Dear Chump Lady,
I realize that you have addressed the issue of the Other Woman many times, and yet, here I am, 7 months post-separation, still trying to understand how someone — the OW — could carry on a relationship with a married man. Who does that? I understand that, as much as she sucks, my STBX sucks worse. I do. I get that. And yet.
This Other Woman accepted gifts from my STBX and engaged in an on and off relationship with him for years. She has 2 children of her own — how could she participate in an affair with my STBX, knowing the impact that their conduct would eventually have on MY children? As a mother herself, how could she not have had compassion or empathy for my STBX’s children? Again, I ask, who does that? (As an aside, middle-aged men from my past have reached out to me from time to time on social media over the years, but I never engaged with them because I was married and, in most cases, so were they). Who are these women (and men) who think it’s okay to participate in affairs with married people? Do they ever give one single thought to all of the people they are hurting?
After I discovered that my STBX and the OW were back in contact 8 months ago, I was furious and hurt and upset. I called the OW because I wanted to hear her explain to me why she thought her conduct was okay. She didn’t answer my call, of course, nor did she return it. She then blocked me on Facebook, as if I am a crazy stalker.
My children are, justifiably, angry with my STBX, and I can tell from his words and his actions that he is taking advice from the OW as to how to deal with them. WTF? Why does the OW — a woman who has carried on an affair with a married man — believe that she is remotely qualified to dole out advice regarding my innocent children? Where does that kind of chutzpah and idiocy come from? The OW is a moron, a loser, and a slut; is she incapable of recognizing these things about herself? Does she believe that my children will ever want to meet her?
I want to stop thinking about the OW because I know she is not worth my time or any space in my head. And yet, I can’t seem to stop. The fact that she undoubtedly thinks she “won” infuriates me. The thought that she and my STBX discuss me is maddening. I’ve had the opportunity to tell my STBX on many occasions exactly how despicable he is; maybe I just want the opportunity to tell her too?
Why does the thought of her make me so angry when it was my STBX who cheated on me? How can I stop thinking about her? Please help. And feel free to use the 2” by 4” as needed.
Dear So Done,
It’s pretty common to get caught up in hating the affair partner. After all, you didn’t have children and sunk costs with the Schmoopie. You didn’t love that person, so there’s nothing to undo. Ergo, you’re left with the purity of your hatred, disgust, bewilderment…
Of course, you’re entirely within your rights to despise this interloper. As I write in my book, however, the affair partner does not get the gold medal in suck — that honor goes to your spouse — but they do get the silver or bronze.
All the questions you’re asking of the OW, you could put to your soon-to-be-ex husband. Who gambles their children? Who gets involved with another married person? Where is his empathy?
… But you’d just be untangling the skein of fuckupedness. Who does this? People who SUCK, that’s who. You can trot out theories (Unmet Needs, Toxic Shame, The Mid-Life Crisis, Gamma Rays, Pesticides…) but you’re still left with the devastation of their actions. That’s what you need to navigate from — ACTIONS — not the murk inside the shallow puddle of their souls.
Chumps spend a lot of time caught up in the How Could They’s?! instead of scanning the room for the nearest exit ramp. You’re still in the divorce process. The fuckwits are central. They won’t always be.
Your unanswered phone call to the OW was an answer. She’s not there. Who does this? Someone who’s trying to pretend you (and your children) are invisible. Someone who’s rather a void herself. Someone who needs to feed on the life-force of others. Someone who is so desperate to be “special” she’ll just create her own alternative universe of reality. I am the Great Protagonist in the Hallmark TV Special of My Life! Bring me a child/prop! Watch me play the part of Concerned Friend! Or Star-Crossed Lover to Tragically Under-appreciated Bob!
You wanting answers is you trying to shame this idiot into reality. You can’t shame narcissists.
Oh sure, some of them come around after they’re thrown under the bus, or maybe years later when it happens to them. Others go on to write smug listicles at HuffPo.
Look, by the time your OW finds her conscience, or her yoga mat at the Enlightenment Spa Retreat, you’ll be at meh. She’ll be a big whatever. The boogeyman cannot hold its power over you forever. If I ran into the OW today (one of them… there were a bunch), my reaction would range from ridicule (“Nice hair scrunchie, Alyson”) to pity (how could you waste your life on such a horrible person?)
But see, that’s the sticky wicket — I know my ex is a horrible person. The pits. No prize. Anyone who “won” him would rather win a bucket of toxic sludge. (Hey, at least the bucket stays home at night.) Anyway, my point is — trust that they suck. Your ex and the OW. You don’t suck. They’re not your tribe. Direct your thoughts elsewhere.
You’ve only got so much time on this earth. Do you really want to waste it on the motivations of fuckwits?