still involved with the OW, sleeping with him means you are doing a very humiliating pick me polka. IMO, this is the core of your shame — the cheaters have reduced you to their level.
You’re doing the pick me dance with your kids too — if you’re not there to mediate his relationship, perhaps you fear he won’t have one at all. Clearly, that’s what he’s telling you — things would work out much better on this parenting gig if you would still sleep with him. (What a pig!)
Answer? His relationship with his children is on him. Get the courts involved so he pays support and work out visitation. Stick to the custody arrangement, and keep it all business. Only communicate via email, so it can be documented and impersonal.
Answer to the naked pick me polka? Just STOP. Brush yourself off, regroup, get checked for STDs ASAP, and never do it again.
4) Not trusting that he sucks. This is the core of your problem, RumorHasIt. He sucks. He is someone who has never committed to you. You had two children with him and no marital status. You had his lame “promise” of commitment, which he didn’t honor with fidelity. So no surprise he wouldn’t honor marriage, either.
He’s the father of your children, so I get that you want to project goodnesses and potential on this man. But face it, like many of us here, you bred with a fuckwit. A cheater. See him for who he is and protect your children accordingly by being the SANE parent who doesn’t fall for his bullshit.
Your ambiguity about your relationship with their dad is confusing for them as well. Are we a family? Are you raising their hopes that you’ll get back together again? Are you banking on the kids’ eagerness to compel him to pick you over her?
My question is, do I tell the OW anything? A part of me thinks she should know (I am likely not the only person he has propositioned) and a part of me thinks she knows what she’s dealing with.
Well, you too should know what you’re dealing with and you don’t. You don’t trust that he sucks. I very much doubt the OW trusts that he sucks either, with everyone providing this dipshit so much cake.
I could go either way on this. I don’t really believe you have a moral obligation to the woman who knowingly broke up your relationship. (Assuming she knew. Did she know?) You just tried to do to her what she did to you. Pointless. Cake-y. A revenge fantasy that backfires and keeps you tangled up with cheaters. Pointing it out to her just embroils you in further drama. I would stay NC with both of them.
My only caveat to NC would be if you have an STD, then tell. No one should have their health endangered.
But if you’re trying to save the OW, or give her evidence to trust that he sucks — not your job. And IMO, it will only be perceived as more pick me dancing.
Rumor, just try and put this bad chapter behind you. Learn from it, go forward and do better. You’re a complete family with your kids minus the fucktwit. No one needs him. Start living that reality today. Hang up the pick me tap shoes.
This column ran previously.