How do I face the Other Woman?
June 29, 2008 5:40 PM   Subscribe

How do I face the Other Woman?

In recent months the decade long relationship between me and the love of my life began to crumble. It's demise was hastened in many ways by the existence of his friend, who used to be my friend too. She became the recipient of the affection, flirtation, and intimacy that was lacking in our relationship and this eventually led to a cataclysmic fight. We broke up and he immediately went into her arms for solace and comfort and physical affection.

Since then we have decided to give it another try and are currently in couples counseling, and we are making the first tentative steps towards repairing the things that are broken and reestablishing actual paths of communication. There is still a lot of pain and anguish, and a lot of things to be worked out, and things may not even be repairable, but that is not what this question is about.

She is still in our lives. They work together, we have friends in common (who do not know what went on and who do not need to know). I cannot avoid seeing her in a social setting forever. I can limit the frequency but sooner or later, at a work or friendly social gathering, I will have to face her, and the thought of seeing her, even the act of typing this question is putting a knot in the pit of my stomach. I want to scream at her and tear my hair out and run away as fast as I can and dissolve into tears and lock myself into a dark closet and punch her with all of my strength, all at once. I can't look at her, or think about her without thinking about all the things that happened, all the ways she contributed so heavily to this horrible mess that I find myself in now.

This isn't misdirected anger at her, I am hurt and angered and pained and saddened by the actions of both of them, who both knew better but let things get too far anyways, they both share the blame for what happened. But she was supposed to be my friend, and she saw us broken and worn down and devastated over the breakdown of our relationship and she could have removed herself from the equation, but chose not to, and I cannot help but feel betrayed by her as well.

So what on earth can I possibly tell myself, or think, or do, that can help me face her at the next dinner party? I can see other friends and dodge invitations, but not forever, and not without making it an even bigger deal, and denying myself the company of my own friends at parties and birthdays and holidays. How can I make small talk and smile and endure, knowing how large a contribution she made to the heartbreak in my life of late?
posted by deadlypenguin to Human Relations (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
you don't have to pretend otherwise if it really makes you feel like shit
posted by matteo at 5:43 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]

Unfortunately, there is no easy way of dealing with this.

But the work is all going to have to be on your end, unfortunately. You can avoid talking to her directly, of course.. but your social situations will have to be dealt with. You're going to have to find a way to think about the situation that doesn't damage you, or get help doing so. A bit of cognitive therapy may go a long way, but it's in your court.

That doesn't help much, I imagine. I'm sorry. It's about all you can do, though.
posted by Gideon at 5:49 PM on June 29, 2008

There is no reason to pretend what happened didn't happen, and you have every right to let her know exactly how you feel about what she did - I would encourage it - especially if she is going to continue to be in your social circle. Don't pretend, pretending doesn't fix anything. Confront the issue - be brave, you'll get through this.
posted by Drama Penguin at 5:49 PM on June 29, 2008

Your significant other is the one who made the choice to run to her, even knowing she was your friend. He is now working on his stuff. Perhaps you can focus on that, or focus on her being there caring about him rather than her wanting to rip your guts out, even tho that is what did happen.

Can you do what I did, years ago? Invite her to a private lunch and talk it out.
posted by konolia at 5:59 PM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Stand up and straight and tall, look her in the eye and take the high road. It's difficult, but I think you will find it will help ease the pain. I went through a similar situation, however, I could not bring myself to ever speak to my "friend" again. But, I was able to look her in the eye and move on. As devastated as you feel right now, time will heal your heartbreak.
posted by wv kay in ga at 6:00 PM on June 29, 2008

You could put it down in a letter. That will give you some distance to consider what you want to say, spare you the pain/drama of a direct confrontation, and it (largely) avoids turning this into a spectacle at a social gathering with mutual friends.

It's not like you would have to send the letter either. At minimum, it'll give you an opportunity to organize your feelings privately.
posted by Weebot at 6:05 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]

Consider that it might be better to first meet with her privately rather than in the company of your mutual friends. If you're able to be relatively civil to one another and get some things out in the open, it might diffuse a situation which could otherwise fester in the company of others and lead you to never feel comfortable in those situations. Of course, if you anticipate that there will never be the opportunity for civil interaction then mixed company might be better - this scanario is probably untenable over the long term, however, and something will have to give. Odds are that everyone in your peer group knows the situation already and they will probably try to diffuse that confrontation for a while - at the expense of both social lives. This is another reason to meet face to face. However, if the situation does arise it's probably best to defer to your judgement at the time. It's not necessary to be falsely polite, but then it probably won't get you anywhere to air personal issues in front of others in a big knock-down drag-out scene. If you really feel strongly about it when you eventually see her, it might be a good idea to pull her aside in private and say what you need to say. Chances are she feels even more threatened than you do. It's a very hard thing to do, but consider that she is likely in emotional turmoil as well, and that a bit of compassion can often diffuse a situation like this.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:07 PM on June 29, 2008

Understanding your perspective, you must understand some ultimate truths....
First, you cannot possess what you love.
Second, you must put yourself first in your own life.

If he is sincere (about reconciling), then you have nothing to fear, and if he is not sincere you'll find out sooner than later.

As for her... as you know, you must face your fears. You should arrange a meeting with her... (we're all adults here, and the best defense is a good offense). However, silence is golden, so I'd suggest to let her talk & then afterwards you'll tell her the way it is. It's a more productive path when you deal with that what troubles you the most, in a direct manner.

History has been known to repeat itself... also always be prepared for the unexpected.

You will do fine.
posted by foodybat at 6:07 PM on June 29, 2008

This is horribly hard and while people who are telling you not to pretend have a point, I understand perfectly why you don't want to let everyone one else in your circle of friends/coworkers know what went on. It's none of their business and worse, they might want to vote on your relationship with your partner.

Here's how I handled having to see someone I really just wanted to hit and scream at, it might work for you.

First, write a long, long, letter to her, saying everything you want to say, in the meanest, vilest way possible. Tell her her parents and children secretly hate her, that sort of thing. You can write this letter as often as you want.

Then, use creative visualization to make yourself used to the idea of seeing her. Right now, your body goes into fight/flight response at the idea of her. Sit in a quiet, safe space, where you won't be disturbed. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing for a while, then picture yourself at a party where you have to talk to her. Your pulse rate will probably go straight up, and that's fine. Just keep breathing. At first (do this regularly, every few days) you'll probably have to stop at just seeing her, but eventually work in the picture of yourself, responding to her in a perfectly calm, cool way. Picture the two of you in various situations, and picture yourself being fine.

Over time, you'll get used to the idea of seeing her so that when you do, you will be able to act as if nothing is wrong. You don't have to be friendly, she can know just how you feel, but you can be perfectly self-possessed, which is really what you are.

Someday, when a lot more time has passed, picture yourself with her again at a party, and picture her turning into a helium balloon and drifting up into the atmosphere, out of your life completely. She will be as nothing to you, someday.
posted by smoakes at 6:10 PM on June 29, 2008 [13 favorites]

Sorry, I missed the bit about your friends not knowing. I didn't mean to suggest that it would have still found its way into gossip.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:13 PM on June 29, 2008

How can I make small talk and smile and endure, knowing how large a contribution she made to the heartbreak in my life of late?

Where I in this situation, I would not make small talk or attempt to keep things quiet. I would be honest with my anger and hatred of this other person. I would either state this, matter of factly ("I'm not talking to him, because he fucked the love of my life when we were having problems. So how's your life been going?") or mention it when it came up in conversation. I would not be overly dramatic about it. This would create awkward situations, and potentially smash social circles. That's beyond my control. After all that had happened I'm be too emotionally exhausted to hide much of anything and I'd be content to let the chips fall where they may. 'Cause there's not fucking way in the world that I'm going to continue walking on eggshells 'cause a supposed friend helped sabotage my relationship. They started this affair, they can deal with the fucking consequences.

Not communicating is how this situation got to be what it is. Being honest would be the only way to deal with it. YMMV.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 PM on June 29, 2008

I would snub her completely and when asked by friends, I would say "she knows what happened." Then I'd completely refuse to discuss the subject.
posted by sondrialiac at 6:44 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]

My advice presumes that coming around to an honest, real understanding about what went on and eventually moving on to a friendship beyond this is hopeless; or at least, this is advice you can take in the meantime.

I would hold a mental funeral for my old friend and then consider her a new, distant acquaintance whenever I had to see her. She's a coworker of your partner, and a friend of your friends, and you can deal with her as you would anyone else in that role whom you barely knew and never expected to know better.

I once found myself repeatedly in social situations with a friend I was very mad at. I'd tried telling her how I felt and was then in the process of giving up on the friendship. But all my other friends were in the same social circle, and people rarely got together one-on-one, they only did group activities, so like you, I knew I had to hang out with her.

I tried ignoring her, and I tried excusing myself when she arrived, and I tried just sequestering myself in different sub-conversations. All those made me feel bad: mean, on edge, anti-social. What worked best for me was to imagine her as a new acquaintance. (She is, right? She was not the friend I thought she was.) I imagined myself something like a hostess. This helped me be polite and engaging; taking that role even made me feel gracious and sympathetic toward her; and yet I could stay completely emotionally closed.
posted by salvia at 6:46 PM on June 29, 2008 [8 favorites]

By the way, if you think there's any chance that she might also be wanting to avoid you now, I'd take the opportunity to claim the group turf for myself -- RSVP early, tell everyone you'll be there, and hold events at your house.
posted by salvia at 6:49 PM on June 29, 2008 [5 favorites]

I don't know if it will help in a situation this big but when I am faced with someone doing something harmful or hurtful I remind myself that people who do harmful or hurtful things are suffering. Someone who is healthy and happy would not make the choice she did; someone who is healthy and happy would not betray a friend in such a core way.

I'm sorry this happened to you. You suffered great loss on a number of fronts - including the loss of being able to move comfortably in your own social life. You're paying a big price for their choices, which is too bad. Good luck.
posted by orsonet at 7:04 PM on June 29, 2008

Often when I have had similar feelings to yours, I have had a dream where I expressed everything I wanted to say. When I wake up, I feel entirely better. It's very strange, but it has always worked. Once I get it off my chest in the dream, it doesn't bother me anymore.

You can't force yourself to have a dream. However, the idea expressed by others above, that you should visualize or write letters, might be just as helpful.
posted by Nattie at 7:09 PM on June 29, 2008

If he is sincerely interested in continuing in your relationship, he is going to find another job.

If you are sincerely interested in continuing your relationship, insist upon it.

This one is not negotiable.

Couples counseling, being grown-up, standing tall -- all of this is well and good. But as it stands right now, he sees her, probably every day; you're walking around with a knife in your chest, they're talking it all out, maybe over lunch. This has to stop.

This woman knows more about you and your relationship -- in the most devastating way -- than anyone should know about you and your relationship, aside from maybe a therapist. You have every right to insist that he cut all contact with her. Now. As in -- Now.

Lay this on the table and you'll find out if he is interested in your relationship and in cutting all ties with her. If he hesitates, for even fourteen seconds, all the couples counseling in the world won't take the knowledge from you that he places you pretty low on his priorities.

Then. You AND him, you sit down with her, if she has the jam to do this. Hold them to account. You tell her, in his presence -- you tell them I guess -- that this was a horrific lapse in social grace, tell how much fun it is to walk around with a knife in your chest, tell her that when you see her in social settings it's "Hello. Goodbye." And he tells her, in your presence, that he is not going to be part of her life any more. That it is You You You, and no one but you, that he is putting everything into your relationship. If he hesitates, for even fourteen seconds... Well, you know the rest.

Get a therapist of your own, also -- it's therapy, as in when I had those heart attacks, I had therapy, to rebuild, to get stronger; it's a process, not an event.

I'm with you -- I don't know if this thing can be saved or not. But without these things happening, it hasn't a chance. IMO.

I'm sorry you're having to negotiate this just now -- a horror show.

Good luck.

I wish you peace.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:48 PM on June 29, 2008 [17 favorites]

Maybe this isn't realistic, but let me throw this out there nonetheless. Imagine yourself thinking these things about her:

1) She is so much like you. She also really cares for your man, just like you, and she wanted to help him when things were so difficult for him.

2) Poor woman. She loves your man, but she only got that short fleeting taste of his affection. For the rest of her life she will envy you your husband. Pity her.

If you thought about the situation this way, how would that change having to face her?
posted by Meatbomb at 8:03 PM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

I went through pretty much exactly this, years ago, and even though the marriage is long ended (we made up after the affair. It lasted about 16 months more and then the cracks that were already there finished it altogether) and the two of them never did end up together, I still have trouble seeing her. Which I still have to, at weddings and funerals and the like. We're essentially family. Like wv kay I just stood up straight and dealt with it - I said, "Hello." and I turned around and walked away and that was more or less the sum total. In the last 14 years, there's been a bit more communication - her brother, who was a close friend of mine, died a year or so after all this; another mutual close friend died quite recently - but even that interaction was limited to pretty much, "I'm so sorry. Isn't this terrible?"

She has never wanted to be around me any more than I've wanted to be around her, so remember that. This woman is not exactly going to be seeking you out and basically avoiding her and then cutting her dead when you do see her may be easier than you think. But don't push yourself, either. I took my own sweet time before I was ready to confront her (after the screaming was all over, that is,) and if that meant that I or she missed some parties, well, tough. You do have a total right to demand that your partner not see her at all for a while, by the way, work or no work. He can cut interaction with her to a bare minimum and he damn well better.

It helps that my friends do know what happened - everyone knew, which has its own issues, but in the long run I think it was better. There were no whispered comments and no behind our backs commentary - it was pretty damn clear cut what had happened and so I had a lot of love and support from my friends. Sometimes, I tell you, it helps to have the moral high ground and I vote for using it when you've got it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:50 PM on June 29, 2008

I've got a secret you don't know yet--you already have all the resources you need to handle this. We're the product of millions of years of evolution--our anscestors were attacked by big cats, they escaped lava eruptions and lived through earthquakes--they survived these things because they had powerful emotional resources for dealing with these things. You have them too--and they will kick in at the right moment and you will know what to do right when you need them to. You can't predict the variables involved, so you can't really plan for it, no matter what you do.

Thus, your problem isn't dealing with what to do in the future, it is dealing with the anxiety you face now about what will happen later.

The answer to that involves recognizing that you are dealing with an anxiety problem, not a problem of how to relate and reminding yourself of those human emotional resources which you have in obvious abundance. In short, you have to develop trust in your own ability to deal with whatever the world hands you.

I'm so sorry you have had to face this.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:40 PM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Don't sweat it; our ancestors were attacked by big cats, they escaped lava eruptions and lived through earthquakes . . .

[On preview -- beaten to the punch by Ironmouth!]

Okay, I hear where most of you are coming from, but let me suggest a slightly different approach, sort of a twist on the meatbomb hypo. I would try to imagine her sympathetically and then try to release the anger.

She has done you wrong, certainly, from your perspective, and probably in any objective sense as well. But she was weak when she shouldn't have been and acted selfishly. This was hurtful and surprising; we expect that there are points at which even friends will behave in a way that advances their interests over ours, but it's never nice to see it, and we don't think it'll be about anything as grave as this. Perhaps she though it was the love of HER life? Perhaps she now realizes it was a terrible mistake? Perhaps she thinks she cannot make amends? Pretend that these things are so, and pretend that she has already apologized.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:04 PM on June 29, 2008

Pretend that these things are so, and pretend that she has already apologized.

What the fuck? No. Look, every answer here but dancestoblue's has been pure insanity. His continuing to work with her and socialize with her is completely unacceptable. And the fact that he hasn't already left his job and kicked her out of his life tells me that he does not give a shit about you, and that the moment things get tough again he'll be right back in her arms. Most people are weak-willed, pathetic, predictable creatures.

If he has not already told you that she is out of his life, and has demonstrated such to a degree with which you are completely comfortable, then I cannot strongly recommend enough that you give up all hope of reconciliation and find yourself a man instead of a sniveling worm.

And if you see her in a social setting, you don't owe her anything more than a "Fuck you." Tell your friends that she's a lowlife and that they should watch their boyfriends and husbands around her. She deserves no mercy. And frankly, neither does he.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:49 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]

Couples counselling and all the talk in the world achieves nothing if she's still in your lives. If I were you, I'd be telling my partner that the only possible chance you have of making this work is if neither of you have any contact with this woman again. If this involves him quitting his job, then that's what he has to do. I would ask him to have a conversation with her that goes something like this,

"Deadlypenguin and I are working on repairing our relationship and as such we can't have you in our lives any more. I'll be quitting my job to ensure this.

Sharing a circle of friends is difficult and deadly penguin has suffered enough without having to lose her friends as well in order to not have to see you so what I will ask is that you make yourself scarce if you know we'll be around. We have no desire to air our dirty laundry in public but if she sees you there, there's no telling what might happen and you REALLY don't want that so my advice is that you lay low, or find another group of friends. Otherwise there will probably be repercussions. Neither of us should have shown such disprespect to her, and it's now up to us to try and repair this, so this is what we need from you. Please never contact us again."

I'm sure some might say it's harsh that the other woman could lose her friends but on the other hand, why should you. And trust me, this woman will make herself scarce rather than have a gigantic confrontation that will expose all of this. Even if you're not the type to do this, let her think you are. If she doesn't leave (unlikely) once word gets out, she'll feel so uncomfortable her won sense of shame will make her feel unwelcome, much less your friends' reactions.

If your partner isn't prepared to do any of this, you've lost him already. But you need to fight for your relationship because if you don't, she's just there waiting and she needs to know that she's lost in no uncertain terms. I wish you all the best. Let us know how it goes.
posted by Jubey at 11:15 PM on June 29, 2008

You guys are in therapy about this. I suggest bringing this up to your shrink in your session, either with or without your SO there.

What needs to be worked out is that this woman has caused you a shit-ton of anguish, and yet your SO continues to socialize with her and work alongside her. I'm assuming he sees nothing wrong with that-- which isn't a big endorsement for his rationality at the moment. You're not rational at the moment either, because the mere thought of this woman causes you all this stress-- as well it fucking should, honestly-- so you're not the person to make the boundaries clear to him here.

I think the shrink needs to explain why causing you all this anxiety and upset isn't a bright idea, if your SO wants to keep you in his life. It might be good for you to meet in a private session and go over your own feelings about this, too, and work out some strategies for dealing with the Other Woman until such time as you and your SO figure out where the boundary between your relationship and her presence is drawn.

Honestly, I'm with dancestoblue and Optimus here-- based on your description of the situation, this guy is saying he wants to work on your relationship, but his actions don't seem congruent with his words. The Other Woman ought to have the native grace to shut up and withdraw, too, but she seems pretty tactless (after all, she happily consented to an affair with your SO), and thusly you can't count on her to just bow out and minimize her presence.

Good luck, though. You're obviously deeply committed to your SO, and I hope you find what you need out of this upsetting situation.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:18 PM on June 29, 2008

Does your SO talk about what it's like working with her, post-affair? It may give you clues to how she's handling BEING the other woman. If I was her, I'd feel like an a-hole for having screwed over a friend, and would want to beg your forgiveness. If that's the case it'd probably take her a while to muster the courage and she might be trying to gauge how you are before she makes her move.

If, on the other hand, it seems like she's still after your guy, then yeah, I'd be cutting her off entirely and making some ultimatums.
posted by mooza at 1:08 AM on June 30, 2008

Dancestoblue has the answer.
posted by mistsandrain at 5:22 AM on June 30, 2008

Dancestoblue: If he is sincerely interested in continuing in your relationship, he is going to find another job.

If you are sincerely interested in continuing your relationship, insist upon it.

This one is not negotiable.

1. It is not clear whether the fact that they "work together" means that they inhabit the same office, or that they probably see each other every day.

2. It is not clear that the OP's other, or the other woman, have any continuing interest in one another. If they don't, this is cosmetic. If they do, this is cosmetic.

3. Jobs don't grow on trees. People forced to change jobs or careers not infrequently resent it; maybe even in this case, where the dude seemed to have changed his behavior meaningfully after a break-up (rather than cheating, physically, before) and now seems to be trying to work things out.

4. I guess I am a milquetoast, and I hope not an apologist for the dude's behavior. But absolutist advice like this ("This has to stop"; "Now. As in -- Now.") greets every relationship question around here, without fail, and almost always without critical info, as though there's a premium on machismo. It pushes my buttons.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:27 AM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]

+1 Clyde Mnestra. I don't believe Dancestoblue has the answer at all. What you do need to do is try not to be so intense about everything. This takes time and effort. You're in a bad situation I'm afraid but you'll have to learn to detach yourself from it all somehow.

Another point is that if you stay in this relationship you will have to deal with this resentment for the rest of your life. Life's really too short for this kind of thing. IMHO, better to make a clean break, acknowledge there are issues, seperate, use it to learn and grow as a person and live your own life. Make new friends and discover new interests. It's a pretty big world.
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 7:46 AM on June 30, 2008

Add me to the group who thinks the extreme, hardcore advice being offered by many in this thread is unhelpful and unrealistic.

I mean, the OP's guy has to quit his job as a non-negotiable point? I truly admire some of you if you are so highly employable and/or financially independent to where you can quit your jobs on a whim and not having to worry about such trivialities like eating, paying rent, staying on top of bills, etc, or live in a place where if you quit one job another one just like it that pays equally well is right around the corner. If the OP's partner and the woman in question were co-workers at a fast food franchise, where it would be easy to slip into another similar paying position elsewhere, I could possibly see this advice being valid, but among grown up people with grown up jobs, this isn't nearly as easy (or even possible) as some are making it sound.

I'm also not sure the "other woman" is the villain some are making her out to be. Unless I'm reading the question wrong, the OP and her partner broke up prior to the relationship between her partner and this woman becoming physical. Seriously, this woman isn't allowed to date a guy who is single and unattached? I realize the OP says this woman was a friend of hers, but there is no indication if this was a close friendship or more of an acquaintance, friend of friends-type relationship which makes a big difference, in my opinion. I realize all of us have our own "unwritten" rules of etiquette about who is allowed to date who and when, but it is entirely unrealistic to assume or expect that everyone else on the planet subscribes to those same laws.

The best way to get over something like this isn't by being overdramatic, by going on a smear campaign to try to sour this woman's reputation as best as possible amongst her coworkers and friends, attempting to arrange unlikely mafia-style sit-downs with this woman where she sits quietly and patiently while the OP and her partner lay down the law to her while she mousily sits there taking it. The way to deal with something like this is by being an adult, realizing her partner has chosen her instead of this other woman, which is likely punishment enough for the "other woman" and being polite and acting like a grown-up should the two every see each other in a social setting. Sometimes taking the high road is the best revenge
posted by The Gooch at 9:11 AM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]

Quitting his job is not really an option. They see each other all the time but it's purely work, no socializing. The main event happened after a drag out blow down fight and it's unclear whether we were broken up then or not-he thought we were, I honestly don't know-but things had gone well past flirting long before then and she encouraged it. She doesn't want to date him but (I strongly believe) would not be averse to having things return to the way things were before.

Things are more complicated than what I've said, of course.
posted by deadlypenguin at 11:29 AM on June 30, 2008

Add me to the group who thinks the extreme, hardcore advice being offered by many in this thread is unhelpful and unrealistic.

Quitting his job is not really an option.

It's always an option, but I'm not going to fight you on that point. That's fine. Some people will choose financial stability over their relationships. I know because once I did exactly that, and was exactly in your shoes, and I wish that someone had given me the advice then that I gave you now, deadlypenguin.

I don't know everything, but I do know what absolutely did not work for me. And I doubt that continuing your relationship with this man while he still works and socializes with the other woman (it's never just work; you know this) will end well for you. I hope it will, but I'm a realist now. Best of luck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:08 PM on June 30, 2008

Please don't limit yourself by calling him the love of your life. If you were the love of his life he probably would not have cheated on you before your argument or run into her bed after a fight. If you started dating in your teens or early twenties then this is definately not the love of your life unless you are one of the 1% of people that are fully mature and secure in your own identity and had extensive relationships and experiences. Sometimes it is hard to let a long term relationship go because of pride and the fairytale myth that we all have only one true love.

I don't think cheating is necessarily unforgivable or a relationship-killer but only if the cheater honestly repents his ways (his excuse that he thought both of you had broken up does not excuse immediately having sex with someone else and indicates that he does not yet fully own his behaviour). He has chosen to continue to see her everyday (she gets him for eight hours a day, how many awake hours do you get?) and knows the pain and humilation (it is probably not the secret you think it is, workplaces are very gossipy) he is causing you but doesn't care enough to give her up.

She must not have apologised to you or promised to never have such a lapse in judgement again, which would make me think she would be happy to be the re-bound girl. In your shoes. I would feel blackmailed, if you press any serious issues in the relationship he can hold up the trump card of you being easily replaceable. You are NOT replaceable - you need to know you are the only woman for him and he isn't providing you that security now.

You will survive.

When you see her, hold your head up high!
posted by saucysault at 3:44 PM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

+1 vote for intensity. I have never had anything but emotional pain and exhaustion from trying to deal with people my body was telling me not to deal with. That zen attitude may work for some people, but for the rest of us, 'fake it till you make it' (and the overwhelming social consensus towards this notion) just amounts to a claustrophobic social pressure. Add to the honesty of the world instead; deal with your consequences now, and in context, rather than later and internalised.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:29 PM on July 5, 2008

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