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Dear Chump Lady, The cheater wants to take family photos

Dear Chump Lady,

We have a newborn. He left and filed divorce when I was 5 months pregnant after I caught him on a hook-up site, probably several, with an HIV test and 25 condoms. Awesome! Anyway, we have a 17-year-old as well. We meet at sporting events, sometimes he just picks us up. He will pay for everything, open doors, you know the drill. Anyway, during these moments he seems to get caught up in the moment. He wants to take “family” pictures of us all and then he posts them to Facebook. What is that?

Thanks,

Baffled

Dear Baffled,

That is bullshit, is what that is. That is impression management. That is letting him disrespect you. That is cake. That is modeling dysfunction to your children. That is plastering a smile on abandonment.

NO.

RESIST.

The only person “caught up in the moment” here is you. I’m sorry, because I’m a chump and I understand the bargaining stage of grief, but you’ve got to own your choices here. You’re letting him play family with you. You’re not going all Sean Penn on his paparazzi ass, no you’re ALLOWING this.

STOP ALLOWING IT.

He knows EXACTLY what he is doing. Every time he whips out his diner’s card to pay, every open door, every “family” Facebook post is him broadcasting to the world What I Did Wasn’t So Bad. I am not an abuser! I’m a man who picks up the check. And they LET ME. So, how could I be the villain?

Stop colluding. Start resisting.

You are not hurting the children by enforcing a boundary. You are broadcasting to the world What You Did Was THAT Bad. Your actions say “We are not family.” And “we are not props.” And “there are consequences to your abandonment.”

He does NOT get to have it both ways — hook-up sites, endangering your health, playing the player — AND family guy.

Your 17-year-old can have their own relationship with “Dad” minus you. That’s your child’s cross to bear/relationship to figure out. You ARE an intact family without the asshole. You don’t need this game of charades.

Need a boundaries primer?

We meet at sporting events,

Don’t. Sit in opposite bleachers if it’s the 17-year-old’s sporting event. If it’s a professional team, decline the invitation or let the older kid go without you.

sometimes he just picks us up.

Uber. Taxi. Walking. Drive yourself. Public transport. Elephant parade. Anything else.

He will pay for everything,

Enforce child support. Get that paycheck docked by the state. Fuck his fake “benevolence.”

open doors,

Do not share an entrance with him.

you know the drill.

I do know the drill. I endured a deadbeat, abandoning fuckwit “co-parent” (who had a penchant for lawsuits) for over a decade. I feel your pain. But let me tell you, chump to chump, boundaries feel a lot better than collusion in family faking.

Need a script? No need for rudeness, let your actions do the talking for you.

Keep all logistics around the kid brief and businesslike, and only by scheduling software, email, or text. DOCUMENTED forms of communication.

“No thank you.”

“Sorry, we’re busy that night.”

“17-year-old will ready for pick-up at 5 p.m.”

See how that works?

Baffled, you and your children deserve so much more than an open door and a bogus photo op. Stop being a party to his impression management. Know your worth. And may all his social media be singular selfies and dick pics to his paid-for admirers. Hope the lens breaks.

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.
  • You are allowing this family faking to happen because you think he will come back. Instead, you are teaching him–and your 17-year old–that you will accept the dregs he offers, that you don’t respect yourself enough to levy consequences for breaking the marriage and abandoning you with a newborn.

    Listen to CL. File for divorce. Get a visitation order. Get child support. And figure out the rest of your life without a cheater in it.

  • Key point: Cheater is no longer part of your family. Full stop. It was hard for me to grasp, too, after 25 years and two kids together. But internalizing that one fact is, I believe, the threshold you must pass to begin true healing.

    Cheater is kin to you kids. Let them take pics if they want. It’s up to the kids to figure out (“I’m sorry about that kids, so very sorry”). But my ex is nothing to me but a below-average stranger. Waaaaaaay below average. I’d rather take portraits standing with an overflowing Port-a-let.

  • My ex wanted that, too. It took me s minute till I grew a back bone and shut that shit down. I finally realized that it gave false hope to my kids that we would “ work things out” and get back together. Nope and nope.

    He destroyed it all now he deserves nothing more from you but NC/gray rock and the joy of paying you support and child support. Let him live his life of white surfing while you teach your kids integrity and adulting.

  • When in doubt, refer back to the greatest benchmark quote all time, courtesy of Chump Lady herself:

    “Norman Rockwell doesn’t paint this shit”

  • Great reinforcement today. I have been particularly angry this week after learning fuckwit’s lawyer acknowledged fuckwit did nothing to maintain his relationship with the the children after he left but I could have done more to foster the relationship.

    My lawyer said don’t let him get under my skin as his lawyer has nothing to work with and she is right, but this post explains the dynamic. In the beginning, I bent over backwards to maintain the relationship. I met him at restaurants, kids sporting events and let him drop by for dinner unannounced. He wanted to show the world just like he does every thing else better, he was divorcing better than everyone else.

    I wised up, went no contact and he continued to implode. His mask isn’t holding up so well.

    Stop being the photo op and watch him self destruct. It isn’t fun but that is who he is.

    • Yes, this is similar to my initial response, which is that maybe he’s trying to look like the good guy because the other shoe is going to drop and he wants publicly posted evidence that he tried to be there for the kids and she was disengaged. Sneaky liars generally tend to sneak and lie.

      • “Sneaky liars generally tend to sneak and lie.”

        Posting this on my monitor along with “Trust that he sucks”. Why? Because I keep finding myself thinking that he can’t possibly be that rotten of a human being. But he is.

    • “He wanted to show the world just like he does every thing else better, he was divorcing better than everyone else.”
      Sounds just like mine. He talks about getting family portraits done, which we haven’t done as married/together family in many years. He also wants to spend the night at my house on Christmas Eve so he can be there when the kids wake up. (barf emoji)
      He didn’t care about any of this Norman Rockwell stuff before the divorce.

  • The photo ops become a [false] record “quality family time.” Every snap takes a millisecond to take, which is roughly equivalent to the amount of respect your X has for his own kids’ well being.*

    My kids have a command performance every Christmas Eve. It’s even written in our divorce agreement that they spend that night with their father. He insists on a “family photo” of all three sons. Then he has the photo enlarged to 8×10’s, puts them in cheap, Dollar Tree frames, and sends them to my house for display. I think he believes his “dad time” photos are displayed in their rooms. He has no clue that the boys toss them in the trash as soon as they come in. Kids can spot disingenuous a mile away.

    * Never lose sight that he has zero respect for you. Please don’t give him one more second to rob your mightiness – or your children’s grasp of what is real and what is orchestrated bullshit – through his phone lens.

      • Hahaha! My reference is from the Mary Tyler Moore show, when narcissistic anchorman, Ted Baxter gave his framed color glossy to all his friends!

        Talk about a handbook for these dopes!

    • Is your X in the picture with the 3 sons? If so, paper a picture of Satan over him and display the photo that way.

    • Yes, don’t give him those photo ops.

      Cheater submitted photos in discovery in an attempt to show he was a good dad or something. First, the photos were 5 years old! and second, they are all of the children either doing hard labor or participating in HIS sport fishing hobby. He has photos of them hauling firewood, processing a deer, resealing our patio, raking leaves, all while he sits by watching and drinking a beer.

      • one more p.s. Back in April, I showed my adult daughter an article about TV chef Gordon Ramsay. http://time.com/money/4734331/gordon-ramsay-net-worth-will-family-fortune-kids/

        Upon reading it she announced :I have just seen my future. Ever since we have a joke in our house anytime someone is showing narcissistic tendencies: I go left you go right, you haven’t worked your ass off like me. This comes from a quote in the article about Ramsay and his wife turning left on the plane to sit in first class while their children go right to coach.

        I believe Ramsay is a narcissist and his wife is a chump. It was made public that he had an affair. While it is a he said, she said sort of situation, I,not surprisingly, believe it. After all his denial was something like : if he was going to have an affair, he would have chosen someone more attractive.

        Anyway, I have the Gordon Ramsay variety of cheater who believes he has worked harder than anyone and only he will get the reward. It is pay for play to the end. I do believe that people should teach a work ethic and not spoil children but I have come to realize the narc disordered way of teaching.

        • Feelingit,
          I feel enraged, just clicked on this article, like to the WOW, what a caring, loving father this man IS NOT. He sounds so self centered……finding appropriate words difficult….asshole keeps coming to mind. What a fine example, NOT, to set for his own flesh and blood, precious children.
          He is the most centered MEMEME BLAH BLAH character I know of. If Tempest sees this and has time, please, Tempest, bring out Lucy in the little blue dress. I don’t know if you have seen Lucy, Feelingit, but I will happily share her with you!
          My, children, as your children always had to work work work, chores chores chores. Cheater dictated them to their duties. Their friends still comment on this. I hated it. To this day they still work so hard above and beyond their full time jobs and parenting. I would want a softer life for them, so badly.
          I do understand so much of your pain Feelingit. I find comfort in knowing you are getting away from it, but the scars are not erasable.
          My cheater was adopted as an infant. Maybe somewhere, in the background, our cheaters are related, ugh, so many similarities.

          (((((Manyhugstoyouandyourpreciouchildren)))))

  • Here’s the thing…. cheaters are liars! I did the whole “let’s pretend everything is normal” in the beginning too. What was my stbx doing during that time? Using my good nature to support his narrative that we were getting along splendidly, Even though he was distraught that I wanted a divorce. He used it as a ploy to paint himself as the heartbroken good guy and gain sympathy from others. The truth behind closed doors – he was running around with his girlfriend (attempting to hide it of course, but I knew the truth), encouraging our kids to talk to her on the phone, and treating me as the default parent by not participating when no one was watching.

    Cheaters will take any opportunity they are given to make a situation appear they are the good guys! “see… I’m the good guy! I’m being so generous to this person who is breaking my heart. I’m believe in altruism, because you know that is just the kind of guy I am!” Trust me, the psychology behind this works – because I was on the receiving end of it. People form an impression, and once you stop playing nice you realize the audience believes they have all the Information they need. Instead of admitting they might have been “wrong” they use their initial impressions to dig their heels and the sorrow for the cheater grows, it’s called confirmation bias. Have you ever noticed the person who did the “wrong” will be the first to run around and tell their side of the story, the one where they are the victim? It’s because the disordered understand this psychological phenomenon gives them an advantage.

      • Yeah, my ex loved to tell people “I wasn’t willing to work on the marriage, and I wouldn’t let him love me” conveniently forgetting to include that he was a serial cheater. What they saw when I was playing Nice; a guy who appeared to be putting in soooo much effort and I was the heartless bitch who was taking advantage of his broken heart. Yeah right!

    • My baby has epilepsy. STBX spends about 5-10 minutes a month with her when he picks up my other daughter for dinner. He will ask for an update on her condition about once every six months. My divorce is still pending and I am being careful to make sure I am not keeping information from him that he could use against me.

      I will run into people that are friends with him and they will ask about my daughter and tell me all about how STBX has shared things about what is going on with her. He made his Facebook profile pic one of her.

      He has never been to a single neurology appointment, EEG, MRI, ultrasound, blood draw, vaccination, speech therapy, or physical therapy appointment. She was taken by ambulance 7 times to ERs for seizures that would not stop. He showed up once. She was admitted 5 times, he showed up at 2 of those stays, briefly. He is pretty much non-existent in her life, yet he talks about her as if he knows everything going on and is a doting dad.

      It is impression management and a play for sympathy from others. He is a master of playing the victim. And it makes me physically sick to my stomach. He makes my skin crawl and I will not sit within 100 yards of him at any of my other kids events.

      • This is outrageous! As a fellow chump parent of a kid with special needs, my heart goes out to you. He is a swine of the worst kind. Sending you fortitude and courage – your daughter is lucky to have you.

        • Thank you, BlueWillow. I have a lot of support from family and friends. Only way I have survived the last 2 years.

      • I would love to do a poll on the number of cheaters who are big into social media. It’s definitely a tool they use to create impressions.

        Now, when I see someone who has recently split up and they are working overtime to post pics of themselves with the kids, it automatically raises my red flags! In my opinion if you have to tell everyone what a good parent you are, you’re probably not!

          • Second this dumping Facebook. No-contact/Grey rock by my reckoning includes not cyberstalking after the divorce is settled. <Obviously if you can get good ammunition to fuck them in front of the judges do it.)

            I am a crypto-cyber-baby; deleted my Facebook this spring and never looked back.

      • GetMeFree,
        Ugh – I hate to hear this story. How furious it must make you to watch your X do his impression management while you care for your baby in such incredibly difficult circumstances.
        You are a hero. (((Hugs)))

      • ” I am being careful to make sure I am not keeping information from him that he could use against me”

        I am curious getmefree about what this means from a legal standpoint. As you know we have a trial in June. I tell Stbx nothing anymore. I did in the past, but he didn’t seem like he cared and he certainly never asked for information about the kids when I stopped talking. Now he is mad at the kids and doesn’t even try to contact them. Partially I think because his texts to them were awful and have proved very damaging in his deposition.

        • I do not keep him informed about what is going on with the kids on a regular basis. Only if he asks, do I provide an update…which is not often. The only exception to this is if there is an emergency. I think most parenting plans actually state that the other parent is to be notified in case of emergency. So, when my daughter went to the ER, I sent him a text (that is about the only way he communicates with me).

          I also put all the kids’ activities into Google Calendar and share that with him. Most parenting plans include this type of thing (kind of like Family Wizard).

          I do not want to give him any ammunition to use against me. Right now, he is not going for any custody. But I don’t trust him nor do I think he is mentally right in the head so I never know what he might do. I am going to play it straight and at least do the minimum sharing that a court would think is appropriate. My kids are more important to me than any other assets we need to divide…

          • GetMeFree,
            I was unable to read today’s posts until this evening. Your posts have really touched my heart.
            As I have posted before to Feelingit, what gets me most is how a cheater can neglect, how they can not love, their own flesh and blood, their precious children! They are disgusting.
            Your beautiful little girl, suffering through all the trips to ER, all the treatments, all the pain and discomfort. And who feels the pain, along with the child? You do, GetMeFree and you wouldn’t have it any other way. You are there holding her as best you can. She is your heart, she is your breath and your life.
            I often think that once the marriage vows are broken a Chump, usually it is the Mother, not always, but usually, who picks up the pieces and goes on the best she can, and first, always first, is her children and one day, her grandchildren. They are first in her heart forever after.
            My young grandson, who recently lost his Daddy very tragically and unexpectsntly, now has to undergo very serious cardiac testing as he has hereditary symptoms which took his Dad’s life. I am consumed with worry. I do all that I can for him and for my daughter who has so much on her plate.
            Cheater, well his best support is verbal, he says buckle up.
            We did, we do, we will continue to be so closely bond, my children and I. We will continue to do our best together. The cheater, not so much.
            GetMeFree, when innocent, precious children are hurt, the Mother Cougar comes out full force in me.
            Continue to be the sane, present, loving Parent. Your children feel your love and your devotion. Sometimes, that is all we Chumps have, but it is enough and it will sustain us.
            YOU sweet Lady, are Mighty!

            Xxxxxxxxx
            Peacekeeper

          • Hear you loud and clear on the last paragraph! You NEVER know what he will do!

            Mine has a request for custody but he won’t clarify what he wants. It is because he doesn’t really want it. He just keeps saying he wants the kids in counseling.

            Lawyer says it is a red herring. He cheated and abandoned. He has nothing on me- I didn’t sleep around and I don’t have a substance abuse issue. He tries saying I am mentally ill but even that waned after lawyer threatened him with a slander suit if he continued. It just isn’t true.

            These guys are scary. I, like you, just want it to be over and I want to protect my kids from his abuse. I’ll keep praying for you!

      • So sorry, Getmefree. They pick the most vulnerable to exploit because they are cowards, so he exploits your daughter’s condition. Good on you for resisting, you’re mighty. Hugs to you and your lovely girl.

    • GAB, you have exactly nailed it! That is precisely how (and why) the disordered always “get out in front” of the threatening truth about themselves, and exactly how and why their audience reaches and keeps the conclusions they do. And the darker the truth, the more both of these dynamics hold true.

      The audience, once given the truth, is forced to either believe their prior sympathetic conclusion, or switch to a belief that hidden monsters exist right in front of them.

      The disordered make such compelling sympathetic characters. Social deception is a lifelong habit for them. They bring such subtly and chutzpah to the game. The uninitiated to that act have absolutely no awareness such a thing is even actually possible, much less right within their social circle.

      We were all this ignorant once. So they believe the act on an emotional level. They feel the sympathy they were intended to feel. They feel the outrage they were intended to feel. It is next to impossible to undo a belief once it has an emotional content. Look what it took for us to finally accept the baffling truth about these disordereds – and while that corrected knowledge was seeping in, we were literally forced to deal with them full time. I don’t think it’s even possible to truly understand the reality of cluster B without once being its victim.

      • Isn’t that the rub of being privy to the tactics of manipulators… no matter how eloquently you can explain it, how concrete the evidence, and presenting facts over feelings, people are prone to stick with their first impressions, that unfortunately we unknowingly took part in.

        I was actually looking for information about how confirmation bias is used for manipulation, and came across a website dedicated to manipulating and social engineering. It’s just sickening to me that people can be so inauthentic as to look for ways to use your human traits as tools of manipulation. If you want to see inside the mind of how these people use your humanness against you …. well here you go

        http://www.subliminalhacking.net/2011/12/01/cofirmation-bias-the-manipulation-assistant/

        • OMG! That is scary stuff. I am so trusting. I couldn’t imagine wanting to manipulate people with such dishonesty like that.

      • THIS… a rational person would never believe such evil exists and is sleeping next to them every night… until it happens to them and then the cognitive dissonance is as equally unbelievable.

    • Yep. You said it, Got a Brain! I think that my ex-boyfriend (aka Mr. Humble Successful Nicr Guy), my purported friend of 30 years, has already disparaged me to some of his (our) friends as they are now not returning my calls/texts for outings with my kids. I’m ticked off! I keep asking myself, ‘Why?’ What did I ever do to you other than love you more than anything?’

  • Great post as usual CL!

    “You are broadcasting to the world What He Did Was THAT Bad. Your actions say “We are not family.” And “we are not props.” And “there are consequences to your abandonment.”

    Love this!!!

  • NO, No, no!!!

    Xhole was flabbergasted that our son did not want a “family” picture at his wedding. Xhole blew up our family, but was he was so concerned about impression management (“look everyone, OneStep has no problem with me fucking around on her…we are still on friendly terms”) that he could not understand why my son wouldn’t want that picture.

    Why didn’t my son want to pretend that we were still a big, happy family and have it recorded in pictures for future generations? Because it wasn’t the truth. There was no more intact family. A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes no picture makes a bigger statement.

    • Not only would my son not take a family photo, he wouldn’t even take a photo of just him and his dad at his confirmation. It was early on and I tried to convince him that he might regret not having the photo. He looked at me and said, “Why would I want a picture with dad? He did nothing to foster my faith. As a matter fact, he is one crappy role model of morals.”

      Sometimes the kids get there quicker than us chumps.

      • Yes, kids often get there before we do. My then-13 yo daughter went NC with her father October 2014; it took me until January 2015 to catch on.

    • When my first grandchild was born my son hurriedly moved his dad next to me while I was distracted with looking at the baby in my arms. Then he quickly had a picture taken of us all together. I barely realized it was happening until it was over. It made me sad to think my son felt he had to sneak a way to get us together for a family picture. That day my ex was hugging me and playing super nice grandpa for the audience. That’s why everyone on the outside thinks the Chumps are bitter and wonders why we can’t be friends when it’s obvious the ex is trying so hard. They don’t know it’s all an act.

      • My daughter is getting married this year and I know there will be obligatory pictures, but the professional photographer works all that out in advance. If my daughter wants a picture of the entire family together, I am not going to object. My situation is different than most here, though, because X is terminally ill and my children are grappling with so many gut wrenching decisions. I just want to be supportive of my daughter, as I know parts of the day are going to be very difficult for her. Don’t get me wrong; there will be no “just us” and daughter shots, but I’m fine with a group pic. This issue must come up often as our photographer mentioned it before we even asked.

        • Violet, I think that’s the right thing to do. Special occasions are hard, but days like weddings are about our children and no one else.

          • I agree. Special occasions are difficult. I plastered a smile on my face and would have taken a picture with Xhole if my son had wanted one. Because that day was about him and his bride, there was no way I would ruin it for them.

    • One additional thought… get ready for some bad behaviour when you set up a boundary.

      My ex wanted to go for impression management – don’t forget they also probably want to keep tabs on you… you are a possession of their’s after all ……

      When I said “fuck that”, it lead to all sorts of entitled and angry behaviour that lead to a very nasty court case. Rather than the showing me her real “sorry” that she spoke of when trying to reconcile, she showed me her real “narcissist” by her actions.

      • Agreed. Instituting boundaries with the disordered can be downright dangerous. It’s like they consider it an invitation to punish you for having the gall to dare have any.

        • Boundaries take away their fun time.

          If you know you’re going to get a reaction you can prepare for it. It’s downright funny when the predictable backlash happens IF you’re ready for it. Otherwise it can be pretty hard to deal with.

          It’s all about the boundaries. Boundaries are a manifestation of self-respect.

      • I have an ex, who left me nearly a year ago. I’ve tried to remain friendly, as we both work for the same company and occasionally encounter each other on property. It hurts like Hell, every time. She will occasionally text me, usually around holidays, birthdays, stuff like that. She approached me briefly, in person, about a week after Thanksgiving to attempt idle chit-chat for a few seconds. It was awful. I worry that she will text me before the Xmas season ends, thus spoiling it even further for me. I am considering contacting her preemptively and asking her not to contact me outside of work any longer. Thoughts, please?

        • Hi TrappedChump,

          I would definitely contact her (just this once!), because what you are then doing is actually defining the boundary. I mean, she will probably still push that boundary, but if you have stated it, then it is a real boundary. At the moment, you say you are trying to be “friendly” but that kind of says to her that what she is doing now is okay. So there isn’t a clear boundary.

          My situation was different but I had to do this to my ex. At the time I had our two teens living with me and he was living overseas, so he would phone the house for a chat with them – and want to chat to me too. I ended up sending him an email saying that, I didn’t want to chat with him anymore, ever – and that whenever I did I would have nightmares for days afterwards. I told him I would just pass the phone to the kids, or he could call their cell phones. You don’t need to say why, for example don’t tell her how much it hurts, because that is giving her kibbles.

          But, Man, it was great. That No Contact stuff is wonderful! No nightmares ever again 🙂

          So I guess what I am saying is that you should decide what YOUR boundaries are (eg. no phone calls, no texts, no chit chat, business-only conversations at work…) state them and then stick to them.

          Good luck!

          • My advice is go “grey rock”. I did it with an ex-GF who I work with. She wanted to maintain a connection…. but a very one way, entitled connection that only worked for her.

            If you google “grey rock” – you can find lots of advice, but basically be boring and unengaging. I wore all the clothes she didn’t like (but I did – which is key), didn’t show any real interest in her life when told about her’s and didn’t share any of mine. The trick is to not let on you’re doing grey rock or else they may see it as a challenge to get you back. Just be dull, boring an patient.

            Worked a charm (eventually…) in my case.

        • Block her number, email, and social media accounts. Perhaps one message to say “I do not want to stay in contact with you.” Then block EVERYTHING. If you see her across the courtyard, walk the other way. If you’re at a work function and she tries to sit with you/ talk to you. Politely excuse yourself. If you don’t have a reason to be near her, don’t be.

    • Manipulation. Control of the narrative. We get along fine because we are all adults here. He just moved on. Trouble is that he started dating someone else WHILE HE WAS STILL MARRIED AND LIVING WITH YOU. Stop allowing him to (a) make himself look good and (b) think that his behavior is okay by accepting rides, food and his company. You are NOT A FAMILY. HE BROKE UP YOUR FAMILY SO STOP PRETENDING.

  • Boundaries! Boundaries! Boundaries! And limited contact if you share children.

    This morning I woke up to a text message asking if stbxh could “date” me again. No replying to nonsense. NO reply. Boundaries.

      • Okay, you will love this tid bit.

        Stbxh said years ago, when Tinder was brand spanking new, that his coworker had an account and that is how he knew all about the app. Sure… Now I know that at that time stbxh was living with a random he met on, you guessed it, Tinder.

    • Think again of his “dating profile”: narcissistic, serial cheater, pathological liar, physically abusive, mentally unstable, balding, fat, limp dick even with blue pills, daily drug user, active alcoholic, blame shifter, entitled, family abandoner who lost all in an ill-advised but “no one will tell me what to do neener neener,” angry hostile attorney seeks former wife for image management,affair triangulation, photo ops,quick and meaningless fucks and BJs, and CAKE! Decent, healthy, self assured women with boundariesneed not apply.
      😫😫😫😫

      • MotherChumper99 – you have obviously met my ex…THIS IS HIM!

        He especially likes the recently widowed (or about to be widowed in my case), the recently separated and particularly likes women with responsibilities and children as this allows him plenty of “I’m a single guy” time without the necessity of explanations to his gf/wife etc. His sons told me that they would often meet “daddy’s friends” who were astonished he was married let alone had 3 kids.

    • Seriously? Good for you on maintaining boundaries and not responding! I would have been hard pressed not to respond with something scathing.

      • Me too Beth but really this is a perfect instance of silence speaking volumes.

        I wish I had had that backbone when I was dealing with this nonsense. FWIW, I went along with it for a long time and the kids got quite comfortable with the arrangement. It was painful for them to realize this was not how things were going to be forever.

        • I took to long to back away as well. He left me but he did it in slow motion and I did not do enough to hurry the process. It was actually our then 16 year old daughter who finally had to point out that it was just weird for us to be around each other acting like everything was normal when it clearly wasn’t. She is very observant and smart.

    • AlohaFreedom:

      That’s called hoovering. That’s how it started for me last winter. I had been away from her for well over a year and fully trained at CN. Then just a trickle of normal communication. She made a new email address so it slipped by my blocks.

      “Hi,” she wrote. Psychopaths don’t say ‘hi’ I rationalized. “What do you want you fat smelly whore?!?” I responded. (cut to two months later and full-on wreckonciliation breakdown.)

      Block their texts. If they really really reallyneed you for a kid emergency even an email has a what, like a three minute delay? No texting like LAJ says.

      No contact, AlohaFreedom, or it’ll be the bye-bye version of “aloha” you’re working with.

    • Hahah, aloha!

      Mine left a voicemail on my cell phone (I hadn’t blocked him for a number of reasons) about 6 months after he’d married Schmoopie and less than a year after I’d moved out of the marital home. The marriage with Schmoopie was on the rocks and she was going to file for divorce. He wanted, after the dust had settled, for “us” to sit down and figure out where “we” would go.

      Crickets from my end.

  • “Why would he do that to us?! Why does he act that way?!” I used to always ask myself that with X. I think that when they show the niceties like opening doors and picking up a check then you are fooled into thinking they have values. The real guy is the one who left you and your unborn baby and your teenager and filed divorce AFTER being caught cheating. Would YOU do that to him…anyone?! You are inserting your values onto him. Yep, bargaining. “He must not be that bad if he picks us up, takes us out on his dime and then has SO much fun that he posts pics for the world to see.”
    I was so there. This is image managing-something most chumps don’t even think about. It is a full time job for the cheats out there.

    • Sounds like my ex-husband and ex-boyfriend–both great impression managers. Life gets better after you stop participating in the charade they have created.

  • Baffled, I can understand how you want to pretend that things aren’t as bad as they are. That although he abandoned you and your 17 year old and most egregiously your newborn, that somehow he cares or wants to be a family again. It’s a good gig for him. He gets to whore around while you do all the parenting. Dad gets to feel better about himself because he takes the little women and the kids out for a day of fun.
    But CL is absolutely right the longer you tolerate this the more your self respect gets eroded. Your teenager also gets the message that it’s way to treat your partner and that’s a lousy example of how to live your life. All around it’s a lose lose for you and the kids and a big win for Dad!
    I have the utmost respect for single Mums and what they have to do every day for the survival of their kids but you don’t need this bum in your life. Lose the cheater get a life! Hugs to you and your kids.

  • Baffled-

    Everything that chump lady said! Your ex showed you who he is when he left you after you discovered his hookup sites and HIV test. He showed you who he is when he abandoned his pregnant wife and teenage son. BTW I hope you’ve been to your doctor to get tested for every STD there is. You said he filed for divorce. I hope that divorce is still moving forward and you got an order for him to pay child support!. Forget about him picking up the check and opening doors. That’s not who he is. He’s a coward! And when someone like that shows you who he is, you should believe him the very first time.

    About the family pictures he wants to take and post on FB? Just no. Pay no attention to the wing nuts in Hollyweird like Ben Affleck and Jen Garner. You are not his family anymore. Hanging around with dear old dad just gives the children false hope. Plus it tells them and the world that him treating you like crap is just A-okay!

    Establish boundaries and limit contact to only those things pertaining to the children.

    • Seriously, do you not want to kidnap Jen Garner and help her develop some boundaries and self-esteem? If I knew for certain the book would get to her, I’d find her publicist’s address and mail “Leave a Cheater, Get a Life” to Jen.

      • Oh God, yes. I read a People magazine story about how she is Ben’s main support in his quest for sobriety and all I could think was “ugh.” He threw away her and their kids and instead of gaining a life, she’s serving up heaping platters of cake and kibbles.

        • And he runs around with his SNL girlfriend, who was also married when they started cheating. But then, I also think Garner knows everyone sees right through Affleck. He cheats at everything he does, and is one fucked up dude. And, of course. he is a big buddy of Harvey Weinstein, which tells me everything I need to know about Affleck.

      • Kidnapping would be appropriate since it’s like she’s in a cult! Someone needs to take those kids away from this mind fuck too. How much you want to bed this all just intensified their hopes that Mom and dad will reunite?

  • Tell him to take a selfie in which he lays in bed surrounded by used condoms, a home std test, and to be shirtless while doing it. There’s a family photo for his nasty old ass.

    Y’all excuse my extra helping of sass. I’m getting a car on Saturday and I’m really proud that I can do this on my own 🙂

  • Everybody here remembers my New Years Eve bomb dropping ex that came to me while I was throwing up after he told me he was leaving me for the schmoopie after 17years and said “ I want to be like Garth Brooks. He left for Tricia Yearwood but his ex and the kids live right next door and he still had everybody.”
    I’d like to say there was never a second where I thought “could this work??” Probably because I hoped in my deluded head I could win him back from “Tricia Yearwood.”
    Didn’t take long to figure out it was all bullshit. The second I started asking for half our stuff I couldn’t find Garth anywhere.
    I got a kick ass atty, he moved in with the schmoopie and I became his sworn enemy.
    RIP Garth….

    • Paint widow this is too funny, he wanted to be like Garth Brooks…… I got a birthday card for a good friend it says “you can be anything you want no matter how old you are …unless you want to be younger then you’re screwed”. I think your X is screwed Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood my God they are completely fucking delusional !

  • @Baffled, he wants to post your picture on his Fakebook because he is advertising for ego kibbles new pussy. Do not be an unpaid model in his effed up ad.

    **You** have a newborn. Not “we.” You. He abandoned your newborn baby and your 17-year-old. Lock down that support order because this is just the kind of guy who goes POOF in the night and leaves the mother of a newborn and a kid about to go to college with nothing. You are at extremely high risk for being in poverty, and he is trying to cover up the risk he has put you in.

    • Write college expenses into your settlement and if you were on his health insurance and you will now have to pay for that figure that into your spousal support as well.
      They are shady fuckers…..gotta dot those i’s.

    • Baffled. I second everything jo said here. This asshole is likely screwing you over on the downlow. Get control of finances, get statements, freeze credit, freeze accounts, get your own account and start putting money there, get a lawyer, get court ordered child pay and maintenance or alimony NOW. Hugs! This sucks but it will be worse if he takes all your money too. Households with Female as single heads have highest percentage of poverty. Take care of you.

  • One other thought – you don’t have to offer a person a reason when you set a boundary.

    With people close to you who you want to keep in your life, it’s often courteous and kind to explain your reasons when you set boundaries, and those people are (or should be) worthy of the trust you give as you share that much intimacy.

    When it comes to people who aren’t sitting in seats of importance in your life and who clearly aren’t trustworthy — like insurance adjusters, litigation attorneys, heads of HR, scammers, and exes — there is no reason you should have to feel compelled to explain your reasons for saying no.

    The answer is no. Why? I’m not discussing that because it’s not negotiable. The answer is no. We move on now.

    What if the person insults me, to my face or to others? Doesn’t matter. I have a finite amount of energy for caring what people think of me, and I can’t waste that energy by applying it to people whose opinion about my character has no value, like liars.

    What if other people believe the person? Only immature, spineless people let others decide for them who they should hold in high regard. Healthy people take all information into account, then form their own impressions based on all information including their own first hand observations.

    Any person who knows you shouldn’t believe your ex without evidence or form opinions without consulting you. Anyone who does so is a coward and a fraud that you don’t need in your life.

    Setting boundaries can be exhausting, but in the long run, totally worth it for the peace it will bring to your life.

    • Completely agree! Switzerland friends who don’t know who to believe can fuck right off. Cowards and frauds like them have no place in our cheater-free lives.

  • NO NO….!

    For the sake of your children Stop playing “Family “ with this narcissistic cheating asshole. He abandoned you while you were pregnant, and a mother to your 17 year old ? What does he have to do for you to kick his ass to the curb??

    Your self respect is no where to be seen! Go to the sports events without him. Don’t you have “anger” for how he betrayed you & your children?

    Listen to CL & all of us here who are trying to help you. Grow a backbone & go no contact immediately !

    Good luck 👍🏻

  • During the monstering (financial, emotional, verbal) of our divorce, XH claimed he wanted “family photos”.
    I packed up every photo I had of him – alone (over a thousand due to 30 years) and sent them. I spent 10 hours organizing and putting the remaining photos into photo safe boxes, in a brand new “heavy duty roller tool box” from Home Depot and gave the entire box to my daughters (when they want them all.)

    XH raged and complained – only 2x, while he complained about a garage sale 8x – for more photos.
    THEN I got his email. He complained that I only gave him “destroyed” pictures, tore up and with holes – wth ?????
    {I swear I packed his pictures there was not ONE bit of damage on them, not even a pin hole in the corner from hanging them. Two friends were there helping me pack his stuff, they know the boxes were sealed, the photos were fine.)

    So, just like I suspected his live in girlfriend must have ruined HIS photos after a spat. This is exactly why I never gave him original photos of our family. I refused, at that point at least, because two bat shit crazy people were trying to run my life, they would not have the opportunity to ruin my or my kids memories. He then wanted “scans”. After spending 280 man hours cleaning, organizing and setting up the marital home for sale, under threats, I had absolutely NO inclination to burn more hours on his demanding nonsense.

    OH, how satisfying to have written proof that withholding treasured pictures was the right plan! If my gals have a relationship and want to share photos in the future — MORE POWER TO THEM.

    P.S. I know a lady in her 70’s, who’s widowed father remarried a secretary who methodically went through the house and destroyed every trace of the former family. Including throwing away the children’s school, vacation and holiday photos. Not only the ones with the former wife, but the ones of the children growing up. Even though his happened almost 50+ years ago, the now aged children never really got over the loss of their memorabilia.

  • This is a great reminder that the reason my ex has pictures of me up in his apt (in the living room, not our child’s room or even at his site level) is impression management. My mother thinks it’s b/c he really doesn’t want the divorce. Maybe so, but it’d only be because he doesn’t want to be a divorced person or accept any responsibility.

  • The first Christmas after D-day #4 (which had been in September)… we still “played” family during every second he wasn’t with the OW. That was fucked up and it gave the kids (and me) false hope.

    The second Christmas after D-day #4… he took OW and her kids with my son to all of our favorite neighborhood Christmas light displays and took pics and plastered them on his FB. That was fucked up and very painful.

    Then I started putting everything I was learning here on CN into practice. No Contact. Grey Rock. Lawyers. Boundaries. And a funny thing happened, I started to get my self-esteem back. After years of being married to a pathological lying bisexual whore, I had been convinced that his breadcrumbs of attention and affection should be enough. First year of no contact and I realized: HELL. TO. THE. NO.

    The third Christmas after D-day #4 and three days after the divorce was final. The OW kicked him to the curb. He’s got a new one who has already moved him in to her house (parasite?)… and we are full-on no contact. Sporting events, school plays and concerts, I pretend there is a restraining order and I stay at least 100 feet away from him at all times. And, the funny thing is, it is “unnerving” to him. His other X’s all “stayed friends”. Not me, I don’t need a fuckwit who blew up my love and our home as a friend.

    Neither do you.

    • ICanSeeTheMeh, it has always amazed me what cheaters consider “friend” behavior. I wouldn’t have done what my ex did to my worst enemy.

      • It’s all part of the image control narrative. “I’m just trying to be a good guy, be friends, and put this behind me – she is just very very bitter and can’t turn the page.” The usual blame shift of it’s not what I did it’s her reaction…

  • Before I was in the situation myself, I used to admire those divorced couples who could come together for their kids. Maybe their situations were different. Maybe there was no infidelity or high conflict divorce. But now that I am in this situation and it is as ugly as could be, I cannot even fathom pretending all is well for my kids. That is not to say that I don’t hope that someday we can be in the same space for our kids (graduations, weddings, etc), but there will never be the illusion that we are all one family ever again.

    • You know, I think my ex and I do pretty well. Yes, he did have an affair, but once he told me, there was no coming back and trying to have cake. He moved out almost immediately and was very clear from the get-go that things were over. At the time I was furious that he wouldn’t try to fix things, but I’ve seen in hindsight that this rarely works and is usually just a pursuit of cake.

      He is also a good dad and has really stepped up to the plate with doing a lot of the stuff that I used to take care of, including stuff for our special needs son. It took a while to get there, though, and I remember a conversation where I told him I needed more help from him, and he said, “ just tell me what you need me to do.“ And me screaming, “I NEED TO NOT HAVE TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO!!!”

      He also rolled over a lot during the divorce. I attribute that to his parents telling him that he screwed the pooch royally. They were and are amazing.

      Anyway, ex and I are cordial but we’re never going to be good buddies. But we communicate well, I appreciate that I know my kids are safe and loved when they’re with him, and I think the main difference between him and some other cheaters is he may have been selfish and stupid, but I don’t think he’s a raging narcissist.

  • As usual, excellent timing on the post — particularly with the holidays approaching.

    STBX was quite the sad sausage when I made it clear that there is no “we” in the holiday season this year. My family is me and my kids. He was *shocked* that this is the consequence of being an abusive, lying, duplicitous jackass for more than two decades.

    Thank goodness (and thanks to CL/CN) I’m well past the stage of giving a fuck about how he feels. My only concern was our minor child (the older two want nothing to do with him). The little one is still having some difficulty accepting that her family is no longer what she thought it was … it isn’t what she sees on TV … or reads in books.

    But, honestly, my little one’s struggle with all of this served to strengthen my resolve to have firm boundaries around myself and my girls–around my family (sans STBX).

    For the little one’s sake–so she can start to heal and move forward–it’s imperative that she is able to accept the reality of our new family situation. And the only way that will happen is if I make sure the situation is perfectly clear to her. Any muddying of the waters would only encourage her false hope, increase her confusion, and cause her more pain (which she absolutely does NOT need).

    I guess what I’m saying is that I understand the blurry-confusion when dealing with the X and the fact that our kids are so heavily invested in how we handle ourselves. This is not something any of us wanted, but we are forced to deal with it anyway … and, against all odds, we need to deal with it with all the strength and clarity we can muster. That’s why CL and CN are irreplaceable … this is a great place to touch base and get advice when in the middle of the storm.

    • This is the right course of action JessMom. Congratulations on being so clear yourself so you can give the clarity to your little one.
      This shit is so hard at times but the clarity from CL makes it much more straightforward to deal with.

      • Thank you, Fern. In one way I was lucky STBX imploded so horribly at the end … I literally had no choice but to focus on the safety of my kids (and me). (As always, a huge shout-out to CL and CN for guiding me through that nightmare!)

        I was so focused on safety that it distracted me from the psychological meltdown I was having. I went from depression to fear to anger in fairly rapid succession due to STBX’s actions. The anger was fantastic as I started to really process everything. This was the point I finally accepted WHO he is (a person I would never want to be friends with — let alone be married to).

        So, as bad as it all was — I was incredibly fortunate that CL and CN had my back. Without that, well … I don’t even want to think where I would be without that. 😉

  • It’s been 5 years since my divorce was final and just a couple of days ago I had to endure a well-meaning acquaintance lecture me on how I should be friends with my ex. She said it took her parents 10 years to finally start attending events together again after their divorce. When I pointed out that I was NOT INVITED to my ex’s house for Christmas along with my kids, she said, “Well, I’m sure it’s because they know how you feel. If you would just forgive I’m sure they would invite you and it would open up all kinds of possibilities.”

    I barely knew this woman and wasn’t going to get in a big discussion with her, but it made me sad that so many people just don’t get it. I can just imagine how weird and awkward it would be to hang out at my ex and his family. It would make me feel great to look around at his enormously big house, with his new schmoopie of the month playing grandma to my grandkids. Plus, just having to be around my ex and watching him play doting grandpa super nice guy tears me up. Where was that guy when we were a family? Oh yeah, he was away on business trips with OW.

    Yeah, that would all be fun if I’d just forgive and let bygones by bygones.

    The further away from him I am, the better I feel.

    • Who the fuck do people think they are to tell near-strangers how to behave? I am offended on your behalf, Lyn. The last person who told me that the best gift I could give my children is to be friendly with their father got a verbal lashing from me that she has not forgotten.

      I send you a button for your next encounter with the woman:

      • Tempest – I love your button.
        How about another one that says “When you find out your spouse has been fucking strangers up the ass while you are home taking care of all the adulting, then you and I can exchange ideas about how best to spend the holidays. Have a nice day.”

        • Perfect, Fern. I’m envisioning a whole line of chump buttons:

          Have your life blow up in a nanosecond, THEN you can give me advice.

          Gee, I don’t remember hiring you as my life coach.

          I don’t listen to sanctimonious jackasses.

          Bitter is better.

          (Feel free to add to the list, CN)

          • I”m struggling to upload an image so here is the content of another button:

            “If you have an opinion about my life, please raise your hand…..
            Good.
            Now put it over your f**king mouth.”

            • I want that one. One year divorced, only two years since discovery of over six year affair (married 35 years). Had a woman say to me that the “marriage must have been over for a while”…. couldn’t believe that this horridly overweight woman who has nothing in common with me (and knew nothing of my marriage)would say this.
              As far as family pictures…do not foresee any in the future. As far as all past pictures with the f@@wit in in them, have given them to my sons. One question, what do I do with all the pictures of HER that he left on the computer? LOL

              • NotMyFault, off topic I know but, your comment
                ” couldn’t believe that this horridly overweight woman who has nothing in common with me (and knew nothing of my marriage)would say this.”
                was offensive. A person’s physical features have nothing to do with what type of person they are.

                I know plenty of physically fit people who are complete pieces of shit.
                I just wish people would refrain from body shaming, especially in a group where a lot of the members are going through or have gone through enormous hits to their self esteem.

    • People are full of forgiveness advice when it isn’t them that was victimized by the cheater.

      I intend to put a smile on my face for the sake of my daughter while at the same time as she gets older to let her know that you should not allow yourself to be taken advantage of/disrespected/have health jeopardized by the person that you loved and were loyal to.

      It can be a delicate balance, but I will do my best to achieve it.

      • Zell,

        My experience fully supports what you say about people being full of forgiveness advice if they haven’t been victimized this way!

        I am really sick of people who know both my ex-boyfriend and me telling me that I must be imagining certain (bad) behavior from him, misinterpreting his intentions, etc. Now I feel invalidated not only by him but also some of my relatives and friends–a but like telling people them that you’ve been sexually assaulted and them responding, ‘Are you SURE you were sexually assaulted?’ or ‘You sure you didn’t agree to this treatment?’ or ‘What did you do to make him sexually assault you?’ Aargh!

    • @Lyn, please dump this fuckwitted acquaintance immediately and with extreme prejudice. Her FOO issues are practically LEAKING out of her, to the point she cannot bear not being able to control how people she hardly even knows feel about their own divorces!

      “Well, I’m sure it’s because they know how you feel.” Victim blaming!? She said your feelings are the problem.

      Damn, she is effed up. Dump this terrible acquaintance of yours.

    • It’s funny because a good friend of mine who was also chumped and I were discussing how people who have never been married and divorced to a disordered person have NO CLUE about any of this.

      When someone starts, my first question is “have you ever been divorced” ?? Next question “did they cheat on you” ?? Next question “was it a nasty divorce and did they try to destroy you” ??

      If any of the answers are no then I politely say “I appreciate that your intentions may be good but frankly you have absolutely no idea what I’ve been through or what you are talking about”.
      “Thank God that you haven’t been what I’ve been through but if you had, you would not try to five me the advice you just tried to give.”

      A little nicer way than “**** You”. 😊

      • I would think it is like gritting sand between your teeth When. You. Want. To. Tell. These. Sanctimonious. P e o p l e. Exactly. What. YOU, yOU, not them, have been through.

        Stay Mighty!
        Your response is perfect!

  • I remember when I had to supervise contact between my exh and our 6m old daughter. He’d said to a friend he would abduct our daughter to his home country in South America for his sister to raise, and my friend told me this (she also signed an affidavit for the family court judge re his threat – YAY for amazing friends).
    He was still reliant on me for his spousal visa at the time I found out about the prostitutes (ooopsies), so I told him supervised contact for a couple of hours every second Saturday until he sorted out his own visa/or was asked to leave the UK. If he got a visa, I’d arrange formal contact through the divorce.
    I had zero contact with him in between and I can say those couple of hours in a soft-play centre every fortnight were torturous for me but I kept on.
    Anyway, he did exactly the same in the beginning, always trying to take photos of us all together in the 0-2 yr old area! Haha. Fuck sake. I can laugh now, looking back.
    I always refused until he stopped asking.
    Instead, he spent the precious time taking selfies with our daughter instead of playing with her. I used to watch it all happening from my seat in the café area. And helped cement in my mind the kind of creature I was dealing with.
    I have no doubt that he was uploading them all on to FB as soon as he left.
    She would just be lying there, trying to crawl about while he stuck his mobile phone in her face. Anyhoo, that was a few years ago now, he failed miserably at gaining a Parent Visa (which apparently was all my fault because I didn’t help him *snort*), his Spousal one was revoked and he got thrown out.
    Family Judge gave me everything I asked for: 100% custody, and an extra protection order for my daughter stating that I had 100% control over where she went and who she went with, i.e. no forced visitation to S.America, or forced contact should he ever reappear. Guess the judge didn’t take kindly to the abduction threats.

    Cheaters really are all freaks from the same mould.

    Don’t play along, and you’ll feel much mightier for it. Big hugs and lots of love.

    • God, how chilling it must have been to hear that information. I’m afraid I’d have done something that might have been legally incorrect, but I’m glad your friend (and the legal system) came through for you.

      • It chilled me to my very core. He said this the morning after I threw him out. I was still in the shock and heartbreak of DDay, dry-retching over the toilet, no sleep etc with a baby to care for, but when I heard this, it was like a big slap in the face. A big bucket of ice cold water that helped me focus. And rage. Pure fucking rage like I’d never felt before in my life. But a cool rage. My entire focus went to protecting my daughter so for months, I played a giant game of chess where he completely underestimated me, and I overestimated him. Give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves. And he did. The volume of evidence I was able to gather for the family judge was quite something, considering. Lost about half my body weight during it all. Life is a joy now. I’m so unbelievably thankful the court listened.

  • He does like opening stuff doesn’t he…? communal doors, car doors, his cheque book, his camera case, facebook, Tinder, his wallet, …. his zipper to fuck whores!

    say no to anything that doesn’t directly benefit you and trust that he sucks.

  • I honestly believe that these little worms think these random acts, like picking up the tab, absolve them of their sins.
    Somewhere in their warped little minds they are thinking, “Ok, so I cheated……but I bought dinner for everyone……it was $250……..that’s a lot of money…..!”
    They don’t get it. They will never get it…..

  • Oh yeah, we all know the drill.
    My ex and I would play family at every kid swap, for a bit, while him and A.P. were in a full-on live-in relationship.
    Realized I didn’t have to take part in the bullshit dysfunction any more because it was against my moral code to be an O.W. even to the O.W. herself. Yeah, we were still married.
    Separated for 2 yrs, played family on and off. These meetings would send me into a tailspin of reliving the affair and break-up over and over. The charade gets exhausting-keeps you stuck.
    Gotta make bold choices for yourself and set good boundaries, and don’t beat yourself up when you cross them or screw up with NoContact (or VeryLittle Contact-amazing when you get there,) -just get back on the wagon, remind yourself, to stay the course and the original goal-To move passed the heartbreak by taking control of your life. Really think about what really reconciling would mean, for you. How do you sweep everything under the rug while being suspicious about his every word/move? It’s fucking exhausting being that overly focused on raising a grown man-you already have a wonderful infant to raise and who needs your focus and needs you to focus on taking care of you. Find you a great support system! Must find friends and family that support you, that will help relieve loneliness and that sense of broken family. You can do it lady!

    • Well put, EMC.

      I played family on and off, and only in retrospect do I see how it was exhausting and ate away at my self esteem and soul. Pretense takes energy, sitting around and ignoring the elephant in the room is you playing along with devaluing yourself and playing along with the narrative that your suffering didn’t matter. When you play family, you are hurting yourself and it is up to you to stop it. I did a lot of things correctly with my situation, but I regret extending the lie with this play acting.

      Playing family is enticing, especially when you are grieving about its loss. My ex-wife committed most of the classic narcissist cheating crimes, and a few that were especially toxic. I rationalized that I had a good relationship with her family, the divorce was fair and she was doing things a co-parent should do. It made it seem OK to play family on some holidays, etc.

      Would not do that over again. I believe in having a business-like functional relationship that uses a 10 foot tpole often.

      • EMC and Chumpion,
        Thank you for asking, ‘What would reconciliation mean? and describing what it’s like to play happy family/happy couple. We cannot ‘unknow’ the awful truth about our lying and often cheating and abusive partners, especially if they repeatedly behave badly. Even if my ex-boyfriend offered to reconcile with me yet again, how would I feel knowing that he freely lies to me, invalidates me, disrespects me, and seems to always peer over the figurative fence, searching for greener grass! I could probably never feel comfortable in a relationship (romantic or even just platonic) with him again. I still struggle mightily to reconcile the ‘nice’ him with the ‘awful’ him. I still tend to blame myself for the intimate relationship ending while feeling very angry at him.

  • For the first 6 months post divorcewhen I was still a chump and confrontational avoidant, I’d bring my dog to sport events – purposefully. They weren’t allowed to sit be with the crowd, so I’d hang out separately and of course, the kids wanted to be with coco, and would come visit me. I hadn’t yet arrived to today’s fierceness but couldnt stomach being near him and pretending he was a good guy. It was a slow process.

    These days, 3 years later, he avoids me in public. My disdain for him is well known as are his actions that led up to the divorce. No more pretending or taking on his shame. Ip makes life easier.

  • My STBX rarely went on family outings with us. He hated the State Fair, museums, malls, etc. I would text him photos of my daughter and I when we went out to show him what he was missing and he would post them to his Facebook like he was actually there!! Drove me nuts, so I stopped texting him images. But then he would just steal images from my Facebook page.
    All of his coworkers (and his new friends) think he is an awesome dad, but the reality is that he sucks. It was all an illusion.
    After he left I went through all my Facebook images that he was tagged in and if he wasn’t really there I untagged him so he could no longer see the photo and use it because even after he left he was still trying to use the photos off my page.

  • Let’s postulate that one key feature of cheating is the triangle. He had that going with who knows how many women when you caught him. For all you know, there may be a main OW out there or two. Being married is the perfect cover. He can’t get serious because…teenager ready for college. Newborn. Blah blah. Then you bust him and you’ve seen behind the mask, which is intolerable to a narcissist. You know he’s a cheat and a liar. So he leaves and files and…proceeds to love bomb you again (albeit in a less spectacular way than he would with a stranger). He’s all “family man!” He picks you up for the game and its kinda sorta like a date and kinda sorta like being a family. He wants a photo op! He can show it to the court! He’s a great guy! He can post it on Facebook. And he can still hold off the bimbos–“We are separated and trying to work things out…”

    Meanwhile, who’s changing diapers? Who is left alone at night? Who is caught between a 17-year old leaving the nest and starting the whole child-rearing thing all over again? Not Cheater! He can blow in, catch the game, do some impression management to keep you on the hook and everyone else dazzled that he still condescends to pick up a dinner check. Meanwhile, who’s changing the diapers? And up in the middle of the night? And looking at 18 more years of single parenting while he hooks up with a succession of whores? Please. Shut this down. It’s understandable that you cling to the hope that he will come to his senses. But once they show you who they really are, there’s no incentive for them to really change. He’s getting everything he wants right now. His freedom. No baby to wake him up. And the image of a family man.

    • LAJ,

      I can’t help but wonder if my ex-boyfriend (friend of 30 years, who is considered Mr. Humble Nice Guy by a huge number of people) decided to abruptly cut off all contact with me once the house of cards fell down (I discovered that he had lied many times about different things.) I sometimes still doubt my own observation, but deep inside, I trust that he sucks and I DO know the sordid truth, which is the truth no matter how many other people want to believe that he would never behave this way to anyone. So painful. I sometimes think of a short Stephen King story in which a monster kills all of a man’s children (at different times (years) in the man’s home. At the end of the story, to the man’s horror, the ‘psychotherapist’ to whom the man tells his story drops his mask, revealing his true self, the monster that killed the man’s children. I am still traumatized by the discovery that the person I loved above all others and trusted more than anyone is, on many ways, the opposite of what I thought.

      Faced concurrently with this painful situation and several others (divorce from abusive husband, death of relatives, chronic medical problems, disability in the family, moves, career changes), I often think about suicide/hope that my life will soon end (perhaps not through suicide, but by accident or illness). Not feeling sorry for myself–just hopeless and severely chronically depressed. How do other people (chumps) deal with multiple chronic crises/major stressors? Some readers have generously provided wise suggestions, but I, and perhaps other chumps, welcome any (additional) insight on how to ‘gain a (happy) life.’

  • Paint widow this is too funny, he wanted to be like Garth Brooks…… I got a birthday card for a good friend it says “you can be anything you want no matter how old you are …unless you want to be younger then you’re screwed”. I think your X is screwed Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood my God they are completely fucking delusional !

  • This is why I moved with the kids 800+ miles away from my ex after the divorce. He was the type to keep “visiting” with no notice and imposing himself on us “for the sake of the kids”.

    I knew it was really for cake and to make himself look good to friends and family. “I asked for a divorce and moved myself out because my schmoopie said she’d move in and pay half my expenses. But I still visit my kids and do things for my chump (including unsolicited hugs and cuddling!!!!) because I’m A Family Guy and a Caregiver!”

    Yeah no, I’m not allowing image management anymore. 800 miles away it is, if I have to drive it myself in one day. (And I did.)

  • He is using you! Yet again. This time he is using you and your children as props. As long as you “appear” to have forgiven him (hence….the happy family photos and public displays of nice) than what he did wasn’t all that bad and others can forgive him as well!!!! FUCK THAT! Put an end to this shit immediately.

  • The problem with this stuff is that it normalizes shit that is FAR from normal. And when you do that, the chances you can repeat history are infinitely higher. Because hey, it’s my normal, right? Only it’s not. And so you have to treat it like what it is; abandonment, cheating, betrayal, fuckery. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, but for the love of God, lets not raise a subsequent generation of chumps. Pretty sure we’ve all been there, I’ve done it countless times, and until I did the work to fix my picker (discovering that my mother is a narc, no wonder this shit is “normal” to me) I kept allowing this shit. Tolerance for crazy was way too high. Now I question, I say no, and I identify this shit for what it really is. Hard, I know, but worth it bc then the people who populate your life are actually pretty sane and caring.

  • The asshole just wants the photos to “prove” to himself and others that he isn’t the piece of shit he truly is. There is nothing more to it.
    “See??? I’m not bad. My family still accepts me. I hold the door open, and pay for things”
    Sadly, it works so don’t give him the opportunity to make him look like any less of the piece of shit he is.
    My cheater does this. He acts like as long as he pays for things and does things around the house, he is absolved of any accountability regarding his leaving my pregnant self and toddler to screw some diseased slag.
    They really believe this works because we allow them to. Every moment we take their gift, or accept their help they are marking a point toward their own atonement.
    I’ve learned that years of conflict and emotional abuse caused a change in my brain chemistry that triggered major depressive response and possibly even bipolar 2 (waiting to see how I respond to antidepressants). I’m finally starting to feel like myself again after being anxiety ridden with extreme irritability and feelings of utter hopelessness which started a few months after the birth of my son and got worse after cheater left (because pregnancy hormones with baby #2) and my final breaking point was getting the call from OBGYN that I had a newly acquired strain of HPV. The bad kind.
    It just kept getting worse from there, but my anger was already like a thick cloud that shrouded my brain. Everything else after that point was just fuel to my already raging fire.
    The drugs help me to focus my anger into more productive means, so let’s see how 2018 goes for me. Hopefully it’s a better year for so many of us who suffered at the hands of 2017. This year sucked balls.

    • FedUpChump,
      Always, I send love and hugs to you and your little ones.
      You are a wonderful Mother.
      I hope the medication helps you sweet Lady.

      Xxxxxxxx
      Peacekeeper

  • Fed up chump, I am so sorry that you have gone through this shit. I just can’t understand how these rotten bastards can walk out on a pregnant wife and a toddler! They are without any decency whatsoever. Someone mentioned moral turpitude last week I think these guys are the epitome of moral turpitude. I wish you and your children peace and happiness. ❤️

  • This is taking me back to the early days of exh1:

    For about three -five years after our divorce, both our boys played football, baseball, had many school events, etc. For the most part, we were on opposite sides of the bleachers, rarely spoke to each other, etc. Total grey rock for the most part… I was already with now-exh2 within a couple months after the divorce, and he moved in very quickly with his OWhore…
    That first year after divorcing, we did a family birthday party together and Christmas Eve all together at exh1’s mom’s house. Epic FAIL. After that, never again.
    Those years following, we did separate group pictures at major events and stayed away from each other at those events.
    About 14 years later, DS1 got married. By now, exh1 had been long-since dumped by his OWife and is now on wife-5. My now exh2/the evil one had been gone a year. A lot changes, time, maturation, whatever… DS1&2 hadn’t had a picture of them with their parents in over 10 years and they wanted one now, so we took pictures.
    My boys know exactly who and what their father is. They know who and what their mom is. DS1 will probably never have or be a “family man”; DS2 will be the “family man”— he wasn’t even three when their dad (admits to this day on his own) blew up their family and destroyed their world. They have grown up, but have never forgotten… That makes me angriest even now, 15 years later. That their dad fucked up his kids’ sense of family security and sense of self…
    Now with exh2/TEO, never. Never have taken a family picture with him and DD— us three together since she was born. Weird, just realized that. Hhhhmmmmm…
    What I didn’t learn until later, he was posting pics of him and DD— with OWhore and he kids— while we were married, in wreckonciliation, the whole time. I was clueless.
    Two and a half years later, he has never asked or even suggested that we take pics together. No need. There’s no one out there that no matter what he does, people that I care about see him and know him for the piece of shit that he is

  • It’s all about the kibbles!
    After some recent angry behaviour from my teen, ex offered to spend more time with each of the boys separately. That required them turning up at his office after a long day at school so he could look good to his adoring secretaries. When I suggested he meet them at our place or at our local shops (on his way home) the offer was retracted.

  • Elephant parade. Gotta like that. Baffled, as Gavin de Becker says in “The Gift of Fear,” “‘No’ is a complete sentence.”

  • NotMyFault, off topic I know but, your comment
    ” couldn’t believe that this horridly overweight woman who has nothing in common with me (and knew nothing of my marriage)would say this.”
    was offensive. A person’s physical features have nothing to do with what type of person they are.

    I know plenty of physically fit people who are complete pieces of shit.
    I just wish people would refrain from body shaming, especially in a group where a lot of the members are going through or have gone through enormous hits to their self esteem.

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