You hated that just there, didn’t you? I’m gonna say it again.
Okay. Now you say it. Except without turning into über-Bitch and screaming it at your bestie over the phone. (Which I did. Em’s first words: “Well, she’s the downgrade. Just thank God he’s not your problem anymore.” I love you, Em. LOL)
He has a new girlfriend. Calm down. It sucks to be you right now, but pour yourself a nice crisp shiraz and listen to me for a few minutes.
I’ve been there. That’s the primary reason I kicked my Assclown (yes, he knows I call him that) out the door — he had girlfriends. Plural. Neither of us pretended to be in love anymore with the other. That’s would’ve been a waste of time. He didn’t want to come back, and I sure as hell wasn’t asking him to. But there was… HER. All caps. HER.
RULE #1: What Happened Between You And Him Was Not Her Fault
Unless, of course, it was (she knew he was with someone and cheated with him or something like that). If that’s your sitch, just skip this part.
Seriously. It is waaaaaay too easy to blame her for everything. Let’s assume that she wandered into the picture a few weeks (or months) later, and is now dating your own Assclown. Understand this: she did not make him an idiot. Or emotionally cold. Or a workaholic. Or whatever it was that drove a wedge between you two. Him not wanting to discuss his feelings with you or choosing the guys over you happened long before she stepped in. Let him own his behaviour. Let him own his choices. What he did six months ago that ended your conubial bliss did not involve her. Don’t punish her for shit that she literally had nothing to do with and probably doesn’t even know about. That just makes you a bitch. And you don’t want her telling everyone you’re a bitch, do you?
Show yourself some respect, and protect your reputation. It’s hard to build a new one.
RULE #2: This Ain’t ThunderDome, And Facebook Is Not A Weapon
You will be well served by keeping your hands off social media until you settle. Twitter and Facebook, especially. Neither of those will serve you well, unless your goal is to make yourself look like a jealous loser who can’t let go of a man who evidentally does not want you anymore. And if you dumped him, complaining about him moving on is just some wacky what-the-fuckery. You don’t need to burden the guy you dated that one time in ninth grade with all your drama on FB. Or the ex’s family, if you’re still friends/followers. Sit on your hands, and wait out the urge to let everyone know just how much of a naive twit she is for dating your Assclown in the first place. See Rule #1.
RULE #3: She Will Eventually Meet Your Kids. Book Your Therapy Appointment Now.
Oh, this was a hard one for me. I kicked my Assclown out knowing there was at least one other woman he would run to. However, when less than two weeks later, he’s standing in the kitchen insisting that his “new” girlfriend meet our children after only four dates, I lost. My. Shit. Even he now admits that was a bad idea, and we had a pretty big scrap about it. The next — and current — girlfriend (for simplicity’s sake, I’ll just call her Newbie) didn’t get to meet them right away, again, because I kicked and screamed. I didn’t believe the relationship was serious enough to warrant including our children. He insisted it was. Aaaaaand that’s when the fight started.
So I threw a rule out there, and insisted he stick with it. You have to have dated someone for a least six months before they can meet the kids.
My assclown threw a fit, and I gloated. Both reactions were bullshit. Wanna know why?
Because neither of us were thinking about our kids, and that sucks.
Assclown just wanted what was easiest and best for him. It was far handier to not have split his free time up between his girlfriend and his kids, she could help him out with them, and, well, he wanted to show off what a stellar dad he was. [EDITOR’S NOTE: that’s a whole other blog post.] And I got to watch him suffer, which is a reward unto itself. Hell, I got popcorn, sat back, and giggled.
And I was wrong to do so.
Turns out Newbie isn’t all that bad. She has two adult children of her own, so she’s been there, done that. Nothing seems to shock her or gross her out. My kids genuinely like her, and I get the impression she genuinely likes them. I have very likeable kids, so why not? I’ve sat back and watched her actually care for them, making sure they get fed at a buffet dinner, or helping them learn to ride a bike. Just recently my kids started referring to her as their stepmom, and I — much to my own surprise — didn’t get worked up about it. She wants to help them grow into strong, responsible adults — why would I tell her to bugger off? Why would someone who wants to help my kids be amazing earn my wrath?
Ponder that for a moment.
RULE #3: Don’t Expect To Be Friends — Or Enemies
Basically, expect nothing. Expect to interact like normal human beings at the grocery store, dropping off/picking up the kids, and at the odd family thing like kindergarten graduation or ballet recital. Ignoring her might seem like a good idea at the time — look at you, being all “above that”! — but chances are you’re just making her feel small and unwelcome. And again, she’s not responsible for your Assclown’s behaviour while you were married (and still isn’t), so why would you make her feel like crap?
But you don’t have to go out of your way to chum up to her, either. That’s a lot to ask of anybody in a situation like that, you and her. My Assclown would’ve loved for us to go camping together, do family things together, all that jazz, until I basically told him to get bent and get real. Now, Newbie and I don’t act like jerks to one another’s faces just on principle, but she did snub me pretty hard when we first met (she refused to return my smile or shake my hand), and I know she’s said some pretty unkind things about me behind my back. I, thank the good Lord, have been cordial regardless, and the only thing I’ve ever said about her that isn’t nice is that she has bad taste in men (hah!).
And I gotta cut her some slack… I had to realize, too, that she’s only heard his side of the story, and has a pretty biased view. What has he actually told her? Is it the truth? Who’s to say? And does it really matter? Which leads us to Rule #4…
RULE #4 — Conduct Yourself With Honour
This is, by far, the hardest rule. Maybe you hate the bitch. Maybe she hates you. That’s fine. See Rule #3. But always, no exceptions, show respect to yourself, your friends, and your children by being “the bigger person”. That means you don’t complain about her behind her back (if you have a problem with her, either address it with her directly or talk to your ex). That means you don’t try to sabatoge her relationship with your Assclown (makes you look like a douche, and besides, like you want him back anyway… Gross). You don’t throw shade when you are required to be around one another, and that passive-agressive nastiness you have up your sleeve can go take a hike (“Love your dress! It was all the rage three years ago when I had one.”).
Side note: at an annual event that is pretty significant in our mutual social circle, Newbie and I ended up wearing the same cocktail dress. People who knew us watched and waited. I smiled, greeted her, and said, “Isn’t this just the best style ever? So flattering on so many people!”. And a great sigh of relief rippled across the hall. Crisis averted. Because I conducted myself with honour. They still talk about that, too.
Ugh. It’s a lot of work. And you’ll make mistakes. She’ll make mistakes. Your Assclown will make mistakes. But be brave. Be a role model for your kids. Show everybody how amazing you are. You won’t regret it.