Here’s a common chump mistake — confronting the affair partner(s). Maybe you did this. Maybe you agonized about doing this. Maybe you’re still waiting to come up with the perfect withering remark to deliver along with your poisoned umbrella tip. Let me spare you the trouble — don’t go there.
I know you want to tell them off, but it’s futile for a variety of reasons.
1. They have no shame. Unless this person is completely unaware that your spouse is married or otherwise spoken for (it happens, in which case I think the person is a fellow chump, not an AP), they knew what they were doing and have devised various rationales — all of which are impervious to your exhortations. The most common rationale is that you are sexless and bat shit crazy. You come at them all “stay away from my husband, you whore!” — you’re going to validate their assumptions. You’re nuts.
Worse, if you come at them all classy — appealing to their sense of shared humanity and common decency — they will delight in their superiority. You poor pathetic chump, begging for your marriage. Can’t you see you’re dealing with an uber being? One more charismatic and sexier than you? How could one as dim and sexless as you understand someone as compelling as them? You cannot. This is bigger than us both. Our love cannot be denied. You are too feeble-minded to comprehend such love…
Which brings us to the other reason you should not confront the affair partner…
2. They might actually be bat shit crazy. Some irony there, huh? Look, to exist in an affair for any length of time, you have to be a few sandwiches shy of picnic. Either, you’ve got really low self-esteem to be a side dish, or you’re flamingly narcissistic. In the first case, desperate people can do desperate things. And in the other case, narcissistic people don’t think the rules apply to them — and that doesn’t stop at poaching your spouse. It might also extend to the rules of law.
Being in an affair has been likened to addiction — and you’re trying to sober them up. Have you watched those recovery programs? People get ugly. Very ugly. Haven’t you suffered enough? Do you really need this person harassing you and losing their shit? No. You do not need that.
But the biggest reason not to confront the affair partner?
3. It’s kibbles to your cheater. Confronting the affair partner is the essence of the pick me dance. “Stay away from my wife!” makes your wife really central. She’s getting a high off two people fighting for her. How fabulous. Maybe there’ll be a duel!
If cheater’s can’t have secret cake, they will settle for a public pick me dance. It’s all good. It’s all kibbles. Don’t participate in this shit!
You might delude yourself into thinking you need to talk with the affair partner for reconnaissance purposes. To compare notes. Maybe that person will tell you things your partner will not.
They might. And it might be a pack of lies! Consider the source. There might also be some truth in it — but how fucked up is that? Would you really consider staying with a person who won’t tell you the truth — you have to get the details from their fuckbuddy? Really?
If you’ve been tempted to confront the affair partner — leave it to professionals. Consider having your lawyer write a no contact letter, as the first step to formal harassment charges. Or perhaps your lawyer can depose them in your upcoming divorce? (I’ve heard that gets settlement talks moving). If you need more information about the affair(s), hire a PI or become a computer snoop. Hand over the evidence to your lawyer. Don’t go all vigilante on this alone. Get professional support.
Stop giving your cheater and the affair partner your precious mental energy. You know what says “you are beneath contempt”? Filing for divorce. Let the cheaters have each other. You’ve got better things to do than orbit Planet Narcissist in some intergalactic fact-finding mission.
Gaining a life means you get your dignity and self-respect. And the cheaters get crabs. Or a fleeting Sense of Aliveness, or whatever that Esther Perel bullshit is.
Anyway, confronting fuckbuddies? No.
Pointing and laughing? Sure. Go right ahead.
Chump Lady is under the weather today. Updated a past column.