I’m still mulling over some of the comments from my infamous More Bad Advice post. I had so much to say I decided it would be easier to chop it up into smaller parts. Today we’re going to talk about entitlement.
I’m one of those that doesn’t believe you need to be friends. In fact I’ll go one further and say I think this obsession to push others to remain friends with a person who has betrayed them so grievously is pure entitlement. Basically it comes down to this: I want to leave you for someone else (or just leave you). I get to lie and cheat and humiliate you. I want to take all my money with me when I go, and leave you penniless and struggling. While Schmoopie and the new kids are spared no expense. But I think it’s best for the kids if you still pretend I’m a great person and we’re best friends. Except really my fuck buddy will be the love of my life and best friend and I’ll give you whatever crumbs are left over. But you MUST accept these crumbs of friendship or it just proves to me that you are a bitter, rage filled person who can’t move on!
Seriously, folks. One of the consequences (there’s that ugly word again) of ending a relationship is that the other person may not want to have anything to do with you anymore. Deal with it! They don’t have to! They don’t have to meet you for coffee once a week to go over schedules. They don’t have to spend hours on the phone chatting with you about the kid/s. They don’t have to sit with you and any of your minions at any event for your shared child/ren. They don’t have to catch up with you on what Aunt Myrtle or Uncle Fred are up to, or how your mom is having bunion surgery or your best friend is getting married in Antigua when you exchange the kiddos. They don’t have to spend birthdays or holidays with you for the sake of the children. They don’t have to meet you and the new fuck buddy for dinner a few times a month to coordinate schedules and talk about the kids because, you know, you’re all in this together.
It doesn’t mean they’re horrible people. It doesn’t mean they’re bitter, angry, raging people who haven’t moved on and aren’t happy with their lives. It doesn’t even mean things have to be uncomfortable for the kids. It simply means you are no longer their friend and not someone they wish to spend any time with. You can drop kids off and be cordial. You can exchange necessary information without exchanging pleasantries. You can both show up for an event for the kids without sitting next to each other. You don’t get to demand a divorce and demand their friendship at the same time. As I have pointed out before, I don’t choose friends who lie to me, cheat on me, and betray my trust. Those are really bad friends. Choose better! You wouldn’t keep in contact with your kidnapper or your rapist so why does anyone feel the need to guzzle down a shit sandwich and play friends with their ex simply because you had children with that person?
It’s image management, folks! As long as you’re spooning up that shit sundae with the spoiled whipped cream and rancid cherry on top then they can pretend that whatever it is that they did is all perfectly okay. Would Barbara be willing to host me and my new fuck buddy for the holidays if I had hurt her and the kids? Would Greg sit with me and laugh and reminisce if I were a cold-hearted whore who hurt him immensely? Of course not! Therefore, I’ve done nothing wrong. If Barbara and Greg can forgive their cheating exes, or perhaps simply the person who chose to leave them while they sobbed on the floor and wondered what it is they did wrong, then who are any of you people to say that I’ve done wrong?
I was asked to consider that maybe there was room for Matt’s advice, and that not only might there be plenty of room for his advice, but that it might actually be the better way. I was asked if we, as women who have been wronged, shouldn’t be waving the banner for “something better” because, hey, that makes us better people, too.
I much prefer Chump Lady and her state of Meh. You don’t care what the ex is doing. You focus on your own life. You’re not angry. You’re not bitter. And while you’re not engaging in screaming matches at drop offs, or sending drunk texts or scathing emails, you’re not friends either. You are business-like and professional. You keep it brief and as cordial as possible. You’re so busy with your new and improved life that you don’t know and you don’t care what the ex is doing. You don’t have time to be friends with this person who once wrecked such havoc on your life because you’re busy being fabulous.
Again I will say that if going on vacation with the ex and his/her new family is what makes you feel all peaceful and hopeful then you go for it! If you take pride in the fact that nobody can even tell that the two of you are divorced because you do everything together, show up at all events together, work so well together, then you do you, boo. You won’t ever hear me say you absolutely shouldn’t. You might hear me say I wouldn’t and that I have absolutely no desire to do so.
The reality is I don’t feel that’s always the best way. I think kids should realize that there are consequences to their behavior. I think it’s good to model to your kids that you have good boundaries and you won’t let people walk all over you, even if that person who is trying to walk all over you is someone with whom you had children. I think it’s good to show your kids that you can end toxic relationships; hell, it’s good to show your kids that toxic relationships exist! I think it’s good that kids realize cheating is a horrible thing to do to your partner, that it hurts families, that it destroys lives, and that it is morally objectionable. I want my kids to know that there are deal breakers and sometimes, when you step all over another person’s deal breakers then that person might not care to associate with you anymore. That is their right. You got to choose to disregard their feelings; you got to choose to behave badly. They get to choose whether or not they wish to continue to have you in their life.