Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Friends with Your Ex Triumphalism

bitter bunnyIf you’ve ever been on an infidelity or single parent support forum, you know this person.

Some poor member will share their raw grief about an injustice — unpaid child support, an imperious Schmoopie, a parental no-show — and said commentator will sniff:

I get along with my ex… for the children.

Well, bully for you.

I mean, in this world where nearly half of marriages result in divorce, I’m glad to know some of us are getting along. And you have kids together? And no one is defaulting on that orthodontist bill? And you bathe each other in a glow of mutual regard? Awesome.

Now go sit down.

Next, consider what the heck you’re doing in a community of the less fortunate. Flogging your life coach services? Getting a contact high off your superiority?

Or are you just out there policing people’s emotions in their safe spaces? I detect a whiff of anger. Aren’t there more improving hobbies? Go out and buy matching pajamas for your next blended family holiday photo and leave us the fuck alone.

That was very bitter of you, Tracy.

Hey, I put the scorn in Schorn. I’m the OG bitter bunny.

Today’s column goes out to Brandi. Who just poked the bear over on the private Facebook page. (This link will not work if you are not a member.) Giving hope to others that you can be friends with your ex on Mother’s Day.

(She did edit to include a trigger warning/apology after some pushback.)

Brandi, imagine a world in which your cheating ex’s validation of you as a mother didn’t matter.

Imagine modeling to a child that you don’t have to be friends with people who abuse you. Polite, civil, law-abiding as you follow custodial court orders? Absolutely. Friends? No. We set a higher bar for friendship.

Imagine not having to be part of your ex’s PR impression management that What He Did Wasn’t So Bad. Hey, we both made mistakes which caused his dick to wander. Imagine just disengaging. Letting him have his narrative. And shrugging.

I don’t see what the problem is, Tracy. She’s trying to share something HAPPY. A good outcome. Is this just a community of haters?

Sigh. Yes, please swear the blood oath of bitterness. The effigy burning begins at noon.

The problem with Friends With Your Ex triumphalism is that it subtly and not so subtly shames people into thinking the problem is them.

Oh, if only I’d tried harder, this person wouldn’t abandon/neglect/mindfuck the children. If I just try harder, and eat the shit sandwich buffet, my children won’t suffer.

Versus — some people suck. They cancel their subscriptions to adulting and leave chumps to clean up the chaos. People divorce for incredibly painful reasons — addiction, abuse, infidelity — and it’s not the sort of bonhomie that makes for friendship. Moreover, most people before they get to divorce have wasted years on false hope and self-recrimination. It’s okay to have boundaries and not offer 47th chances.

The other problem with Friends with Your Ex triumphalism is that it completely ignores systemic injustice. The beauty of support groups is you find common cause. Oh, you’ve got thousands in unpaid child support too? It’s not me just being bitter here? Oh, you got mindfucked in exactly the same way? You mean, abusers aren’t original and I can leave? Solidarity is life changing.

And changing the narrative is threatening.

I’m going to give the last word to blog friend and all-around badass Jenny Ball Tufford, who came out swinging. A reader chimed in to say being friendly with your ex is what “mature adults” do. Hold Jenny’s beer, CN.

When my eldest kid had a medical emergency while staying with dad and the affair partner/wife, they called me to let me know which hospital he was at. And during that call, she referred to me as a Fat Bitch. I guess I should have totally moved over and made room for them at hockey games. Because that’s exactly the kind of people I need in my life 😂😂 I’m sure my kids would have benefited from seeing their mom eat shit in order to look like a mature adult.

My kids ate meals from food shelves while their dad who weaseled out of child support drove 75k cars and lives in a million dollar mansion and sends his two newer kids to elite private schools.

But you’re right. That’s who we should strive to be friendly with.
Dude so many of us are gaslit every single day out in the real world. While I am genuinely happy for people when they can find a middle ground like the OP has, for a lot of us it would come at a really steep price.

My son survived, by the way, and is almost 30 now. He’s an amazing human who has a fantastic career and we are very close. I’m tight with all four of my kids. They all turned out really good and are kind, productive members of society. They have solid relationships. They did just fine.

I guarantee that if OP had posted this anywhere else but here the comments would go like this:

“Now that’s the best way to coparent!”
“People who can’t do this for their kids are petty/immature/vindictive/narcissistic/jealous/stuck etc”
“This is what happen when you put your kids first”
Deciding to go no-contact or doing a basic cordial hello here and there does not equal a hate filled heart. It equals sanity and peace.

Sorry but I’m not going to “spare you” the notion that it’s a matter of principle and upholding boundaries because that’s precisely what it is.


As for Brandi, she continued to argue with a mod and was dismissed. Funny how someone so adept with getting along with their ex couldn’t get along with others.

Also a reminder, the bitter bunnies are gathering at CHUMPALOOZA, Nov. 3- 5. Get your tickets!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “We’ve both changed, we’ve grown up and realized the mistakes we’ve both made”????

    Well, congratulations on such insight about YOU!

    I’ve changed out of necessity…contemplating suicide and time in a psych ward tends to change a person.
    I’ve grown up FAST…going thru a contentious divorce and fighting for yourself and your kids does that.
    Mistakes we’ve both made…my mistake was trusting with a whole heart! Your mistake was lying and screwing around. I don’t remember being consulted about those mistakes!

    You know you’re NOT a member of Chump Nation if you accept even part of the blame for divorce due to infidelity. And that does NOT make anyone a bitter bunny. It makes you honest to yourself and others.

    As for a posted message on Mothers Day? Save it and send a check instead to help cover the millions of costs that child support doesn’t cover. Talk (and gratuitous posts) are cheap.

  • This is fan-fucking-tastic. Full stop. End of story. Goodnight and good luck!

    Ok, maybe not full stop because “put the scorn in Schorn…OG bitter bunny.” You are my hero!

  • I saw that post. Can’t remember if I reacted digitally but I remember thinking, oh that would be my FWs dream come true. Helps him rewrite the narrative…”we are friends now, you were just crazy. I only cheated that one time that I already confessed to (the one where you had to get STD tested so I could sleep with you again at a later date).” He said last week that he still sees me as a friend. I said, uh, no.

    • FW has asked me many times why I have repeatedly said we aren’t friends and I will not be talking to him (except about daughter or finances) once he finally moves out and we are divorced.

      He recently sent me an email that it makes him ‘sad’ and has ‘ended his romantic vision of how we could stay friends’. I simply responded that my friends don’t lie, cheat and steal from me. He just looked away and said “OK.”

      F him and F anyone who wants us to continue to take the abuse. No more.

    • I just don’t understand the point she was trying to make. Your ex wrote 4 sentences faking nice on Facebook? It doesn’t change the fact he torched your marriage behind closed doors, and who knows what other abuse he subjected her to. Why is she giving him a cookie for less than the bare minimum? Why is she friends with her ex on Facebook in the first place?

      I don’t understand this line of thinking.

  • HERE HERE!! Saw this post and my eyes rolled so hard I couldn’t see it anymore. I made sure chump nation wasn’t falling for it in the comments and they thankfully delivered. Not to mention that MOST OF US have gotten “my kids’ mom is awesome” bullshit social media post because ….. image management. I just assume this person is firmly in spackle land where I once was and hope that someday she realizes she’s being abused. But yeah “shaming people into thinking the problem is them” is awful. And sanctimoniously posting this as if achieving friendship with a FW is some sort of “goal” is awful. I couldn’t figure out why it made me so angry, so thank you for addressing this!!

    • Chumped48
      “Not to mention that MOST OF US have gotten “my kids’ mom is awesome” bullshit social media post because ….. image management.”

      Exactly this! I found out about the affair 4 years in. Four years of him living an absolute double life- and me, CLUELESS. And I will tell you what, every Mother’s Day, Anniversary and Birthday- there he was on social media writing the most elaborate and complimentary posts about me, that had everyone saying how sweet he is and how LUCKY I was, while he was in love with someone else and using the same phone to post those as to conduct his affair. All those glowing reviews of me as a person, mother, partner, and yet he was SO unhappy that he had no choice but to cheat.

      Do I think that there ARE divorced couples that can genuinely get along and have respect for each other as co-parents? Of course, and that’s truly awesome for their kids. But that isn’t just a matter of “be mature” or “do right by your kids”. We all have different stories (despite how many resonate). I’ve said this before, but for a lot of us, the cheating wasn’t the “only” abuse. In my case, I am furious with myself mostly, but also him, because he was a horrible husband in so many ways and like a dunce, I thought I was being a good wife by accepting him, flaws and all (and abuse and all, I guess) . For me the cheating was simply the last straw in a long line of unacceptable behaviour. It’s going to be a lot harder for me to sit next to him at a soccer game and smile, especially as I don’t think HE will change much post-Divorce. I will just be more readily able to ignore it when our only contact is kid related. And that is how it is for a LOT of Chumps, as evidenced by all the comments here.

      • Exactly this! I found out about his double life after 7 years. 7 years of giving me cards and posting about how much he loved me and couldn’t wait to reach our 20th anniversary (this year would have been our 17th). 7 years of telling me everyday that he loved me. 7 years of lying to my face, stealing money from our joint accounts to fund his affairs.

        But also 7 years of chewing me out for spending too much at Target while he spent $12k a year on hotels. Complaining about how broke we were and that I needed to take on more freelance work while he was spending our money on subscriptions to [email protected] and sugar baby websites and p0rn and flying women in/paying them/putting them up in hotels because they were into his secret fetishes. 20 years of telling me I was too emotional and had a terrible temper.

        Then finally, in October of last year, telling me he hasn’t loved me or been attracted to me in years and has been so very unhappy. And apparently, the only way to find that happiness was in the hoo-has of 20-something girls he met online. Silly me.

        So, no. We are not nor will we ever be friends. I will talk to him civilly when/as I have to but our friendship died when our marriage did.

        • Wow Conchobara this is my story exactly except it went on for 25 years. Everyone and I mean everyone thought he was wildly in love with me and most people were almost embarrassed by his dramatic love for me. In private, of course, he wasn’t like that at all. And then he started being an asshole and then of course it was all my fault and he wasn’t happy for years blah blah blah. Hookers, stolen money, the works. Now he won’t talk to me- ever about anything because he’s got a new narrative and I don’t fit it. I can’t talk to him ever because he’s super abusive – we can’t even talk about our child. I feel terrible for my daughter but there is no way ever we will speak again.

          • Mine won’t talk to me FKA, like even in response to ‘Can you see if daughter’s coat is at your house’. I mean literally won’t respond or most I would ever get is ‘yup’. No room for me now, best way to avoid any recriminations is act like I don’t exist. Childish. I can even imagine how he fakes faux concern for me to our daughter, while frankly wouldn’t sweep me out with the trash. I feel the same, I know it upsets my daughter but there’s no other option. There just isn’t.

      • Why would I care what my ex thinks of me?

        I coparented like a chump the first year after we separated. I would have eaten all kinds of shit sandwiches for the kids.

        Then I discovered the Fetlife profile he had set up on our family computer. He posted a fantasy online of him brutally raping and torturing me, then leaving me for dead on a deserted road. He posted it 6 months after we separated.

        I ghosted him after that and have been parallel parenting ever since. That’s not bitterness, it’s justified anger and self preservation.

  • Sorry, Brandi. I will be cordial, I will be fair, I will be polite and supportive of my daughter’s dad having the best possible relationship she can with him. I even kicked a fiver his way on holidays for her to select small gifts. I even like (but pity) step mom who was not an AP.

    But I will never, ever, ever be friends or hang out with a man who punched me full bore in the face in front of my ten year old son for finding his extensive online Schmoopie harem and secret PO Box. Who was literally planning with a Schmoopie 4 states away to take my daughter on a family trip to his hometown go apartment hunting with the Schmoopie and NEVER BRING HER HOME.

    Who insisted to all that the public physical abuse where he sucker punched me AS I WAS WALKING AWAY WITH MY SON, praying he would not take my sleeping daughter upstairs so long as I pretended I was just going to work, DID NOT OCCUR and told the world my 10 year old was a liar.

    When he saw my brave and beautiful son sitting in the witness box on the morning of the arraignment, crumpled like the sociopath he is and plead guilty.

    Then told everybody we were still liars, he just needed probation instead of jail time.

    Here’s the best a person like that gets, Brandi. They get probation and supervised visits for a year because there was substantiated proof of intent to abduct a baby.

    They get their record expunged so they can begin to work off a back debt of child support, with the contingency they tell everyone they lied to that the abuse occurred as described and they stop slandering an 11 year old boy who witnessed his mother pushed, chased, verbally and physically abused and belongings and phones and keys taken away.

    They get to have a new wife, and I make no attempt to tell her his stories of woe are shite.

    They get to start over, stop being a lazy, irresponsible drunk living off the sweat and tears of women better than him.

    They don’t get to be my friend, Brandi. Things are better now because I have always been sane. Things are better now because of boundaries. Some people are elementally NOT GOOD, Brandi. I take responsibility for having a child with one. But they will never be my friend.

    • Luziana, I am so sorry. You are a warrior. How else could you have survived. Your experience is henious. I suffered a fraction of what you did and will NEVER entertain being friends with such a hideous person. The best I will do is not give him centrality with any attention or thoughts. The alternative is I could squish him with my car. I wonder: do people as easily forgive and want to befriend someone who robbed or raped them? Let’s have dinner with Mr. or Ms. Criminal to show how kind WE are? Bullshit. I commend you for having the restraint for not reacting in kind, which is what these scum deserve. But staying on this side of the law serves us. You rock.

    • Bravo to you and the star of a child you raised. “When he saw my brave and beautiful son sitting in the witness box on the morning of the arraignment, crumpled like the sociopath he is and plead guilty.”
      My (grand) child and I were in your shoes, and he wanted to be able to do this. He never got the chance and remains upset because I did not immediately report his grandfather to the police after he assaulted me and knocked me unconscious. I regret that too. And grandson has pointed out that unlike me, the now-former “friends” we called for help removing cheater did not have concussions and were not in shock over the discovery and assault.
      I’m glad your son had the fortitude to do this, and that your X had to stop slandering him. What an utter disappointment as a father. And, of course, as a husband and human being.
      Did your abusive cheating X actually follow through on the contingency that he tell everyone he lied to that the abuse did occur? Can you get him to put a confession of the abuse and the slander into an email so you have proof, in case he lies again?
      I’d suggest going to the court clerk and requesting copies of the transcript of the parts where he admitted to the abuse AND to the slander. You will probably have to pay to have them transcribed by the court, but you can keep costs very low by telling them the specific parts that you want.
      And I’d also ask for a copy of your son’s testimony and any cross-examination and judge’s comments on it. I’m sure some people will put him down for testifying against his dad. He should always know he did the right thing to tell the truth, and that he defended someone who was assaulted and abused.

      • He does now admit he hit me. He tells people he was driven to it, but how are you driven to run up from behind and sucker punch someone walking away.

        My son passed away in 2016. I don’t care who he lies to now.

        He’s just not that important. This happened 16 years ago. I have gained a life.

        Our daughter knows her Dad is a fraud. She makes the best of it. He keeps his drinking and his crazy in check.

        • Part of the expungement is that he acknowledged in writing the accusations are substantively TRUE.

        • Luziana, I so very sorry for your loss. Your son was a very brave soul. Just like you! {{{💗}}}

    • Another true hero in Chump Nation (if any of you didn’t already know).

    • Cordial, as defined by the online Merriam-Webster dictionary:

      Adjective; showing or marked by warm and often hearty friendliness, favor, or approval

      Luziana, I’m really hoping you meant to use the word civil, instead of cordial. Because if I can’t do cordial for my FW XW, I would think it would be magnitudes less likely that you would be cordial towards your awful, abusive XH. My FW XW doesn’t come close to what you’re describing.😞

      Either way, I hope your life is so much better w/him mainly gone. Wishing you all the best, and your son, too.😊

      • I am cordial the same way I am to a few backhanded gossip hoes at work whom I know have moved against me without success. The wording is intentional. My daughter is 18 now. I do not invest thought or wring my hands. I am unafraid.

  • Friends no. Friends with the man who told my kids that I was poisoning his food and theirs too as he was trying to date every 25 year old in the world at 55. No… I accept and appreciate he is great about child support because the horror stories out there and respect he is the dad of my kids. Friends no. Trust no. Never. I accept when he does what he is supposed to do like when he OCCASIONALLY shows up at the kids stuff and I am never nasty but he is a nothing in the realm of my life. I focus on me and my likes and wants and being the person who 100% ALWAYS shows up for my kids and have them all the time except Friday evenings. I see and speak to him less and less and its for the better in a million ways. It’s about me. My likes, my wants, my adventures!!!!! He is there but not important.

  • I hope I’m never in the same room as cheater. It’s a matter of self respect and protection from further abuse. He’s an abuser, a liar and a manipulator. I choose not to be friends with people who have these traits. “We have grown” implies that I was responsible for his abuse or it wasn’t that bad.
    Acting as if we’re best friends is great image management for the cheater.

    Cheaters don’t make great parents not even good parents. They”re not good role models. It isn’t okay to lie, to cheat, and abuse others. It’s unacceptable and should never be tolerated under any circumstances.

  • Friends with the woman who falsely fingered me for domestic assault to one of her many APs? No fucking way.
    Friends with the woman who falsely told that same AP that she was in the hospital with a possible concussion, busted ribs and severe road rash from an auto accident THAT NEVER HAPPENED? No fucking way.

    I’d like to think I can be friends with someone who has a form of mental illness. Just not this one.

  • “Friends” with the man who committed to love and care for me and took advantage of my 26 years of invested time, care, money while conning me, maligning me, screwing other women behind my back then devaluing me and his own children, blaming us when he was caught by the kids, on Christmas, then continuing to lie and fuck others and terrorize me with false wreconsillyation then take me through the wringer of a divorce that included a custody battle when he hadn’t seen kids for years and tried to financially devastate me? Not possible— he’s not friendship material. He’s a diagnosed narcissist with BPD, perhaps a psychopath. 9 years have passed. I’m cordial. I even permitted his attendance at the gender reveal for our first grandson. But, “friends?” Nope.

    Trust he sucks and no-contact. That works best for me and my mental health. Kids are grown. He’s abused them so many times they keep him at arms length too- for their own well being.

  • Here’s what bothers me in Brandi’s post: “We’ve both changed, we’ve grown up and realized the mistakes we both made.” To me, this sounds perilously like buying into the victim-blaming RIC narrative of “own your own part in the cheating.” Maybe that’s not what she meant to convey, but given the prevalence of that idea, that’s how it came across to me.

    Thanks, CL, for reminding us that the conditions that lead to divorce–and behavior after–are not always those that are conducive to any kind of relationship post-divorce. For me, no-contact is a necessity.

    • Adelante, Thanks for saying this. I was in the RIC for about 6 weeks and they wanted me to own my part in the FW cheating. Just NO! I know I am not to blame for a FW cheating. I am not to blame for his inability to have a relationship with his almost 27 year old son. I totally agree that there does not have to be a relationship after divorce.
      The last I heard from FW (several months ago as he was providing me with the funds for the last of the settlement money) was in the form of a nasty email that told me all the ways in which I sucked as a wife and a human being. Nope, I don’t suck but he does and he cannot blame me anymore. I did send the email to my attorney, and she let his attorney know that if there are any more emails then we will be suing for harassment! Nothing since.

  • OMG! I missed this! Ya know why? I stayed OFF social media on Mother’s Day just like I was told to.
    Thank you CL and CN for elevating bitterness into an art form of the highest entertainment value! Bitterness, my ass, it’s truth at its finest. Brandi was peddling some hopium. And last year it would have made my chest hurt with desire. But not today, Brandi! Not today!

  • Nope, no friends. I will only do the legal minimum I am asked.

    Being friends with any ex is cake eating and shows weak boundaries, and helps them feel better about what they did.

  • Last time I spoke in person with Asshat was in March 2018. Our divorce would be final in May after 25 years. Anyway, I had just driven by our marital home and found HoWorker/Wife’s car parked in back with a moving truck, moving furniture in to store in our basement. We were selling the home at the time. This is the only time I’ve had any interaction with her when I went inside and lost it, screaming at her the whole time. She remained calm and texted Asshat. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, he used his phone to video our encounter.

    During our exchange, he said so many ridiculous things, including how lazy my father was (retired PhD–his father and HoWorker/Wife are PhDs), how he was going to be homeless (playing sad sausage to my kids, but he obviously was living with The Whore), telling me he had met his “soul mate” and saying “this was about US”. That put me back on my heels and something finally clicked. I was done with him. Because we were selling two houses, I did have to remain on text streams, but when he took me back to court a year later to buy me out of the unsold house, I held my head high and walked right past him in the courtroom lobby even though he genuinely looked happy to see me and gave me a big toothy grinned “Hi”. Nope, never going to speak to him ever again. He doesn’t deserve anything other than contempt from me. I did laugh because a few days later after I retrieved all the property from the house, he had placed the plaque “If momma ain’t happy, nobody is happy”, on top of some items in the garage. Instead of triggering me, I laughed my ass off! It just confirmed what a baby Asshat is. And he still tried to poke me through the courts up until I finally had him buy me off with less money than he owed last fall. I am DONE!

    So last night, I had to drive by their house and it looks like they are spending $100,000s on a new lawn/retaining wall and I literally could have run HoWorker/Ho over this morning as she walked into her workout facility (attached to where I work). I really think I’m at meh. My heart didn’t race nor did I really care. And it’s Tuesday.

    • I forgot to add what really did it for me. Asshat gleefully and proudly said, “HoWorker/Wife and I only lie to you”. Wow–no shit. Why would I continue interacting with someone who admits to lying to me?

      Nope. Not gonna happen.

      • Why do former”friends” justify this…..we’re still friends because he only lied to you, he only cheated on you, he only abused you. For a long time I felt that I was only worth that.

  • Triggered. This brought me back to the posts about how Gwyneth Paltrow coparents with Chris Martin. GP blah blah blahed through how she has to look at her “own garbage” and it’s about being mature and all kinds of crap that was so “inspirational” to Drew Barrymore. GP is holier than thou. And Drew was soooo inspired 🤮

    And I commented on it for the world to see. And made sure everyone knew that although it’s great that Gwyneth is able to do that successfully (if you believe her) and “consciously uncouple” and have candles that “smell like her vagina” (not really… It’s clever marketing and making her big bank)… then she’s simply LUCKY if she isn’t dealing with an abusive narcissistic cheating ex.

    Because it’s easy to stand on a soap box and say how much more mature she is, but this is also the same person that thought she could show how the food insecure are struggling to make ends meet with SNAP (nutrition assistance programs) because when she tried using the limited funds, all she could afford was an avocado and organic fresh greens and some brown rice. Because I guess in her mind, when you can’t afford much, you’ll still shop for organic produce at Whole Foods. She’s completely tone deaf and ignorant to what other “real” people deal with.

    I’m thankful to CL and CN for being the only sane place to come. The only place that acknowledges that some people (see: FWs) are shit and should not be included in your life —- even if they are the other parent. I don’t want to get along with FW for the sake of my kid. It would only be one-sided and manipulated. I also KNOW FW is an abusive liar cheater and gaslighter. Why the fuck would I even give him another opportunity?

    Anyway… thank you all for ending that mayhem with Brandi expediently. And for reminding us all that it’s better to go no contact and be at meh than to buy into any of that “There’s hope” crap. No more chances for a FW. My relationship is with my son.

  • This post really brought my biases and triggers to the surface.
    The Wifestress has the same name as OP, with the same “i” and I found her to be smug as well. I call her Homewrecker (never when my children are near).
    Recently the ex has been pushing established boundaries and acting too friendly. This Mother’s Day he sent me an email that read, “Happy Mother’s day from our family to yours.” Everything in me wanted o go ballistic. Just 2 weeks ago my 6 year old told me that “Daddy says (Homewrecker) is our mama … (long thoughtful pause), but I know that’s not true.”

    We are not friends. She is a see-you-next-Tuesday and he is a pathetic piece of shit.

    Sorry, triggers are fully triggered … I do not believe friendships can be forged with these monsters and it would be very unhealthy to teach my children that you should accept friends with people that push boundaries.

    • “Daddy says (Homewrecker) is our mama … (long thoughtful pause), but I know that’s not true.” ❤️❤️❤️❤️

      Kids aren’t stupid. They hear and see everything. They get it. Keep rockin’ being the sane parent.

      Why would I continue to interact with someone who manipulates and purposely attempts to trigger me? These FWs are DEstructive not CONstructive.

    • “[I]t would be very unhealthy to teach my children that you should accept friends with people that push boundaries”. So much this!

  • I wrote a long, rambling comment and my phone ate it. (Sometimes my smartphone really is smart. And sometimes it autocorrects “penis” to “punishment”…)

    So, I will attempt to make a long story short.

    I performed the “divorced but still family” and “friends with my ex” bs for a number of years after I left my cheating ex-husband 13 years ago.

    We had been married for 18 years and had three teenagers.

    I believed – mistakenly – that being friends with my ex was the brass ring. I also mistakenly believed that I should refrain from discussing with my children their dad’s affair and how it was the nail in the coffin and the ultimate reason for my leaving.

    When, after a number of years, my kids and I finally talked candidly about the affair, I was shocked to find that my two sons had virtually no memory of the events around that time, and no real awareness that their dad was a cheater. The mind can do amazing things in the service of self-protection.

    Of course: when they were teens, they claimed to be happy that their dad and I were “friends.” It was easier for them, what with the joint holidays and no conflict on the surface.

    My goal was always to allow them to be selfish teenagers and not burden them with guilt by vomiting my grief and loneliness all over them.

    It’s just that, in the process, I mindfucked them by pretending to be friends with a person who had consistently treated me with disdain and disrespect. And by withholding crucial facts about their family unit and its disintegration.

    Thanks to a lot of work on myself, and thanks to LACGAL, the CL blog, and CN, I know better now than I did then. And, as Maya Angelou said, when we know better, we do better.

    Once upon a time, I could have made that performative, smug Fb post about bEinG fRiENds wiTH tHe Ex fOR thE KiDs. I didn’t know any better. I was codependent, insecure, with wobbly boundaries and little self-worth.

    These days, ex and I are mutual grey rock. His mistreatment of me over our entire marriage – not just the cheating – disqualifies him from being my friend.

    • I tried so hard when everything blew up to try to remain friends. It just made me a punching bag. Asshat & HoWorker/Wife are too fragile for me to continue any interaction.

  • “PS I joined this group due to my most recent FW and his actions. Wish this
    group would have been around 10 years ago when I first got divorced.”

    Maybe it’s time to evaluate how you define “friend”?

    • While I cannot cause, cure, or control someone else’s actions, if I have trouble discerning when someone is unsafe and untrustworthy, and respond accordingly, the odds of choosing and maintaining relationships with unsafe and untrustworthy people goes way up.

      Trust and safety are the inviolable requirements of healthy relationships of any kind, so taught by my local domestic violence prevention organization.

      Children learn by modeling. The importance of discernment became exponentially important when I had a child. For her sake, at least, it’s critical that I model how to appropriately respond to unsafe and untrustworthy individuals. I do not promote people as safe and trustworthy who are not. I am civil to him when I have to communicate. She is free to decide, with the help of her therapist, how she wants to navigate her relationship with her dad. Her feelings are validated. My heart breaks for children whose feelings are not.

    • Yeah, it would seem like a few lessons remain un-learned.

  • For me the problem with these friends with exes “inspirational” posts is that they equate not wanting friendship with being “hateful.” To the ex, to your children. That anything less that warm mutual regard is damaging, that means you’re not all in on the parenting and putting the child first.

    This could be a whole other blog post, but consider who you’re lecturing on putting children first — the show up parent. The person who is eating a lot of shit sandwiches because someone skipped out. There’s going to be anger and resentment about that, and the Sane Parent is doing their best — putting that kid first. All you’re doing by insinuating they aren’t putting their kids first is amp up that anger and resentment. HELLO? DO YOU SEE ME HERE? Managing an impossible situation?

    We need safe spaces like CN and Jenny’s porch to work out that anger, to vent, to say the things we cannot say in polite society. That doesn’t mean we’re slopping that shit on others in our real lives. It’s the whole point of a support group.

    Anger at injustice isn’t wrong. I believe people like Brandi or other commentators are conflating this anger with a sort of Bitter Woman stereotype — you’re running down your cheating ex, you’re saying hurtful things that harm your child, you’re slopping your grief on to them, making them feel guilty for loving the other parent. And here we have common ground — I’m very clear we shouldn’t do that to kids. They have a right to their relationship. And we have a right to boundaries. The beautiful thing about stepping back is the FW parent’s actions stand alone. No PR spin. They can be judged by their investment or lack there of.

    And this is when the three channels kick in — charm (You’re a great mom! Happy Mother’s Day!), rage, and self-pity kick in. FW’s generally demand kibbles and our good opinion of them. And when we don’t give it? How bitter of you.

    Every child deserves two invested parents, who show up, who care, and who PAY their share. We have common ground here. The tragedy is most of us didn’t get that and we’re doing out best for our kids in spite of. Shouldering much more than is fair. We don’t control FWs — we cannot nice them into being better parents. Nor do our anger or bitterness or bad haircuts make them bad parents — that’s on them.

    It’s not “hateful” to say let go. Keep your own side of the street clean. Love your kids. You’re a complete family just you and them. You don’t need your ex.

    IMO, eating shit sandwiches just breeds more inauthenticity and resentment. And frankly, bitterness. The sort you don’t want your kid around.

    • The unspoken tragic reality is that in order for Brandi’s narrative to hold water, you have to regard infidelity as no big deal and disavow it as the abuse that it is.

      Cheating and lying and stealing are indicators of immaturity, not ending relationships with people who violate you.

      Denial was a big part of the problem that kept me with him for so long. Remaining in it, and modeling it to our daughter, and ignoring her feelings about what he did is not how I define “getting better.” I also define “friend” differently, and what he and his secret sexual double life participants did disqualifies them, for life, as friends. They disqualified themselves as ever being friends, mine or hers, when they chose to stab us in the back. Yes, cheaters stab the involved children in the back too, and will mount their most aggressive campaign to deny it.

      Imagine your dad or mom fucking you over and as a dependent child and you are, expressly or implied, forced to ignore that. 😪😡 Damage on top of damage.

      “Getting Better” looks like this:

      I am civil when I have to communicate with him. I am Minimal Contact because No Contact is not possible at this time.
      I do not promote him, to anyone, as safe and trustworthy because he is not. Neither is anyone he had an illicit relationship with. And they never will be to me or our daughter who they also violated.

      BITTER means Being In Totally Truthful Emotional Reality.

      What actually makes me the angriest about today’s post is the potential mindfucking of the involved children required to support the parents’ feelings. I support however my daughter wants to navigate what has happened, but I will NEVER encourage her to trust someone who is untrustworthy and unsafe. That would be her father and anyone in his life who was part of his secret sexual double life that knew he was married and had a child. Encouraging her to trust people that intentionally do grievous harm to others would be feeding her to the lions.

      Little Hammer is reading a book in her English class, The Samurai’s Garden. One of the characters is a cheater and has a secret second family. In class last week the kids were broken down into discussion groups. She was very upset by a classmate’s comment “It’s just cheating!” like it’s no big deal. I am very proud of my daughter that she regards cheating as the severe abuse that it is, and that she is not in denial about what a huge violation it is.

    • “I believe people like Brandi or other commentators are conflating this anger with a sort of Bitter Woman stereotype — you’re running down your cheating ex, you’re saying hurtful things that harm your child, you’re slopping your grief on to them, making them feel guilty for loving the other parent. And here we have common ground — I’m very clear we shouldn’t do that to kids. – They have a right to their relationship. – ”

      I really appreciate that, Tracy, ESPECIALLY your affirmation that a child has a right to their relationship with a parent – even one who was a cheater who blew up their home.

      My dad was unfaithful to my mom and left her before I was in kindergarten in the early 1970s. My mom, God bless her, pulled herself together, found a full-time job to support our family, made my sister and me her first priority, and created a stable home for us. As much as she loved us, though, she was definitely flawed: controlling, judgmental, prone to verbally abusive name-calling when she was frustrated and angry with one of us, and guilty of everything on that above list of things that Bitter Women do.

      My dad always met his financial obligations to us, paying the child support every month as he was required to, but he spent very little time with me and my sister as we were growing up, and his emotional neglect messed with my head in ways that I still feel today. I’m 57, for effs sake. My sister and I were lucky if we saw our dad once a month for dinner, bowling, or a movie, and most of the time he’d be running late to pick us up. Being young, desperately wanting his attention and the kind of relationship that my friends had with their fathers, I’d make excuses for his lateness (spackler-in-training, I guess) – until the day my mom snapped at me to stop putting him on a pedestal. It was a low and mean, and she made me feel like shit. I think I was about 12.

      I don’t think my mom opened up and told me and my sister that our dad had cheated on her until both of us were in high school, fortunately, but she’d spent years and years before that carelessly and inappropriately pouring out vitriol about him so that it spilled onto us, and that messed with my head, too. My mom couldn’t let me or my sister come to our own conclusions about who our dad was on our own, wanting to control that piece of our lives, as well, as a way of validating her own experience. I’ve had a hard time forgiving her for that. Ultimately, my sister and I had too much of our mother in our lives, not enough of our father.

      When Snakeface’s absences started to mount up, and when we were separated, then divorced, I vowed I would NEVER, EVER blast him behind his back to our sons. It helped that they were older and involved in their own high school and college activities during those periods, but whenever our youngest complained about Snakeface not being around, I validated MY SON’S experience without dumping anything on him about mine, and I told him he had a right to tell his dad how he felt. I’ve never regretted it.

      • I feel for your mother. And this is why I tell people not to gaslight their children, even with the best of intentions. I wonder if she’d been able to tell you the truth, age appropriately without editorializing, when it happened, if it wouldn’t have curbed some of her anger. The fact that chumps historically have had to remain silent, I think, poisons the well. Children aren’t stupid. They usually figure it out, and there’s adults pretending like it didn’t happen. If you mother had a safe space, someone validating her, I bet it would’ve made a difference.

        My corollary to respect that kids want a relationship with the FW parent is — kids need to also respect the chump parent’s boundaries about not wanting a relationship with the FW parent. As a parent, I say deflect with Cool, Bummer, Wow.

        You’re totally right to let your son have his feelings and express them to his dad.

        I also totally sympathize with your mother and her flaws. It’s VERY hard to do the majority of parenting and the glory goes to the absent parent. Their kibbles are precious. Yours are assumed. It takes a huge amount of character to not crack under that.

      • “My dad always met his financial obligations to us, paying the child support every month as he was required to, but he spent very little time with me.”

        I will contain my vitriol.

        For what it’s worth, if it’s worth anything, this is my daughter’s experience with her dad and it is alcohol infused high octane gasoline on my Chump bonfire of severe pain, extreme fear, overwhelming grief, blinding rage, and crushed self-esteem….feelings that I manage daily, and imperfectly, with the help of lots of tools and years of practice using them before DDay. I have no idea how anybody handles this without competent and qualified major assistance.

        If I have managed this well at all and stayed out of jail and not had my parental rights revoked, it’s probably because I had been sober and in therapy for almost three decades before DDay. Born in 1963, growing up I didn’t know anyone who was in therapy or sober or talked about what was really going on. When enlightened in the 70’s about what was going on in our family, my parents (both cheated and both were active alcoholics) chose to do nothing and let the dumpster fire they created burn.

        His essential abandonment and neglect of her adds to my intense hatred of him and the garbage human(s) who were part of his secret sexual double life.

      • Oh bugger I read this wise reminder only moments after my 18yo daughter said her dad needed to get glasses as he couldn’t see properly. I replied that was pretty obvious given his choice of AP.
        One off slip up.

      • For me, it is complete blame shifting to blow up a family, causing severe trauma, and then expect/demand that the victim ensure that the children are not further harmed by your reaction to being abused, by ensuring with absolute certainty that you never utter a single bad word about the FW. For the FW, lawyers, and society to expect this is blame-shifting through and through.

        I take absolutely no blame, and I have zero guilt about what I said to my son or around my son about his father. It was the truth, and it’s his father’s fault that his son heard these things, not mine. I was merely reacting to FW’s behavior, doing the best I could in a horrible situation given my own mental health at the time (that FW caused). I refused to take responsibility or feel guilty for something I didn’t cause and make myself the person ultimately responsible for cleaning up FW’s mess and not creating “more” harm to the children.

        I’ll say it again. FW blew up the family and created the initial harm. He is therefore responsible for any foreseeable conduct on my part in reacting to his abuse, and that includes saying truthful, albeit very negative things about his father. Do I wish I had been able to control my emotions more? Sure, but it’s not my fault that I wasn’t able to do it. I didn’t cause it. If FW hadn’t abuse me, I wouldn’t have been reacting to his abuse. If he cared about how I would react around our son, he shouldn’t have cheated and blown up the family. To think otherwise and to expect that the victim “control him/herself for the sake of the children” by not expressing the foreseeable, genuine, TRUTHFUL, emotions that come along with being abused is absurd, and I will have no part of any guilt or shame about what I said to my son when I was in the middle of the nightmare. I said some really bad things, but they were all true, and it’s not my fault that I said them. It’s FW’s.

    • So well said CL, 100% agree with you. I don’t think it’s wise to poison your kids’ views of the wandering absent parent, as hard as the impulse to do that is really strong.
      I actually would prefer my kids have a relationship with their dad, because I see benefit in having two parents that love you.
      Theirs has been a very disappointing hit or miss and mostly miss relationships with him thus far. He just gets stranger and stranger as the years tick by.
      I will no longer take any initiative to interpret their dad’s bone headed moves for them, it is up to him.
      He’s just a selfish dick on a very deep level, that’s not within my control to fix or spackle over and I believe it’s also important for their own emotional safety, for my kids to see what he is for themselves , even though super hard to see them hurt by his me me me mentality.
      I haven’t sold his flaws to them, but I will not lie when asked direct questions about his activities. They accept so am practically full no contact, they honestly prefer that. They know he wasn’t good to me and they feel I deserve better.
      He shows them who he is by his lack of involvement in their lives, talking only about himself the few times he even calls them every few months and about his own convoluted chaotic life, which no one really cares to know about. Then asking maybe a token question about how they might be doing when they can tell he doesn’t genuinely give a rat’s ass or even need an answer.
      They know they are a very far second to his love bombed schmoopie, who he is devoted to and doesn’t understand their rudeness in not accepting her.
      Hard to see him hurt them and then complain that none of them have invited him over to their places in years. Gee, wonder why that would be?! 🤷‍♀️
      Too bad he remains completely unconscious and conveniently unaware of the hurt he causes. It works out just fine for him though, it’s the rest of us that make his life difficult. 🥴

    • Ugh, I relate. My aunt tried to hide all the abuse from the kids and all she succeeded at doing was fuck up my cousins.

      They literally came home one day to a note on the calendar from Dad saying he was leaving the family for his mistress. He quit his executive job so he’d look poor on paper and used Schmoopie’s money to sue my aunt to get out of child support. FOR YEARS. My cousins literally spent their childhoods getting the heat turned off in the winter while their dad told them, “Your mom has the money, she just doesn’t care about you.”

      My aunt never acknowledged the infidelity, any of the abuse, the legal proceedings, or even the fact their dad never paid a dime in child support.

      She passed away recently from cancer (I’m convinced from the trauma of the last 15 years), and now the kids are adults and still think their dad’s great even after he canceled one cousin’s health insurance while she was in the ER from a car accident. They’re young adults now and super dysfunctional with messed up pickers.

      Moral of the story: Please for the love of God don’t gaslight children. You don’t have to editorialize, but don’t hide basic truths from them or try to act like this abuse is okay.

  • Brandi will take a lot of heat today, I imagine, but I hope she can understand what CL is saying. What happened with her most recent FW? The one who drove her to CL? Would she be friends with him? Not every situation is the same, and many many MANY people have very good, sane, laudable reasons for not sitting next to FW at the baseball game. It’s not the goal. In fact, not sitting with FW at the game can be HEALTHY modeling for the kids.

    Another reason is that named by a few others already: FW loves the impression management. What could be more kibbly than a FW social media post on Mother’s Day, especially one that criticizes others for not being as evolved (“everyone gives us crap”).

  • Quote: Deciding to go no-contact or doing a basic cordial hello here and there does not equal a hate filled heart. It equals sanity and peace.

    300% this. C#1, son’s father, seems to think we’re friends but I have been clear that we are not. However, I can be civil and courteous to you as I would be to a store clerk, someone on the train or other public interaction.

    What I will not do is be like C#2’s ex-wife (who was also a cheater who married her penis-slut) who couldn’t be bothered to even say hello, made the kids choose to whom to speak at plays, recitals, graduations, etc. and tried to alienate family members and mutual friends who dared to talk to us. Her mandate was, “if you speak to them, you are DEAD to ME!” That is bitter and immature and absolutely screams “not over it and never getting over it, even if I got what I thought I wanted”. Um, yeah. What evs.

  • I think many of us have run into the “Brandi” type. Their ultimate goal is to make you feel like a loser and believe they are superior. One example that comes to mind is years ago in a grocery store a friend of mine was in the meat department and another woman (she knew from her daughter’s school) next to her was picking out organic chicken. My friend asked her if there was a significant difference and the woman replied with a snotty tone, “I buy this chicken because I care about the hormones, etc. going into my daughter’s body.” I guess in her warped universe no one else cares about their kids if they purchase regular chicken. My friend just smirked and answered “if you say so”. I think calling these people out by saying, well you are just so much better than the rest of us with an eyeroll is sufficient.

  • As if I were a better person I could overcome my”bitterness” and be friends with the dick? No, this is just more victim shaming.

  • I think this is a “read the room” issue if there ever was one.

    I have a friend who is now friends with his ex who cheated on him, divorced him, and made him a single father ~15 years ago. I don’t understand it but if it works for him, no judgment.

    But if he came to a domestic violence support group to tell everyone about how great his relationship with his ex is and how there’s always hope for healing, I would be like, WTF.

    In the old CN forum, I remember one chump mentioning how her first husband (she’d been chumped several times) was now a friend and would help her around the house. And that was fine. She wasn’t doing posts bragging about this friendship or urging us to hope for eventual friendship with our exes. No one gave her pushback for mentioning it.

    So, let me say to Brandi: I don’t mind that you’re somehow friends with your cheating ex. If that works for you, cool. But most of us have absolutely zero desire to be friends with our exes. This isn’t a reconciliation support group.

    If my XH found Jesus, got a good job, blocked and went NC with his former affair partners, paid off all child support arrears, went to therapy, developed appropriate boundaries, confessed fully to all of his lying and cheating, and posted effulgent praise of me on social media every Mother’s Day, I still would want absolutely nothing to do with him. I don’t have even the slightest desire to be friends with him.

    And I doubt that will ever change.

  • For me, it’s simple:

    Would you be friends with a person who fucked you over in the worst possible way?

    No. I tell people I’m not friends with my ex because true friends don’t treat you like that.

  • Those who speak of getting along with their ex, should remember it takes two to make a relationship work and only one to break it down. One person cannot make a relationship cordial if the other only wants a battle.

  • Some people are naive and ignorant about abuse. They don’t know and they don’t want to know.

    Also known as ‘people that should be avoided’

  • I still get pinged periodically by people on my outskirts who think that my ex and I should be friends. My ex hasn’t lived in this state in nearly SIX YEARS, and threw our lives into chaos by taking off after he retired. It was ON PURPOSE, guys. He isn’t a decent human being and proved it many times over in the divorce. At one point he was saying all kinds of scary, upsetting things to his attorney who immediately called mine, “We have a problem here!” That was an understatement.

    At signing, my attorney made me promise that I would be “all business” in closeout and then let that “branch die and fall off” (his exact words). Thankfully, I didn’t have custody issues. The college kids went no contact when I did during the legal proceedings and have remained so. I agreed to do some closeout items with him via email post-divorce, but only because I was struggling financially and felt that I could handle it. My attorney helped me word the first few emails, and then I was fine. I had no problem applying Bill Eddy’s BIFF technique. My ex got all bent out of shape at first but mostly left me alone. I hear from him maybe once a year or so now.

    Some months ago, I stepped back and thought about the people who are bothered that I’m not friends with him. Many times I related a summary of just how bad it was. Then for a while, I would ask, “So why are you asking about him?” Basically, they didn’t care a snit about me, just him. Ok, got it.

    Now I just say, “I’ve explained why I’m not friends with him. This discussion is over.” And I walk away. One of them decided to stop bringing him up, and we are fine. Not close, but can chat about other things in social situations. The other still does, but he’s got major mental health issues IMHO. His own marriage and family are crumbling, so whatever. I don’t see them very often.

    Yes, being friends is overrated. Be a decent parent to your kids, and don’t grandstand about how being a co-parent is so lovely. It might be but just do it.

  • This is one of my biggest beefs with the whole divorced from a FW issue. He will never ever be my friend. I’d trust a hooded stranger in a dark alley holding a gun more.
    And I don’t see it as some kind of personal failing anymore either. I’ve been an empathic,caring, way too forgiving, wants the best for everyone kind of person my entire life.
    I’ve forgiven ex FW an uncountable number of times through the years, he banked on it.
    It’s these characteristic traits that afforded access to betray, abuse, and deceive me.
    I don’t see anything wrong with striving to be a caring, compassionate person. It’s a super power I value.
    But you have to BE a good person to be worthy of being seen as a good person. FW’s just want free passes to being seen as good without actually being good.
    My exFW desperately wants my family to believe he’s this great guy that just needed change in his life and he wants his family to move on from the past, as he so magnanimously has been able and just get back to, basically, not looking behind the curtain. His biggest hope would be to get back to the point we didn’t even know a curtain existed to hide behind!
    He absolutely sees himself now as the poor widdle victim of my horrible bitterness and scorn. (without an H, lol!)
    He’s the bigger person, he thinks we can be one big happy family with the whore he married also enveloped in our love, and the ONLY reason that isn’t happening is because of mean old non forgiving Chumpasaurus herself.
    It could all be fantastic again, in his warped mind, if not for my anger and inability to forgive.
    Kiss my ass!! I’ve forgiven way the hell more than I ever should have through the years and it only made me feel smaller, obsolete and never good enough. That’s not love.
    That game is over, FW. Over, over.
    It’s a whole new day and I’m unable to unsee your abuses and I see no benefit in doing that. Not for the sake of the kids even, that card is shredded too.
    The kids have got enough of their own glimpses of who their dad is in the last five years post divorce and it’s enough for them to know first hand that their dad does not have their backs either. He has proven he cares 100% about himself and his rotating transactional relationships and it’s so obvious to all of us how easy it is to read through his “ I just want my family back together” image management surface to the corrupt inner workings that really motivate him “ you are all beneath me and need to bow to my authority and power over you as you always have.” He can’t even comprehend that his gig is up and can’t be renewed.
    It’s all deeply tragic and really sad to me all these years later and I hate the fact that their dad has seemingly morphed into a mind altered cult follower that we can never get back again.
    It feels worse than a death personally. He did so many shady things throughout the years that he’s become some self made evil zombie who demands we forgive him. We don’t.
    Maybe Schmoopie will forgive you when you end up screwing her over someday soon. But your family? We are done.
    He was blessed with a beautiful life with ppl who loved the hell out of him, but that was too boring for his special greatness and he chose to destroy it with chaos and drama instead.
    I don’t want that toxic person in my life, he is no friend of mine.
    He will remain on the remote fringes of his childrens’ lives, possibly, no longer privy to their deepest loving incredible cores. It will only ever be shallow relationships. I do grieve the loss for them of a dad that is capable of love.
    We do reap what we sow. The outcome he chose sucks.
    I don’t control that and I have no guilt for safeguarding myself from further inevitable abuse. It’s the right choice for me.

    • Like the song says…
      Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit – And you ain’t no friend of mine

  • Cheating is a form of domestic violence, and still sadly socially acceptable.

    There is nothing enlightened or morally superior by maintaining relationships with the perpetrators.

    Someone has to first be capable of friendship, to act like a friend, to be a friend. Cheating and lying proves they are not.

  • When my FW gets his character transplant, I am happy to entertain a cordial relationship with him. Until then, tho…

  • Lest we forget CAKE? My abuser husband or rather after today’s Mediation MAYBE X would enjoy sitting next to me at a game and even at church after he was rebaptized in front of hundreds. But what I have to say ….cheaters Love impression management and they manipulate YOU FOREVER . Me being all chummy would show every friend, every member that this sorry man was ok by me. We can sing around the campfire holding hands. This is great for every O New Womans impression management after the matriage bomb.. Well look at that angel, being all sweet to his X!!!!! AWWWWW! SO NOW any new woman has frosting already plastered on the cake of gee, who do I pick???.Every one can dance please for my wonderfulness? It works and will drive the cheaters next partner to enter the X wonderland. Lesson to all to watch out for undying love in the ongoing X love triangle. Hey,it sure worked before it can work again. Or our prancing interloper is trying to get her cheater back??? Have at it honey, your X never quit his day job. Schmoozing you!!

  • “That wasn’t my intention.”

    Every FW says this, as does every online phoney who tries to play superior and shame others, then gets spanked for it.

    Brandi, if you’re reading, learn to pipe down when you are in the wrong. That’s what being genuinely sorry requires, that you stop trying to argue that you weren’t in the wrong.

    • Also, it’s good that some people have ex FWs who aren’t toxic and are easy to get along with. I haven’t heard of one or seen one. The thousands of posts on this blog can attest to them being rare. Nor can you nice them into being non-toxic. You can perhaps get them to ease up on their crazy behavior somewhat by being submissive, completely uncritical of them and doing what they want. Who in the hell would do that just so that they can sit with the ex at school events? If that’s what Brandi is doing, I’m sorry for her.

      • I actually have one of those non-toxic ex-FWs. We never fought over the settlement or custody or anything. There’s even a chance he regrets what he did (as evidenced by him (literally) crying on the phone to our son about not having a close relationship with him. But as my son says, you can’t do what he did and expect something different). Anyway, no matter how non-toxic, I’m still not friends with ex-FW and never will be. In fact, from reading here, I think I’m even less inclined to be “civil” than chumps who are dealing with toxicity. For example, I don’t see myself acknowledging FW if I ever see him anywhere. I don’t plan on saying hello or nodding at him or even looking his way as some have suggested they have done or will do, even at big events like my son’s graduation or future wedding. Maybe I’m taking it too far? Needless to say, I’m always questioning myself, and I’m probably not at meh. 🙁 But I figure if I wouldn’t acknowledge anyone else in my life who stabbed me in the back and hurt my son, why should FW be any different?

  • Ugh. I wish courts saw it this way. About to be dragged back to court and so afraid my no contact will be viewed as “coldness” or “bitchiness”. I communicate as little as possible and only about children. I’m petrified I’m going to get the book thrown at me in the court room. His lawyer submitted 130 pages of examples of me being uncooperative & inflexible. It’s not uncooperative…it’s just the smallest amount of communication possible.

    • Silvia, this is a common legal ploy. Tell the judge what you said here: it’s not uncooperative, it’s taking care of family business and managing the children only. Don’t be baited by some person charging an ungodly amount of money per hour.

  • oh, this is a trigger! My brother and I who are both chumps, have delved into reasons why we ended up with cheaters and doing a pick me dance. We have a legal system that enforces and facilitates abusive relationships. My mother bravely and naïvely went along with trying to facilitate a relationship between my siblings and my father. My father, who I had an affair and left my mother. Left her with five kids.

    Now I love my father, and had a relationship with him through the years. He was a wonderful man in many ways, but, in true narcissist form, never understood what he had done to our family. denial and justification goes a long way and living a good life when you’re a cheater. No one around me or my siblings validated our suspicion that what my father had done was really really wrong.

    No wonder I grew up with the belief that good people do bad things, and it’s perfectly fine to have relationships with them especially when it’s family.

    No wonder I told my husband the exact same thing when he had his first to affair…“Don’t feel bad”, I told him, “good people do bad things”.

    This destructive, abusive dynamic was normalized in my childhood. We all know that witnessing violence as children, can often lead to abusive relationships, or accepting abuse.

    It’s my belief that if someone cheats laws should ensure that the cheating husband or wife needs to go to therapy to recognize what they have done before they are allowed back into a relationship with their children. Abuse, gaslighting, psychological manipulation needs to be acknowledged and worked through, and children need to be taught boundaries are ok, even with adults.

    I know I know, will never happen, but I always say if they don’t understand what they have done, the question is not if they would do it again, and hurt you, but when they will do it again. And yes, my husband cheated again. Of course.

  • LOL!! This has to be 3rd String (my exes next interest)….her name is, ironically, Brandi and she is “so sweet” she shits candy until she doesn’t! Like when she doesn’t mind her own fucking business and inserts herself where me, my kids, and my ex in-laws don’t want her. Good times! Funny thing is “3rd String” doesn’t have good boundaries which is very clear she shares in common with this Brandi. I just tell my kids, she will figure it out when she is exhausted and he keeps adding more and more on her to-do list while he hangs out with her “friends” that she should be more like.

  • I bet if she had found CL 10 years ago, she wouldn’t be still sucking up to her ex “for the sake of the child”.

    Mr. Sparkles discarded me and our marriage after 4 d-days because I didn’t make him feel the “spark” anymore in our marriage. (One of many infantile generalisms that he’s made.) I picked me danced for a year… A YEAR… after the discard but the OW sparked him… not enough to file for divorce, mind you… but #sparks.

    Finally, after 18 months and finding CL, I filed. See how that works, I chose to stop the abuse.

    My son understands that “daddy got a girlfriend when he was married to me and married people shouldn’t do that”… right at the same time I was teaching him that we say please and thank you. I didn’t blame… I didn’t disenfranchise my son from Mr. Sparkles… I explained in an age appropriate way why Daddy chose to leave.

    They had a visitation schedule 2 nights a week/every other weekend. Mr. Sparkles had all schedules for events, sports, etc. He had full access to our son. By seventh grade, he was down to checking in one night a week for dinner and occasionally showing up to events with his latest GF (the OW dumped him for cheating on her #sparksdie).

    My son is 17 now… hasn’t heard from his Dad in two weeks. They contact each other directly now and how they build a relationship is up to them. I’m here, as a parent, to love my son… teach him right from wrong… show him what kindess and boundaries look like and that they can co-exist. And, I show him not to accept abuse from anyone. And guess what, he’s dating a young woman he’s known since kindergarten… I watch him… he’s good, he’s kind, he’s loving… my choosing to respect myself might’ve actually been the best thing for him too.

  • Infidelity fallout is just as damaging and long-lasting as nuclear fallout. And like nuclear fallout, invisible but for the effects.

    The other day I was talking with a good friend who, as a teenager, found out that her father had cheated on her mother. Like my daughter, she wanted nothing to do with him. She then told me that when she got older, she doesn’t really remember how it happened, but she guesses she forgave her father because she realized that her mother had a part in it. Her voice trailed off as she saw the look on my face, realizing she was tacitly blaming me for my former husband’s cheating. I said, “Your mother had nothing to do with your father’s decision to cheat.” This called her thinking, from ages ago, into question. Apple cart upset. You could feel the wedge between us come down. Thanks, Dad.
    She didn’t see that 95mph curveball coming all these years later. Awkward silence followed by awkward change of subject. Let’s meditate on that for a moment. We’re still friends but I think we may have been joined by an elephant in the room.

    The enormity and scope of the damage of infidelity is far and wide and long and lasting. The loyalty problems created are staggering. Created by self-centered, stunningly oblivious and myopic fools, who have no idea how loyalty works in the first place. They infect everyone around them with their diseased fealty, insisting from the top of the human slag heap they caused that the injured innocents around them either shut up or pledge allegiance to abuse.

  • I have stage four terminal breast cancer. When asked if I could spend a little more time with the kids this summer my ex told me only if I am “more friendly” towards him. That would entail me making him look good by acting like it was a “happy mutual divorce”, and that he wasn’t cheating for years and years during my first bout with cancer. I am not his PR agent – nor his friend and the fact that he wants to barter for the time I have here shows you exactly what kind of person he is.
    When people say they get along great with their ex’s and are still friends I call bullshit, or think than why aren’t they still married if they get along so well, or that they never were very emotionally committed to the marriage anyways. Big red flags for me.

    • I’m sorry about your dx Sarah. How difficult and stressful it must be for you, even without a FW who wants you to be nice to him so you get more time with your kids. If that isn’t a very clear cut example of how f’ed up they are, I don’t know any.
      You owe him nothing at all, not in this life or any other. I hope he stops being an A-hole long enough to do the right thing by you. And I hope the ppl that love you make up for the gap he created.
      I’ve had breast cancer twice, 9 years apart in same breast. The second time I had bilateral mastectomies. ( 2009) My FW told me years later in a “ tell” that he wouldn’t have made it through my cancer if he didn’t have his mistress to support him. Lucky for him he had someone to turn to in difficult times, I got through it on my own.
      I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Love and peace coming at you.

    • Sarah my heart breaks for you. There are no words. I’m so sorry this is happening to you

    • Sarah, I am so sorry. Is there anyway you can get an emergency court order to get more time with your kids? I would so document that nastiness and get it in front of a judge ASAP. I’m sorry you have to deal with this on top of everything else. What a cruel motherfucker. I’d also make sure he’s not the beneficiary of ANYTHING. Big internet (((hugs))).

  • Recently heard and filed away:

    “There is a difference between talking shit about a person, and talking truth about shitty person.”

  • I take issue with the assumption that both me and X have the kids best interests in mind. I’ve had court mediators, therapists, friends, etc all day “well you both want what is best for your kids”.

    No. We don’t. X has shown with his actions that what is best for the kids doesn’t matter to him at all. Image management, winning, those matter. The kids are just satellites that are supposed to worship him and not have their own lives, thoughts, feelings, desires. And they’re not supposed to be happy when they’re not with him – they are supposed to be miserable. That is what he wants for our kids.

    Even excepting the gaslighting, the manipulation, the affair…how could I possibly even pretend to be friends with someone who is so horrible to our kids?

    Of course he’d love the validation of me pretending to be friends with him – but I love my kids too much to gaslight them like that (plus I am too authentic to fake it). And how in the world would it be better for my kids to do so?

    My now husband gets along well with his ex wife (and I do too). Difference – she actually does put the kids first. It starts there.

  • One of the major problems I have with the whole “being friends with cheating ex” is that I have friends already.

    These friends are, without exception, high quality people. They are honest, caring, kind, funny, supportive, and giving. They think about their words and actions, and how they might affect others. When my world fell apart, they gathered around me and helped me rebuild. Calling exH and his AP(s) my friends would be an insult to them.

  • Back in the 80’s, there was a magazine called Lifestyles of the Clean and Sober. There was an article I saved called “Is There A Recipe For Friendship?” It was a one or two page questionnaire outlining characteristics for assessing the health of friendships. I used it often over the years because like many people, I found the process making friends as an adult more challenging than when I was a child.

    I can tell you without looking at it that someone who betrays you and lies to you and cheats on you is a 100% fail.

    It’s not filed where it is supposed to be. It’s probably still in a pile on my desk from when I last looked at it, most likely after DDay five years ago.

    I’m pretty sure I told Chump Lady I’d get her a copy. I’ve found it extremely helpful over the years when deciding whether to move forward getting to know someone or head for the exit. When I find it I’ll send it along.

    In the meantime, there is a lot of helpful information that comes up if you Google “is there a recipe for friendship?” Trust is the common non-negotiable characteristic, and the very thing that cheaters lack and therefore disqualifies them.

    • Please find and share when you get a chance VH. I always look forward to your insight.

    • PS….

      Another element of discussions about post-cheating relationships that bothers me is THE LENGTH OF TIME that has passed since the violation, used to invalidate the violation.

      Again, to me, it speaks to how cheating is minimized and trivialized.

      When something happened does not expunge the violation, or give anyone the right to dictate how someone should feel about it.

      If someone burned my house down twenty years ago, I would never again consider being their roommate. Even if they were genuinely sorry about it.
      If someone took a sledgehammer and broke every bone in my body, I would not consider them a friend even “it happened a long time ago.”

      There is no shortage of people on the planet and no need to further gift a person who knifes me and with my extremely valuable non-refundable time.

      If this isn’t a permanent dealbreaker, I don’t know what is. Others are welcome to indulge in their mushy boundaries around other people. It is essential that I have my own back.

  • Finally on the subject of cheaters and friendship:

    Traitor Ex told me the night of DDay that he thought we (me, him, and the Craigslist cockroach) would all be friends.

    Not long after DDay, during the Fake Reconciliation period, he said I was his best friend. I was incredulous. He actually heard him say I was his best friend.

    This event caused me once again to revisit and evaluate my beliefs and standards around friendship.

    People who are cool with cheating define concepts like love and friendship and loyalty and happiness and kindness very differently than I do.

    I guess the main thing is that I get very clear on the qualifications of these concepts and watch to make sure those I associate share my beliefs about them.

  • SHE’S STILL GETTING SHIT FROM PEOPLE ABOUT NOT STAYING MARRIED TO HER CHEATER! Did anybody else pick up on that?! She STILL has to hear constantly that she should be with him, while he cheats on her, because she gets along with him for their children’s sake.

    STILL! How many years is it she’s been having these shit sandwiches smashed into her face and having to choke them down?!

    OMFG, I can’t even imagine. What a nightmare. I don’t have to deal with that at all because I don’t associate with him or any of his little friends. If that makes me immature, so be it. Her life sounds like a horrifying drama where everybody weighs in on how much she should really want to catch herpes, you know, for her children’s sake. Mine is drama free and peaceful. I’ll take mine.

    Oh, and I just wanted to say, the facebook group is not safe. There are cheaters and other whores lurking on there to report people. I told a woman awhile back that she did not have to be friends with the other woman because the other woman is basically a rapist. She helped that woman’s husband expose her to her vaginal fluids without her consent. I said you don’t ever have to be friends with your rapist.

    BAM! 30 days I was silenced on facebook for “bullying.” There are people reporting in there. Be aware everybody.

  • Also, my sister pulled up a picture of my ex and his adult baby girlfriend our son’s age on social media and was all, “They look happy…” like I was going to be happy for them. Well, they’re two pedophiles who found each other, I’m sure they are happy about that. She started giving me the whole, “relationships end, that doesn’t mean you have to hate each other, blah, blah, blach” speech when I spit at her, “He fucking said I was incestuous, who in our family am I supposedly fucking? YOU?!” and out of the corner of my eye I saw our waiter with his mouth gaping open and he stepped three or four steps backwards and then ran back to the kitchen. And I thought, oh shit, that was louder than I intended. He was perfectly composed when he came back though and I left him an over 50% tip.

    But like, seriously? All the evil things he said to me, horrible made up lies about me, talking about murdering me, etc. And I’m supposed to want to be his friend? Fucking why? I don’t associate with people like that. Why would I make an exception for one who harmed me directly? Fuck no.

  • What I don’t understand is why someone like Brandi would be hanging out and spending time with us Chumps? Is it that ex cheated? But they are now friends? And each acknowledge the part they played in the divorce? Sounds like the RIC claimed another victim.

  • Off topic, but had to laugh at “Go out and buy matching pajamas for your next blended family holiday photo and leave us the fuck alone.” My FW, his AP and her daughter all showed up in matching Christmas PJs on his social media. Our divorce had been official 11 weeks. My friends were absolutely horrified.

  • I am a psychotherapist and I am infuriated when peeps come into my office spuing these types of narratives against their spouses after they have cheated, lied, and changed their nasty little narrative. I use very unconventional methods, and I use this blog to redirect all my chumped clients (much to the consternation of my fellow colleagues) and to help clients get a very accurate perspective….Chump Lady, thank you for showing us the light, for revealing the sanctimonious B.S.

    By the way, I am a chump and the narrative just keeps changing that I deserved this and why can’t I just play nicely…I am a miserable person, etc. These FW’s and AP’s are bona fide Cluster B creeps. They do everything and anything to image management themselves in front of others. I often say to my clients….” the truth eventually becomes self-evident.” But in the meantime, it is okay to peace out and ignore the FW….their narrative is skewed.

  • “Friends with Your Ex Triumphalism” is right up there with RIC tropes about forgiveness and “Yeahsinglehandedly reconciling with your cheating spouse.” It’s about imagining that people who have been abused and cheated and betrayed should continue to demean themselves in service to the person who abused them.

  • I still haven’t had the guts to tell FW explicitly we’re not friends. When we called off the wedding he said let’s be friends and I said yes (because I’m a coward) but then essentially cut contact. He was always the type to expect me to beg him for any grain of affection or contact, so he didn’t reach out when I didn’t. He was busy, I assume, with OW and all the new women he’s busy “domming” (or so he keeps showing off to our mutual friends). I did meet him a couple times after because I missed him so much but was able to resist the pull of returning. (It is hard to resist). He reached out again a few months ago, talking about how depressed he is and how he is in very serious therapy for his problems and wants to apologize to me. I met him to discuss this (I know, I know) and it turned out the therapy was for his OCD and the “apology” was “if I have ever hurt you because of my mental illness I apologize”. I almost burst into laughter. “IF I HAVE EVER HURT YOU?” He knows PERFECTLY WELL how he has hurt me due to his “mental illness” (not once or twice but 100s of times). Expecting an apology but just getting gaslit AGAIN was almost hilarious. I turned it into a joke saying “does your therapist give you a twelve step token for “apologizing” to people?” (No offence to AA or any similar programs). And then I went full grey rock. He’s clearly upset about it but his pride won’t let him openly say it. I call this a win!

  • >
    %d bloggers like this: