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The Other Woman Was a ‘Best Friend’

broken heartDear Chump Lady

My children’s father and I broke up 18 months ago after after an 11-year relationship, 2 kids, a house, and a business. The break up especially was horrific with mental / financial abuse, accusations, gaslighting, and projections. I’ve only recently been able to wrap my head around it and have retained a lawyer to initiate, at minimum, a custody agreement and appropriate, honest child support.

I suspected within a couple of months of the break up, the ultimate downfall of our relationship was due to a behind-the-scenes “friendship” with my best friend of the last decade. She broke up with her spouse, of 15+ years, within a week or two of my break up. Then she spent a month standing up for my ex’s integrity and character while I continued to confide in her daily, until I came to my better senses.

My two young kids came home recently, after one of their twice a month 8-hour visits with their father, and confirmed their relationship and my suspicions. She has been present for all their visits since. I am currently away from my job on a short mental health leave.

Now that their relationship is out in the open, my ex is suddenly trying to step up and be a father to his kids. Whether it’s to do with his image management or hers, has yet to be seen. The visits and phone calls with our children, prior to a month ago, were sporadic and random at best. One year ago, he even claimed that our children weren’t his… he sent DNA tests away on their hair….

In retrospect, my best friend’s excessive interest in my kids was obviously more then her being a good friend to me. She is unable to have her own children. My best friends ex committed suicide within a year of their breakup. I suspect to justify her life circumstances, she will put up with more then I ever did. My ex and my best friend will be together for the rest of their dishonourable lives to justify both of their actions.

My ex spent the better part of our relationship being sexually inappropriate to anyone and everyone who would pay attention to him, including 2 of my younger sisters (repeatedly). I don’t worry for one second, they will truly live happily ever after. My best friend sat with me and listened to my confusion and heart break after each caught incident of infidelity.

My problem is, after confiding in my best friend for years, taking family vacations together, and inviting her to every Christmas / Thanksgiving / Easter / birthday party, I also recruited her to my workplace. I see her at my job every day.

Because of my suspicions, the friendship had previously fallen to polite greetings in passing. Since confirmation, our friendship has ended on disgusted looks from me and her avoiding eye contact with me. I am unwilling to risk my career and professional license by acknowledging this at work or by overtly sharing my situation with our mutual coworkers.

I like my job. It’s rewarding. It provides me the daytime / weekday hours that I need to be at home and raise my children. Most jobs in my profession, require shift work, which I am unable manage due to childcare. I don’t feel that I am in the best mental or emotional place to learn a new job. I’m in a specialty area that I’ve spent almost 20 years learning and becoming good at.

Am I ridiculous for trying to wait my best friend out with hopes that some sense of shame and dignity will inspire her into finding a new job? Or do you think I’m going to eventually lose the never-ending head game of “f” the ex over?

Yours Truly,

Double Chumped

Dear Doubly Chumped,

I hear all your reasons for wanting to keep your job, and they’re valid. But something has to give. Either you tell someone at your workplace what’s going on, or you look for a new job and childcare. Seeing as you’re still working out a settlement, I’d have your ex pay for those childcare and job-finding costs.

Expecting the woman who fucked your husband to Do The Right Thing is delusional. I’m sorry. She clearly isn’t capable of shame or dignity. This whole situation is so transgressive and fucked up, I’d run screaming away from it and build a new life.

You still have to co-parent with the creeps and that’s ENOUGH. I wouldn’t want her in my workplace too. It might be that you have great powers of detachment and can do it. You might be locked in a battle with the OW of You Shat On My Whole Life YOU CANNOT HAVE MY FUCKING JOB TOO. I still think the winning move is to quit the game and walk away.

It’s not fair. It’s not just. But either you become the subject of gossip and pity if you disclose, or you have to nod at your trigger in the hallway every day. I don’t care how much Trust That They Suck you’ve internalized, that’s a shit sandwich you do not have to eat.

I tend to think of these cheating characters in one’s life as nuclear waste. It’s Chernobyl. You close the perimeter and never revisit. You put that shit in a container and seal and bury it for a thousand years. You avoid exposure to save yourself from radioactive poisoning. You’re asking me how much ticking on the Geiger counter can you endure? My answer: GET AWAY FROM WHAT KILLS YOU.

You’re taking mental health leave! It’s not fair, it’s not just, but start looking at other jobs. I know that’s not the answer you want. I suppose the other option here is disclosure. Tell HR what is going on. Okay, but they can’t make this freak lose her job because she’s a terrible human being. Maybe they could re-assign her to Siberia? I suppose that’s worth an ask. As professionals, they aren’t going to tell anyone.

A chump fantasy might be to tell a co-worker, word spreads, and the OW is so reviled and shunned that she looks for another job. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Most coworkers don’t want the particulars of anyone’s messy tragedies or abuse. There are widgets that need manufacturing. And while some may have compassion, there are other who might shrug or befriend this freak, and who needs that shit?

If you persist in your job, remember, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I think you’re pretty clear on that. The woman who should wear ashes and sackcloth is the OW. The fact that she traumatized two people closest to her from betrayal, one to his death, should bury her in shame. But it won’t. She’ll just carry on — and THAT is what I’m asking you to get away from. That mind bending indifference.

Now, to your ex.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this man tried to co-opt those closest to you — your best friend and your two younger sisters — into being his fuckbuddies. That’s an A-level sicko there. Sure, there’s an inherent laziness of cheaters to hunt the grounds closest to them, but this also strikes me as deliberate malice. The extreme trauma this would inflict on you. The humiliation of your unknowingness. You are well rid of this monster.

And the OW, another creeper. She seems to have wanted your life. Your kids. Your job. Now that horror show is hers. I’m sure she believes in her exceptionalism. (That never ends well.) But imagine being so devoid of personality and character that assuming and usurping another’s life appeals to you?! What an empty elevator shaft she is.

Doubly Chumped, I’m so sorry this happened to you. The OW may insinuate herself into your kids’ lives, they have no choice in that, but no one will ever replace you in their hearts. You’re their mom, the sane parent, the true parent. This is just a window in time. Parenting is a long arc. The kids won’t have a fuller picture for a very long time.

You can’t control the OW’s presence in their life — but you can practice no contact. You can build a new life free from these horrible people and refuse them mental real estate eventually. (Not now, of course. The trauma is fresh. You’re going to process this for ages. Sorry.)

Don’t let your ex’s impression management get to you. That’s all he has. That’s all she has. Veneer.

You have substance. You have heart. You’re the true parent. That’s the winning hand.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Thank you CL, I needed to read this advice today. The situation is similar to mine and I’ve been no contact since May. It’s a lonely lonely road and my mind goes back to how easily I was replaced. But, their (ex and her tru wuv) elevator shaft is empty and my children with that freak will come around one day so me building my life is the sane parent response.

    • You weren’t replaced. It’s impossible. There is, was, and will ever be only one Xioba Xioba.

      He found a new mark. It’s what con artists have to do to keep their con going.

      BIG difference. Write it on Post It notes and wallpaper your world with them. Read them out loud. Often. It takes a while for truth and reality to sink in.

    • Think about what it means to “replace” one person in your life with another. Even if you despised a parent, child, aunt, or former friend, you would not just switch out one human with another. That’s sick. Even in a JOB, if one person leaves, the next may take his or her job/position but the person who brought intelligence, hard work and light to the workplace is not “replaced.”

  • I don’t have much to offer more than a salute to this woman who has more self control than I will ever have. I would have long-ago emotionally vomited every detail onto my coworkers shoes.

    I am normally 100 behind CLs advice but I waiver just a bit on this one. I totally agree that leaving the job (and its shit sandwiches) would be best but this good job may be hard to replace and as a newly single parent, she may choose to keep it and bide her time. I agree with going to HR even for no other reason than to let them know of the trauma (which inevitably effects us).

    Either way, keep your head up DC, the worst of this pain is finite and your former partner (and friend) are vermin that you need out of your life. Healing will come…hugs from all of us.

    • She may not be able to leave the job now, but I’d surely be updating my resume and sending out feelers to see my options. I’d also get a settlement with childcare expenses now so I wouldn’t have to fight for it later.

      I know there are real world costs, but chumps so undervalue their mental health. Which affects our physical health. I’d still give myself permission to leave. It’s not defeat.

      • Unfortunately or fortunately, I have a bit of experience with ex’s fucking friends.

        There is another option available if Doubly Chumped lawyers agree. Doubly Chumped should discuss the possibility of subpoenaing the best friend/co-worker as part of the financial discovery process. They can then bring up letting go of the subpoena and requesting that the best friend find a new job in exchange.

        If her lawyers aren’t that savvy, I humbly suggest getting new lawyers. She needs the best damn lawyers she can get. Any “best friend” that listens to someone’s woes also knows how to game the financial part of the hidden relationship!

        The mention of subpoenaing and taking sworn testimony from my “friend/AP” (lucky me), was enough to make my ex react like he’d been poked with a live wire.
        Anything we asked for them was considered done. No questions asked.

        Also, get ahead of the “friend’s” narrative with your kids IMMEDIATELY. You can do it.

        • Also, I’m not sure about going to HR. I’ve seen lots of cases where HR employees spill any good gossip.

          Any HR people here please don’t be offended. There are rotten apples in any profession!

          See my comments above. I would suggest keeping her mouth shut and letting her lawyer do the dirty work.

          • I would think there would be a necessary conversation with HR simply to update tax exemption status?

            I did not want to leave my job of nearly 12 years, but I’ve ended up with a job I like as much if not more. There is hope DC! I agree with updating the resume ASAP.

            • Me too. I was in a comfortable rut at a job within walking distance to home. Divorce forced me to find a better paying job with a commute but since Covid it has been mandated as permanent work from home. Win win for me.

          • Yep, I wouldn’t be real quick to trust HR folks to keep quiet. I am sure many do, but some don’t and all it takes in one.

            Also don’t ever forget HR folks work for the company unless they are an outside firm, and even then if they get paid by the company they work for the company. Nothing wrong with that, it is just that some folks think they will put the employees needs first, they won’t unless it benefits the company.

          • You are right, there are some shitty HR Managers for sure. Plus, even the good ones will report the matter to the higher ups. However, DC could use this to her advantage. If she goes into HR and calmly states that AP, the employee DC brought in, vouched for even, has been having an affair (with partner) behind DC’s back for quite some time. DC’s partner dumped her and is now with AP. Tell HR you have no problem with the demise of your relationship with either one (lie if need be) and you are well over the deceit, but the reason you are divulging this personal info is because the cheater couple is now undermining DC and there is a possibility the cheater couple could take revenge through work. Tell HR you just want to do your job, be productive and move forward but in case AP skank decides to undermine or play games you felt you should alert HR. Or you could say you were advised to alert HR. Go into HR with a positive attitude and stay away from details. Make it as brief as possible. Will AP get fired? No. However, she will now be under scrutiny even if HR and the higher ups have shitty values. Plus, you now have a bit of protection if AP does try any funny business at work. CL is correct though, you need to start looking at other options. Also, you may not want to hear this but AP did you a huge favor as your ex is a POS and you should have dumped his ass the moment he hit on your sister.

            • If it’s a good HR they like to be in the loop. A relative of mine was in upper management. She had taken over for someone who never dotted an I or crossed a T. In fact the person barely wrote anything down about anyone. Consequently when she ran into a big mess HR said start from scratch we have nothing here. It took her a long time and a lot of real stress to get the situation taken care of. You know your HR better than anyone. Are they trustworthy. Are they good people? Of course they’re going to gossip. That’s life. If you are a good employee and you know you are then I can’t imagine HR not listening to you. It’s a case-by-case story here. Some HRs I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole and others are always on the side of good employees. It’s really up to you

              • I’m an HR Director and both myself and my team are an incredibly hardworking bunch who do our absolute best to support employees who are struggling for whatever reason. HR people get a tough time cleaning up crap left behind by others with negligible appreciation! I work in the UK so very different rules over here. However I would suggest it is very much in the interests of this lady to talk to her HR Dept. The reason being that it should provide her with some level of protection especially if she needs more time off with mental health challenges. Surprisingly enough HR professionals add human beings and good ones should be the moral conscience of the business. She will gain a level of empathy and understanding plus they will take a dim view of this OW. There might not be anything that can be done officially but it’ll be noted. And I’m a great believer in what goes around comes around. I’ve spent a lifetime rooting out bad people and I suspect the HR guys here will feel similarly about this horrible OW.

            • That’s a good point that the higher ups will hear. The story is far too juicy not to be discussed…it may not be politic but that is the truth. I think it helps DC that they know, actually. Because they are also likely aware of her mental health break. I think it protects her that they know why, because most human beings will empathize with the circumstances, knowing that they would also have difficulty with the situation.

              The company is going to be all about themselves and their legal obligations. But even so, I think people have a natural revulsion to traitors and those who betray their friends and husband. Because OW will have zero problem shafting the company if it benefits her. She is a lousy employee for that reason alone. And now upper management will know she is not to be trusted.

            • I agree with the method of telling HR.

              But, I am just not sure I agree about her having to give up her job. I think I might hang in there. It is possible that DC could find another job and the ow could follow.

              I think getting her narrative out there first (to HR) is the best thing, but I just don’t know if I would want them to force me out of my job.

          • Some HRs can handle things poorly at best, and it can be hard to know what kind you have. Maybe it might be worthwhile to loop the manager in, as an FYI – not that you expect them to do anything about it.

            If you haven’t already, head straight over to Ask A Manager. There will be loads of helpful advice there, whether you choose to stay or leave.

          • To clarify, I do think telling HR your situation is a good idea. Don’t want the whore to get in there and let them think her version is true.

            I just meant to be aware they are for mgt. I would add when I tell them that you will of course be a professional, and that you love your job etc; but just wanted them to know why you might for a short while be under some stress as you adjust to your new situation.

        • I found an excellent icy lawyer and that was one of the first things he said would happen– subpoenaing the AP for financial discovery and other details. Even if our state didn’t have fault divorce, which it does, dissipation of marital assets for affairs impacts settlement and subpoenaing APs is often done. Plus it’s totally humiliating and a way to twist arms for an easier process and better settlement. That matters since cheaters tend to hide assets, fight spousal and child support, etc.

          I wonder why, given the chance, any chump would hesitate to play this card. Fear of the optics of seeming aggressive? FWs and APs are already guaranteed to be maligning chumps’ characters every chance they get. Might as well be hung for a sheep.

        • Excellent, Rebecca! Double win–get the infidelity into the divorce record, and perhaps force the cowardly OW to hightail it out of the job.

        • Regarding subpoenaing and deposing the OW: I agree that’s a great idea. I would also think DC’s sisters would be able to provide testimony about what Dirtbag tried with them, if they are old enough.

          Regarding the job, I have one huge piece of advice that I hope you take to heart. Do NOT give her “disgusted looks” in the workplace. That’s fine if you run into her at the supermarket, but if you are giving her hostile looks, then she can claim you are the disruptive person and complain about YOU. And if other people see those disgusted looks, you seem to be the aggressor.

          The second thing about the job is you know what you want: you want to work daylight hours, no shifts; you want to use your speciality and expertise; and you do not want to learn a new job (or perhaps a new workplace) in the current situation. That does not mean, however, that you are stuck. First, take a long look at your own workplace and see if there are lateral moves or a promotion that could get you clear of contact with OW. If your employer has flextime, maybe you can subtly shift your hours to achieve little or no contact. And of course you should be polishing the resume and sending it out to see what’s out there. There may be a better situation. You don’t know if you don’t look.

          I look at your timeline and what you are expecting after 18 months of this nonsense seems very minimal. Adequate child support? Are you getting the house? What about child care costs? What about the business? What might a lawyer advise to help protect yourself at work? What safeguards can you build into a custody situation? Remember that his “good dad” act is probably now about avoiding child support.

          I hope you are seeing a therapist for help with the trauma of this situation. Your last line gives me pause. Your X and the OW may be playing a game of “f the X over” with you, but you don’t have to engage with that. What you need to do is go full on Mama Bear and get yourself untangled from these monsters, to the extent that it is possible.

          Keep us updated.

      • This situation, where you’re doubly betrayed over time, is so horrific I’m dumbstruck.

        Not much advice but to say if it were me, I’d have to get the hell out of that. It would make me physically ill as well as nutty.

        About 2 years into our divorce saga, (after 35 years of marriage that I thought had been monogamous) I found myself fearing a heart attack one day while walking my dog.

        But it was actually a seething and searing rage that overwhelmed me like a panic attack.
        So much injustice, so much deceit and cruelty to face.

        At that moment I knew I had to do ANYTHING to detox and remove every single painful thing I could.

        I got certified to teach English and went overseas where I knew no one and didn’t know the language. I had a great experience that did wonders for my confidence. Zero reminders of the DOCTOR.

        That’s how much I had to do to stay sane and let go of the sick to my stomach feeling I had nearly all the time.

        I cannot imagine you healing soon without getting the hell out of there. It’s all you control – you can’t force her out – and it’s self evident she’s shameless.

        No one should have to deal with that at work, and you do have options.

        Besides, as long as she can see you, she and your FW can keep tabs on you. F- that.

        Keep us posted!

    • I have to agree on this one. Trying to find a new job when you’re freshly traumatized is not a good idea. Especially with the seemingly endless hoops they make you jump through – resume, application, tests, essays, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd interviews, and then the onboarding process and training. That’s a lot of stress for an emotionally content person, never mind someone who’s in the throes of a spiraling PTSD. I lost quite a few opportunities because I couldn’t get my shit together, so I know firsthand.

      I would talk to someone in HR. Although they’re famous for not being able to do much about real problems, making them aware of the situation could benefit you. Either way, you don’t want your ex-bff sociopath to get the lead on this narrative. Start working on a harassment journal regardless. If she oversteps, you may have a claim.

      Another path is to work this stress into your legal complaint. See if your lawyer can argue for extra support so that you can have more time to stabilize your mental health and then find a job.

      It took me a solid 3 years to get myself stabilized and employed – I’m just entering this new phase and it’s a good feeling.

      Doubly Chumped, you have a steep hill to climb, and most people don’t see how steep it is so they don’t offer much help. This may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But when you’re finished, you’ll be at the top of that hill. You’ll be wiser and stronger and happier than you can imagine right now.

      And the sociopaths that did this – especially that stupid woman – will be wallowing in the shit puddle they created. Your ex is a heartless, selfish thing whose dick will keep wandering. Your “bff” will be left with a dead husband, lost step children, an std, and no friends.

      My heart aches for you and I’m sending you big (((hugs))) and a hot cup of tea. Keep coming back here for support. ❤

    • “I would have long-ago emotionally vomited every detail onto my coworkers shoes.”

      OMG! I was thinking the same. I definitely would have told everyone. No restraint. I was one of those chumps who spilled to everyone, even the occasional hapless stranger: “Yes, they even slept in our bed…and didn’t change the sheets!” I would add that last detail for the germaphobes who might be lukewarm about cheating.????

      • Yep, I was one that held it in me. I shouldn’t have.

        I allowed those assholes to spread their own version. I doubt most folks believed them given the circumstances. Still I should have at the very least told my preacher, and a couple good friends, and at least one person who I knew would spill.

      • Yes, I overshared as well.

        I’m embarassed at the extent to it

        But I was not myself after so many lies were told about me, and he poisoned the children against me

        • I sang like a canary to anyone who would listen. I wanted it to be very clear that he cheated and left to be with the OW. He was lying that she had only ever been a friend and to beware of the things I say. I wanted to be sure that our families, friends and my co-workers knew the truth. As far as I know, everyone believed me within 5 minutes, even if he had gotten to them first.

          It was just over two years before I found that I just stopped spilling the beans, partly because just about everyone knew, but also because I no longer felt the urge to do it. I was so happy when that came to an end.

        • I told everyone as well – ex FW put on a ‘nice’, meek facade and I wasn’t about to allow him to shape the narrative, not after I’d discovered that he and OW had discussed misogynistic fantasies of murdering women and abusing me, and that he had also saved an image of OW’s daughter that OW had sent him, alongside her nude selfies.

          Exposure certainly changed opinions of FW’s and OW’s characters, and being exposed is kryptonite to these abusers. Exposing their behavior was cathartic and freeing for me – it made me realize how horrific their behavior actually was, and made it easier for me to go no contact with him.

      • I managed to not spill at work. In fact, a former co-worker of mine who has remained an acquaintance reached out to me because she was chumped. (Her FW is military and she contacted me to see if I knew any good military attorneys.) I had all sorts of info to share and she wondered how on earth I know all I do. I then told her the short version of my chump story, which started with D-day #1 while she and I worked in the same office space all day. She had no idea at all. And she was my closest colleague there.

        On the other hand, most of my friends and a few neighbors got the scoop. When klootzak ran off out of state and left us alone on New Year’s Eve, I continued to take kiddo to the neighbors’ party without him. How to explain he wasn’t there? I wasn’t going to cover for him. And I didn’t care if he knew I told. Three women in the neighborhood offered to help. They offered for us to live with them so I could leave klootzak. One offered to pay for a PI. And they still remind me that their homes are open to me and all kinds of support. I have a small army of support because of my little emotional vomit. I would have been ill if I had held it in and not been open with people.

        • I agree wholeheartedly with those of you who propose spilling the beans to others. I was too proud, too ashamed, too humiliated to tell ordinary folk like neighbours or even long term friends. I told very few close friends. Gradually the isolation started eating away inside me, so I started telling people. Their overall supportive attitude was, and still is, a great comfort. Now, two years + along the road to meh, I don’t redden and tremble at the thought of telling people.
          The HR need to know. It’s their job, which they can’t do without knowing what’s going on. Get away from the idea that it is in any way your fault. You never know, Doubly, they may well see reason to move her on, change shifts or avoid you needing to make those nods when you meet her.
          Good luck. That double betrayal is just beastly.

      • I told everyone. So much so that he up and left the town we lived in – where he grew up, where his dad was mayor, where there is a street named for his family. He even left his P/T police job so he could leave town. Everyone knew us, he even called us one of the Town Power Couples. He destroyed his reputation as a nice guy and I’m happy to let everyone know. It makes me laugh that I’m not even from here but now I own “his” town.

        I know that the remorse and embarrassment he feels are selfish and have nothing to do with me. Running away means he doesn’t have to face his moral flaws. His latest victim will find out soon enough.

      • I told anyone who asked (and even some who didn’t) that he’d left me for a massage parlor whore. I had nothing to be ashamed of! I did nothing wrong. Everyone who knew us were as shocked as I was that my “Christian” husband, who worked at our church, could do such a thing. Everyone thought we were so in love; he told everyone how much he adored me. That’s the image he chose to portray. To make himself look like a good guy, a perfect husband. And to better hide his double life, I suppose.

        I was retired at the time, so I didn’t tell anyone from work. I had retired (at his urging!) in January 2019. He left me that March. I was completely blindsided. I did call my manager to ask if I could get my job back, that my husband had left me and I could no longer afford to retire. That was humiliating AF. Unfortunately, they had already filled my position. So I had to get a new job on top of dealing with the shock and heartbreak of his betrayal, filing for divorce and navigating the singlehood that had been forced on me. It was a horribly stressful time.

        I did manage to find another position. I was back to work that September. It’s a good job, good company, good people and management. I’m very happy there. Not as much money, but much less stress. Five minutes from home. So sometimes it works out for the best to start over at a new job. I can’t imagine having to go to a job every day and see the OW. I think that would be so stressful and so bad for her physical and mental health.

        When a door closes, another sometimes better one opens. At least that’s the way it worked out for me. Oh, and I did tell a couple of my new coworkers. But only after I got to know & trust them.

  • DC,

    Time spent waiting for the Cheater and/or the AP to do the right and honourable thing is time wasted ….. and – as an extra bonus – you get to take another bite of the sh*t sandwich for every second you wait.


  • Can’t wait to read CL’s full response, but I just have to say this to Double Chumped. So many alarm bells are going off in my head!! This “best friend” has already betrayed you in your personal life. There’s a very good chance she will or already is working to betray you at work. I can see her skulking around to all of your colleagues behind your back and fabricating her own narrative about why you aren’t speaking to her and casting “hostile” looks her way…totally playing the victim. Please tell someone at work what is happening or look for another job. Not sharing this at work is giving this POS ow your power and the very real chance of really devastating your life at work.
    Also, your kids DO NOT need to be exposed to her while visiting their father. Please talk to your lawyer about the possibility of writing into any parenting plan that when the kids visit, that she can’t be there. It may not work, but worth a try. If she is looking at your children to fill a void in her life, please understand that she may do everything in her power to start alienating you and attempting to take over your place in their life.
    I am so sorry you have experienced this double betrayal. It truly is horrible that someone who pretends to be your friend does this to you. Don’t let her win anything else…not your job, not your kids. Sending hugs and love your way.

    • “If she is looking at your children to fill a void in her life, please understand that she may do everything in her power to start alienating you and attempting to take over your place in their life.”

      excellent point to take into serious conscideration

      • If there is any chance that this woman has a history of anything questionable – drinking, gambling, anger management – capitalize on it.

        My lawyer learned that the OW had documented history in court (as she was fighting a bitter custody battle with her ex – de facto custody had been granted to the father after she was arrested for assaulting him and a no contact order in place for a year). She ensured that clauses were placed in the parenting agreement that the children are never to be left alone with someone who has a history of substance abuse or anger management. They are never to be in a car driven by someone who is not a family member without agreement of both parents. All childcare must be approved by both parents. No romantic sleepovers outside the father’s home or other women sleeping over in his home until a relationship has been established for a year (morality clause).

        My lawyer said that there was nothing I could do to keep the OW woman away from the kids, but I could ensure that the kids are not to be left alone with her. It helped that her custody battle documented her assault against the children’s father and a history of drinking issues. She was assigned a court appointed alcohol advisor for counselling.

    • Everything the OW does at work will be flavored with bias against you going forward – even if she wants/claims to be a professional. Not necessarily obvious drama, but it will still come out in little ways – like not sharing information as freely, avoiding situations where you have to work together, delaying tasks related to your work to the last minute… There are a gazillion ways to consciously and unconsciously sabotage the work of someone you have a complex relationship with. And it will ultimately make you both less effective at your jobs. That seems like a legit HR issue to me – it’s in the company’s best interest to address it too.

      • DC, if you have a good supervisor or manager, that’s where I would start. And I would tell only the most minimal part of the story in simple, unemotional and professional terms. “My partner had an affair with CoWorkerOW. She is now living with him while he and I are going to be involved in legal matters pertaining to support, custody and a property settlement. I want you to know that I have not and will not bring this issue into work, but you should know what is going on as my supervisor.” Then don’t do anything to bring this into work.

        Make sure you document every thing you do for your kids–what you spend, the events you attend to support them, the chauffeuring, the doctors’ visits, the shopping, the places you take them for fun or educational purposes, the contacts with teachers, etc. Note the meals you cook, what you do when they get sick, the playdates you arrange, etc. Find a way to keep this stuff organized to present at court. And I would take photos of significant events (first day of school, the soccer championship, the dance recital) and of outings to get ice cream or school clothes. Make a chronicle of your lives together. Remember that this Dirtbag will be primarily motivated by avoiding child support or pleasing the OW, who would end up with the kids most of the time. So what you want to do is show that he is not really involved with the kids. Note the time he spends and doesn’t spend with them. If you have an informal agreement about the two visits a month, document THAT.

  • Don’t bother with HR. You are not their focus. The company is their priority. Anything you bring to them that potentially disrupts the company and its bottom line puts your job in jeopardy. They are NOT your friends and it is VERY likely they are not going to look out for you.

    Think of HR as The Wicked Witch of the West/Evillene. Can you hear the late, great Mabel King singing “Don’t Bring Me No Bad News”? No? Let me help!

    Definitely look for another job. Maybe a better job with better money IS around the corner, but you have to look for and apply for it.

    • This is a good point. Some HR depts are evil; others understand there’s a “human” in their title. Only the OP can know if her HR dept will be helpful.

      Tread carefully. Make several plans, and prepare to execute one after another if necessary.

      • I was lucky that my HR department has someone in it who is helpful. He directed me to counseling resources paid for by my company. Also, when I came into an unexpected bonus, he issued a hard copy check rather than depositing it directly into my bank account which klootzak controlled. I was able to cash it and hand it straight to an attorney toward my retainer. Except for taking some of my paid time off on short notice to interview attorneys, my work was not impacted at all. In fact, I managed some high priority projects and received great compliments from our clients while my personal life was caving in. I think it boils down to how well you know your HR person. Mine was a real hero but I know not all of them are.

        I can’t imagine what could be done in a situation like Double Chump’s. In these days of covid, I would be looking into working from home, if possible. Double Chump might have pension or other long term benefits that would be hard to give up, too. It would be nice if it was a large company where one could transfer to another office or start a new satellite office. I can’t imagine how one would find another job in the middle of the maelstrom of divorce. I like CL’s idea of working childcare costs into the settlement but also like the idea of threatening AP with deposition to exert some leverage.

      • Agree. Also it doesn’t hurt to look at other job options – you may find something that suits you better if you look. Consider getting a friend to help with your resume, or seeing a recruiting agency to look at alternative jobs. Both these resources can look at you and your work experience differently, and be helpful in identifying soft and transferable skills that are of value to other employers and you didn’t realise you had. A lot of us don’t have the confidence to “sell” ourselves to prospective employers at this stage, so it may be helpful to consider using a resume writing service. They can see you and what you offer from a different perspective and make you sound awesome! This can really help build up your confidence! Every little bit helps. The first step can be really daunting, but you can take it. Best of luck.

    • It’s hard to say what the best recourse is at work without knowing more about the structure of the organization. It could very well be that just talking to the manager privately might do the trick. Explaining that this colleague has carried out a long-standing affair with the husband while pretending to be your friend might be sufficient in a manager understanding the trauma of that and that the presence of this woman could be threatening.

      At the very least, it may help ensure that the woman isn’t put into the same group on a project or given the desk next door.

      And though it’s hard to say if the beans should be spilled to the co-workers, I think that, for sure, starting to tell the co-workers that the marriage ended due to infidelity could be useful. Share all the details without saying who the other woman is. Many will be sympathetic and appalled about the situation. If anyone asks who the other woman is, just say that who she is doesn’t matter. How delightful to hear people smack the OW and have her hear it. Then, if it ever gets out that it’s her, many people will already be grounded in their opinion about the affair.

      • I love this advice. I thought of a twist to throw in – that he cheated on you with more than one woman AT THE SAME TIME and no, their identities don’t matter. They’re interchangeable.

        Or not, if that would blow back on the kids.

    • If DC states she just wants to do her job and be productive, but has been “advised” to alert HR that AP could cause problems in the workplace HR will be scrutinizing the AP. The last thing they want is disruptive behavior in the workplace. Plus the “advised” comment will let HR know DC has an attorney that is looking out for her best interests. The last thing HR wants and the company wants is to tangle with someone by permitting a toxic work environment when that employee is already lawyered up. Of course DC has to be professional, show little emotion and act as though bringing this to HR’s attention is the last thing she wanted to do and finds it extremely distasteful airing dirty laundry.

  • I too was chumped by my ex and a close friend of 25 years. She absolutely single white femaled me—wanted my life and kids. I hope she and my ex suffer every day bc family life without me is just not the same. She too heard intimate details of my marriage and ate dinner with my kids—even vacationed with my in-laws. It’s an epic shit sandwich and my heart breaks for the OP who may have to give up a job she loves. I agree that going to HR is the first step, bc IF you can stay in your job you should. NC and being mighty is so important, but some shit sandwiches just hurt too much. My workplace was a respite after DDay and helped in my recovery. I told everyone what happened and how they reacted told me everything I needed to know about them. In most cases it showed me to the good in people. I can’t guarantee that will happen for the OP, but I hope it does. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Hugs!

  • Yes, a double betrayal, OUCH! Take comfort that they are both messed-up people. You will go on to a better life with minimal contact with them. You are better than that.

    I managed three jobs, job-hunting, and the divorce all at once, and it led to health problems. I should have paced myself better. Manage what you can, and the rest will fall into place. I was in closeout before my finances finally settled into place. I got close to what a judge would award, but not enough to live on without working. My ex is retired, so there was only so much there.

    You can do it!

  • I divorced my husband and then retired early to leave the workplace where we were both employed. I don’t regret either, but no way around it, it was hard, it’s been hard, and it’s still hard. Cutting contact with my now-ex was life-saving, as was cutting contact with his flying monkeys at work, but having to turn my back on the place where I spent thirty years of my life and earned a professional reputation is a continuing hurt.

    I second the advice to use that mental health leave time to start networking for a new job, and to get funds for re-training and updating skills or professional credentials into the legal separation. You don’t want to spend the next year or two or five suffering the indignity, the triggers, the backstabbing, and fighting against the daily assault on your mental health, with consequences for your physical health, when you could be using that time to solidify your place in a new workplace where you aren’t constantly dragged back into their past drama.

  • I own a company and I would want to know about this. For all you know, management might already be considering letting her go for other things. I would definitely appreciate my HR department and my lawyers knowing about this. My company is only 40 employees and the shock waves of a situation like this would seriously impact my business. The secret sexual double life of Mr X had a serious financial impact on my company. He wasn’t paying attention like he needed to be and as a result we are flushing 40K a month down the toilet, for the next FIVE YEARS. He was too preoccupied with his affair and not paying attention when he signed the contract with one of our customers. They cancelled the project and do not have to reimburse us for 2.5M in equipment we designed and built to manufacture their part. How ya like that for cost of an affair? This is serious shit. As the valuable senior employee who brought her on board, I would hate to lose you in lieu of the hire that is a predatory shit-disturbing production harshing Creepella.

    In my own world, a woman got involved with my close friend’s husband and they divorced. The affair went bust (surprise) and then the woman joined the volunteer fire department and got involved in an affair with the fire chief who was married with two small children. He lost his job because of it, as he should have.

    The men are absolutely responsible for their decision to cheat, and this woman is famous locally for her preference for married men. She is also famous as an artist who makes castings of penises……

    These are sick people and I support whatever consequences and justice that can be enforced. Look at all the options and do what protects YOU and is best for YOU.

    • PS…

      When the traitor called me, in a total panic, to tell me that Company X had cancelled the project, it was ME who calmly called our lawyer and asked him what the contract said about reimbursing us for the equipment we built for them.

      The contract clearly said if they cancelled the project they did not have to reimburse us for our investment in CUSTOM equipment, at the cost of 2.5M, that cannot be used for anything else, that over three years later we are making monthly payments on while it sits idle taking up a lot of floor space in our facility.

      This deal went down while the affair (the one I found out about) was going on. His head was between the legs of the Craigslist cockroach instead of full-power in the game at our business.

      Yes ma’am, affairs can do a lot of financial damage at a business and I’d want to know.

      Imagine putting 40,000.00 every month, for five years, in your fire pit in the back yard because your husband had an affair and wasn’t paying attention to the fine print……

    • PPS…

      To this day, according to him, it was Company X’s fault. Which I remind him, no, it was not.

      • VH, I hope he gets his head stuck in the muck he’s busy in, and that one day it falls off. It doesn’t seem like he’s using it. Ick. Ugh. So sorry. Yuck.

    • “She is also famous as an artist who makes castings of penises……”

      Wait. What? Is this for real?

      File it under: “Stuff you can’t make up.”

    • “She is also famous as an artist who makes castings of penises……”

      In wax on the carnival circuit? It seems appropriate for a Craigslist cockroach.

      • The Craigslist Cockroach is the AP in my shit show. The penis artist is the AP in my friend’s shit show.

        Not like it matters. All APs are playing with genitals in their own screwed up way….

    • This is a great response. Chump Lady is probably right, but I would not want to lose a great job because of the manslaughtering home wrecker. I would absolutely recommend telling hr. In my situation, I talked to a lawyer. I probably could have my own company now, but I decided to go to the company directly. They fired the AP. I still work for the company. I work from home. I am highly respected, and I am currently the most successful member of my department. The work life balance is amazing, and I am left totally alone to do my job. I will not let two cheaters take that from me. I hope Double Chumped fights for her job against the forces of evil. These are sick people. All we can do is enforce boundaries and consequences.

    • (the Artiste known as Clone a Willy. I just read a writer’s attempts to make one of these for his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day ???? ????)

        • Google Clone a Willy and Men’s Health magazine. Tip for anyone who uses the kit-pop a little blue pill beforehand ! Nothing like trying to shove a soft loaf in the plastic tube ????????????

    • Agree 100%. Don’t let the f***buddy define the narrative. Tell HR (and every married woman at the firm) exactly what happened. Behave with dignity and look for new employment.

    • “famous locally for her preference for married men”…are you in Kentucky? Because I think we have something in common! Actually, google “women who target married men”. They are apparently a defined group to the psychiatric medical community. Pretty soon they will have their own DSM number for billing purposes.

  • Time to go.

    Get far away from the energy leeches.

    Its hard to comprehend these subhumans exist, but they continue to consume you while you figure it out.

    I confirm they exist.

    Block them at every turn.

    He’s a piece of shit. She’s a disordered.

  • When I told my mother that I was finally going to leave my abusive, cheating husband, she revealed to me that a few years earlier he had assaulted her. She thought he was going to kiss her goodbye on the cheek, instead he forced his entire tongue inside her mouth. She was shocked, humiliated, and disgusted. I was in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy when this happened. My mom knew that if she told me what happened, he would flat out deny it. Then, I would have to choose whether to believe my mother or my spouse. One of the two people I loved most in the world would be lying to my face. My mother decided to never say anything to me and to never return to my home. Two years later, when I filed for divorce, my mother told me the truth. If I had sisters, they would have been subjected to the same sexual harassment from this predator. I am 5 years out now and happier than I ever dreamed possible. My mother and I continue to have a close friendship. I now have a comprehensive order of restraints against my abusive ex. The book Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life was so immensely helpful. I also recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That. Best wishes to you, Double Chumped.

    • Yes, some very disturbing things trickled in after my ex left. All of that came to a head just as he was in his last love bombing attempt before kicking off the divorce process. Of course, by then I was so thoroughly disgusted that there was no doubt in my mind that I couldn’t be with him.

      Not long ago I was chatting with a friend who is a therapist (not my therapist, just a friend). He pointed out that generally, people who act out like my ex don’t stop until they are forced to by the law or health issues. When certain healthy boundaries within close relationships are repeatedly crossed, their conscience no longer stops them. They may still have deep shame somewhere in there, but they repeat the behavior because it’s become a pattern that works for them. My friend also commented that I probably only knew the tip of the iceberg. I’m not at all in contact with my ex, but what horrible things to think about. Not my problem of course, but awful anyway.

      Like you, life on the other side is sweet though. There is another chapter ahead for those still in the fight.

      • Elsie,

        You make an interesting point that some cheaters still have a deep sense of shame somewhere. I can relate totally to this.

        Ex-Mrs LFTT feels absolutely no guilt (ie the internal voice that should moderate one’s behaviour) about what she did and the damage that it caused the kids and I; her absolute right to be happy means that she has nothing to feel guilty about. She does, however, have a very strong sense of shame (ie the external voice where others’ expectations moderate your behaviour). She cannot handle any criticism of what she did or – God forbid – being judged by others; she finds it much easier to lie about what happened. Those that refuse to buy into her narrative (or even just dare to question it) get cut out of her life; even members of her own family. Her brother and sister have even less communication with her than I do, and I am as Gray Rock/LC as I can be with a 17 year old daughter.


        • Yes, when my friend mentioned the shame, I was surprised. I somehow thought that people like this just have cut all that out and are driven by self-will. However, he said that if there is still denial and gaslighting going on, there’s still shame deep down.

          My youngest was 17 1/2 when he left and thankfully he bounced around in hotels until she was 18. I did consult an attorney during that period, and she said that we certainly could argue that visitation was going to interfere with our daughter’s college studies since she’d have to fly to visit him and wasn’t worth pursuing for just a few months. At the very least, the attorney said we could stall until the court dates that were available were all past our daughter’s birthday. That is one positive of packed court calendars.

          You’re nearly there though!

          • Elsie,

            We are, but it’s been a long road though. The kids were 18, 16 and 11 when their Mum walked out on us for her new fabulous life with her AP.


        • Ex-Mrs LFTT sounds like a covert narcissist. My FW is one, and the shame is stupid-deep. That’s precisely the reason they can’t apologize or take responsibility for anything. Normal people know that screwing up – even royally – doesn’t mean they’re valueless and unworthy of compassion. So being accountable and saying their sorry doesn’t trigger a personal crisis. For covert narcs, the world will explode if someone knows they’ve done something wrong. Like Elsie said, the gaslighting and lying is their defense.

          It’s sad, really. I can’t imagine being so insecure that you can’t even face yourself.

          • CQ,

            It’s quite possible that she’s a covert narcissist, but I’m well beyond the point that a non-medical diagnosis would help. She is an alcoholic (but refuses to admit it) and suffers from depression. Other than for the effect that she has on the kids, she is not my problem. I pity her (the kids see her as an irrelevant irritant) and I pity her AP (I am sure that she is busy doing what she did to me and the kids to him now).

            I just look forward to my youngest daughter finishing her secondary education; at that point I can drop the rope completely.


  • Hi Doubly Chumped:

    My advice would be to update your CV and start looking for another position very privately. But at the same time, if you are emotionally strong enough, out the OW at work. This is because I think it protects you more than harms you. I don’t doubt she will try to sabotage you at work as well, so you need to get ready for that. Once outed, my experience is that other women and good men will dislike and distrust her, because a person who betrays her best friend, who also got her a job, and drives her own husband to suicide, will stoop to anything. The worst men will make a move on her because whore. As the Buddhist’s say, never deprive someone of the consequences of their actions. And in the meantime, you may find a position you like better.

    • “Once outed, my experience is that other women and good men will dislike and distrust her, because a person who betrays her best friend, who also got her a job, and drives her own husband to suicide, will stoop to anything.”

      Exactly. The funny thing is even if some of the women and men at work have sketchy values they will still look down upon and not trust the AP. The run of the mill disordered may excuse or justify their own behavior but they are very critical when others engage in low life behavior.

  • My mind gets so blown by the stories here. This one in particular is sickening in the extreme and I want to extend my sincere, deep, heartfelt condolences to our writer today. ????

  • My hat ???? is off to her. My ex wife had affairs with co workers. I worked swing/day sifts. So I would have lunch with her on my way to work. I remember the humiliation of them siting at the lunch tables with my then wife and I. I couldn’t imagine having to work with them. Your mental health is more important then a job. If you have a nervous breakdown you might loose the kids. You taking a leave of absent might be used against you. My ex was so abusive I had a nervous breakdown and the judge gave me 1/3 time instead of 50/50.

  • DC – My god, you are mighty! The fact that you can articulate the situation and seek others’ thoughts is amazing. You’re showing real courage in your effort to respond rather than react.

    You’ll receive experienced suggestions from the chumps here – the only gathering which truly understands what you’re going through.

    I hope you have a support team. A friend or family member you can trust. Another mother to exchange child care with. A great therapist and lawyer. A 12-Step program or domestic abuse agency to help with any co-dependent issues.

    Going grey rock and then no contact is probably the only remedy for the pain. I am so sorry. Sending hugs.

  • Be careful with HR! My spouse was head of HR for agency in federal government, his fuckbuddy was head of HR in another state for another federal government, many in HR are cheaters too!

  • “I tend to think of these cheating characters in one’s life as nuclear waste. It’s Chernobyl. You close the perimeter and never revisit. You put that shit in a container and seal and bury it for a thousand years. You avoid exposure to save yourself from radioactive poisoning.”

    I love this! It helps to think of NC this way.

    Even a little exposure hurts. I made the recent mistake of checking my ex’s newly opened Instagram account. I knew he started one because he tried to follow our daughter who ignored the request and said it was “creepy.” He has never posted anything. There were two pics, both pictures that I’d taken of him a few years ago. I guess I lucked out that there was nothing else. But even that little bit of “radiation” sent me into a downward spiral for the better part of a day.

    There’s no amount of safe radiation (at least not for me).

    • That analogy spoke to me, too, because I was exposed to the aboveground radiation tests carried out at the Nevada Test Site in the summer of 1957, including the largest bomb ever exploded aboveground in the continental US (Shot Hood, a thermonuclear device, yield 74 kt–Hiroshima bomb yield was15 kt).

  • It’s mind blowing that this shit happens and the ex husband and POS “friend” just carry on like it’s not freakish and immoral.

    It made me immediately think of Shania Twain. Her husband Mutt Lange cheated on her with her best friend… the same woman she was confiding in when she feared he might be cheating on her. It’s so fucked up. (and then Shania and OW’s ex husband got married… so their story is weird all around).

    I’m really sorry, Double Chumped. Honestly, for your own sanity, do what you need to to get away from both of them — whether that is to speak with HR and confide what happened (maybe they can move her or change her shift?)… or find another place to work.

    But in no way can you expect an immoral shitty human like OW to have shame and do the right thing. She has no shame. She has no conscience. She never chooses the right thing. She broke her husband to the point of suicide and seems to be just fine in her creepy delusion.

    Please have faith that things will right themselves. Your ex and OW are horrific and will only bring crazy to each other. Just get yourself far away from them and help your kids navigate their custody as much as you need to. Sending you loads of love and hugs. This is a shit sandwich no one deserves. Fuck both of them.

  • I wonder about the Family Medical Leave Act? I think you could request some serious time off while still protecting your job. I only think of this because I missed an opportunity long ago – and someone told me I could have protected myself with FMLA if I would have known to ask for it.

  • I can’t offer any advice whatsoever, but I can offer you my greatest sympathy. Please take care of yourself and your sanity right now. And may God grant you some well-deserved peace from the shit show you’re trying to get away from. Many hugs.

  • I hate these lying cheating people so much. It must really suck to have to see that bitch every day. I wonder why you are taking mental health time after 18 months. Is that related to the betrayal? If the situation is causing that much stress fir you, it seems WHEN YOU ARE READY, you might want to look for another opportunity. But if it is because of the job (I’m thinking health care worker), can you get her moved to another shift or different facility. You’ve already tolerated so much. A job change right now could be tough. And I so agree with everyone here who says to not expect anything noble from these people. They have already showed you who they are and it ain’t good. Hugs!!!

  • Late to the convo here. Lot’s to say.
    1. This woman was NEVER your friend much less your best friend. You were predated from day 1.
    2. To build on Chump Lady’s radiation analogy. This workplace is not only filled with radiation, but you can bet that there is also a piano being dropped on your head RIGHT NOW and you just don’t know it yet. This woman wants you gone and is sabotaging you somehow.
    3. Going to HR may ultimately protect you once the piano hits. It’s hard to convince HR that you were set up once the drugs are found in your locker.
    4. Your letter to Chump Lady has the feel of someone who has made a deal. If you think that just because you are not poking them that they aren’t going to poke you, you are likely to find a piano dropped on your head very soon.
    5. Get a better lawyer asap

    • It would be helpful to know if DC is currently on FMLA. If not she should consider it as there is a certain amount of legal protection available if she is or has recently been on FMLA.

      This is worth a consultation with an employment attorney. Do not expect your divorce attorney to advise you as to this.

      AP is most definitely trying to push her out at her job. That’s how these types are.

      DC needs to let her boss know as a first step. Also , this kind of situation carries with it the potential for workplace violence so the employee should probably know.

  • What an awful situation caused by awful people. Double Chumped wrote, “I am unwilling to risk my career and professional license by acknowledging this at work or by overtly sharing my situation with our mutual coworkers.” I suggest reconsidering. OW is a clearly narcissistic and predatory. She may well use DoubleChumped’s work absence to start up false rumors and narratives, feign concern, and claim that the cheater turned to her as DoubleChumped’s best friend because he’s concerned about her mental health, behavior, whatever. I can see OW potentially using this to undermine any support DoubleChumped may need for custody, as well as her job with present employer or elsewhere.
    When I discovered my unemployed ex had sent tens of thousands of dollars to a “woman” he met on line and planned to marry, he asked me to keep it secret so he wouldn’t lose our friends as job references. I withdrew socially, devastated, trying to cope and avoid revealing this horrible trauma; meanwhile, he sought out our entire social circle and claimed I was mentally unstable and became violent because he was giving an online “colleague” financial “advice.” Even with hundreds of pages of his emails as proof, it was difficult to counter his story once he’d spread it for a few months, especially since his lies made people afraid of what I’d do.
    OW may well use DoubleChumped’s absence to convince colleagues she’s not up to working or handling stress. It gives OW time and access to colleagues to spread doubts that may make it difficult for her to find references if she pursues new employment.
    DoubleChumped asked, “Am I ridiculous for trying to wait my best friend out with hopes that some sense of shame and dignity will inspire her into finding a new job?” DoubelChumped, she is NOT your best friend and has not been for a long time. She is right up there with your cheater as your worst enemy. If she is looking for new jobs as wife to your ex and mother to your kids, she may also be looking at your current job as her next acquisition. As far as your colleagues know, she is STILL your best friend, and that gives her a lot of credibility if she lies to your colleagues or your boss, especially if you don’t counter with the facts. You may need these peers, colleagues and references for decades to come. Whether you go or stay, I think your work colleagues should know that she moved in on your husband while you were married.
    Since she’s been to “every Christmas / Thanksgiving / Easter / birthday party,” she already has entree’ to your family and social circle, and she and cheater may be quick to solidify that. I agree with CL that you want her out of your life, and that may mean leaving your job. Consider how best to handle disclosure to minimize the professional damage she can do to you now and in the future. Some chumps here no doubt have pithy one-liners or short answers to make your point with dignity and professionalism.

  • Depending on how aggressive the HR department is, it may be best just to tell a few coworkers. Word will spread.

    Just a simple ‘she was my best friend and she ran off with my husband behind my back’ will be enough.

  • If it wasn’t for the fact that FW works there and it’s in your benefit that he’s employed, I would absolutely have said ‘tell your employers’ etc.
    I would definitely bring this up with your lawyers and see what can be put into the settlement. They could be asked to find other work and leave you to your position. You might be surprised at what they would agree to if it’s coming from a lawyer.

    In general, I no longer agree with the not telling your truth. It’s a personal decision. A lot has to do with the potential for further abuse, how it is said and what your expectations are.
    There’s tremendous talk now of mental health. The world is ripe to hear about the emotional abuse / trauma caused to people because of cheating. It is not our shame to carry, it doesn’t have to be a
    « private matter. »
    As far as people ‘feeling sorry for me’ ….. people should feel sorry for people who are abused in this fashion. There should be empathy put our way. They would feel sorry for us if our spouse died.
    I recently bumped into a colleague of FW’s /he had no idea that we weren’t even together. I told him the brief version of the story. FW had an affair with married so-and-so at work and he dumped us one day to the next. I was really hoping it would get around his office, but I know it won’t.. because they’re all working from home. But I was glad to tell him because FW comes across as a wonderful, high-level person at work.
    I think the important thing always is to do what’s best for you. In the beginning I knew if I talked about it, it would re-traumatize me and keep me feeling like a victim. Now I work really hard at not talking or thinking about it (except for this blog) but if the opportunity comes up for me to tell the short truth -where I think it matters -I definitely will.
    I’m sorry this happened to you. It sounds like trauma on top of trauma. You will get through this. These people are way way way beneath you. One way or another the goal would be to get that poison out of your life.

  • I disagree. Keep your job. Get a pitbull lawyer and (threaten to) depose the “friend”. Just play dumb, and act like she’s invisible/dead (unless others are around, then fake it to the minimum).
    Tell the kids.
    “HR people are professionals” and will keep your confidences quiet: Wrong. That’s laughable. And more people than you think have access to HR records and emails.

  • I’m a HUGE fan of paper trails but, based on these facts, I probably wouldn’t go to HR because whatever this dirtbag ex-friend of yours has done, so far, has nothing to do with your employment. If you inform HR of what has transpired, they’ll probably be like “ok, and what does that have to do with us?” and then flag you as a “trouble child.” If anything, you’re the one giving “disgusted” looks, which may be something SHE can complain about (unfair as that may be). But, if she does harass you in the workplace at any point, I would hesitate zero seconds to document that with HR, alongside a brief version of the story of how you got where you’re at.

    But, if you think HR might transfer you to another department or something, then that might be worth a conversation. Not to complain about this lady, but just to explain briefly why working together is not a great idea. However, again, you could be labeled as the trouble child.

    As unfair as it all is, I’d start looking for another job while on leave. Maybe you can’t find one that fits your lifestyle and have to return to working with this terrible person…but maybe you find an EVEN BETTER one! You’ll never know if you don’t look and, as it were, it’s an employee’s market right now. Worth exploring to start fresh. Yes, it’s unfair…but you can only control your choices and actions…so, do that to the best of your ability to create a fantastic life.

    I’d also get your preferred custody agreement in writing and signed STAT. As in, this week! The longer you wait, the more your ex is likely to push back on your wishes with this woman whispering in his ear. These cheaters turn on a dime and the only way to ensure consistency with them, to any degree, is by court enforceable contracts.

  • The movie “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” comes to mind after reading today’s letter.
    I would tell Human Resources just the facts, without editorializing. “I’m getting divorced. My husband is having an affair with Other Employee.”

  • I would do whatever I could to try and get her out of your workplace, and your life. You need your safe space. Why should you have to run from her? Speak to your lawyer and see if you can get her out of there! I would talk to a lawyer first before I approached HR….a good lawyer may have a trick or two to try in the settlement. Although, this woman sounds like a genuine psycho – I would stop speaking with her now and forever. She is dead to you. She’s a horrible person whose husband committed suicide. Protect yourself please. You have my deepest, heartfelt empathy.

    I had a shit show showdown at my work. I brought my husband into MY workplace and then we bought into the business. He was in a position just above me, which I didn’t care about at the time. Well, as it goes he was fucking a young client of ours right under my nose. She was his “sub” sex slave (refer to earlier BDSM post this week….ugh). She was also childless, husbandless, vulnerable and wanted a “family”. Good luck given he just saw her as a slave – I was the family, she was the side disk fuck.

    Fast forward without all the gory details…luckily for me he got marched out of the business by the other partners in the same week as DDay. He was in trouble for his poor treatment of the staff, not doing his work, not being at work, being a general asshole, etc. So, I got lucky on that one. But the whole team knows exactly what happened to me. It feels very exposing but also healing. It’s my safe place where I can and have fallen apart and everyone keeps standing me up and getting me moving. This isn’t the usual situation, I get it. But I was a beloved team member and leader and it was like everyone rallied around to protect me. It helped that they all hated my ex with a passion for their own reasons that had nothing to do with his cheating and lying to me. We refer to him as “he who shall not be named” in the rare event that we have to talk about him now. So, it’s something they know and embrace about me, but it doesn’t define me and they all know that. They also know that if I come to work looking like shit, they just give me a hug, make me a cup of tea and then I get on with leading the business.

    I am aware that this is an unusual situation and I’m not suggesting others do this – it’s just how it played out in my case. There is something quite extraordinary about having to deal with this at home and at work. Sometimes I feel bad that everyone got drawn into it, but frankly, my ex was a wolf in sheep’s clothing that not only conned me, but conned everyone at my work, so they have all had a journey with him in their different ways. I just got hit from all sides. There were a couple of people who left the workplace after that – too much drama. One person is now coming back now that the dust has settled.

    I hate how cheaters can blow up people’s lives so fundamentally. As some of you might know, lawyers call this the ‘scorched earth” move. Some cheaters just blow up everything all around them (and the victim). My lawyer said that she has many of these cases where the person who is cheating also loses their job at the same time.

    Hugs to you and please protect yourself from that viper of a person.

  • DC, listen to CL. This woman has no capacity for shame or guilt and will not do the right thing and leave her job. She chumped her own husband so badly he killed himself, yet there she is, out flying her freak flag with your freak ex without a trace of conscience.
    If you tell people at work, her counter-narrative will be that she actually got together with him after your breakup, but you’re irrational and insanely jealous so you falsely accuse them. She may have already laid the groundwork for that with gossip about your supposed mental state. You took a mental health leave, so they’ll likely believe it. She’s certainly viperous and machiavellian enough to do that and lots of other people are stupid enough that they won’t question her lies. Don’t assume your colleagues have loyalty to you. So I’d say getting another job is the way to go. Yeah, it sucks the big one because you did nothing wrong. But the alternative is worse. As CL says, Chernobyl.

    You got chumped by two truly evil people. I mean that quite literally, not in a theological sense, but a psychological one. What you have described is vicious in the way that only deeply character disturbed people are capable of. You need that evil out of your life as much as possible. She can’t steal the love of your children, but she will surely try. She’ll attempt to warp their view of you with lies and bribe them with fun times and gifts. So will your ex. When the parental alienation Olympics start, (and his sudden attention to the kids indicates that is probably in their plans) you must not be near them. You will want to kill them. Seeing her at work every day will be even worse than it is now. You need to concentrate on protecting your kids by being as far from them as possible. It would help if you have to move to another area get a job with the same flexibility. In fact, you could offer that up to ex as the alternative to schmoopie quitting, but don’t say it in so many words. Make the implication while seeming like you’re helpless. Narc creeps like him enjoy that and are actually pretty easy to manipulate by using faux weakness and innocence because they think they are preying on it. He may jump on it and tell her she has to quit rather than lose the chance to try to create a Frankenstein family with her.

    You’re going to have to continue to be sly and strategic because you won’t prevail in a bare knuckle cage match against a ruthless parasite who wants to take over your life and a twisted deviant who enjoys creating sick psychodramas. They have their evil as a weapon. They will stop at almost nothing, whereas you have a conscience. Good should conquer evil, but history shows that it rarely does. I’m sorry, DC. Nobody should have to go through this.

  • Double Chumped, all of the things you have told us would be great ammunition in the hands of a competent family attorney. In most US states, the needs of the children come first. Your ex contested paternity, had minimal contact with no overnights, was sexually inappropriate to your family members, then an AFFAIR PARTNER got involved soon after the separation and is trying to be a substitute mother to them. This is a confusing and unstable situation for your kids to be around. That the other woman is a ho-worker is icing on the cake. I can practically guarantee you that the ho-worker will try to sabotage you behind your back at work. The best move is to get a bulldog family law attorney to handle the divorce and custody issues focusing on the psychological damage that man is doing to your children with such an unstable situation. Bring this issue directly to HR to protect your job during the divorce, and to control the narrative before the ho-worker controls it for you. Remember, they know what they are doing to us long before we become aware of it. Get in front of the situation and control the narrative yourself. If you don’t, ho-worker will do it for you. Consult an employment attorney for your options. As CL says, you may need to be prepared to find a new job, and if it comes to that then be prepared to seek child care costs from the children’s father. Throw in attorney costs while you are at it since they brought this situation on you.

    • Great advice. If I was DC, I would suspect that this woman has already gotten ahead of her with the narrative and that I wouldn’t be believed since I took mental health care leave. OW would likely use that to paint her as unstable. The workplace may have already been poisoned and if so, leaving is best. Whoever gets their story in first and is the most insistent is usually the one believed, sadly. Fuckwits are quite insistent with their lies.

      Lawyering up is indeed essential. The ex tried to get out of child support by denying paternity, so it sounds like he may have been spreading lies about DC being a cheater. Otherwise how could he claim the kids were not his. Character disordered creepazoids usually grab the narrative first. She needs a brawling ass-kicker of a lawyer to deal with these sickos.

    • Yes……THIS!!! What she did is………..I don’t know if Webster’s has a word good enough. Insidious? Blatant disregard? Uncaring? Narcissism? OH but we LOVE each other. Love and destruction don’t go in the same sentence, except for the sentence I just wrote.

    • Yes, please. She was a person you thought was your best friend but instead she was and is a predator and your enemy.

  • You never said what profession you were in and that’s fine. You did say you had a license. I can tell you this. If you love you’re job, then fight for it. No, smearing her at work is not the way. If she’s under you or even equal to you’re position, you CAN go to you’re boss and tell them what the situation is. I know most companies will choose to be rid of the poison. That’s how mine got fired. Cheating with another coworkers husband. I run a business and I can tell you straight up that if this was laid at my feet, ONE, I would not disclose it to a soul……lawsuit. Two, I would fire the offending party. Granted, I live in a right to work state, so no reason needed. Yes, would the other workers eventually figure out the truth. Absolutely, and I think you’d find more people sympathetic to you’re cause than against it. Anyways, even if they decide to keep her on and fire you or tell you they aren’t going to do anything, at least you know where you stand at work. Honestly if they said that, my resolve would be much stronger to leave. I’m sorry this happened and wish you the best as you weather the hurricane. Oh, and don’t worry about what OW and schmoopie will say, because they’re gonna say bad shit about you no matter what you do. They decided a long time ago that they matter more than you or you’re feelings, or you;re life, or you’re financial or job situation. They only feign to care for appearances.

    • Yes! And there’s a bigger picture to consider. The OW has proven to be a lowly human, capable of cruel and unethical behavior. Anyone who could do this much damage on a personal level would probably have no qualms about doing so in the workplace. Poor character seeps through into all parts of a person’s life. I’d question her loyalty to your employer as well as her ability to make ethical decisions in her work relationships. You likely won’t be her first attempted casualty. A wise employer would recognize this.

  • I so hope you don’t grieve one minute the loss of this man. Think about the absolute deviousness these two had to do. Thank of the rotten, sneaky ways they maneuvered you. When you look at them without love and affection and just pay attention to their behavior they are no one you want anything to do with ever again. So your question is what to do at work. I hope you are appreciated. A simple statement to someone you trust is that your husband left you for the coworker that you brought on board and it’s somewhat uncomfortable but you are not going to let it interfere with your work. In the meantime start looking elsewhere.

  • Double Chumped —

    Your story is similar to mine. CL published a letter of mine in November 2020.
    My ex had an affair with my “best friend” also. It’s been a 18 months since I discovered the affair (while my family was on a vacation with her and her family!). We lived in the same neighborhood, volunteered together at our kids’ school every day. I felt sometimes that my (former) friend’s interest in my life was prying, but also thought she was just being a good friend I often confided in her about my marriage and other things. It makes the recovery from this nightmare that much worse to know how intentional everything was. I am so sorry that you are having to deal with it too.

    It’s been 18 months. But I still hope daily that they break up. I still hope that they die. But they just bought a house together. When any of my kids talks about her (simple things – that she made dinner, that she drove dad’s car) or her kids, I cringe inside (although the comments about her kids are usually to complain about them).. People telling me that they have to live with what they did and live together not trusting one another doesn’t help. Them being together, no matter how potentially horrible their relationship is, still means I have to picture a future life with her in it. (Future major life events for our kids, etc).

    I really don’t have much to add, and certainly don’t have anything encouraging to say. I just wanted to chime in to say that I’m dealing with the same hell right now. And that it sucks. Everyone says it gets better, and although things are much better than they were 18 months ago, I’m still waiting for the point where I don’t care about them. Because of the double betrayal, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that point.

    • Yeah, it’s probably impossible to not care when you can’t get these assholes out of your life because of kids. Mine are grown, but still, if I had to deal with the schmoopie having access to them, let alone with her putting her grubby hands on my grandkids, I’d be angry as a poked bear forever. I just lucked out because the slut didn’t want anything to do with my kids and didn’t want the fuckwit as a life partner. So at least I could brush her stink off my life. My heartfelt sympathies to you and to all those enduring the AP shit buffet.

    • Doubly betrayed here too. To have to try and understand the deception of a friend, along with the deception of your partner? I’m so sorry. I know this hell.

  • Just wondering?? If your cheater accosted your sisters— do you know if he is “safe” to be around your children? Do your kids have access to their own cell phone when they are with him? Do you have a phrase they can text you when they feel “unsafe”. Have you talked with them about good touch and bad touch? Maybe I’m reading too much into this but I feel like once they are stepping into the sister boundaries to cheat they really have NO MORALS and NO BOUNDARIES anything goes type of thing.

  • Dear DC,

    So sorry you are going through this horrific double betrayal. From my own experience, I can say 18 months is actually still a very fresh open wound. It took me 2 1/2 years to be able to function properly and now at over 4 years, I still struggle.
    Make no mistake, OW & FW are indeed both deeply disordered. It simply is not possible for each of them not to be NPD and I truly believe many cheaters are also sociopaths and psychopaths. OW’s finely craft getting close to you in order to target your life. This is predatory behaviour. FW is getting off big time with the on-going triangulation and I am a firm believer boundaries, Grey rock and no contact is the only way to navigate their evil.
    HR Department has a responsibility to ensure employees a safe work environment. This is anything but. Guaranteed OW will smear you. That’s what jealous whores do. Fact. But, she’s likely manipulated everyone into feeling sorry for her re: her X committing suicide. I saw this in a former workplace. Whore was screwing all the guys at work and her husband committed suicide because of it. So tragic! Then whore went around inviting everyone to the funeral like she was planning a party! She literally said, “you’re all invited” in her all-staff email! You have nothing to lose by tapping into HR trained personnel. If they can move her they might do that. I hope for your sake they do and you keep your job. If there is a Manager whom you have a good rapport with and has good morals, I would seek advice there also. Hugs dear one. There are better days ahead.

    • Good points.

      My ex tried to work his whore into our life. He brought her over to our house a couple times. Also at one point about five years before Dday, I had gained about 15 pounds that I wanted to lose, so I decided to joint weight watchers as I had read the book, and thought it was a good org. (The cost back then was not as high as it is now, even economy/percentage figuring) Anyway, fw asked if his new employee could tag along as she was wanting to lose weight too. So I said yes.

      I was going with another friend and she came along. She acted so strange, didn’t talk much. She struck me as not real bright. Of course I had no idea they were fuck buddies. She had to know she had no business going along with this. I don’t know whos idea it was, but surely it was hers. I don’t think he said, hey you are fat; why don’t you go too.

      But I agree there is no way that two folks who will try to set something like this up are anything but seriously disordered. Fucking crazy to be honest.

  • Thanks, CL, for your response to Double Chumped’s question. It resonates painfully. Also, the fact that you wrote “it’s not fair, it’s not just” a couple of times feels validating. Obviously infidelity and all the wretched fallout is unfair and unjust, but it always helps to have others say it out loud.
    My story…husband had an affair with a friend (“friend”) of mine. There is massive overlap of my and my ex-friend’s social circles. We went to church together. Our friends are friends. Our kids are friends. She divorced her husband (also a friend of ours). My husband/I are working to try and mend our partnership and support our children (all know of the affair and are hurting in different ways). I know reconciliation is not a popular option around here, but husband appears to be owning his shit and trying to do The Work, and that’s where we are.
    My present struggle…most of my friends and acquaintances have rallied around the other woman. I have been shut out of the circle. I do not understand it. It’s 100 percent confusing. Traumatizing. Being ostracized by my church community – a community I invested in for years in all manner of ways – has been almost as bad as being doubly betrayed by two people I loved.
    All came to a head a couple weeks ago when my sense of being ostracized (why am I the outcast? it doesn’t make sense!!!) became “Instagram-official”. A friend hosted a party and posted the pic of a dozen women – other friends of mine present – along with the woman who tried to poach the father of my children, sitting right in the middle. I can’t begin to verbalize the sort of pain and panic this caused. I immediately unfollowed dozens of people, then removed the app from my phone. While I feel relief at parting ways w IG, I do feel more isolated. It isn’t fair she gets invited to parties while I am excluded (not that I want to go) – it does NOT make sense – and someone else feels the need to post a photo on social media knowing I (and my children) can see it? Are these other women not concerned about my ex-friend’s manipulative moves? Maybe not. It wasn’t THEIR husband, after all. People tell me to “move on” and “let go” – of the entire community I invested in, where my children grew up attending church? Does no one call out these thoughtless, insensitive people who can make space for a destructive, not-remorseful woman, yet not a hurting, traumatized one? I suppose it may be easier to pal around with her – I’m sure she wants to leave it all behind – instead of me, who is likely still emanating grief. Whatever the case, it makes no sense. It is pain on top of pain on top of pain. But here I am.

    • Read about covert narcissists. They are always the victim and always in the spotlight. They can con anyone. Sometimes it takes a while for the others to figure things out. Btw, they were not friends. They were acquaintances. Now they are invisible. Find new friends. Isn’t it wonderful what your husband did ti your life?

    • OW got her narrative out first. It must be a doozy! However, look at this time to start a clean slate, new church, new associates, etc. I know you’d like to call out your “friends and acquaintances” but it will not do you any good. OW may have said you are crazy and it will play right into her theme.
      As for OW, she has obviously played the victim part well but that will come apart soon. The odds of her pursuing a husband of one of her new group of friends are extremely high. Again the healthiest thing you can do is remove yourself from this group bullying and know that this does happen to good people.

  • Thank you Chump Lady for your wise words. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear but it’s what I needed to hear. I appreciate your common sense advice.

    For all you chump supporters, thank you as well. Your support and acknowledgment of my situation is very validating.

    Cheers to all of our Tuesday’s passed, present, and future.

  • Please keep us updated. Your best friend sounds like she wants to wear your skin and replace you in your life- its creepy. Run. Run far.

    • I agree, I would like to know the update.

      I am convinced my ex fw and his whore thought she would move seamlessly into my role, and everyone would just forget and he would remain in his cushy office and she would be the beloved wife as I was.

      Boy did he miscalculate.

      And it is creepy. I remember once after he had filed and he came by our house to drop something off, he said “I figured you would move to TX” (My dad and brother were in TX). I said “why would I do that, my job is here”. I think at that time (he had not yet been busted) he thought that would maker whores transition to replace me smoother.

      I did move away, but it wasn’t until about 7 years later. Their life had pretty much not turned out at all what he imagined.

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