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Why Does Everyone Want Me to Be Friends with My Ex?

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Stay friendsDear Chump Lady,

What is up with the world asking me to be friends or friendly to Cheater Ex-Husband (XH)?!

I am two years out from D-Day and 18 months out from divorce after a 23 year relationship (12 married), and it seems like there are all sorts of periphery people who seem to think that my no contact/minimal contact (I have 3 kids – ages 8, 12, and 14) is an affront to the world or going to ruin my kids.

In just the last few weeks I’ve had three encounters with people who seem to think being friends with cheater ex-husband is my goal or a good idea.

My former mother-in-law texted me in mid-December after checking on one of my family member’s health with a random, “You and Cheater-X need to talk again. I hope you can. Not to fix anything, Just be the friends you were.”

And then a former friend (Switzerland friend, I stepped away from) I ran into over the holidays said, “You and X really have so much in common still. I hope you guys are friends again. I know he doesn’t have any hard feelings.”

I also have a new supervisor who is friends with my XH and on an outdoor community committee. My supervisor hasn’t directly told me to be friends, but he talks about his committee work and interactions with my XH as if XH and I are friends and that I know about these issues from XH. I mostly respond with, “hmmm, interesting,” and try to change the subject, but it gets under my skin that these keep happening. It’s like I’m being silently judged by my community for not being friendly to Cheater XH.

I know I handled my former mother-in-law wrongly by explaining too much. I texted her that “Friendship is not a possibility. This is not my goal or healthy for me or my kids. Setting and enforcing appropriate boundaries with XH are my goal. This is a big part of the reason that my kids are in therapy — to understand that their parents are not friends.”

It started a whole text string from her that I mostly ignored, but finally felt I had to respond, “It sounds like you’re hurt and texting about this isn’t helping either of us see each other’s perspectives clearly.”

But how do you and other chumps respond, or not respond, to these direct assumptions of post-divorce friendship that we get sold as the ultimate goal of having “made it” by people like Glennon Doyle and the happiness police of the divorce world?

Thanks, signed,

Hell-Will-Likely-Freeze-Over-Before-I-Friend-Cheater-Ex

Dear Hell Will Freeze…,

It’s absurd to respond to abuse with friendship.

I’d like to hope that if your husband pushed your face through a plate glass window, these people wouldn’t expect warm bonhomie. What’s going on here is a lack of awareness and a willful cluelessness.

1.) Lack of awareness. CN is trying to change a narrative about infidelity, that until I planted my flag in this little corner of the internet, was reconciliation assuming and victim-blaming and shaming.

Most people think being cheated on is a rejection on par with not be invited to the prom. They chose another partner! You didn’t get a corsage! Get over it!

The actual details of the abuse aren’t discussed in the literature — the devastation of the experience. What it is to be conspired against by the person you trusted most in this world. To have friends, neighbors, your own children, pressed into the secrecy of your abuse.

The health risks. The lack of consent. The STDs. The sexual humiliation. The psychological abuse, the gaslighting (“it’s not what it looks like”), the blameshifting (“if you hadn’t gotten fat/cancer/unemployed/prepared my pasta correctly I wouldn’t have cheated”), the minimization — by the cheater and the culture.

The financial theft. The opportunity costs. The complete unmooring of your reality.

I could go on and on. This blog is literally millions of people sharing their stories, archived for perpetuity about what the chump experience really is.

But, a lot of people still don’t get it. Because there’s still a societal taboo talking about it. (See also “Bitter”.) And cheating isn’t recognized as abuse, so much as bad manners. Well, gosh, he really should’ve told you about his girlfriend. But you’re divorced now, no harm, no foul.

2.) Willful cluelessness. The other Be Friends With Your Ex societal pressure is the hidden agenda. It makes it much easier for the people around you — and their comfort levels — if you’re not aggrieved. Their social calendars don’t have to change, their opinions about a person they like/love/gave birth to don’t have to absorb this disturbing information, and you will fit in as you always have.

That’s about THEM. Your mother in law is probably heartbroken and has a very vested interest in seeing her grandchildren. (Which is your ex’s job now, not yours.) She probably rightfully assumes you’re a more compliant object of persuasion than her son.

Because that’s the thing, chumps generally do not want to appear aggrieved. We don’t want to make waves or hurt the people around us, so we eat the shit sandwich to not discomfort others.

The boss who’s on a committee with your ex? He’s probably just socially awkward and thinks you have this Person in Common, and hasn’t given deep thought to the matter. Glennon Doyle, on the other hand, has an entire media empire predicated on the shit-sandwich eating of faux forgiveness. It’s a kind of superiority jujitsu, and that’s a whole other column.

Point is, you don’t have to aspire to shit sandwich eating. Friendship with your ex is a shit sandwich you can refuse. Politely. Firmly.

If you know your worth, you don’t just hand out friendship like bingo cards at the fire hall. It’s earned. Friendship is about  affection, mutual regard, and respect. You’re not friends with the guy who shoved you in a locker in middle school, and you’re not friends with the guy who gave you genital warts and permanent trust issues.

If you’re co-parenting with a fuckwit, it’s enough that you respond with civility. That you follow court orders. Pay support. Show up for the orthodontist appointments and the school concerts. That you sane parent and don’t let this crap experience steal your joy, from raising your kids, or from building a fulfilling life. That’s a BIG LIFT. It takes quite a while to bounce back from divorce and infidelity.

The world out there, the folks missing empathy chips, or just not terribly deep thinkers, they may not get it. They don’t have to get it. You’re not required to explain it to them. Just change the subject. Or say something so banal no one ever engages in conversation with you again. “Yes, Bob really likes those storm sewer drains.” Then wander back to your desk to urgently organize your paper clips.

The best way to change the Friends With Ex narrative is to resist defensiveness and just pleasantly enjoy your shit-sandwich free life. Be authentic. Be engaged with your kids and oblivious to your ex. Meh.

Eventually the suggestion won’t offend you, it will just strike you as silly.

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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.
  • Not one of those so called friends had to live through the bullshit lying gaslighting heartbreak and all the self doubt you endured. They have as chump lady beautifully outlines, their own agenda. It’s not about the spirit of friendship reconciliation or forgiveness it’s selfishness on their part. We heal when we heal and it is our definition of healing we follow.

    • Thanks – so true. I know that in my mind, but it still stings in my heart that I’m being judged by them for not being friendly or playing into the idea that progressive divorced couples are friends for the kids’ sake.

  • The ‘better for the children’ is the worst. You should do this as it’s ‘better for the children’. Your parental conflict will affect them badly. Yup, maybe it will. But why aren’t you laying that on the cheater, why is MY reaction to how I was treated that is in question here.

    Never what you YOU did to your partner will not only fuck her up for ages in all sorts of ways it will cause a rift between you as parents that will, as much as you try to mask it, really hurt your children. Never that.

    My ex thought he could pull the wool over my eyes, lie through his teeth and I would be round their having dinner at ‘Family HQ No 2’ regularly as he called it. Until he was caught an since then I am enemy no. 1 (it goes without saying). I mean what is there to work with here.

    My daughter is too young to have this conversation with now but, when she’s a lot older she will know that the fact that I maintain a dignified silence while sometimes there is some tension took a gargantuan amount of control and strength on my part when I would have rightly been justified in doing is giving the OW a massive slap and generally just given him grief any time he came within sight.

    I always placate myself with the fact that I couldn’t think of one nice thing to say to him or of anyone less in the world I’d rather spend my time with after that abuse. It makes sense to me. Anyone else who doesn’t think so can walk a week in my shoes before they tut tut and say I need to ‘get over it’ etc etc etc.

    • My ex himself wondered why we couldn’t be friends again. I flat out told him “I have friends. Friends who don’t hurt me. I don’t need ones that do.”

      He never asked that question again. Anyone who is still friends with him I keep at a distance. Some I’ve just let go. Most of the ones who went with him (very few) weren’t worth keeping anyway. And anyone who blamed me for any of his actions were cut off immediately.

      I don’t need that kind of stress in my life.

      • THIS^^ Absolutely. I have three rings of friends — 1) the close ones who also were lied to and betrayed that are as repulsed with him as I am; they have grieved the loss of his hologram as I have, 2) the friendly acquaintances (but supportive of me 100%) who are cordial to him in social settings only because of my son and 3) those who I’ve discarded.

        Own your truth and who gives a f*ck what other people think. Your kids will look up to you for brushing yourself off and being the strong sane adult. I would MUCH rather that then have them think that I’m ok with what he did (and continues to do) and that his words/actions are acceptable.

        • This ring configuration is awesome, thanks for sharing. Also, this: “grieved the loss of his hologram.” Well, if that ain’t just the perfect way to put it!

        • LTT,

          Thanks for putting what you did into words – especially using the word ‘hologram’ to describe a fw. Fits better than the words I have been using such as, ‘the man I thought I was married to never existed. He was all just a fantasy.’ Hologram is much more all-encompassing. (Found out after d-day that he was a serial cheater beginning before we even met.)

          I have also discovered that the very few who have passed judgment on me are those who themselves are in very dysfunctional long term relationships and are terrified of really looking at or confronting their own situations.

          Who can blame them?

          All of them are much older women who would end up living in miserable conditions (In my state, spouses do not qualify for any alimony if their spouse retires….all money is cut off and if the spouse was a SAHM she would only get 1/2 of spouses SS if any depending on the career of her spouse. [Sorry male chumps I know you are here too but how many of you quit working or gave up careers as well as your personal savings to stay at home and raise your children for 30+ years?]) if they began stirring the pot.

        • Yes, I need to discard the ones playing both sides of the fence. I think I tolerate their friendship only because it upsets my X, and that is not a good reason. They listen to her gaslighting our marriage and empathize with her without reaching out to me. In doing so, they chose their side or, at the very least, chose to stick their heads in the sand.

          Great post and thank you!

        • I feel like I have rings of friends too – very similar. Those who are close and luckily unforgiving; those who are cordial, but know the truth and give him side-eye; and then those who sort of know and pretty much don’t care or it didn’t affect them (Switzerland friends). I still have a hard time when I realize someone is in the Switzerland friend camp, but it’s getting better.

    • And that’s very likely the point that these commentators that like to chime in with pieces of unwanted advice knowbin their heart of hearts that the instigator of all the bs doesn’t have the capacity for decency but someone had to be the bigger person because won’t anyone think of the children!!No one ever tells anusive narcissists that drag out divorces and leave women and children out on the street or bleed ex husbands dry oh why don’t you be friends it’s so much better for the children. There’s a sense of superiority that comes in when someone mistakes another’s basic decency as a lack of definitive ness or a need to be lead. Why is our society so enamoured with those that take action even if it’s shitty action valuing that over other people’s undpoken self control and decorum in the face of shitty circumstance brought about by the selfish actions of others

      • Good point Stig. It is this misplaced “turn the other cheek” mentality. To me this means get away from abuse and disengage with abuser. It doesn’t mean stay and take more abuse and don’t fight back. There are other paths to freedom from abuse than subjecting ourselves to continued abuse. Once aware of the deceit, get out. Wish I’d been more aware sooner. Hugs!

      • Sadly even after a narcissist has held marital property and made divorce take as long as possible. Thrown you and kids on the street, to move the AP into the marital house. You will still have people think you should be friends! Just take a knife (figurative) and cut any ropes connecting that person to you. I noticed a lot have 3 categories of friends. I only have one. Your with me and supportive or your against me. I won’t have the socials in the middle- they get the story and a choice. Co-parent like you have a corrupt dishonest business partner looking to steal your Joy, money, time and life. Then choose to do what’s best for the kids; being the real honest sane parent.

    • Fortunately, I have only gotten the “better for the children” from the FW and no one else. He did so many awful things to his family that sometimes it just takes my breath away at his audacity of doing things “for the sake of the children.” When you were out until 2am some nights and I fed, bathed, and put the kids to bed while they wondered where their dad was, was that good for the kids? When you openly found fault over the dumbest of things so maybe you felt less guilty over boning your ho-worker, was that good for the kids? When you went underground with your affair during a global pandemic and had the potential to infect multiple households with Covid-19, was that good for the kids?

      I think some people see infidelity as only a sexual trespass, which even if that was the case is still really really awful for a whole host of reasons, but maybe not one that would affect the children. Even absent confrontations, when one partner is engaged in an affair it just sucks all the energy out of the household. A parent cannot be parenting well when they are acting so selfishly.

      And yeah, I think not smacking the AP deserves some kudos. Actually, I would give a sly thumbs up to anyone who did.

      • “I think some people see infidelity as only a sexual trespass”

        Yep, a lot of folks think that. The just can’t know, and many times the victim doesn’t tell people because she is so ashamed, just like me. I was horrified and ashamed that he could treat me like that.

      • I agree with you. The finding fault in absolutely everything so they can fuel their own bad decisions, the fine combing to pick on fights do it’s your fault when they leave… My children cried themselves to sleep wondering where he was while I covered his arse, while he was sipping cocktails with his fat mistress in hawaii! Where were you when the kids had pneumonia and needed oxygen? Where were you when our only daughter lost her first tooth and cried for you because she couldn’t show you, where were you when our son had his first recital? Where were you when our daughter was in a play for the first time. All other father’s were there.. you were boning your fat hore then coming home like we were not good enough. Shame on him, why should I be ashamed? He is a s lut and my kids deserve better.

    • Hi HM – The ones from the East Jordan Ironworks are my personal favorite! (full disclosure I am from Michigan)

    • Hey, I like that metaphor! There is a limit to what sewer lids can take….. especially if people litter streets

    • I love a good storm sewer lid. I’m a wastewater/stormwater professional myself, and so is my cheating ex. Our kids early words were “storm drain” “manhole” and “sewage plant”. Folk like us need to use a topic that WON’T get us into a technical discussion. Maybe “Bob really likes those new cordless screwdrivers.”

    • The irony is that ChumpLady picked that and it wouldn’t be odd for me to say that to my new coworkers since I work in surface water/stormwater permitting. LOL 😉

  • “You will never change my mind and I am not going to try to change your so let’s change the subject. Is the weather hot/cold/rainy/sunny enough for you?” Of course my favorite response is one used by a man I know. He doesn’t answer, he just stares. Silence is so loud.

    • Letgo, I have learned this Defense against the Dark Arts. Did you know you can stare over the phone too? Silence speaks volumes. My silence is the appropriate response to anyone fool enough to suggest I befriend the man shaped shitbag who abused me. I like to combine the silence with a hard stare.

        • You can also stare at text alerts. Focus your eyes at a point in space above the phone and mouth the secret incantation, “Fuuuuuuuuuuck yooooooooou.” Additionally, you can slowly and simultaneously fan both hands in a rolling motion with middle fingers raised in place of sage wands.

          Powerful cleansing juju.

  • I am almost 7 years out from D-Day, and I despise it when people tell me that I need to get over it. What hurts the most is that I get this from my children and my “new” significant other
    of almost 5 years. They just do NOT understand the harm that was done over years and years of deception, lies and gaslighting and then years of fighting me tooth and nail over $ in divorce negotiations. NO. I wrestle daily still with trust issues and with conquering triggers in my new relationship. “Where is he? He should have been home a half hour ago! Who’s he texting? What did he mean by that comment?” It’s a form of PTSD. A battle that years of therapy have not yet ended. Probably never will at this stage. My ex — the person whom I honored and trusted the most — made a mockery of my marriage and family. The things I held most dear. It was all a mirage that my ex was happy to sustain. NO. He is not my friend. He does not deserve my respect. It is enough that I do not interfere with my kids and grandkids having a relationship with him. Do not expect anything more of me. NO.

    • Same. I’m a little over five years out of a divorce from a husband who wanted to be “open,” and a little over 4 years out from a very painful and traumatic relationship with an abuser/cheater (with an equally damaging and traumatic breakup) and I still suffer from triggers that have affected my life and my relationships. I would LOVE to be able to “just get over it.” But I can’t. My brain wiring literally will not let me. PTSD permanently alters the way your brain works. I’ve started EMDR, which has been shown to be very effective in treating PTSD (so far my first session was actually really successful) but it has been very difficult and painful dealing with the trauma and sometimes it really seems like everyone just DOES. NOT. GET. IT.

      PTSD can make you feel very isolated in your emotions. It’s not like generalized anxiety where you get anxious about the unknown or more widely experienced things like large crowds or sensory overload in a busy or unfamiliar space. PTSD is very specific in the way it triggers. It’s essentially the brain recognizing patterns it sees as danger signals, and goes into high alert, even if you are under no threat. The way my therapist explained it is “People with generalized anxiety fear the future. People with PTSD fear the past repeating itself. It’s useless to ask a PTSD sufferer ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ because they already know. The worst already has happened. They don’t want it to happen again.”

      For each person suffering from PTSD, the events of the past are unique. So the triggers are unique. There are similarities in the brain and how the body reacts, but the events that caused the PTSD are unique to that person. One sufferer might be terrified of a certain sound that reminds them of the event, another person might be afraid of an unanswered text message because silence always signaled a calm before a storm (like me.)

      It’s isolating because if you have PTSD and you run into one of your triggers, you see yourself as the only one who’s panicking about it. Like one of my triggers is the Silent Treatment. My ex used it as punishment. He’d leave texts unanswered for hours and hours, then come home and the screaming tirade would begin after building up pressure and fear all day. Or sometimes he would literally ignore me in the same house. I’d say something and he’d just pretend I wasn’t there. So when send an important text to a partner, and don’t hear back right away, I panic. I don’t know anyone else who panics. Maybe they get annoyed, but it doesn’t send them into actual panic attacks. And conventional advice doesn’t help. “Meditate!” “Breathing exercises!” “Try to find a distraction!”

      They just don’t get it.

      • I get it. One of my triggers (that I’ve only just acknowledged) is when the phone rings and I’m not expecting the call at that time from that number/person…surprise attacks over the phone have been a FOO issue as well as an XAss issue.

      • I did EMDR for Sexual Betrayal PTSD. It did help. It gave me a path out in each moment. It’s not easy, and it’s not gone. I still have to proactively react in a healthy way, finding the path out, breathing, meditating, writing, and reading these forums. I don’t write here often, but I’m always encouraged by the recovery and the hope on these pages.

        Thank you CL and CL Nation.

      • Thank you, Kara, I think that explains some of the stuff that goes on in my head! I had not looked at that way…..

      • Omg Kara, this is it ! I get anxious fearing the past is going to repeat itself. Thank you for bringing this up. Certain things trigger this feeling widly.

        • It was such an eye-opener when my therapist explained it. I had been thinking I had generalized anxiety and was trying to treat it like it was that. But it wasn’t working. I was also getting frustrated because I didn’t used to be anxious.

          Typical treatments for GAD doesn’t work for PTSD because it’s completely different. Therapists had asked me things like “What’s the worst that can happen?” and I would be able to tell them, in detail, what I was afraid of happening and they were always shocked at the specificity. Then I had one therapist who said my symptoms aren’t in line with GAD because of that specificity.

          I used to think my GAD was triggered by men, just men. A fear of men. But she said no, that doesn’t fit because you have several male friends that you trust that don’t trigger you, and you’re able to speak to men you don’t know with no problem. You get triggered almost exclusively by men you’re in relationships with, and only by very specific scenarios, I.E. unanswered texts. And you’re severely triggered by these things to the point of actual panic attacks, because your mind functions in a way that these are warning signals of imminent harm. That’s more in line with PTSD.

          It was like a light switch came on. It made SO much more sense. And I’ve been working on treating it like PTSD ever since. It’s been a lot more helpful.

    • It’s awful that your significant other is so insensitive about this.

      Please don’t be so hard on yourself. It may not be PTSD that’s telling you that you are on edge in this relationship.

      You may genuinely be on edge, because you are with someone who doesn’t really understand.

      Someone who is also selfish enough to let you know that life with you would be so much better if you just moulded yourself into a compliant, trusting, unquestioning person.

      It’s one thing to have to put up with that shit from your kids. Kids are selfish; they want what suits them, and they have to be civilized into the realities of the social contract.

      But it’s quite another to get shit from someone who’s in your life on an invitation-only basis.

  • Cold hard truth. When it comes to the ripple effects of infidelity, many people operate from a selfish perspective. How does your divorce/pain/reaction-to-ex affect THEM? Most hate change and uncomfortable emotions, so it’s usually in their best interests if you just play nice and pretend like nothing happened. Whenever you are criticized or guilted into getting over it, always consider the source. What do THEY have to gain if you choose the shit sandwich buffet?

    • Yep, whenever anyone asked me if I reamined friends with my ex, I always ask them to define “friends”

      Do I treat him and schmoopie with respect on the few times we are at a grandchild function? Yes.

      Do we catch up and have drinks? No. A polite hello, and I move on.

      Haven’t seen them in years, but I suspect it will be the same at my grandchildren’s college graduation. If they even hold a graduation considering covid. Reality is, I have absolutely nothing in common with these people that would support a friendship.

    • This is interesting as a perspective. I might think about that. I wonder how uncomfortable it will be in the future for me to just say, “Hmmm, define friends? Is it a relationship built on one person’s betrayal, emotional abuse, gaslighting, and moody moments of anger that I, as a friend, trie to diffuse with humor and my optimism? Maybe I am friends already then.”

  • “I know he doesn’t have any hard feelings.” I’m rolling my eyes at this statement….of course cheater doesn’t have any hard feelings, why would he? He’s the one that made the unilateral decision to destroy the family.

    I don’t associate with cheaters, I have always held this policy long before I experienced the awfulness of everything that happens when your spouse cheats on you. I wouldn’t lower my standards to be friends with a cheater let alone my cheater ex spouse. Cheaters can’t be trusted with my friendship. I’m civil when the situation calls for it but for the most part I ignore his existence.

    • Agreed. Of COURSE he doesn’t have any hard feelings. He was the one who did all the cheating and walked away with Schmoopie into the sunset. Why the fuck would it matter what HIS feelings are?

    • ”his hard feelings were where this all started amiright???”. Then laugh and say ”oh I don’t really give much thought to Bob / Jane. Why would I?” Then smile and stare at the person stupid enough to ask why you aren’t buddies with the person who ripped your life apart.

  • I get this often as well. I think because I have a 1.5 year old with my FW people assume I need to set aside what happened and be friendly for our young child’s sake. I had my first attorney tell me this and I recently had a therapist tell me I should try treating him with kindness. Even FW himself thought we would be friends. I mean, I played friendly during our drawn out legal battle in order to get what I wanted but now that it’s over, I’m done with that. I will never be friends with this hollow freak of a man. Not because I’m bitter but because I’m never friends with people I don’t like and that was true before I was cheated on. I’m not changing who I am to appease others and especially not FW. It’s shitty for the kids and unfortunately I didn’t choose this life for our kid but I will do my best to parent him despite not being friends with his dad.

    • I remember coming across a meme that said something along the lines of “You are allowed to change the price of what it costs to access you.”

      That’s how I think of things with my ex. He once was able to access me easily and free of charge. Now he’s not a priority. He’s way down the list, and only remains on the list because we share young children that requires some measure of cooperation.

      Otherwise, he left to move on to some other fantasy with another woman. Let him have it. But, I’ll be damned that he gets to have a seat in the show of my own life or part to play in it beyond the boundaries I have set out. I don’t owe him a thing beyond the civility that I grant to everyone out of respect to their inherent dignity as humans.

      • What I find is the challenge now is my approach in maintaining my boundaries so that I am not triggered or appear to be triggered to others.

        Another shit-sandwich is that you seem like a crazy person the moment you appear too emotional in reaction to your ex, in the eyes of some people. People assume that you still aren’t “over it” or you need help. Or you give some of them reason to think that maybe there was something wrong with you and the ex might have a point in his defamation of you.

        I’ve been crafting the response to the question, “So, how are things going now with the ex?” I calmly reply that things are going exactly as they need to be with him living his life and me living mine. A couple of times, I’ve gotten an “oh, that’s too bad” to which I have replied, “not at all as now a I live a life that is stress-free and safe from harm. That’s a really healthy thing.” There isn’t much that can be said in response to that other than, “ok. Sounds good.” People either get it or they don’t. Not my problem.

        • “People either get it or they don’t. Not my problem.”

          Exactly, I never spent one second worrying about if I should be “friends”.

          Oh there were plenty of steps I had to take to manage the financial and emotional damage he inflicted; but being his friend was never on the table, much as he would have liked that.

        • Option, I got used to just answering ‘as expected’ and changing the subject. ‘How did the move go?’ ´As expected’
          ‘How are your kids doing?’ ‘As expected.’ A few good friends have heard way more than their share. The other people don’t really want to know about it anyway. And if there’s any association with the X that is of benefit to them – I consider those people a lost cause.

  • Something we all need to understand. People do this for the most extreme of moral transgressions as well.

    We’ve all heard rapists defended by their friends as great parents and citizens.

    I have a cousin who was complicit with his girlfriend beating and starving a six year old child to death about a decade ago. I still have ‘family’ mad at me bc I’ll have nothing to do with him.

    Adultery is in the top 5 sins of every single religion since the beginning of time.

    I wouldn’t be friends with someone who cheated. If I am to be a friend to myself I cannot be friends with my abuser. They can go in peace and only wrestle with God over their own transgression. I’m not powerful or invested enough to grant them grace, just time and distance.

  • CL knocks it right out of the park again!

    One thing I like to remind folks every so often: You don’t have to explain your reasons to people just because they spew their opinions of what you should be doing.

    You get to analyze a conversation, determine whether you believe a response is appropriate based solely on your own assessment of whether there’s anything worthwhile to gain by responding, then respond only if you choose.

    Also, choosing to respond can be minimalist. For example, you could say “I will always put the kids first and refrain from badmouthing their dad, and that’s all you and I need to discuss, end of discussion.

    Or, you could say “You’ve shared your opinion, and it is in my consideration bucket with the rest of the information I’m considering. I’m not open to further discussion with you on the topic. Let’s move on.”

    Or, you could say, “This is a boundary, not a negotiation, and if you continue to press me to negotiate, I’ll end this call/visit now.” (Then actually do it.)

    Or, you could say, “I see it differently and neither of us is likely to change our mind, so let’s just focus on the kids right now and stop this fruitless discussion.”

    Or, you could say, “Cool. Bummer. Wow. Want a sausage, Judy?”

    Point is, you don’t owe others the explanations they think you owe them, and sometimes it’s best to set strict boundaries as early as possible so they get used to hitting the brick wall when they try to coerce you into their drama. People who don’t succeed at a thing are more likely to stop trying the thing.

    Yeah, it’s exhausting, but worth the effort, in the end.

    • Exactly. I took this line down for myself to commit to memory. It says all that needs to be said.

  • My ex sent me some TikTok female’s (These people are so desperate for attention from strangers) video about co-parenting where she filmed her son running out to the car to see their dad and then also bringing them groceries and cooking for them and then going shopping and coming to help them with car issues (the subtitles were things like “This isn’t love between a woman and a man. This is a man and a woman honoring the love of their child. When we failed at loving each other, we walked away…so we could give our children love without the hate forged in our souls. THIS IS COPARENTING!”

    When I saw it, I saw it as something completely different. In all likeliness, she was a cheater or wanted the single life (TikToker (likely narc) with 300k+ followers, using the man as an appliance to do work and help image and him probably not having enough self worth.

    I don’t prefer to always be at war with the ex but this same person betrayed me with multiple men, targeted me financially and legally, uses my kids as pawns, fabricates stories due to me exposing her fake image, and has harassed me for most of the post separation. I can’t act buddy/buddy with someone who has constantly tried to hurt me and scheme against me. Yet, others promote this idea you should eat crap “for the kids.” She’s not my friend and I’m not going to do image management with her.

    • So your ex is saying she thinks you BOTH “failed at loving each other”, not that she unilaterally blew up your marriage. Wow.
      These people are truly bizarre.

      I can see being friends with an ex if you are divorcing because one or both of you just weren’t feeling the love and couldn’t work through it. That is absolutely not the case when you’ve been cheated on.

  • Many cheaters are charismatic. People like the cheater’s facade (at least for a while). So, people would rather see the chump as bitter, a sore loser, or in need of advice about anger management than accept the hard truth that they are also being manipulated by the cheater.

    Very few of these cheater-apologizers are worth developing deeper relationships with. Even if they are ultimately betrayed by the cheater themselves in some way, they are more likely to conclude, “the cheater was damaged by his/her bitter spouse, that’s why he/she is a jerk” than to show up on your doorstep saying, “Wow, you were right, the cheater is a jackasss.” Most people are bad at admitting their own lapses in judgment (which is one of the reasons a lot of us take too long to divorce from cheaters as well).

    Frankly, it sounds like most of the time you are doing a great job at deflecting people who want you to be friends with your EX.

    Most of the pressure I received came from church people who wanted me to be part of the congregation my EX was attending with our kids. I refrained from explaining that he used churches like some people use napkins–polishing his reputation with them until he’d gotten all he could out of the congregation before tossing them aside and “joining” a new “church family.”

    • “ Very few of these cheater-apologizers are worth developing deeper relationships with. Even if they are ultimately betrayed by the cheater themselves in some way, they are more likely to conclude, “the cheater was damaged by his/her bitter spouse, that’s why he/she is a jerk” than to show up on your doorstep saying, “Wow, you were right, the cheater is a jackasss.”

      100% this. I know for a fact that my ex has pulled some of the same things on his gf, but she’s two kids in now and it’s way easier to blame his actions on me. After all, he still blames any of his bad actions on me. I wish I had as much power as they accuse me of.

  • It is nauseating to me how many people think friendship is possible. For me, it is the last thing I want. Or even can support.

    Ignoring all the risks to health and financials while I was not aware than affair was on, the biggest problem was the gaslighting and emotional abuse. This is something I cannot forgive.

    He treated me like something stuck under his shoe for the most part of the last few years of the marriage, simply so he could justify his horrible actions. He did not apologize for any of it. Instead he defended it, because I was so horrible.

    There is no friendship after that…

    People outside of the relationship just do not know how bad of a person he is. They think he is the shiny image and the friendly guy. They do not know how he is talking badly about almost anyone once they are no longer in the room.

    My ex takes this even one step further and is now the one refusing any contact with me. Just to continue the narrative that I am the bad one. I am lucky that I am not the one having to reinforce this boundary all the time. After 19 years together and 14 years of marriage, it still hurts though. I am now divorced for two years. But the kids force us to communicate occasionally about logistics.

    https://notmymonkeys.net/blog/the-hate

    • I can relate to all of that.

      When it comes to the horrible treatment of you (the discarding stage) by the spouse you once trusted with everything you had, there’s no being friends after that. I’ve dismissed “friends” from my life for far less than what my spouse did and does to me.

    • Your life was real and your love was real.
      He cannot diminish the truth of who you are.
      He’s not a genuine person who can share love and reciprocate. He’s disordered.

      It’s not you.

  • Narratives don’t get changed by staying silent when the opportunity arises to speak up and change it. IMHO.

    I can’t make anyone agree or understand but I sure as hell am going to speak up when the stench of bullshit is thick in the air in the moment I am present in. It’s for ME, first and foremost.

    Tracy, your opening line gave me my response which I can rehearse and say and plan to say when the opportunity arises. I wish I had it when the first mediator, told us that “you need to be friends” as if he were the school principal mediating between two kindergartners. I was caught off guard, shocked, and FURIOUS.

    He was FIRED and replaced.

    Here’s my response:

    “There is no basis for friendship.
    Cheating is abuse, and it’s absurd that I should be friends with him or feel other than I do about what he did to me and our marriage and our daughter.”

    I learned the tools of a planned and rehearse response and an exit plan in recovery. I last used it when my daughter was a baby and a toddler to protect myself
    from the onslaught of unsolicited input from strangers.

    These people are fucking bananas. Yesterday in co-parenting therapy, the therapist (she rocks, BTW) asked us each if we had a hard Christmas. I just said “yes”. Mr. Unhappy For Years Craigslist Causal Encounter ‘Sole Mate’ Fucker said, “Yes. The last few Christmases were hard. Christmas with Velvet Hammer and [daughter] was always really nice.”

    • What would Downtown Abbey be if the Countess Dowager stayed silent?!

      Sign me up for my Masterclass in outwitting the dim witted.

      • TYPO….

        …..Dowager Countess….

        (my heroine)

        The uber civil stinging rejoinder is an art form that must not be allowed to perish.

        • Indeed Velvet Hammer a super pointed but calm response is a thing of great beauty….. and also just laughing in their face at their inane drivel and walking on.

          • From my favorite author on boundaries, Anne Katherine, her book “Where to Draw the Line.”

            “Build your verbal skills at stopping people who try to transfer their bad feelings on to you.”

            “Expressing our true feelings about a true incident lightens and enlightens. All the energy tied up in keeping the anger contained is released. After we’ve been angry in a healthy way. In addition, we enlighten ourselves and the person we’re talking to. They get accurate information about something that matters to us, and they might change their behavior in response. Even if they don’t, just the act of talking about our concern will help. Changing the other person is not the primary reason for expressing anger. The primary reason is that it’s there, and it’s the truth. Like any other feeling, expressing it lets you release it. Anger has good boundaries when it is expressed with direct, clear, honest words about the true issue, with your focus on your own insides, rather than on the person who triggered you.”

            Laughing and walking away isn’t direct, clear, honest, expressed (spoken) communication (the lack of which is the very problem which brought us all here.) I need to practice what I say I want in my life. It helps sort out the people who are not supposed to be here.

            “Defenses cost a lot over time. Important messages are lost, warnings are missed, and issues drag out forever.”

            I’ve experienced amends (changed behavior and attitude) from people who truly did not know when I did as Anne suggests. How would they know if I laughed and walked away and I would have missed out on the amends. Especially the relative who apologized and has ever since respected my request to not mention X. If I had not spoken up, laughed and walked away, I would have missed out on the single relative who showed she has my back.

    • This is a good perspective. We can’t change the narrative and put real-life faces to the abuse from infidelity without speaking up a little. I think I need to work on my line when someone asks if we’re friends or how my relationship is with my ex. I think I need to be a bit more unemotional and direct that, “Oh, I don’t have a relationship with my ex. His choice in infidelity was emotionally abusive and he used a lot of lying and gaslighting on me and the kids, so I for my health and healing, I have chosen not to associate with him anymore” It’s just hard to let acquaintances know about the abuse and how hurt I was. However, if someone said that to me, I know I would respond with an, “I’m sorry and I’m sorry I asked. Thanks for being honest.” and then change the subject myself.

      Thanks for this perspective of being the change we want to see in the world and normalizing a different narrative about infidelity as abuse.

  • These people (cheaters, as well as their apologists and enablers) talk about a chump’s friendship as if it is an inalienable right. It is not. I do not give my friendship lightly and I have the right to withdraw it if it is abused.

    As a consequence, I am civil with Ex-Mrs LFTT on matters pertaining to the children …… but that is as far as it goes.

    LFTT

  • I’ve told both my kids that if you’re inviting both parents plus the OW. I will choose not to attend. I keep it simple. I’ve explained that this is the best way we can be friends – by never seeing each other and only talking if necessary. Being stuck in a crowd of relatives or friends? Who love to watch the drama? Like I’m there to entertain them? Or give ex another opp to treat me disrespectfully? Just no. Friends don’t do this horrible stuff to each other and still be friends. After ex treated me bad at our grand’s first birthday, my son got mad at dad and he stopped with the joint invites. My other son doesn’t push things. It’s better now.

    • I’ve never understood joint invites. Sure, if it was that rare marriage that ended under mutually friendly terms. But otherwise …….why?&$*$#@. It’s awkward for all. For most situations there are other ways to get around these events. And the irony of an OW or OM going to their twuwuv’s child’s wedding! I just can’t!

  • I like to make strong statements to people without being defensive. I can’t change what they think, but I can shut down the conversations.

    MIL – Give up, don’t engage. Even if she understands, she will never admit it. She is 100% biased.

    Former friend- “It is apparent that you don’t know the details about my divorce if you have that mindset. My ex does not meet the standards that I have for friendship. I like you, and I value our friendship, so
    please let’s not talk about him again. ”

    Supervisor- “I would like to keep this workplace professional, and it makes me uncomfortable when you bring up my ex-husband and start talking about him to me. That is great if you have a personal relationship with him, but I do not need to be informed about it during my workday. I would like to keep my professional and personal life separate.” (send Supervisor an email afterwards ‘As per our discussion this afternoon, I would like to …’ )

    I used to be upset about people who supported stbx or thought I should get over it. It was like a massive lightbulb going off when I realized that those people are likely cheaters themselves. Someone who has cheated will be upset at your boundaries, because they would not want those boundaries applied to them.

    • Or someone who was cheated on and drank the reconciliation kool aid. They too have alot invested in that narrative.

      • Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s only cheaters who don’t get it. Sometimes people with a lot of compassion, have compassion for everybody – at the expense of the chump. It often comes back to the lack of education and awareness around cheating and the psychological and emotional abuse suffered by the traumatized spouse (even without the plethora of other costs).
        Society has not caught up to CL’s critical thinking and intelligent assessment around cheating = abuse.
        Esther Perel has a nice accent and her viewpoint can seem logical when not doing a deeper dive ( and when not considering the damage done to the betrayed spouse, and children).

        • I agree, I think sometimes even those who are in the betrayed’s corner don’t really get it. If they have not been the victims of a cheater, they may not really understand the depths of the betrayals that go on during the cheating, before Dday. Emotional, mental, financial etc.

          Honestly, I never thought of all that before being betrayed. I tended to think it was just the sex issue, though I was pretty much always harder on the cheater than the betrayed, in those types of discussions.

          • So true – I always thought, well, be done with them and move on. I didn’t realize the lingering issues that come with infidelity, including PTSD and raising kids with someone you don’t trust or talk with. I really didn’t get it, but I also didn’t have close friends who had disclosed infidelity as the reason for divorce or separation until I started speaking out about my separation/divorce.

            The whole subject is taboo at times and Ester Perel and wreckonciliation network honestly benefit from people wanting to keep their betrayal and infidelity more private and not out in the open.

            • The RIC absolutely benefits from the shame and fear of the betrayed. Which in my view makes them evil personified.

  • “I’d like to hope that if your husband pushed your face through a plate glass window, these people wouldn’t expect warm bonhomie. What’s going on here is a lack of awareness and a willful cluelessness.”

    You’d be wrong. OK, probably you’d be wrong. My second husband strangled me to unconsciousness then shoved me out of a moving car and my PARENTS thought we should still be friends. My father didn’t even understand why I’d divorce “such a nice guy.” All of our friends sided with him — either they didn’t believe I was telling the truth about “what happened” or they didn’t think it was a reason not to be friends. A college boyfriend shoved me off the boat in the middle of a lake because we were losing the sailboat race . . . and of course it must be MY fault, and not his poor strategy. (I swam to shore and never spoke to him again.) My father wrote me endless letters begging me to to give the guy another chance. My roommate thought we should still be friends. My first cheater husband fucked my boss, his boss’s wife, my colleagues, the next door neighbor, the woman he rear ended at a stop sign, a couple of sopranos in the church choir, my sister and Sister Margaret, the nun who led our pre-Cana classes. There were plenty of people who couldn’t understand why I “spoke poorly of him.”

    • Oh, dear Ex-Mrs. Sparkly Pants. I believe you totally but I can see why people have trouble thinking someone would actually behave like that in real life. That list would be comical if it weren’t so sad. I too am sorry you had to cope with such a ___________ (I’m struggling with the right word here, let’s say reality.) It must have been overwhelming to sort it out.
      I know from your other posts that you are in a better place now but how mighty you must have been to get there.
      Holy shit – I’ve read some unbelievable things on this site and lived through a few myself, but this is on the list of all-time worst.
      So glad you are here and thanks for sharing your story.

    • Oh, those are horrible abuses – infidelity and all the other emotional and physical abuses. I’m so sorry and so glad we all found you here and each other so we can empower each other to grow and support each other even if others in your life have no clue and lack empathy for your situation. Hugs.

  • I think we need to UBT ‘friends with’ with these people. What do they mean by ‘friends with’? Civil, co-operative, not putting sugar in their fuel tank? Yes. Discussing your day, birthday greetings, coffee round theirs? No. I’m not sure these folks have know the difference between a friend and an acquaintance.

    • Good question. I think two of the people who asked were friends or relatives to us for 20+ years… so they remember when we were just friends, even before getting married. I think they think we can “get past” this in some sense and be friends “again.” Mostly and maybe for the kids or just because that is what they are sold as how the world feels better about betrayal and divorce. I admit that prior to my own infidelity and divorce story, I too thought it was great when I met other divorced people or divorced parents to my kids’ friends who were friendly/friends. I think it just makes us all feel better when there isn’t publicly apparent strife or chaos that lingers after divorce.

      As for the supervisor – I think he is just clueless like Tracey said. More likely just making small talk since XH and I used to ride bikes with him and his last girlfriend, and have the random beer or BBQ with him. I really don’t want to burn that bridge, but I might have to draw a boundary, huh?

      • I absolutely agree that a lot of people are just simply clueless.
        A lot of people don’t have the true story either – there’s often that false narrative going around that things were over, already separated but living in the same house, big problems -we weren’t happy…

  • It’s supposed to be we’re still friends, not we’re friends despite (fill in blank).

    The first one is good, the second one is the shit sandwich buffet where you keep going back for more of the same.

  • How does your supervisor have so much opportunity to yammer on about personal stuff in the first place? I would start taking lunches and breaks away from the office and take whatever other measures you need to do to make your personal life more separate from your work. I don’t think it’s healthy to get socially enmeshed with people at work, and this is a good example of why. It’s unprofessional of your supervisor to keep talking about your ex to you, but workplaces these days are full of this kind of blurring of lines between personal and professional. You don’t need to conform to other people’s low standards for workplace conduct.

    As for MIL, she’s never going to see reason. Tell her the subject is off the table. If she doesn’t heed you and refuses to respect your boundaries, tell her you’re not comfortable talking to her and disengage. The same goes for any other Swiss folks in your life.

    I had to laugh at “he has no hard feelings ” The outrageous stupidity and insensitivity of that remark shows you what kind of person you were dealing with and why you stopped dealing with her.

    These people selfishly want you to make THEIR lives easier. They don’t like feeling caught in the middle so they expect you to make them more comfortable by having “no hard feelings” towards your abuser.
    The tried and true; “Actually, it’s none of your business.” response should shut most of them down. Go customer service grey rock on them if it doesn’t. Let them bleat away and just give only bored but polite responses that change the subject. I use this approach with difficult family members and they seem to have no idea they are being given the brush-off, they just know their bullshit isn’t working on me. It confuses and unnerves them, so they hardly ever call me anymore. 😁

    • “he has no hard feelings ” – yes, I think that made a lot of us burst out laughing. But the thing is, the cheater’s blame us for their cheating. They paint the story that they just weren’t happy (poor sad sausage… didn’t know how to cope with us)… cheated because of our
      empty marriage…cheated because our marriage sadly just didn’t work, And they knew there had to be something more… we had grown apart… we had a blackhead….Blah blah blah

      The cheater feels magnanimous for not 100% blaming us for the loss of time we did spend together. They also convinced themselves that we felt the same – we both knew the relationship wasn’t working. They would like to shake hands and start a new, no hard feelings.

      And somehow they manage to make themselves out to be the great one. They didn’t want to hurt us, so they went undercover. They didn’t want to break up the family, so they didn’t tell the truth. They didn’t mean for this to happen…it goes on and on. They are broken and didn’t have the tools.

      • ” we both knew the relationship wasn’t working.”

        Yep, and for those of us who knew something was not right, and we sat them down and asked what the problem is, they said “oh work pressure” “no worries, it will pass” etc. Why we didn’t know that was code for “I am fucking strange, and you should know we are done” is on us.

        • Yes, when the distance came… I asked and asked and asked again.
          I was either told it was work (it was – OW was coworker) or he’s just a mellow guy.
          I was actually told that if there was something for me to know -I would know. I interpreted that as unless H says otherwise we are good. Not, that when he is ready to discard me I will find out.

          • Good point with the last comment.

            My ex several times when I asked blamed it on work, stress etc. Which was in his mind likely true. She was his direct report, so maybe in his mind this was true. But, he wasn’t an idiot. He knew he was lying by omission, and in many cases overtly lying.

    • I don’t fault my new supervisor for just making small talk… his discussion of land/property issues around the outdoor group was tangentially associated with our work too. But yes, I should have some boundary or have something to say next time to establish some boundary.

      This statement you said resonates with me quite a bit… “These people selfishly want you to make THEIR lives easier. They don’t like feeling caught in the middle so they expect you to make them more comfortable by having “no hard feelings” towards your abuser.” That seems so true. I think you’re right that former friend and mother-in-law are uncomfortable that I now have a boundary with both of them as well as XH. It makes them uncomfortable to have to examine if someone they respected, me, says that someone they still associate with, XH, is not worth my own time and energy. It doesn’t play into the post-divorce forgiveness and unity narrative that is much easier to live with compared to reality of messy divorces and people who we know and associated with who have done emotionally abusive things to others. I can recognize that this is tough for them, but also I am simultaneously annoyed that they still seem to think I need to hear their subtle judgement that I am failing at divorce by not being friends.

  • Those people are not “everyone”; they are all asshat’s personal flying monkeys.

    When flying monkeys approach me this way I chill them out with silence and, if in person, a look of boredom. Then I change the subject to something dull, such as the weather.

  • The ones who make the why-can’t-you-just-be-friends argument on religious grounds are the worst.

    This is why I have gone NC with my ex-MIL who drapes herself in Christianity. She’s toxic. She lacks empathy. She insists I should forgive, forget, and move on, citing scripture to bolster her beliefs. No thank you. She’s no friend of mine. Interestingly enough, she sent me a Christmas card and signed it “Your friend, xxx.” In the past, she would sign cards: “Love, xxx” or “Hugs, xxx.” I guess I’ve been demoted. She is so passive-aggressive, always has been.

    No doubt my ex-MIL and a scattering of my ex’s friends (those who have NO idea of the degree of abuse he inflicted on his entire family for years) share my ex’s view that it’s beyond cruel that his only children (3 adults) have gone NC. He also hasn’t seen his grandchild since he finally fessed up to a multiyear affair (in October 2019). He’s sad. AND IT’S ALL MY FAULT.

    Before I went NC, he had the nerve to tell me that God will judge him for his infidelity, but he will judge me and the kids even more harshly for punishing him.

    It’s called BOUNDARIES. We are protecting ourselves from further abuse.

    It’s absurd to respond to abuse with friendship. So succinct. Thanks, CL.

    • Oh wow, that passive-aggressive witch sounds like my soon to be ex- MIL. I’ve already gone no contact with her and my fil. He contributed to my financial abuse and I wouldn’t spit on him if he was on fire. Those individuals like our MIL’s are the worst and there the only way to go is no-contact. They offer no value and are just so toxic!!!! The last time the kids and I were around her she made a passive aggressive dig at me via the kids telling them about how to have a boyfriend (they’re in elementary school). It is infuriating.

      Interesting how these x’s make it all our fault. Their family and friends go along with that imagined narrative, just to save face for them.

      • “The last time the kids and I were around her she made a passive aggressive dig at me via the kids telling them about how to have a boyfriend (they’re in elementary school).”

        Wow! That’s incredibly inappropriate and weird. NC all the way.

  • I always liked Dear Abby’s advice to uncomfortable questions- Why do you ask? It puts them on the defensive to explain their nosiness. If they try and dance around the question, you can obivously say they don’t know anything about the situation and turn around and walk away or if you are feeling spunky, ask them why they have such a vested interest in your relationships? That will shut all but the most ignorant fools down. Fools don’t deserve an answer.

    • This is great, I might use that in the future. Putting that tool in my pocket to remember to just ask, “Why do you ask that?” Hmmm.

  • Mother in Laws, ugh! They created these monsters by enabling and never enforcing consequences, it’s not your job to continue as she sees fit. Her pressure for you two to be friends is all about her! She (likely) a part of the problem not the solution, don’t listen to her. My mil always said things like “he deserves that time away” or “you can’t leave him, think of the children”. I should have told her that he should have been thinking of the children instead of fucking other women, I’m always thinking of the children. These men come from f-ed up families, they may pretend that it’s all Beaver Cleaver, the more they cover it up the more fucked up it is. Who gives a flying f about the mother in laws opinion.

    As for others, they weren’t cheated on my this guy, so their opinion doesn’t matter either. People have some delusional thoughts about cheating and cheaters. They are ignorant on the topic, just think of it as white noise. I was told by a fellow chump that maybe he wanted out and just didn’t have the heart to tell you. So instead he cheats?! That’s not even logical. People stay dumb things. Period.

    • The first person I told was my ex-mother-in-law. She cried right along with me and was devastated. She couldn’t believe what her son had done. We both knew the OW.

      Fast forward a year later when I was with both in-laws and I learned that she had never told her husband why their son was getting a divorce. Needless to say, it became a heated discussion. I did tell her that I hoped her son dropped dead. When she asked how I could say that to her, I told her to watch my lips as I repeated it!

      Should qualify the above by saying I went above and beyond for my in-laws, a fact that they acknowledged.

      I truly believe there is NO obligation to be friends with ANYONE who does not support you!

      Blood relatives usually stay aligned and the chump has zero reason to be friendly unless the chump chooses to and the relative is being 100% supportive of the chump.

      It is NO ONES business or decision who you want or don’t want in your life. Tell anyone who encourages friendships that you don’t want to fuck off. That simple!

  • I have a very short and blunt response that works like a charm, “My friends don’t stab me in the back.”

    Seems to shut people up instantly and they never bring it up again. Those who are true flying monkeys get the double meaning of the message and fly off for good.

    • Would it be too dramatic to say ‘my friends don’t stab me in the heart and back’? Because that is literally how it felt.

  • It is so much more damaging to the kids to show them that the consequences of actions don’t matter. My fix for this was presenting a hard boundary. If you want to be in my child’s life or in mine you will respect my no contact. When the ex’s grandmother tried to convince me otherwise I packed up myself and my kid and we left. If she is there we won’t be. Actions and consequences. So far no one from his family has tried to convince me again.

  • I might add that it was my ex who seemed SO perplexed when he realized that he and I will most certainly NOT remain friends after the divorce. WTF! (He attributes this to my being unforgiving and oh so bitter.) “I will always care about you, Spinach.”

    We had a vacation home, and he thought we could keep it and, ya know, share it. This seemed to be his thinking: “The whore and I will go some weeks; you can go others; and the kids can go with the whore and me and with you, whichever floats their boats. Oh, and can you continue to take care of that house–its maintenance, the taxes, and all that stuff? It’s always been your domain, and you’re so good at it. I think you might even enjoy it!”

    Fuck that! It really defies logic that we would own property together. I mean, if he gave it a second’s thought, he would realize the nightmare such a business relationship (which is what it would’ve been) would cause in the divorce. Also, even if it could’ve been worked out, nO. no, no, no. Imagine my going to that house after he and the OW were there, sleeping in the same gd bed. Geezus. It would also forever link me to him like co-parenting. “The hot water heater broke. Let’s split the cost.” I bristle at the thought.

    Clearly, he wasn’t thinking.

    Entitlement and thinking with your dick must simply mess up overall executive functioning.

    • Cheaters seem to be especially bad at putting themselves into their future selves’ shoes. Him going to the property with ho-bag? Cool. You going to the property by yourself? Fine. You going to the property with your partner? You are desecrating the sacred vacation home!!

    • This reminds me of something my ex said. We owned a home together …. and when I pointed out that his stepchildren and I would have to move out of the home we all created together – he looked at me all glazed over smiling and said he would buy me out and I could rent it off him – so cheater thought I could seamlessly transition from owning a home with my husband to renting the same home off my now fuckwit discarder.

    • Funny about keeping the vacation home! LOL.

      My inlaws have a beautiful vacation home that I have been to and helped work on for 20+ years on a lake. Well. I went the summer that we separated and they swore that I was always invited with the kids first before XH (and his cheater girlfriend). Funny that I didn’t get any invite or discussion of it this past summer. No mention at all, but I know XH took the kids and his girlfriend for the first time… and my ex-mother-in-law actually texted me from there that is was “really awkward and tough to be there without me.” Ugh – way to rub it in that you have no boundaries or ability to stick to your promises to me. Apple does not fall far from the tree, huh? 😉

  • I’ve realized in the last few months that ANYONE connected to my FW stirs up bad feelings when I talk to them, even if it’s unintentional on their part. Luckily, I am able to completely separate my life from his, and the mutual friends will probably just have to take a back seat until I am emotionally able to handle talking to them again.

    My in-laws have been very kind overall, but they refuse to cast blame or take sides. On one hand, I understand that at the end of the day, FW is part of their family and I am not. On the other hand, he’s gonna keep treating women like this if no one has the courage to call him out.

    DON’T pursue emotional affairs, DON’T date your coworkers, DON’T invite other women into your marital home, DON’T gaslight your wife and make her feel guilty for your actions…these are all things that are basic relationship 101, and yet, the FW has no clue or just doesn’t care.

    I want to hear from my in-laws, “It is unfair and not right that he treated you the way he did, and we’ve made that clear to him. We will continue to support him because he’s family and obviously has some serious demons, but we wish you the best and hope that you are able to recover from this.” But MIL is too afraid of ruffling her son’s feathers and losing her relationship with him, since SHE KNOWS he has a propensity to cut people off without a second thought. Everyone living in fear of the charismatic, narcissistic, and volatile FW…

    • Just yesterday I was talking about how destructive affairs are to every single relationship the cheaters have.
      How THEY put everyone into such a horrible situation to attempt to reconcile.

      • This.

        Not only was I traumatized and grieving on D-Day, I had friends that were in tears for me and with me. One friend shared with me that just a week prior to D-Day she was talking with her husband of making my now exH and me godparents to her son. My now former in-laws were in tears and devastated, and their family has completely fallen apart. (Partly due to conflict over my exH’s actions and partly due to my ex-FIL’s drama….another cheater himself. Yes, it runs in the family.) My parents were as shellshocked as I was when I called to tell them the news, as they treated my exH as a dear son.

        So many people were affected by my exH’s actions. Early on, before I set boundaries to focus on my own healing, I found myself trying to console others while grieving and dealing with my own trauma. It really was that shocking and that unexpected to the outside world. My trust was completely broken, and so many others’ were forced to take a hard look at reality too. My only saving grace is that once the mask fell on my exH, he left it down. When mutual friends did not offer him any pity, he immediately cut off contact. In his words, he was ready to start his new life. No remorse – to anyone. With that action, I have never received a question about why I am not friends with my exH.

        Unbelievably, my exH, too, tried to contact me multiple times after the fact to develop a friendship. Seriously?! Luckily, I had started my journey of recovery and understanding the importance of NC. Works like a charm.

      • Yes!! I told FW during the time we were in limbo that a continuation of the affair/divorce would ripple to a lot of different relationships of his and he was like well I don’t make decisions based on how they affect extended family. He gets it better now, but so far I’ve been very fortunate with his family not having their heads up their asses.

      • It boggles my mind that cheaters as a group seem incapable of imagining in advance the ripple effects of their behavior. Consequences don’t seem to enter into their affair-addled brains.

        They seem to think it will affect only their relationships with their spouses, relationships they are more than willing to sacrifice for twu luv. The more entitled expect reconciliation.

        When cheaters begin to experience the inevitable ripple effects–including the estrangement of family and friends, the loss of their good standing in the community, the disgust of co-workers–they react with shock and a feeling that they are being unjustly punished!

        They crawl into their victim caves and suck on the sympathy kibbles from flying monkeys, convinced of their righteousness. “I was unfaithful BUT I just fell in love and my spouse did x and/or our marriage was y (whatever the hell blameshifting suits them).”

        Most cheaters destroy so much and accept no responsibility for that destruction.

        • Spinach, Even if they do ‘accept’ responsibility -in my experience they don’t really. Because it’s loaded with blame shifting, excuses, victimhood, I didn’t mean for this to happen ..blah blah blah.
          It’s never a straight up
          – I knew this was wrong
          – I knew this would hurt you and the kids
          And I kept doing it anyway.
          They sacrifice all kinds of people to keep the buzz alive.

          • And to add to that – Once our understandable big time anger comes out – then their sad sausage remorseful self morphs into their anger

            • “They sacrifice all kinds of people to keep the buzz alive.”

              Yep! So f**kin selfish!

              Before I went full NC with my ex and after he expressed some semblance of remorse mixed with blameshifting, he toggled between self-pity and rage. I would imagine he’s still on those two channels.

              The OW is stuck with that moody af man. Each blew up his/her family for each other. I hope they question whether it was worth it. (Not at meh, obvi)

        • “When cheaters begin to experience the inevitable ripple effects–including the estrangement of family and friends, the loss of their good standing in the community, the disgust of co-workers–they react with shock and a feeling that they are being unjustly punished!”

          Honestly this started to happen in my fw’s case, well even before Dday. I think that is what pushed Dday. I am certain, he and she thought Susie would be forgotten and he and she would make a seamless transition, keeping his power and standing in the community. Astounding to think of the self delusion this take to believe that.

          Oh don’t get me wrong, Susie was likely soon forgotten by many in his world, most of them were self serving just like he was but they didn’t look past what he tried to pull off. And schmoopie was never going to take Susie’s place in this world because she is schmoopie, not Susie.

          She even expected that my son would care for her if FW died. She stated this to my son. Wrong again schmoopie. These folks are crazy. She has two grown assed sons who get the pleasure of dealing with her. The fact that they are as worthless as she is, is her problem; not mine or my sons.

          All the years she was home sucking off FW’s check, worrying over who was going to take care of her in her dotage, I was working my ass off, building my own retirement funds etc. That is the difference between Susie and Schmoopie.

          The fact that I also have a sweetheart of a husband, is icing on the cake.

    • “he has a propensity to cut people off without a second thought”

      Narcissists and other personality disordered people will cut partners, friends, family and even their own kids out of their life for the slightest or perceived infraction. So sad to see kids of the disordered walk on eggshells as they fear being discarded. So their loved ones hang on for dear life and do everything possible not to cause them upset. I know an old friend (really someone I hung out with for a time when I was young, she is a friend to no one, just a user) that came from a very dysfunctional family and she would engage in this discard or cutting people off behavior. Her father left her mother with 4 young kids and her mother was a raging alcoholic that engaged in the most bizarre, unstable behavior. She told me one time she basically raised herself. Just recently on FB she paid tribute to her mother. The tribute was pure fantasy, you would have thought her mother was freakin Eleanor Roosevelt. Her husband kisses her ass constantly. How he goes on about her on FB, she is so wonderful, beautiful, sexy, etc. It is non-stop. Honestly it must be exhausting having to worship her day in and day out. Her son when younger was full of anxiety as if she was going to leave any minute. Now that her son is older it appears he has discarded her for one reason or another. He moved across the country. Not that any of us would get a straight story from her or her spineless hubby. She is another one that changes personas at the drop of a hat. She tried out the conservative business executive persona for some time and now she is a left wing hippy. She has had some serious plastic surgery and botox that has made her very odd looking. However, all that she is at the end of the day is a scammer and has always been a scammer. That has never changed.

    • You just described my ex-inlaws to a “T.” I had a great relationship with them; they always treated me like a daughter–better even than my own parents for much of my 18-year marriage. But they were never going to fight for me or my marriage: they’re too afraid of pissing their son off and having him cut them off (in addition to my NPD ex, they have another NPD daughter who routinely holds visitation with their grandkids over their heads to get them to do what she wants, so sadly they’re used to the drill….) It broke my heart when I realized that my ex took half my family away from me when he took my marriage away from me. But it is what it is. As Velvet says below, the social ripples of cheating spread out far from the epicenter, and the cheater has to keep running from relationships to stay ahead of them. In the end, I think I’m better off staying where he left me with the family and friends who stuck by me through the storm.

  • My ex is STILL trying to get me to be Bestest of Friends with him, even after ugly court cases and a temporary restraining order I had against him for a while. It goes to show how everything is really a game to them. They see it all like tactical maneuvers. “Oh, sure, you SAY you don’t want to be friends with me, but that was just because you were trying to get more of the money from the house. Now that is over, so we’re friends!” (Uh… no. I said I didn’t want to be friends because I don’t want to be friends. Go away.) The idea that someone might actually mean what they say is a concept lost on cheaters.

    • “The idea that someone might actually mean what they say is a concept lost on cheaters.” Well, yeah, they are so used to lying and not being sincere that I guess they assume that’s how everyone rolls.

      Also, how entitled and narcissistic of him to think you would want to be his best friend!

  • People need to mind their own business. I am not friends with liars or cheaters, especially ones who destroyed my entire world.

    My friends and family would never suggest that I be friends with my ex, but it’s come up with his family a few times. My only response has been “He chose to lie and cheat during our marriage, therefore he is no longer a part of my life.” Period. The end. No explanations or editorializing, just state the facts.

  • I’m at a similar point, after a similar life.
    I like my old MIL and send her pictures of the kids, but that’s about it. In the very beginning I brought my teens to see her (we live 500 miles away, but she is in the same city as my parents, and my ex) but it turned out to be painful and now that my ex has another child we will not be returning there.

    Any friend who stayed friends with ex can have him. Most of them were couple friends, and fell by the wayside. I have new friends. Lovely, nice people who love me.

    My ex and I work together. Our contact has become minimal, but we occasionally message or email. A year ago it was still a bit jarring. Now it is meh. He occasionally sends me my horoscope (he sends the kids theirs) or a sports article about the team we followed for 25 years. I even respond sometimes. For some reason he now seems like an old high school classmate who might occasionally pop in. He is definitely the guy I once thought I loved, and I am no longer the codependent, supportive partner I once was.

    I provide a quarterly ish update on the kids. They do not interact with him very much, one zero. It is the one thing I feel obligated to do, and it is the only time I feel sorry for him. He is missing out on two amazing teenagers. But I am openly accepting that I am benefiting from that and I deserve it.

    Funny, I used to defend my ex more. Now I just say consequences and that I am living a happy and amazingly fulfilling life, even in the midst of world chaos. Yay me.

    • Wow – I would love to interact with my XH every quarter. It’s still like 2 times per week via text/messages. I also run into him around town a lot – not as much as I did pre-Covid, but still too much or at the ski hill or on the running/bike trails, etc. I’m so tired of seeing him all the time, hearing from him, and running into him.

      Someday, when the kids are grown and my parents are willing, I’d be so happy to move far from my small town that we live in. Until then, I will dream about the quarterly update. 😉

  • Friends?? After all the bullshit lies he told about me and how horrible I was to him the poor little misunderstood poppet? After being distant and shitty while I was sick and then after my desperately trying to figure out what the hell was going on? After claiming in therapy that I yelled at him (I didn’t not that it matters) when we were dating 25+ years prior and just hurt his feelings so bad that he could never ‘really’ talk to me after that? Really?? After all the absolutely heinous things he said to me and the absolute horror of the realization that he was bonding with some whore with lies over my “shortcomings” who had no business knowing my first name much less ANY details of what I thought was my personal life? All the twisted around bullshit conversations about me, information about my KIDS when she had not one right to know anything about what I thought were private details of MY LIFE? After giving my complete and hard won trust to him only to have it used against me? Not even touching on the financial bullshit. Oh sure, let’s be ‘friendly’! That $25 gift card you inexplicably dropped off for me on the porch this Christmas while hurriedly dropping of gifts for the kids and running before anyone saw you, kids who no longer speak to you no less, TOTALLY makes up for all that! Why look at him making amends, whattaguy! We can go get coffee and have a laugh over the complete shredding of my insides, financial ruin, and the lasting scars my kids carry while getting a naughty extra dollop of whip cream on our lattes–I’ll use my special special gift card tee hee! I paid for half of it in the almost finished divorce after all! Pssh….get the hell outta here with that shit.

    Ugh sorry for the rant here–obviously not at meh yet. The idea of being friends with someone who lied, cheated, betrayed, manipulated and destroyed my family…who took the most intimate moments of my life and made them fodder for his poor me routine so he could screw some worthless bitch just sets me off.

    • ThursdaysChild – you perfectly articulated exactly how I feel. I will never, ever get over the fact that he bonded with MULTIPLE APs using a combination of bold faced lies and information about me that I trusted him with (details of my childhood and FOO). The latter is actually more hurtful than the lies. I can’t be friends with someone would do that let alone feel entitled to do so.

    • Good post.

      ” After giving my complete and hard won trust to him only to have it used against me? Not even touching on the financial bullshit. Oh sure, let’s be ‘friendly’! ”

      Yep.

    • ThursdaysChild,

      Yes! A thousand times yes! Sing it, sister!! You rant for all of us! Thank you!
      👏👏👏

    • Yes me too. 🙁 everything like that happened to me too. Devastating. Told ppl lies about me to get himself fucked. It’s terrible. Our kid is fkg devastated. As am I.

    • Ah yes I apparently did something sometime and that was the final straw. But for you he managed to go 25 years of not being able to really speak to you after you hurt his feelings. Wow that’s quite impressive. And it’s just coincidence right that he finally ‘couldn’t take any more’ when the OW comes along.

      As for the OW was ‘liking’ pictures of my daughter on the old socials through the whole thing. Oh I think they were telling themselves they were just friends at that point.

      I 100% agree with everything you said ThursdaysChild. Every word.

  • I would be going crazy without CN. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I think this friendship thing is just another victim blaming tactic. To those people it is proof of the chumps part in the marriage failure and cheaterpants is happy to sustain that image.

    They don’t have a clue.

    My cheater husband is now out of the house as of a week (formerly refusing to leave). I had to go to great lengths to not have that man’s presence confront me everyday as I passed the kitchen, to avoid him pretending that he was an upstanding decent guy who just had a few needs met elsewhere. To not hear him or see him around yakking on the phone to everyone he knew (especially his Mummy) as he went into proactive “great guy” mode. After he had answered me with “That’s none of your business” about pretty much anything I asked, and I went on the offensive to remove him from my life, he then when into puppy dog mode. “Oh in hindsight, I didn’t do things right.”, “Are you sure you want this to be over?” mode.
    Then of course, when the futility of the hoovering was realised, we are back to everything is none of my business. Co-parenting is going to be a dream with this guy. I totally want to be friends, so that I can get a whole lot more shit-sandwiches day after day.

    Not being friends is a consequence. People without consequences get bolder. That’s how they got to the flaming abuse stage, fuelled by enablers.

    • Congratulations on your new found freedom! I’m in the same situation, he won’t leave. So interesting to hear how your turned “nice” friendly mode (I know it’s fake) for a period. Mine is currently doing that too, after a long phase of being totally uninterested, stonewalling, being absent, and hanging out in the garage to talk to whomever! It must be a tactic they use, a way to damage control? I’m not sure.

      Did he flip back to the usual jerk after leaving? I’m just waiting for the mask to fall off.

      • Oh, they flip like fish out of water.

        After D-Day, mine said wistfully, “Maybe if I’d held your hand more.”

        WTF!

        Try this instead: Maybe if you hadn’t bonded with another woman, fucked her for almost three years, lied to me EVERY DAMN DAY (he admits this), pretended to make retirement plans with me (fraud), engineered arguments so that you could complain about my reaction, devalued and discarded me like an old appliance, given me the fuckin’ silent treatment (which is also abuse)…maybe then things would be better now.

        This is yet another example of him minimizing the situation, like some 16-year old who wishes he’d held hands with that girl after the football game because then he could have asked her to the prom after all.

        We were married for 35 years.

        • “Flip like a fish out of water.” Love this and based on history it’s true. We’re just on new ground and it makes me uncertain. Likely really stupid but I’ve thought maybe he’s thrilled about the separation and in a good mood.

          As if holding your hand would have fixed anything, sigh. They are really say some dim witted things, did he hear that line on the radio? Isn’t is a song? Not fucking that women, that’s likely what should have helped! 35 years is a long time to give to someone that has so little regard for you, I’m sorry. It hurt, I get it. I’ve cried and literally felt my heart break, he’s just ready to watch tv and for me to go away.

        • “… flip like fish out of water…”

          Standing ovation to that one. XH gives a woe-is-me-my-ex-wife-is-cold-to-sweet-me spin on comments to my kids and I’m guessing his parents and the rest of the world. But enforce a “consequence on a boundary that all that was left in the house after the divorce is mine and nope, I don’t feel inclined to see if I can find that USB drive and give it to him”, and you’ll see him switch to evil mode and peel out away from my house at like 30 mph.

      • Hi Longtime Chump, Yes the cycle of abuse is how they operate. As soon as they are comfortable again the mask will fall off.
        My STBX is still in image management mode, so he hasn’t flipped back to jerk mode yet. But he is playing his cards I am quite sure of that. He keeps me uninformed on things so that I will only ever get surprises and never be fully aware of what is going on. The lie tactics are so ingrained and effortless for him. I ask a question and it is deflected by a response that does not answer the question. Apparently you are supposed to just keep asking the same question when this happens, but I’m almost at ‘meh’ with him already. Why bother.
        My one weapon is that he is VERY stingy, so threatening to have the lawyers deal with all of our conversations enables some information to spring forth. I am currently collecting details of our finances and we are needing to agree on a separation agreement. He hasn’t done much to sort out his finances. I think he’s feeling the ‘oh shit, who’s going to do all this stuff for me now?”. The only thing he is capable of doing is image management. Not very capable in other areas of life. Funny how the arrogant and domineering behaviour can melt down when they realise that you are taking away all your chump benefits.
        To break that cycle of abuse, I have realised that you can never ever let them be comfortable again.

  • Thanks for the justification CL! Sometimes I think I’m a bitter old man compared to other people who would ‘get over it’— but why should I be friends with someone who lied to my face while having an emotional affair, then hit the self-destruct button on our relationship, trickle-truth me about it, and never apologise? Ugh, it’s been years and I’m still anxious, rebuilding my trust in people, and making new friendships to replace the Switzerland ones.

    • Catling– I love the term “bitter bunny” as a way to mock bystanders’ insinuations that chumps who go NC are MENTALLY and RELATIONALLY UNHEALTHY and MAD, BAD and DANGEROUS to KNOW.

      Reading your comment, I thought there should be a masculinized equivalent of bitter bunny for male chumps to use. Bitter Bob? Bitter bro? But no, bitter bunny is an even better humor jujitsu when used by men. I think the reason it’s funny is because the bystander charge that chumps who don’t front as friendly with abusive exes are just dangerously ruminating, untouchable, unlovable hate filled psychos. The word “bunny” totally negates and lampoons the basic thrust of the message (dangerous, unlovable). Here is someone trying to mortally insult you and comdemn your character and you’re dodging the worst implications by essentially saying “So you think I’m cute?? Aw.” On that interpretation, it works even better if a male chump says it.

      You are not a bitter old man. You are a bitter bunny (daw). 😅

  • Yes, they do it because it shores up the false belief that goodness reigns in the world and because you being friends makes it all more comfy for them. If they really grasped the evil you experienced, they’d never say something as crazy as that. I friends and relatives who would never, ever say anything AT ALL even close to that.

    And others that’s I’ve pushed out a bit who continue to ask me how he’s doing and how we really should remain in touch because “at his core, he’s a decent person.” Of late, I’m blunt and say something like, “He has not been at all decent to us. I chose not to interact with someone like that. Please don’t bring him up again.”

    From what little I know, his family continues to enable him, so I keep my distance. As a group, they certainly didn’t help the situation at all. I tried to keep in contact during separation and soon saw that it just blew up on me every time and that they were rewriting the narrative of our relationship to absolve my ex. Just not worth it.

    • “I tried to keep in contact during separation and soon saw that it just blew up on me every time and that they were rewriting the narrative of our relationship to absolve my ex. Just not worth it.”

      No good deed goes unpunished.

      NC with the ex and his enablers is the only path to freedom.

      “People can be so cold
      They’ll hurt you and desert you
      Well, they’ll take your soul if you let them
      Oh yeah, but don’t you let them” –James Taylor

  • Exactly! Why in the world hasn’t the literature caught up with this!? Adultery is abuse. Period.

    My ex is aggrieved because I won’t be friends with the AP/wife either…. “But she is sooo generous and you two have so much in common. Hey! We could all have Thanksgiving together!”

    Um, no.

  • Many years ago when I was training to work in health care with chronic needs patients who I would be seeing 3 times per week for years, I was taught the difference between “being friendly” and “being friends.” It has been invaluable. But I don’t think many people think about the distinction between the two.

    Before separating from STBX and after knowing about CL, I began to think about it more. I think grey rock is a type of “being friendly” & I used it a lot while I was learning & getting my ducks in a row.

    There were 2 instances in which I became mighty, before I made the decision to separate and file for divorce Once, was when cheater wanted to join some bike riding group and wanted me to go with him. I could have read into this as “he likes me! he wants me to do something with him!” but instead I had begun to internalize & accept that he had never been a true friend because true friends don’t cheat, lie, hide, etc. I told him that I would not go with him because “we weren’t friends.” Baby step! But it was powerful for me. He didn’t question what I meant & he never asked me to do a group thing again.

    The second instance was when he had come back one morning from church. At this point we rarely attended together & he never questioned why, or asked that I go at the same time as him. I was really beginning to lose the hopium & accept reality . So, he came back, inspired by the new pastor & assistant pastor, & said “we should have them over for dinner!” I said, “well, if you are saying that you want to tell them that we are having marital difficulties & ask their help, yes, ok.” He went silent. Never brought it up again. Not that I ever thought that the pastor could help. I purposely said this to call his bluff.

    I think back to these 2 instances because my guess is that the cheater had an instinct that he could keep his reputation as a good husband if I decided to do something with him, i.e, “be friends.” He could then tell himself that what he did wasn’t so bad, or that she’s not mad anymore. His thinking must be stunted at the kindergartner stage! “We play on the swings together, so we are friends!” He’s all about being a superficially nice guy and won’t look at how he’s hurt people.

  • I do something I learned from a horrible person. In the war against the fuckwit hordes, sometimes you have to use their own weapons against them.

    Fuckwits come in many forms. When I went to my fancy, smarmy GP with broken ribs, torn meniscus, black eye and damaged ear drums following an assault by an obsessive stalking former co-worker and tried to recount how I got the injuries as per basic medical interview, the GP whipped out pix of his new infant twins to shut me up, then left the exam room whistling. WTF.

    As a side note, this guy was mid-to-late 50s, looked like John Ratzenberger from Cheers and was on his third marriage to someone about 20 years younger. I don’t know if this related to the fact he didn’t like to give air time to, bear witness for or in any way validate women who fought back against misogynistic crimes and cooperated with the prosecution, but I suspect so because what he did was grossly unprofessional.

    Anyway, in my numb state, aside from deciding to get another GP, I noted how effective whipping out kiddy photos was for getting people to STFU. Great emotional hostage-taking tactic for forced subject change, basically saying, “What’s wrong with YOU? Don’t you like babies/kids???”

    I carry videos of my kids playing music and pix of them “joyously doing really cool things” for that purpose if cornered by someone bent on foisting unbidden judgments on how I handle domestic abuse. Bonus if any Swiss FW diplomat is bored to tears by family photos and hates Beethoven sonatas.

    • I’m so sorry you had that experience. What a jerk! He sounds like a narc himself. How could another human not be empathetic in a situation as that, even the coldest hearted person should have been able to muster some amount of sympathy.

      • Fuck that GP but, damn, I do like the photo idea.

        Also, sorry you experienced that assault. Ugh! Horrible.

  • I don’t understand Glennon Doyle’s appeal. She seems pretty fraudulent to me, and her narrative changes with the situation.

    • I read her book, some things she said really resonated. But others I just thought were complete lies and bs. Seems like she was telling us about being authentic meanwhile not being authentic. She also really seemed to skim over her childhood wounds that led her to drugs and an eating disorder, and according to her book still are not addressed. That’s not authentic, maybe just unexamined. And also, I’m not buying her story about all of a sudden turning to women, without ever trying it out. Just seems unrealistic.

  • Most people, like your boss, are just clueless. You could handle these folks wth a simple “actually, ya know, I don’t talk with XH very much outside of kid coordination, so feel free to clue me in on all this stuff directly.”

    The others, who understand what happened, should probably be eliminated from your life. When someone knows you personally, and has seen your pain, yet continues to push you to be friends with a toxic person, especially when it has been explained to them, well, they gotta go. Some may just be choosing to be willfully clueless, but that alone reeks of such an insensitivity that you have to wonder the value of having them in your life. Others likely have some other agenda–selfishness, fear, etc. Get rid of them all.

    Most of my close friends and family were instantly like, “this guys a dirtbag, he’s dead to me and he should be dead to you.” Thanks ladies! A few of them who did initially push a friendship agenda, after me demonstrating to them the depth of the pain and abuse, were instantly on board with my strategy. The remaining few who kept asserting or even hinting, that I should “get over it” and be his friend, or even that a friendship would eventually happen, are no longer in my life in any meaningful way. They have their own demons to contend with, but will not be doing it on my time.

    And, only one of them did I actually, actively say “hey, I can’t be your friend anymore cause you’re not being a good friend.” Most of them, I just stopped reaching out to, or responding to. And what I realized was that most of these were actually one-sided relationships where I was doing most of the work. So, by stopping that work, they resolved themselves. And, that was nice to know, because one-sided relationships suck! And, the drama in my life was majorly reduced. Turns out, alot of these same people were immature drama seekers that brought chaos. For the one friend I “rejected,” she took major offense and got very dramatic but has never reached out to me again…so that’s done.

    In terms of your ex-MIL, well that relationship should probably be politely severed. She’ll never be able to be “on your side,” as it were. She’ll always have an agenda that helps your ex. That’s that.

    Chumps tend to be people pleasers, so this ending of relationships on our terms, by our hand, is a tough one. But, it’s an important step toward healing and a better life.

    This is a long answer to say that there are a variety of ways to respond to these types of folks, depending on who they are or what they to you. Best of luck! My life is so much better without these folks in it. It’s peaceful and warm and authentic.

    • Thanks – they do all take different approaches and that is good to remember. Good perspective.

  • Another reason to not be friends with your abusive, cheating fuckwit, is because it would model the type of message you don’t want your kids to receive; someone treats you horribly and betrays you and you should respond by extending friendship?! That would just set up your children to think that abuse should be awarded, or worse, that it is acceptable to abuse people and expect kindness and favors in return.

  • This is definately without doubt one of the hardest hurdles to get over. I’ve been divorced 5 years, married for 31 to a serial cheater with a full on double life. The LAST thing I would ever want to do is be friends with this evil AH. My situation was I had 3 grown kids when I said enough!!! At first the kids, spouses etc were devastated for me but as time has gone by, they always tell me to “move on” and forget about it. Realizing 30 something’s have NO IDEA the trauma and devastation their dad did to me and them as well. Holidays are always tough bc he weasels his way in and they happily accommodate his schedule. I am and always will be the one who shows up and is part of their life. I was invited to spend the night with the oldest sons family Christmas Eve but had to vacate by noon on Christmas. Having a discussion with my son about how this makes me always feel, he said “mom, dad NEVER asks when you will be here” as to avoid seeing me. Why can’t you just be like that.
    End of Discussion ………….
    Early on in the divorce I removed all of his family (i had been very close to) from my plate. Mostly they were curious about what I was doing and his sisters were sending him and his mom my pics from FB. Uh HELL to the NO, he abandonded the rights to family pics of any kind or information once he left. My X was a walk on water, liar, cheater, putting his penis activites above everything. He is NOT normal and I personally would never be friends with the likes of anyone who did what he did to me and our family …………. Not my problem anymore and I get to choose who I am around on holidays. Sadly my 3 kids just have their hands out for his guilt gifts. One day they may understand and the friends and his family can have him. !!!!

  • Interesting observation: in the beginning, I must have had looser boundaries because a few in my extended social circle made comments like this. I shut them down ASAP. Those that persisted are gone from my life- good riddance.

    In my post-discovery life, I no longer tolerate fuckwits of any stripe. My circle is way smaller but true to me. Worth every snip of the pruning sheers.

    Now I’m like: “who gives one fuck what XYZ says or thinks? Not me, that’s for certain!”

  • “Yes, I heard what you said.
    But, the fact is that we are not friends, So if you don’t mind, I’d like this to be the end of that conversation.”

    Any more inquiries can be met with a smile and say, “Trying to be kind here but it’s my business.”

    To ex mother-in-law future inquiries or email unwanted comments:
    “When I said, ‘Friendship is not a possibility,’
    I meant it.
    I respect that you are the children’s grandmother and I wish them to have a healthy and loving relationship with you.”

    Any more inquiries can be met with a smile and say:
    “Let’s keep our relationship on a friendly basis.”

    These seem to be flying monkeys trying to run interference.
    I would just stick with your mindset and your program and do your awesome fuckwit free life.

  • My ex partner said to me ‘We can still be friends can’t we?….If you ever need anything (he was quite handy around the house), let me know.

    At the time I thought well he still must care if he wants to be friends etc. Now I realise that it was so he didn’t look like so much of a bad guy (well if she is still friends with me I can’t be that bad narrative). My friends are loyal,kind and trustworthy…the kind of friends that if I ever said I wanted to rob a bank (not that I would) they would offer to drive the getaway car…that kind of loyalty.

    One of the saddest parts is that his family (mother, sisters) were fantastic to me, however they have not reached out to me once since he left. I understand that their loyalties lie with their son/brother but I have a strong suspicion he has told them the reason we split is that I did not want children (in fact we had been trying and I was seeking some fertility assistance although none of his family knew this as we wanted to keep it private).

    • “We can still be friends can’t we?….If you ever need anything (he was quite handy around the house), let me know.”

      That’s it!!! Image management. A way to make himself feel better! You nailed it.

      That’s why they all want to remain friends. They don’t really like us; it will just make them look better to the world and help them feel less shitty. “Look, we’re friends. Nothing to see her. All is well.”

      As for the lies he spews to his family about something so private as trying to start a family, that’s hurtful to you and reveals how much he truly sucks. I’m so sorry you experienced that. Ugh.

      • Thank you for the reply Spinach. Image management….exactly.

        Friends…ha!!… If I need anything, let me know….whatever…..

        Miscarriage: I managed ON MY OWN
        Fertility Tests: I managed ON MY OWN
        Losing a parent: I managed ON MY OWN
        Dealing with the devastation of Dday and what came afterwards: I managed ON MY OWN

        I was able to navigate through all of the above while he was cheating so forgive me if I’m not calling you for help to change a freakin lightbulb or paint a wall. I’ll manage ON MY OWN.

        Mic drop.

        • Realizing they don’t really care hurts, but kudos to you for handling all those major life challenges by yourself.

          Shortly after D-Day, my son said, “Dad doesn’t love you.” It sounds harsh, but it was the verbal slap in the face I needed. You can’t love someone and abuse them. Head firmly in place, I set about divorcing that fuckwit. I wrote “He’s the enemy; he doesn’t love you” on sticky notes that I posted in my car and on my bathroom mirror. After a 35-year-marriage, old habits die hard, so I needed the constant reminders–chump affirmations, if you will.

          In your case, you are so right. You don’t need your ex! You are mighty 💪 and perfectly capable of hiring a handy person to paint a frickin’ wall or you can do it yourself.

          I hope you have supportive friends/family.

          Good luck and stay strong!

      • Yep, I remember my ex saying “I hope we can be friends when this is over”

        He never once after he moved out, or after our legal separation asked me if I needed any money, if I needed help with anything. I was existing on minimum wage, had no more access to our joint money. I was in a house that had scant baseboard heaters, as we had used a wood stove as our main source of heat. It was the coldest winter in recent history. I froze my ass of that winter. There was a little wood left outside, but it went fast. I couldn’t afford more wood. I spent that winter pretty much wearing two layers of clothes while home.

        I was trying to save money for my imminent departure, so I existed mostly on canned soup and toasted cheese sandwiches. Sometimes I splurged and bought the ingredients to make my own soup, That was after I started to actually eat again. He was going to get the car back, so I needed as much as I could save to make a down payment, and have a savings for car repairs.

        On the good side being at work was great because I was warm.

        But, he never once brought more wood, or even likely thought about it. But, hey lets be friends when this is over. Nothing says I value you as a friend like, leaving you to freeze and starve and never looking back. By the next winter I was able to get enough money together to buy a couple small safe electric heaters. I did that by selling the wood stove which was a big nice one, and selling the water bed. They sucked up a lot of electricity, but he was paying for it , so fuck him.

        When I moved out of the house I asked him and his mother if they wanted to buy the new heaters at a reduced cost. They both said no, so I donated them to charity.

        My dad and my brothers offered me money if I needed it. I didn’t want to do that, so I figured it out. One brother sent me money anyway. It wasn’t a lot, as he wasn’t that well of during those years; but his check of a hundred dollars every once in a while, was a blessing.

  • When people told me to “get over it” or “forgiveness is the only path forward ” or “accept my role in why he cheated,” I simply said, “I don’t need to do jack shit!” I suggest you use that line when people ask you to be friends with your ex.

    Thank God for Tracy and CN. This is my tribe and refuge. They get it.

    • Bingo Meadow!!!

      ‘I don’t need to do jack shit!’

      Is that the equivalent of ‘I don’t need to do fuck all!’

      🤓

    • Maybe I should also add, I do not have to forgive or be friends with my ex. rather I accept what happened to me. I acknowledge the pain, trauma, etc. and I do my best to move forward. (Note: I’m 3 years post D-DAY so it doesn’t sting as much anymore, but I still have triggers and I definitely suffered from PTSD. The discovery of sooooo many women and all the lies and gaslighting, shitty blames-hifting, anger, bastard kids, and so much more that I have never fully shared my story here just to be anonymous on this blog, but it was horrific!)

      I’ve learned to take in a deep breath and acknowledge the discomfort of how those questions/comments make me feel and I breathe out knowing I have a tribe of men and women who understand me. I am not alone in my pain.

  • YES. I realized what I thought was a story of loneliness and abandonment was actually one of independence.

    I parented myself as a child
    I paid my own way through college
    I built my own successful career
    I raised my son
    I nursed myself through illness

    Thinking of these things used to make me sad and lonely but fuck that. I don’t need anyone. Especially someone who cheats or lies.

  • Now, more than ever, we have to have zero tolerance for deviant and malicious behavior on the part of any one.

    No more being nice to ‘get along’ or not make waves. This only enables fuckwits.

  • I’ve posted this here once before, but it seems apt for this thread. Someone I’d just met bristled when I called my ex “my ex.” He said something like, “That just seems so negating. I use ‘former,’ and she and I are still friends.” Oh brother.

    The old me: “Oh, he might have a point.”
    The new me (internal dialogue): “I’ll call him whatever I gd please. And I didn’t ask your opinion.”
    What I say while planning my exit: “Glad that works for you.”

  • Thank.you Spinach.

    They don’t care you, are a thousand percent right and that’s a bitter pill to swallow. I have received more empathy from the ladies and gents on this forum than I ever did from my ex and for that I am grateful.

    You mention affirmations in your earlier post. One that my friend sends me over and over again… (more about us than the ex and can be applied to all relationships).

    ‘Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle’

    Sparkle on Spinach…Sparke on. 🤓

  • Can someone help explain codependency to me? I think I am highly this way, maybe? But I don’t really understand it.

    • If you haven’t already read LACGAL Tracy pretty much sums it up with lots of examples from which to draw your own conclusions.

      If you have and are still not sure, Al-Anon has lots to say on the subject. A google search should land you on target with lots to choose from.

      Good Luck.

      PS My guess would be that there is a high probability that you are a codependent – a dead give away is that you have found CL and are reading what she writes. Keep reading and you will find solutions that actually do work!

    • I found this:

      ““Codependency can be defined as any relationship in which two people become so invested in each other that they can’t function independently anymore,” Dr. Becker says. “Your mood, happiness, and identity are defined by the other person. In a codependent relationship, there is usually one person who is more passive and can’t make decisions for themselves, and a more dominant personality who gets some reward and satisfaction from controlling the other person and making decisions about how they will live.” ”

      Honestly I think the term has been made too broad, and is over used.

      Just because you were financially dependent on another, does not make you co dependent, I mean that is what happens when one takes care of children and one works, and just because you become emotionally attached to another does not mean you are co dependent because that is indeed what marriage or a long term relationship entails. Most folks who divorce or become detached for reasons of death live fine and go on by themselves. It is normal to have a grieving period.

      Article

      https://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/do-you-have-a-codependent-personality.aspx

      I guess the question is; where is the cut off.

      • CoDA has its own big book/ blue book, like in AA. Also a green work book. Melody Beattie’s classic “Codependent No More”

  • how about just calling these people out with something like :

    “How tone deaf are you ? You need to work out how to build some awareness of your actions and stop asking me to be friends with my abusive ex! For the record, I am doing my best to set a standard of self care and respect *for my kids* and it is not made any easier by YOU asking me to be friends with the person who very nearly destroyed our lives. Please understand that your questions or “advice” about this matter is insensitive.”

  • I didn’t get to read this until today and I’m sorry I didn’t get in here sooner. This is everything. I’m so thankful for CL changing the “you need to be friends and get over it for the kids rhetoric.” I literally just posted comments under a video that’s been making rounds from the insipid Drew Barrymore show. She has an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow and both got on their high horses about how you need to be friendly and awesome with your ex “for the children.” And that successful appropriate Coparenting was about you being mature and putting your children above all else.

    However at no point did they discuss that many times an ex isn’t mature… isn’t able to be civil… inflicted trauma… is abusive to you and the children… that normal non-celebrity types have financial hardship and real fear and issues (rather than being able to hole themselves into their Malibu mansion and meet with multiple therapists and yoga instructors).

    I consider myself lucky that after nearly 6 years, my ex can finally *almost* be civil. I’ve just accepted that he can’t make eye contact or string a sentence together (he is f***ing weird and creepy). And his creepy AP now runs the other direction (she used to call the police on me and my son when I did drop offs with idiot ex… even though I sat in the car and did nothing. Once she called the police because I said “merry Christmas”… I sh** you not).

    No, I won’t be friends with my ex. And it’s absolutely the best for my son… and me.

  • I suppose you could say “Why is this important to you?” and whatever the respose, you can say “Thank you for your concern, now if you’ll excuse me, I’m at a party (or I need to finish cooking dinner, or I need to head to the grocery)”

  • I got furious when the chump of the OW told me I should be happy that our exes are together and will probably heal each-other as people. I wanted to slap him for being so insulting. Either he is a cuck, a simp, or he was never emotionally invested in her (I think it’s the latter, because he kept wanting to be with her no matter what because “who else would be with him”). I cut him off recently. I feel bad cause he has no friends but he’s fucking insane with that mindset.
    Speaking of, twittersphere is awful for anti reconciliation support. accidentally gave advice to someone who was following and commenting in the betrayed sphere of things, and realized he was actually a fuckwit. It made me want to vomit seeing replies calling his exwife a narc for innocuous things. Where is a good place to talk instead?

    • This so much. Thanks again, Chumplady. You really do have a healing perspective that helps me accept myself and situation so I can move on and enjoy my life free of that FW.

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