Dear Chump Lady,
I am nearly at meh, three years from D-Day and two from my divorce from a world class Cluster B, alcoholic, successful asshole who shared “sex addiction camp” with the stars…
I got some news today that rekindled a WOW moment provided by your amazing insights in my early days of chumpdom.
The story is this: I married a much older man a decade after his divorce. (I discovered too late he divorced over serial infidelities.) While dating, his former wife was much in evidence, doing what I now recognize as the “pick me” dance. She left presents for him. She followed him. After a decade!
I thought she was a nutcase. She never to this day, 40 years after their divorce, left the marital home.. She never dated. While we were married (22 years), she showed up at every family gathering, moping around, following us from room to room. He was flummoxed and upset.
It totally creeped me out. I asked a hundred times, asked both my husband and his grown kids, to talk to her , to let us know when she was showing up, to make her chose what she wanted to attend, so we could skip it. It continued to the point I stopped going to their functions. I grew scared of her. She was crazy.
After separation, reading CL and going 100 percent no contact, I finally realized: she was CAKE. She was KIBBLES. He loved her doing this and loved my reaction. He purposely kept her dangling on that string for over 40 YEARS. Did I say he was good?
I have not read about the phenomena of the dangling former spouse on CL.
My news? XH remarried immediately after our divorce. Today I heard that his first wife has turned his adult children against him because she believed he was going to remarry her. She has finally figured him out…after four decades of “pick me”, cake, kibbles and lies.
I wondered if others experienced this? It was another huge red flag that I missed.
Oh sure. Ex-partners — spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, former high school soul mates — are all kibble supply. Think about it from a narcissist point of view — what’s easier? A new mark? Or an old one? Which is more desirable? Both! MORE KIBBLES!
A new mark — downside, you’ve got to sparkle (narkle?) and that exerts energy. You’ve got to give kibbles, which is always fraught. But the upside is new supply! And for a fleeting moment, the new mark is shiny and exciting, and doesn’t know what an utter fraud you are, so it’s fun. Until the inevitable devalue sets in.
An old flame? So much more upside. First, there’s a well-plowed field of mindfuckery. You don’t have to sow new mindfuckery, just regenerate the old. You’re the one I really love! There’s the thrill of winning back the kibble you thought you’d lost. So shiny! And it’s easy, low-hanging kibble. Perhaps you share children or an alumni association. These things are simpler than crafting dating profiles. The old mark is there! Raising your children! Or attending your reunion! Or living in your hometown! Maybe all three! Perhaps you can stay in your pajamas all day, just grunt and the kibbles will appear. Exertion is for the little people…
Anyway, Dianne, yes — this is a Thing.
Which leads me to the inevitable public service announcement for NO CONTACT. Freaks HOOVER. Do NOT go back! Feed NO cake! You are not special, you’re kibbles!
As for your case — you didn’t mention it, but it must’ve occurred to you — his ex-wife was an affair partner during your marriage.
Today I heard that his first wife has turned his adult children against him because she believed he was going to remarry her.
Yeah. Why would she think that? Because she’s crazy, or because of what he told her off screen, when you weren’t around? That she could win that dance. That she’s the one he REALLY loves.
Chumps and affair partners aren’t entirely stupid. They dance for kibbles. Mind you, it’s a starvation ration, but they get kibbles. No one dances for ZERO pay off. He was feeding her, Dianne. Her expectations didn’t materialize out of nowhere.
He loved her doing this and loved my reaction.
Of course he did, the sick bastard.
While we were married (22 years), she showed up at every family gathering, moping around, following us from room to room. He was flummoxed and upset.
No, he had no boundaries with his ex. Which is the way he liked it. Perhaps you’re projecting here — I imagine the two women in this situation were “flummoxed and upset.” He’s feigning it, perhaps, but most likely REVELING in the attention. The only thing that could give him momentary anxiety is that the ex might tell you. But then it’s high stakes kibble excitement! Two kibble sources in the same room, competing!
The point of this crazy, beyond the kibbles, is that it keeps you both off balance and him in the power seat. If he’d had boundaries with his ex, two things would’ve resulted — she would get a clear message that it’s OVER, nothing to work with, and would move on. And you would’ve felt more secure because he had clear boundaries.
There are of course stalkers and bunny boilers, but they are not the norm. People engage when they are encouraged. The trope of the Crazy Ex Who Is Consumed With an Undying, Embarrassing Passion for Me is bullshit. Stalkers and bunny boilers are consumed with revenge and control, not passion. And the way to deal with them is through lawyers, law enforcement, and sternly worded protection orders — otherwise known as boundaries.
Why did your ex refuse to use boundaries, but instead spend 22 years with a furrowed brow, “confused” by this attention? He liked it like that.
She has finally figured him out…after four decades of “pick me”, cake, kibbles and lies.
I hope you’ve figured him out too. Chances are he’ll be back.
Slam the door.