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No Contact Includes Not Keeping Tabs on your Ex Via Facebook, Twitter, Blogs or MySpace


For those of you who are following the No Contact Rule and have stopped calling, emailing, texting and staging accidental run-ins or have stopped responding to calls, emails, texts and are actively avoiding probable run-ins, congratulations! It’s difficult to remove the hooks of an abusive ex—especially if they’re personality disordered (e.g., narcissistic, borderline, histrionic or sociopathic).

If you’ve recently broken up with a crazy and/or abusive wife or girlfriend, the No Contact Rule is explained in the following articles:

Many readers have shared that while they’ve been able to go no contact and stop telephonic and electronic communication with their exes, they’re still visiting their exes’ Facebook, MySpace and other social network pages, blogs and Twitter feeds. I hate to break it to you, but visiting your ex’s various web pages—even if there’s no interaction—is a form of contact and is just as unhealthy as talking, emailing or texting with her. Stop it, stop it, stop it.

Visiting your ex’s web pages is worse than going through your old scrapbook, photos, letters or emails or mentally revisiting whatever happy moments or infrequent episodes of normalcy that you shared. These events are in the past. Actively remembering them is an unhealthy and masochistic form of nostalgia.

Keeping yourself abreast of her current activities online creates fresh pain for you every time you do it. The same holds true for well-intentioned news updates. If friends, colleagues or family members are carrying tales about her latest misadventures, respectfully and firmly tell them that you prefer not to hear about her anymore. The pain is supposed to stop once the relationship ends. Monitoring your ex’s ongoing shenanigans has several unhealthy and unproductive consequences.

1. Rubbing salt in your wounds. An abusive narcissistic, histrionic, borderline or unspecified crazy ex will use her online presence to:

  • Rub your nose in her brand new, “most amazing boyfriend ever!
  • Rub your nose in her “new found happiness and peace” that she’s never known before.
  • Trash you publicly.
  • Use your old photos, etc., as normalcy props.

Observing these four behaviors or some variation of them will only hurt you and/or make you crazy, so stop taking the bait.

2. Giving you a false sense of connection. When a relationship ends, most people need to go through a distancing period in order to recover from the loss. If your ex wasn’t abusive and your relationship was basically healthy, perhaps you can be friends some day in the future. A relationship with an abusive person is neither healthy nor normal. Therefore, there is no basis for a future friendship.

Perhaps she’ll keep you on a string for future ego boosts or to torment you if she’s bored, but that’s not friendship—it’s more of the same old same old that caused the relationship to unravel in the first place. Keeping tabs on her keeps you connected to her; even if it’s only morbid curiosity. Surely there’s a better way to spend your time that will help you feel good.

3. Giving you new information to ruminate upon. Again, there are better ways to spend your time. If you really want her out of your heart, mind and life, keeping abreast of her most recent train wrecks and distortions is not the way to do it.

4. Falling into the trap of analysis paralysis. This is another form of unproductive rumination. Why is she like this? Why couldn’t she be happy with me? What’s wrong with her? What could I have done differently? How could she move on so quickly with another guy? Why does she still have photos of us together on her profile? Why? Why? Why?

You can torture yourself endlessly with these questions. Over-analyzing her and the relationship is not the way forward. It won’t change anything. Furthermore, if trying to make meaning out of her crazy and meaningless behavior isn’t bringing you peace and closure, you need to knock it off.

There may very well be good reasons why your ex is the way she is. Ultimately, however, the reasons why she is abusive do not matter. What matters is how she treats the people she claims to love. Abuse is wrong no matter the reasons. There’s no excuse for abuse. It’s a slippery slope from finding excuses for her abusive behavior and making excuses and enabling her abusive behavior.

5. Keeping your anger and hurt alive. She’s not worth your sanity and your happiness. You have a right to be angry for the way she treated you. However, nursing your anger by finding new reasons to be upset is not productive. Feel your anger. Express it in healthy ways and then let it and her go.

6. Continuing to feed the beast it’s favorite treat: Attention. Even if you don’t respond to her online attention seeking behavior, you’re still giving her attention by visiting these sites.

Legitimate Reasons to Keep Social Media Surveillance. There are some legitimate reasons to keep tabs on your ex via the Internet. For example, if you’re gathering evidence for a divorce and/or custody case, if she is making physical threats and you need evidence for a restraining order or if you want to file a libel lawsuit for an online smear campaign/cyberstalking. If you aren’t compiling evidence for an impending court case, to initiate a protective order or because you’re concerned about your children’s welfare, there’s no reason to visit her profiles (including Internet dating profiles), blogs or follow her Tweets.

Outta Sight, Outta Mind.

Perhaps this isn’t true at first, but it’s the ultimate goal. Unless visiting her web pages makes you feel good—i.e., “I’m so glad I’m not with this wingnut anymore“—or you’re gathering evidence for legal purposes, there’s absolutely no reason to do so. Find a buddy to IM, call or hang out with when you feel tempted to click the mouse. Go for a run. Play a video game. Find something to distract yourself with until the urge passes and you feel strong again. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.

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  1. aussie male
    April 13, 2010 at 11:10 am

    hello everybody
    my ex is exactly the same but worse !!!!
    i,m an avid reader of this forum ,, i begin to wonder that the posts i,ve read that most comments are very similar in description regarding the crazy ex”s
    however,, does anyone have an answer why these women behave this way??
    they abuse ,humilate , stalk ,spread rumors ,ruin friendships & familys
    also with horiffic intentions ,, then theres the aftermath ,,
    why ?? why the hell does this happen ,, i mean they are grown women behaving like teenagers ,, WHY ????

    • Mr. E
      April 13, 2010 at 4:53 pm

      “Why?”

      Well, to make it simple: Because they’re nuts, and acting that way gets them whatever it is they want, and getting what they want is all that matters to them.

      • Closure, At last
        April 13, 2010 at 7:07 pm

        ‘Why?’ Because it’s not even that they act like ‘teenagers’ – that’s the excuse these women walk away with as they are women. BP/HP/NP women are nothing but the female version of the psychopath who escaped the radar while the male psychopaths became criminals/cult leaders etc. I’m reading a very good book recommended by a Harvard neuroscientist friend of mine which explains that the lack of empathy seen in the brains of sociopaths is the closest to those displayed in NP/BPs et al. Plain and simple. Female soiopaths who murder souls in relations.
        Like male psychopaths hone their skills by abusing animals before turning on people, the females hone their skills by being the mean girls in school and work who bully the gentler good-hearted girls. Just because they are women they get termed ‘bitchy’, ‘mean’ etc. and get a light rap, if at all. The cold truth is that it is pure and simple cold-blooded psychopathy. These creatures are INCAPABLE of empathy. Think of the male murderers? Stalking, manipulating, charming,destructive,murderous? The women psychopaths do the SAME when you think of it – they push you to suicide if possible and commit soul-rape or soul-murder if not actual murder. Same thing, different gender.
        Avoid, learn and keep away!! And they come in all shapes and sizes. Not all beauties are bad and not all plain-janes are good. And vice versa. So follow Dr. Tara’s posts on the tell-tale signs to spot these psychos and remember the first red flag is their INSECURITY. Don’t fall for it or the ‘rescue’ line – you’ll be the one who’ll need security from them later.

        • shrink4men
          April 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm

          Hi Closure at Last,

          I’ve been meaning to say “hi” and give you a tremendous thank you for participating in the conversation threads here the last few weeks. I apologize for not doing so sooner. I greatly appreciate your presence, helpful comments and important information you share. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay on top of all the comments and I always feel bad when I don’t. Also, I wish WP had a better way to organize comment in terms of what I’ve responded to and what I haven’t responded to yet.

          I totally agree that the terms BPD, NPD, and HPD are often given to women who are sociopaths. If they were men, their usual bag of bad behaviors would absolutely be labeled as sociopathy. I’ve long believed that Borderlines are the female equivalent of male sociopaths. That’s right, BPD individuals, BPD enablers and enabler groups, I said it. In many cases, borderlines are full blown sociopaths and should be incarcerated just like their male counterparts.

          You can’t save them or rescue them. The only person you can save or rescue is yourself. The amount of money and hours you spend trying to help them or make the relationship work is better spent elsewhere. By “helping them,’ you’re actually enabling them. In order for them to get better—if that’s even possible and, in many cases, I don’t believe it is—they have to do the heavy lifting in order for treatment to be effective; not you.

          These women don’t need saving. What they need is a tranq dart and a restraining order.

          Cheers,
          Dr T

          • Marvin
            April 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm

            Dr. T:

            That last sentence is funny except it should be a prescription that is abbreviated:

            “TDRO”

            When someone leaves one of these wackjobs and the shitstorm is about to fall the prescription would be a TDRO. So when the person left and told his friends that he just dumped his psycho ex, he can say, “right before she opened her mouth and right before I left I gave her a TDRO” and everyone would know what he is talking about:).

          • Closure, At last
            April 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

            Thank you SO much, Dr. Tara, for your acknowledgement and kindness. It means a lot. It does. You have put in so much wisdom and straight-up sensible talk in your posts, they are very therapeutic. I’ll be writing you directly in an e-mail sometime soon.
            -Closure at last/Reason.

          • mgh
            April 15, 2010 at 12:46 am

            Ugh……That was sooooo sobering!! I hope I can sleep tonight. Spot On!!

            Dr T…..we have needed you for years!!

            Blessings……..Keep it Up!!

        • Mellaril
          April 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm

          Herve Cleckley didn’t title his book on psychopaths, “The Mask of Sanity” for nothing.

          Cleackley was a pretty sharp cookie….

    • Chris
      April 14, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      I think a lot of people wonder “WHY?” as if the motives of a BPD/NPD significant other were normal. What this site has taught me is that it’s futile to try to understand why these people act the way they do through the eyes of a normal, well adjusted person. I actually understand how they think now even though it makes no real sense, it only makes sense in their own sense of reality. You have to understand their whacked out version of reality to understand their motives. If you do begin to understand their motives you will see how truly screwed up they are.

  2. menofhonor
    April 13, 2010 at 8:57 am

    To Kirk g..then the director says cut! ROTFLMAO. OMG, how true.

  3. kirk g
    April 13, 2010 at 4:07 am

    here is my assesment of rose in grade card form: – LILY’S GRADE CARD . 1. MENATALLY- UNSTABLE, IMPULSIVE, SELFISH, HIGHLY TEMPERMENTAL. A TEENAGE MENTALITY AT 44 F 2. EMOTIONAL- MOODY, HARD TO GET ALONG WITH, BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER. F 3 PHYSICAL- COMING ISSUES WITH BREAST IMPLANTS, HEADACHES, BACKACHES ETC. NO MED BENEFITS ON JOB. DOES NOT CARE. F 4.SEXUAL – GREAT SEX 2 MONTHS OUT. THEN BASIC WOMAN GAME PLAYING. I HAD A HARD TIME BUT THINGS WORKED OUT. B 5. FINANCIAL- $11 PER HR LO PAY JOB. NO GED. NO SAVINGS OR INVESTMENT, LIVE BEYOND MEANS, WK 2 WK. DOES NOT CARE ABOUT RETIREMENT OR ANYTHING FOR THAT MATTER. WANTS THE GUY TO FOOT THE WHOLE FINANCIAL BILL FOR HER. F 6. SPIRITUAL – SAYS LITTLE OR NOTHING ABOUT GOD OR THE BIBLE. F 7 .RECIPRICAL – HORRIBLE ON GIVING AND SHARING, ADMITS TO BEING RAISED TO NOT SHARE. WANTS THE MAN TO PAY FOR EVERYTHING WHILE SELFISHLY USES HER MONEY ON HERSELF F . IN SUMMARY… LILY’S GRADE ASSESSMENT IS A FAILING GRADE. AN UNWORTHY CHOICE FOR A GOOD MAN TO CONSIDER FOR MARRIAGE OR RELATIONSHIP. ONLY PASSING GRADES ON SEX, CUDDLING, COMPANIONSHIP FOR WATCHING AND PLAYING SPORTS ACTIVITIES. A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR, THOUGH MAINLY ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE. DOES NOT LIKE TO ARGUE. in summary, its easy to see why you can temporarily fall for such a woman with the great sex that seems to good to be true, which it is, cause it soon fades as in other areas.it’s almost like acting, they can only play the role so long, then the director says cut!

    • chester
      April 13, 2010 at 4:03 pm

      Holy crap kirk g!! I sincerely hope you are not using her real name! While my ex whacko fits your description, and I can relate, I would NEVER use real names…regardless of my dsire to expose….DR T please weigh in…..

      • shrink4men
        April 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm

        Please don’t use the real names of your ex, wife and gf. As you know, these women Google, which is why it’s probably a good idea not to use your real name either.

        Every now and then I get emails from men who have used their real names and then contact me to remove their post b/c their crazy exes/wives/gf’s search for their names and find their posts. This is a hassle for me and I’d rather not have to do so.

        • shrink4men
          April 14, 2010 at 1:23 am

          I used the edit function and changed the names.

          • Lighthouse
            April 15, 2010 at 4:03 am

            Nice use of discretion and compassion Dr.T.

            Allowing the ‘Mulligan’ – the quintessential opposite of Cluster B behavior.

            The very last thing I ever said to my Cluster B ex- on the way out the door was “Feel free to add that to your blane list” and quietly shut the door.

            Whoever said there can’t be humor in life ?

            ;-)

            Lighthouse

  4. kirk g
    April 13, 2010 at 3:57 am

    How true it is! my ex, Lily, started out as a gods gift to a mans dream, everything i wanted in a woman and more. the good times, great sex, kissing, cuddling, talking… within weeks we knew we had something special in love and talked marriage. i introduced her to mom, friends, family, i got of rid of the phone numbers, the porn collection, the going out with friends, whatever she asked so we can focus on the relationship. When i made the last change, that’s when she changed. Wow. within weeks the sex tanked, constant put downs, selfish remarks and actions, finance issues, prying into my computer history, cell phone, home phone, the half lies, half truths, 12 yr old boys on her phone with a dozen other guys, oh my god, too numerous to list! and all with an air of entitilement and haughtiness. when i went on line to do research on her mental issues, i came across the term BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER. selfishness is high in women with these disorders along with moodiness, unstableness, hard to get along, impulsive, job issues, finance issues… it amazed me that the definition defined her so perfectly, they should have her picture with the term! it seems the only positive was the high sex drive, which i had to battle like hell to get back to a respectible level. in summary, Lily did not love kirk as family friends and strangers warned. she loved what kirk could do for her and make her feel. this was her twisted version of love. she preys on men who are the opposite of her, stable, strong, with money… she enters into a relationship to take, not give, to hurt, not heal, to control, not work with the man as a partner. I have passed i.q. tests, emotional and personal i.q. tests with good grades. but love is blind. beware! i hope this post helps even one person so they dont have to go thru what i did. when you love someone so much to marry them, well i wish women could at least have some heart to realize men can hurt to. she is dreading me writing about her and displaying her picture, but i invite her to tell her side also, cause “deception fades, but truth lasts forever” kirk

  5. rhythm28
    April 12, 2010 at 2:42 am

    I’ve done no contact and yes it does work! However, these narcissists may not leave you alone. That’s just the way they’re wired.

    Mine likes to call me *67 (private). She’ll go through a third-party to give them info. She posts on a friend’s facebook wall right after I do so I can see she was there. I react to none of it. Indifferent is the word.

    That’s the only thing holding me back. Changing my number, removing my facebook page or getting rid of my friends is not gonna happen. That would be too much power for her to have over me.

    I haven’t cracked but even though she’s found a new source of supply, something tells me I’m not out of her mind and still on the backburner.

    • Recovering Alpha
      April 13, 2010 at 5:40 pm

      menohonor and rhythm28.

      I agree! No contact works. I’ve been strict No Contact since September 5, 2009 since my ex placed a Total Order of Restraint on me. You might think that makes it easy to have no contact, but she left email open. She was sending me emails after that so I placed a filter that prevents any. Also, she drops paper letters in my mailbox. No Contact means that I take those letters and place them in the garbage without ever opening them. It means that when others tell me (about her “boob job”, or she’s having problems with her eyes and had to get non-cosmetic surgery, etc) I politely tell them I don’t want to know anything about what’s going on in her life, and she shouldn’t be given any info on mine. Etc.

      So even with a TRO and my No Contact they do try to continue to see if you are still on the hooked line. You must repeatedly show them when the pull on the line that the line is empty (fishing analogy). Like these two others have said, YOU WILL HEAL!!! And that is the real reason for No Contact. And like Dr T says, no contact means ABSOLUTELY NO CONTACT — including your own mind thoughts as much as you can control.

      I will say I’ve written a few emails in the text dialog BUT NEVER SENT THEM. Contacting them JUST ONCE puts you back to Day 1 of no contact. I tried no contact for months before getting it to stick. The TRO — totally bogus BTW — was the last straw for me. I made a vow to my deceased brother that I’d never willing contact my exW for the remainder of my life. I will stick to that.

      You all can do this too. After about 3 months it becomes much much much easier and after 6 to 9 it becomes POSITIVELY HEALTHY and the thought of being back in contact with her purposeful painful controlling comments is very disconcerting.

      Good luck!!

      • Alnico
        April 13, 2010 at 6:17 pm

        IANAL (I am not a lawyer):
        You might want to save those letters, unopened. Take them, and copies of the emails to an attorney and ask:

        1) Can you send her a No-Contact Letter on my behalf – to stop her? (Which may be a strong pre-cursor to getting a HRO / TRO or even Criminal charges against her if she continues.) In some states she may be held liable for abusing the processs since she continues the contact.

        2) If she is putting things in the mailbox, can we get her charged under http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/83/1725. It may be a federal crime to put things int he mailbox without postage, etc rather than mail them to you.

        3) Should you retain them to take to court if you want to get the TRO removed. Since, they may show she is the one initiating contact with you.

        • Recovering Alpha
          April 14, 2010 at 8:44 pm

          Alnico

          Ha-ha! You reply reminds me of very funny things regarding this TRO. Several weeks BEFORE she put in place, I sent her an email basically stating that I was implementing a “no contact” and would only interact with her via email and only if extreme situation regarding child visitation changes or child health/safety issues (we have 4 boys aged 15to2 yo). During the next few weeks I didn’t contact her in ANY way except one email that defended myself when she accused me of getting my 2 oldest (12 & 15) to not visit her much anymore. I sent a brief text stating that I actually recommended to the boys they see their mother at least alternating weekends (partly because I NEEDED A BREAK!); but those boys refused. She then sent me an email that accused me of “harassing” her. I replied with great laughter saying I’d only replied once (regarding accusation) and that reply to harass accusation, but in the past 3 weeks she had sent me well over TWO DOZEN email, text, phone calls (not answered), etc. And that she was harassing me.

          Guess what?! Within a few days she came to MY LEASED HOUSE DRIVEWAY and forcibly tried to GO THROUGH ME to take my vehicle. (We both had keys with infrared unlocking buttons, so it was Key Stone Cops episode — but sadly wasn’t funny.) To make this short but poignant, I’m 6’3″ barefoot and weigh 255 lbs at 11% bodyfat (amatuer master’s bodybuilder), and played & coached offensive line and well trained in football blocking techniques. She’s 5’5″ maybe 130 lbs. She came at me screaming (I SWEAR TO THIS), “Come on! I’m not afraid of you” with her fists doubled up. What am I supposed to do? Allow her to take my car SHE AGREED IN EMAIL I COULD HAVE? When I got 911 on phone, she fled to her residence. When police arrived to talk to her, she said, “He repeatedly pushed me to the ground.” and “He repeatedly screamed, ‘I’m going to kill you!'” My two teen boys listened to this through an open window in my lease house and can testify it was all made up. Even the official police report stated I was the ‘victim’ and she was the ‘perpetrator’. BUT I STILL RECIEVED A TOTAL RESTRAINING ORDER DELIVERED TO MY DOOR A FEW DAYS LATER!!!! WTF!!!!!! What a legal system!

          Anyways, I so sick of all the B.S. and since my divorce turned out quite favorably to me (e.g., I make 3X her and SHE PAYS ME CHILD SUPPORT!! hahaaaha), I thank you for the advice, but would rather NOT DEAL WITH HER CRAP ever again. I could put a “counter-restraining order on her, I guess, but the one I’ve implemented IN MY MIND VOWED TO REMAIN FOR THE REMAINDER OF MY LIFE IS INFINITELY MORE POWERFUL TO ME.

          However, I have to report one disturbing event that I thought she might not be like the other BPD/NPD traits I’ve read about here. Continiuing to hold on after final breakup. I just didn’t think she’d be interested. But this past weekend gave me a bit of scare so Anico you might be on to something.

          My mother’s been staying with me hleping me get my new house in order. She rented a car which sat out front of the house for a week plus. The ex came by to FORCE the two older boys to come to her place for Easter brunch. They refused. I don’t make them (on recommendation of an old football asst coach who is a cop. He said the police typically won’t make a 12 yr old and up go to the other custody parent if with the other custody parent IF THE BOY DOESN’T WANT TO. He says, when you’re facing eye-to-eye with a “man-child” (my 15 yo is 6’1″ 160 lbs 3% bodyfat) you don’t MAKE THEM do anything without pssible serious bad outcomes. So I just let me not go with her though I recommend they see her and her dying father. Anyways, continiuing …. later that week my 70 yo mother during the day gets several calls from people who’d ask for bogus names “Mildred” etc and then hang up with wrong number. THANK GOD FOR CALLER ID. The names were my ex’s FRIENDS. I put it all together that she was trying to find out if I had a live in girlfriend staying there, or to answer the question, “Who’s car is that parked out front”? The rental cars in my state by law can not have any distingusihing features so as not to make visitors stand out to criminal predators.

          Anyways, some thoughts and happenings from my world recentlyh. AND DR T, IF I DIDN’T HAVE THE UNDERSTANDING FROM THIS SITE’S ARTICLE AND BLOGS, I’D BE STILL BEING CONTROLLED AND MESSED UP BY MY EX. Now I realize this interest in me has nothing to do with me but with her morbid F’d up personality disorder. RUN RUN RUN!!!!

          • Recovering Alpha
            April 14, 2010 at 9:12 pm

            And I forgot this TOTALLY CLUSTER F’D THING. Since we have the TRO, she doesn’t come past the curb when at my place (that’s in the TRO for me, so I guess she has it reciprocally?). Anyways, SHE SENDS MY 6 YR OLD TO THE DOOR SEVERAL F’N TIMES ASKING FOR THE TWO OLDER BOYS TO COME TO HER CAR AND GO WITH HER! It is specifically written in our divorce decree that “minor children are NOT to be used to communicate between parents”. WTF!!! What bothered me is my Mom answered the door first and here’s MY 6 yo “with fire in eyes & voice” (so says my Mom) asking for his brothers. My Mom goes and gets me. Immediately I walk out and hug my son and tell him, “This is YOUR house. You don’t have to ring the doorbell EVER. Just walk in or open the garage door with the keypad.” His face changed 20 shades to BRIGHTNESS. (He even — and I fight tears writing this now — a few days later when with me mentioned to me when I was putting him to bed “Dad, could you give me a hug like you did at the door on Easter” OUCH! What a confusing day for him, I guess.

            I wish I could be free of that crazing woman and her f’d up substance-abusing family, but with my boys, I guess I’ll never be. I just have to work hard at mitigating her messes and particulalry towards my boys.

            Alnico, thanks for that comment. It created an eruption of things I guess I’d bottled up and now have flushed out ….

            Later. (I guess I just can’t stay away from this site because of its positive therapeutic effects on me. Thanks Dr T. I’ll donate to your PayPal link at top when I get a mometn …..)

          • Recovering Alpha
            April 14, 2010 at 9:28 pm

            I might add also that we communicate when needed and absolutely a bare minimum regarding our children visitation etc through our DayCare people. They also govern the exchange of the two youngest. (The two oldest REFUSE to see their mother; haven’t seen her since x-mas day.)

            Also she pays just $138 per month for both older two boys. I feel downright ashamed to contribute to my own offspring only $69/mo to their upbringing. But just another example of the totally skewed legal system. If she had custody of them, I’m sure I’d be paying THOUSANDS of dollars a month for child support. What gives?

  6. menofhonor
    April 11, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Guys I must really assure you all, NO-CONTACT WORKS! – ASK ME. I thought I would never make it but hey I DID. It may feel hard at first but believe me you will shed that Mr Nice Guy thought and become the real positive you. Always remember that for most guys here it was never easy but now most can tell you just what the No Contact did for them…As for me, I can go on and on. In fact I think that the NC is not just the end but, in more ways, the begin of a healing process that most therapy sessions cannot match – TRUST ME.

  7. ozymandias
    April 10, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Well, having extricated myself emotionally from my ex-wife, and despite being an avid reader of this site, I’ve managed to get myself involved with yet another predator. Possibly the worst one yet. Much, much worse than me ex-ex. And I thought I could handle it!

    So now I’m just embarking on yet another no contact strategy but, somewhat strangely, this seems to be hurting just as much.

    My message is this: no matter what knowledge I have of these women, what makes them tick, their traits, their games, their manipulations, I can never win. I think this is because, fundamentally, I’m a loving, caring bloke. And no matter how I try to be detached, they are my default characteristics.

    Last time, I fell for the old “go with a friend and make sure he finds out about it” trick. Even though I knew what she was doing, she still drew me back in.

    What a mug! She will no doubt think that she can now get away with anything and I will be her whipping boy for evermore. Think again princess.

    Still, onward and upward – I’m sure I’ll get there eventually (and she did have a particularly nice ass). One day, I will learn :)

    • ozymandias
      April 10, 2010 at 11:05 pm

      …and one more thing, I thought this time I would just have some fun.

      THIS IS NO FUN.

      • Born Free
        April 11, 2010 at 4:29 am

        ozymandias :

        My message is this: no matter what knowledge I have of these women, what makes them tick, their traits, their games, their manipulations, I can never win. I think this is because, fundamentally, I’m a loving, caring bloke. And no matter how I try to be detached, they are my default characteristics.

        ozy, I would suggest trying out the No More Mr Nice Guy book and online support forum. I discovered that a couple of months ago and started realizing my own traits that attract such predators, and the reasons we put up with them.

    • Recovering Alpha
      April 13, 2010 at 12:34 am

      This is my fear too. I suspect many of us here as well. Any suggestions on how to sort out the Cluster B’s during dates is VERY appreciated. I’m just starting dating again (and probably too soon — just a month after divorce final in court).

      Good luck friends.

      • finallywokeup
        April 13, 2010 at 2:29 am

        Hi, RA, yeah, I have some tips: File “weird comments” away, they make a pattern after a while. Watch for lack of boundaries on their part (too intimate, too fast). If they tell you that you’re the “greatest” x, y, or z, “ever” another huge warning sign. Finally, if they are constantly taking texts and calls that interrupt your dates, they’re begging for attention – more than you can give.

        Good luck!

        • Recovering Alpha
          April 14, 2010 at 8:22 pm

          Thanks! I’ll add those to my notes.

  8. shrink4men
    April 10, 2010 at 2:39 am

    Kari :

    Emotional growth is a beautiful thing to see.

    Amen to that.

    Thanks, Kari. I agree. Sometimes there’s no greater meaning to be found. They are who they are.

    Best,
    Dr T

  9. clearblueskies
    April 10, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Thank you so much for your site. You are really a life preserver for us shipwreck survivors to grasp.

    • shrink4men
      April 10, 2010 at 2:34 am

      You’re welcome, clearblueskies. Hang in there. It will get better. You’re not alone and lots of other guys have gotten through this and so will you!

      Dr T

  10. clearblueskies
    April 9, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    I broke the no contact rule today and boy did I pay for it. Of course she pulled me in further by acting kind and then lowered the boom. There was no talking like adults. She accused me of all kinds of things which she herself had done, but of course she would not here of that. Back to square one emotionally now. It does help me realize that I cannot let that happen again though.

  11. Freedom
    April 9, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    The attention/drama situation is kinda like an addiction – it lives because you feed it, and you feed it because it lives. if you don’t feed it, the attention to her or the pain to yourself, it will die a natural death, at least in theory.

    and there’s a quote that kept getting into my head as i was reading this: be careful of the questions you ask and the answers you seek, because you just might find them.

    • Papa G
      April 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm

      Y’know, one of the things that I found really useful, as a victim of the over-analysis thing myself, was when my therapist said: “You know, maybe it’s a good thing you can’t figure out why this happened. Maybe it takes one rotten person to figure out another rotten person. Maybe you should take some pride in your inability to decipher why she made the decisions she did.”

      It helped a lot.

      • Vantage1
        April 14, 2010 at 7:16 pm

        @Papa G: that’s probably the best advice I’ve heard in the past year since the split with my NPDXG…thanks for sharing!

      • Freedom
        April 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm

        Absolutely!!! there are plenty of things – and plenty of people – in this world that i just don’t understand. and i think that’s a good thing. i don’t really want to be able to understand how some people can justify doing the strange and mean things that they do. nobody is perfect, nor am i, but i can’t comprehend being able able to truly hurt and abuse people and then get a good night sleep.

      • skip
        May 4, 2010 at 9:32 am

        Yes!!!

        I often say the same thing to friends who are baffled that they can’t figure out why a person does certain behaviors.

        I say the day you can understand why is when you have succumb to the same sad fate they have and are riddled with the same psychiatric problems they are.

        The fact that you don’t understand is testament to your own sanity.

  12. Alan T
    April 9, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    This is so hard. I liked her family and friends, but not only did I have to cut my ex out of my life via no contact, but I had to do the same with her family and friends. They were nice people who liked me, and this in itself is a huge loss. All of a sudden, there’s a dozen or so people who were a big part of my life that I can’t talk to anymore. I deleted them all off my Facebook with ruthlessness. It’s the only thing that’s going to work for me.

    It hasn’t been two months yet and it’s safe to say I’m still devastated. The only contact I had with my ex was her emailing me to forward her mail to her parents. That was even enough to completely rub salt into the wounds. All I said back was “of course”. I do not want to hear about or from her. At least she’s leaving me alone now.

    • Kev.
      April 9, 2010 at 11:32 pm

      Hi Alan,

      Something you said struck a chord with me. Namely, the bit about family and friends.

      First, the bad news:

      You’re going to have to sacrifice your connections with them. There are good people, and friendships will be missed, but there’s really no way around it.

      The good news:

      There are other, equally-as-cool (if not MORE so) people out there, waiting to be your friend. You may have even severed ties with some of them for your ex because she didn’t like them, or accused you of cheating on her with them, or what have you.

      Re-establish those connections.

      They are vital.

      You’re less than two months out. I’m about 18 months out. I still have my rough patches. But it DOES GET EASIER with time.

      Be good to yourself.

      And find your real friends again.

      They’re out there waiting for you.

      • Alan T
        April 9, 2010 at 11:46 pm

        Thanks, Kev. You speak the truth. The problem right now is that things are too recent and raw, and it hurts. The loss is too tangible right now but I am eager to get past it.

        • Kev.
          April 10, 2010 at 1:19 am

          I know, brother. Believe me, I know. I know your pain all too well.

          There are friendships I made during that time that I miss terribly. Unfortunately, for my own sanity, and health, I had to let go.

          You’ll get there. If nothing else, remember at the end of the day, you’re still standing. You’re still here. And that, my friend, is victory.

  13. Mr. E
    April 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    JP – Thanks. Actually, I just went through my journal this morning, prior to my post above. 28 out of 31 days in March she did something contemptuous, crazy, or otherwise unpleasant to me. Well over 50% of the days going back to August have an entry. (and on the days without, I think I just forgot to write it down/didn’t notice/let it slide). I need a new journal after keeping track since last August, because I’ve filled the one I started. I’ve got all the rational evidence I need.

    Now, I just need to pick up the scary, scary phone.

    • Mr. E
      April 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm

      Over the weekend an episode occurred that has strengthened my resolve.

      I was the lucky winner of a two hour silent treatment (with lovely hostile stares!) after a delighful scolding because of my gross incompetence. Such I fool I am, how could any reasonable person even make the horrible mistake I made? It must have be deliberate.

      You see, I ordered the wrong roast beef sandwich when I was getting takeout. I’m such a bastard.

      While she was off sulking because I ordered the roast beef with cheese instead of the cheesy roast beef, I went back and forth between laughing at the absurdity and shaking with anger.

      • jp
        April 19, 2010 at 5:56 pm

        Mr. E,

        “Cheesy Roast Beef”…that’s a good nick name for her. You should start calling her that next time she starts busting your nuts.

        Her: “Hey, Mr. E, next time you do the dishes do you think you could remember to hang up the dish towel with the tag facing in?”

        You [laughing]: “Yeah, OK, Cheesy Roast Beef…whatever you say…” then you head out to Starbucks to get coffee and read the paper.

        Seriously though, besides the laughing and the shaking with anger, and the fact that you know she’s full of sh*t, do you also find yourself rattled a bit anyway and wondering, “maybe she’s right, maybe I am an idiot, I mean she must have told me it was Cheesy Roast Beef and not Roast Beef with Cheese and I should have remembered that, etc.” or at least wrestling with feeling like that, or maybe wondering if something’s wrong with you because if she did tell you Cheesy Roast Beef, and you only remembered Roast Beef with Cheese, and if you were wrong about that then maybe you were wrong about that other thing she beat you up over last week, blah, blah…

        It wouldn’t surprise me if you do, and to me that’s the true damage these kind of women and dynamics can inflict, the erosion of confidence in your own reality.

        JP

        • Mr. E
          April 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm

          I have definitely gotten rattled and wondered if I actually did do something wrong. This weekend was special though. The needling started Friday night and didn’t let up. It was a “last straw” kind of weekend.

          I didn’t mean to be misleading above, if I was – I really did goof up the order. I told her I’d bring her one sandwich and brought a different kind.

          Now, I could understand being disappointed. But throwing a tantrum, followed by silent treatment? Over a burger? Seems a little severe (which started my laughing), and I realized I would never treat anyone that way over fast food. Then I thought about the totally rotten sh*t she’s deliberately done that I let slide without a word. That set off the anger.

          • jp
            April 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm

            Ah…ok, I read your OP wrong.

            But my point sort of stands…when the consequences of making mistakes, real or imagined, are to be punished the way she does, overtime your mind becomes preoccupied as you overthink every thing you do and stress about the most trivial little tasks.

            Ironically, for me anyway, once I became worried all the time about incurring her BS for doing things “wrong” I ended up forgetting a lot of things (which meant of course that I didn’t love her enough) and making many more mistakes over minor stuff like picking up a sandwich.

            Bottom line: the control freaks who punish you for mistakes, real or imagined, severely mess with your head and it’s great to be free of it.

            Incidentally, once the pressure from her was off I eventually regained my normal confidence and stopped forgetting things, messing up, etc.

            JP

            • Mr. E
              April 19, 2010 at 8:36 pm

              “Ironically, for me anyway, once I became worried all the time about incurring her BS for doing things “wrong” I ended up forgetting a lot of things (which meant of course that I didn’t love her enough) and making many more mistakes over minor stuff like picking up a sandwich.”

              Yep, been there. I used to buy it when she accused me of being forgetful/unable to find things/etc. Now I realize that I forget because there’s just TOO MUCH TO REMEMBER…

              Looking forward to getting back my confidence and memory!

          • chester
            April 19, 2010 at 10:04 pm

            Mine told me that I could pee in the shower but ONLY when I was actually TAKING a shower……Man, what a control freak!!!

  14. Mr. E
    April 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Great post!

    One of the items on my plan for getting-the-hell-out day is unfriending her on Facebook. Why leave an opening for communication/contact?

    She already posts little digs at me now and then. Last night I told her I didn’t want to go do [expensive thing] with her because I’m not that into it and it wasn’t worth the money to me, BUT, she should go if she wants to. So, she stops talking to me, hops on to Facebook and posts “Mr. E doesn’t like [thing] enough to pay $x00 dollars to go.”

    So I’m the bad guy. In this case, all I can say is “thanks for the warning, hon.” Maybe I’ll just close my FB account altogether when I get out… :D

    (speaking of getting out – I’ve got a list of lawyers, just have to screw up my courage to call. I’m hung up on not wanting to be the bad guy and “what if I’m wrong?” I know it’s irrational, but I keep tripping over it…)

    • jp
      April 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm

      I’ve got a list of lawyers, just have to screw up my courage to call.

      So, she slams you on FB, turning a private disagreement into an opportunity for public mockery that will live on in cyberspace forever. Nice. She sounds like she has the impulse control of a 3 yr old.

      How many times in the last week/month/year has she left you stunned, hurt, confused, embarassed, enraged, etc. over similar expressions of contempt for you (either public or private)?

      Thinking on that number might help strengthen your resolve to dial the lawyer.

      JP

    • shrink4men
      April 10, 2010 at 2:29 am

      Thanks, Mr E!

      Could it be that the voice you hear in your head telling you you’re wrong is that of your wife? Just sayin’. Eject the tape and pop in a new one.

      Btw, just calling one of those attorneys won’t commit you to anything. Think of it as an information gathering exercise. Otherwise, the abstract feat will continue to be overwhelming.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

      • Mr. E
        April 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm

        Thinking of it as gathering info actually does make it less overwhelming.

        Regarding the voices – her’s and a couple others from the past. Definitely time for a new tape.

    • Henry
      April 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

      I’m hung up on not wanting to be the bad guy and “what if I’m wrong?” I know it’s irrational, but I keep tripping over it…)

      That was me. I had picked out an attorney in early September. It took me until late November to contact him. I put off filing until the middle of January.

      I didn’t want to be the bad guy. I didn’t want to be wrong.

      I am NOT the bad guy, and it was NOT wrong to file for divorce. Once I realized this, the sense of freedom I had was overwhelming.

      Your situation may be different, but I don’t think so.

      • Mr. E
        April 13, 2010 at 4:59 pm

        Thanks for the support. That about sums up my situation. It’s time for me to break free of inertia and get on with it.

  15. Mellaril
    April 9, 2010 at 11:51 am

    “4. Falling into the trap of analysis paralysis. This is another form of unproductive rumination. Why is she like this? Why couldn’t she be happy with me? What’s wrong with her? What could I have done differently? How could she move on so quickly with another guy? Why does she still have photos of us together on her profile? Why? Why? Why?”

    I spent 20 years wandering in this wilderness. I knew then it was the right decision to move on and when the questions resurfaced with a vegeance about 6 months ago, I knew it was the right decision but I still wanted answers. One of the invaluable services of this site is that the answers to many of those questions can be found and explains why you’ll never find answers to others.

    I always thought there was unfinished business between me and my ex-gf. After 20 years, I still wanted the apology I felt I deserved and after learning about Cluster Bs, I knew why I didn’t get one then and why I would never get one. That, in itself, helped immensely in releasing a lot of the pent up anger and hurt. I probably spend more time here than I should but I think that will eventually take care of itself, too.

    One of the things I’ve observed from reading posts on this site was how time and technology have enabled Cluster Bs to practice and “improve” their technique. When I was involved with one, my answering machine used micro-cassettes. There was no email, IM Chat, Social Networking, cell phones, or Twitter. There was no voicemail will Caller ID and missed call logging. Privacy and distance were a lot easier to maintain.

    • shrink4men
      April 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm

      Hi Mellaril,

      Great comment. Technology definitely makes cluster Bs better predators—unfortunately.

      I’m glad you’re here and I’m glad the information provided is helpful for you. As I mentioned in my reply to Applause, analysis can be a healthy pursuit. It’s only when you get stuck turning the same stories, memories, etc. like a permanent playback machine that it becomes counterproductive. It seems like a trauma behavior—the reliving and over-analysis.

      Glad you’re out and glad you’re finding some peace.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • Mellaril
        April 9, 2010 at 4:00 pm

        Here’s another one for you. As I was working through things the past few months, I looked at why I was still angry after so long. One of the reasons that really surprised me was anger at her that the “fixer” in me didn’t fix her. If we had broken up and she’d gone on to happiness with someone else, I would have been happy for her and counted her as a “success” even though our relationship failed. I took it as a personal affront that she failed in her subsequent relationship and marriage. It was like, “Geez, after all the time and effort I spent on you and this is how you pay me back?!”

        Not only can you learn a lot about the person you’re with here, you can learn a whole lot about yourself and sometimes, it’s not all that pretty.

        • July 19, 2010 at 3:54 am

          I laugh, as I learned after dating and marrying “fixer-upper” men, that If you want a fixer upper, think house, not soul mate!

          • buddah
            July 19, 2010 at 7:20 am

            Ha! My Ex SIL dated and married a large number of men and they all worked on the various houses she bought and sold.

            After each one got renovated, she ditched them!

            Worked for her…

  16. applause
    April 9, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Thanks Dr. Tara. After weeks of not visiting her facebook page, I was just about to do so, but fortunately I got your email notification about this article. Thanks for reminding me to maintain no contact.
    One of my “friends” ending up finding her on a dating site and began dating her.
    I got to thinking, since I wasn’t returning her calls or facebook comments, she hooked him, knowing I’d hear about it. I found out while visiting him – he was chatting online with her during my visit! Ahh but I’m falling into the “analysis trap.” Sigh.
    There is an “application” that tells you when someone visits your facebook page. While I don’t have it, most likely she does. So even if I just lurked, I’d be betraying myself and she’d know I was still stuck on her. Ugh! Did I just say that? dang, this is taking awhile to let go, despite how I’m seeing someone else and she seems to be a great gal. I don’t get it, this new gal enjoys activities that the narc didn’t, new gal finds ways to compliment my attributes where narc would find ways to criticize. Still, I wish the narc was how the new gal is. I have a great time with new gal and then wish, oh jeez, as your article says, “Surely there’s a better way to spend your time that will help you feel good.
    Thanks again.

    • shrink4men
      April 9, 2010 at 2:44 pm

      Hi applause,

      I’m glad this article helped you from visiting her FB page. Sounds like you have a lousy friend, too. Don’t be too hard on yourself. A little analysis is good and helpful. It’s how we learn from mistakes and expands our understanding of ourselves and others. It becomes a problem when you let your mind go into overdrive and keep grinding away with no closure. My feeling is she tortured you enough while you were together. Why continue to let her torture you now that it’s over. Analyze it enough to understand what happened—bearing in mind you may never understand what makes her tick—and let it go.

      It’s often more fruitful to analyze what made you susceptible to that kind of personality rather than analyze why she is the way she is. There’s hope for you; not her, so put your analysis efforts where they’ll actually do some good.

      The new gf sounds great. Whenever you find your mind drifting to thoughts of the ex when you’re with the new gf, give yourself a mental shake. Remind yourself that a healthy relationship is what you want and that feeling good in a relationship is the way it’s supposed to be.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • Kari
        April 10, 2010 at 2:33 am

        Hi – Just wanted to add that one thing that comforted me (and I still don’t really know why), was when I asked myself “Why…” the answer, “It just is,” seemed to help. Seems weird, but it worked!
        God Bless your work here, Dr. I have already started to sense a positive change in my friend, and wonder if he’s taken me up on my advice to ‘visit.’ Emotional growth is a beautiful thing to see.

  17. Joseph
    April 9, 2010 at 6:36 am

    This is a great article Dr Tara, and I only wish I would have found this site this time last year! Turns out my BP ex’s new boyfriend was a friend of mine on Facebook. Before you knew it, there were pictures of them making out together and all the good smearing in my face you could imagine. I’m not gonna lie it hurt at first, but then I realized what this guy was in for.. I was so tempted to give him a heads up, but it wasn’t my business nor my place. So yeah they are done now, and I’m sure he endured the same rollercoaster I did, and looking back, I didn’t need to look at that, I should have removed him immediately and shut the door!
    I’m GRATEFUL she’s outta my life & I am GRATEFUL for the experience, it made me into a helluva man! The few fleeting moments of heaven are not worth revisiting for the hell you endured!

    • shrink4men
      April 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm

      Hi Joseph,

      Sounds like you have a lousy friend. I don’t put anything past borderlines. Having sex with one of your friends (or trying to) is a textbook move, so I’m not at all surprised your ex sunk to that low. They frequently also have sex with their female friends husbands/boyfriends as a way to bolster their ego, which is why many BPDs don’t have long term girlfriends.

      I’m glad you’re out of both relationships. That’s wonderful! Rollercoasters belong in amusement parks; not in romance.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • Lighthouse
        April 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm

        It appears to me that a common theme among the participants in this website is that we believe people’s words, we try to hold them accountable if they fail to be trustworthy and then undermine all our great cognition by failing to follow through on our boundaries !

        Is it possible that being future focused optimists we are failing to understand that optimistic hope forms the basis for one possible reality, not reality itself; that in the real world acts of kindness implies friendship rather than friendship begetting an obligation for kindness; that the problem with Facebbok is that ‘friending’ someone implies no real world reliance upon them ?

        In my experience disordered people claim lots of friends, each one of which gets a 100 hour allocation of time. Partners get 100 hours in a short time span, friends get it across a life time. Everyone gets enough from them to hear the disordered person’s stories that support their projection of kind, deserving, helpless victim. No-one gets enough from them to risk the emotional intimacy necessary for the disordered person to grow.

        As for Joseph’s situation, I believe it safe to say (1) you will always be demonized by your ex- and (2) someone that sleeps with her is NOT your friend by definition.

  18. Garrett
    April 9, 2010 at 4:19 am

    These are great points. I most likely will be paying child support and spousal maintenance, so every month when I make the check, that’s just more salt to rub in the womb. My soon-to-be ex lost her job in December ’09, and hasn’t had a job since. There is even the possibility that I will pay so much in child support and spousal maintenance, that I’ll end up working FOR HER. If that’s the case, I’ll just quit my job. No effing way I’m going to sacrifice my life for her. Been there, done that.

    • shrink4men
      April 9, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      That sucks, Garrett. However, since she had a job as recently as 12/09, it’s not like she can claim she can’t support herself due to not being in the work force for an extended period of time. She has a capacity to earn.

      I encourage you to speak to your attorney about Gavron warnings, etc.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

      • Garrett
        April 10, 2010 at 2:18 am

        Thanks, Dr. T. I will let my attorney know. What is the “etc.”?

        My soon-to-be-ex and I have 50/50 parenting.

        When she was employed, she was making more than me. We’d be making about the same now.

        • shrink4men
          April 10, 2010 at 2:27 am

          Hiya Garrett,

          You’re welcome. Good for you re: the 50/50 parenting. Gavron warning to make her report that she is actively looking for work and not turning down jobs. For example, providing proof such as electronic resume submissions.

          Etc. includes a support step down schedule for her to become fully self-sufficient. Making sure the support you pay is modifiable should your income drop due to downsizing or having to take a lower paying job. Putting a cap on the amount of support she can try to get out of you if you think your income will rise dramatically over the years. Stuff like that.

          Btw, JP gave you some very excellent advice. Thanks, JP!

          Cheers,
          Dr T

    • jp
      April 9, 2010 at 5:11 pm

      Garrett,

      I understand how you feel, but you can’t quit your job just to avoid paying child support (CS) or spousal support (SS). You’d still be liable for the payments…they’d just accrue in arrearages and you’d incur penalties, interest, etc., plus the judge could start penalizing you with contempt charges, loss of drivers’ license, etc. and even put you in jail, where, by the way, you would still accrue arrearages.

      It’s a shock when you first come face-to-face with this system because it’s so biased against non-custodial parents (NCP, usually men). Unless you and your lawyer can get a good deal, you’ll become an indentured servant to your ex-wife.

      In my state, the NCP has no say up front over how your child support dollars are spent, and the parent receiving the support is not required to provide any accounting of where the money goes. The amount of the award is not based on actual costs or expenses of raising children. Sure, the guidelines for support are based on a formula, but it’s in reality just a way to determine the percentage of your after-tax income you will have to turn over, not how much the children’s expenses amount to and what your share is.

      In many cases the amount of CS you pay equals far more than you and your ex would ever have beeen spending together on the child had the marriage remainted intact. And typically–despite the hysteria and myths of ‘dead beat dads’–it leaves the wife with a better standard of living than the father, creating the so-called “castle and shack” situation where your kids have a nice big home and standard of living with mom (that you pay for) and share a bedroom and Kraft mac and cheese with you.

      CS is also not pro-rated in my state, so whether your children spend 1 night per month or ~40% of the time with you you’re on the hook for the same amount. So after giving your ex enough to cover all childcare expenses for the month, you you still have to pay for food, extra clothes, toys, etc., for when they are with you. Not too expensive if it’s a few nights/meals a month, but can be brutal if it’s 10 or more.

      At some point (in my state), if you’re close to 50/50 parenting time, you get to calculate the CS differently, and it comes close to being fair, but the law doesn’t say what the percentage of parenting time is to qualify–is it 38%, 45%, 49%? It ends up being another area for the lawyers to fight over and you to go broke over. Theoretically parenting time is decided first, in the “best interests of the child” (which I put in quotes because the phrase has become so meaningless in court through overuse and misrepresentation), and THEN the CS is calculated, but everyone knows it’s a winner take all system and that the mother just needs to get slightly more than half the parenting time or more, and she’ll get all the CS.

      Oh, and did I mention that the age of emancipation in my state–for CS purposes alone–is 23, provided the “child” is still in school and dependent on one of the parents.

      There’s a whole other aspect to this beyond the finances and that’s the effect the winner take all system has on the post marital relationship. On one hand you have a situation tailor made to create hostile dependency by the wife on the husband, and on the other you have an endless source of greivance and resentment on the part of the husband. Instead of the divorce leaving both parents on an equal footing, able to heal and move on, you have a system that creates or extends an unequal balance of power, which is the last thing anybody needs, espeicially the kids.

      Anyway, sorry for the rant. My main point is get mad, but don’t act rashly. Instead, stay informed, fight your legal case as hard as you can, and get involved in family law reform so that someday the guys that come after you don’t find themselves spending the second half of their life in servitude to their ex-wives.

      JP

      • Garrett
        April 10, 2010 at 2:34 am

        No prob, JP. I replied to Dr. T above re: parenting arrangement. I already told my attorney that I want modifiable CS & spousal maintenance (SM).

        Thank you for the advice. I won’t – can’t – quit my job anyways. I will fight hard. Monday is my settlement conference, hopefully things will get worked out. Only part left is the CS & SM. Everything else has been settled.

        Who knows with this woman – she keeps changing her mind to fit her template.

        • shrink4men
          April 10, 2010 at 2:38 am

          Last bit of advice: Know your bottom line and stick to it. This type of individual is notorious for agreeing to one thing and then demanding more. This is the time more than ever to stand up to her and her crazy demands or to have your attorney do so. Good luck with the settlement meeting.

          Dr T

      • ExpatDad
        April 12, 2010 at 7:59 am

        Hi jp – “the last thing anybody needs”: well, there is one group of people that “need” it – the legal industry. They’re strangling a large proportion of the population and making a mint out of it. I don’t understand the logic for the government any more though when it comes to throwing dads in jail when they’ve lost a job and can’t pay any more. This just creates a negative spiral which would end up costing the government considerably more money than they’d cream off from the individual. There’s some interesting discussion on this in the alimony expats group on Yahoo. It makes for an interesting reflection on the concept that we live in free countries: one’s freedom might be significantly curtailed should one take the steps of getting married/having a child, having a job making a certain amount of money and then subsequently failing to be able to make anything like that amount of money later on for whatever reason. I’ve even read some of the older targets philosophise on the matter like this – at least there’s free healthcare whilst in prison!
        I seriously believe it will take a blockbuster documentary from the likes of Michael Moore to wake up the country to the legal stranglehold. Lobbying for reform in the normal way has to be done too, but we have to remember that most of those in government are much too cosily close to the greedy parasitic legal industry, if not actually part of it (cf. Massachusetts reform action). I wonder how many people not directly involved are aware of what a lottery it is depending on which US state one lives in. In Europe it’s pretty similar – the laws vary enormously from Scandinavia and Scotland (quite fair – max. 2-4 yrs alimony except in exceptional cases) to England (appalling – often lifetime for no good reason at all) to others like the country I’m currently residing in, which has a limit, but it’s much much too long, and is under exceptional circumstances (jurisprudence still patchy here) subject to extension.
        Getting back to the psychology, the problem as you rightly indentify is that this creates an unequal balance of power after the initial divorce settlement and reinforces the ex’s narcisstic feelings and expressed sentiments of superiority and her sense of “I own you” at least in terms of a huge portion of your earnings for the rest of your life, or at least a considerable number of the best years of it.
        CS is almost as bad here in some ways, though not as huge as in the US. I have my kids 40%, and the CS is not reduced an iota, meanwhile the formulae for the overal settlement consider that I am supposed to feed/house/clothe etc. the two kids whilst with me that 40% on the equivalent of less than $15 per day. Added to this is that there is no way at all to force the situation to 50-50. If the mother refuses, the court will cite this as a reason not to allow it, simple as that. There are no psychological evaluations and no custody evaluations done by default – mothers are practically untouchable, fathers damnable with the slightest of fabricated “evidence”. Custody evaluations are occasionally done when indicated but are 99$% certain to find in favour of the mother whatever the situation at her house.

        • jp
          April 12, 2010 at 4:35 pm

          Added to this is that there is no way at all to force the situation to 50-50. If the mother refuses, the court will cite this as a reason not to allow it, simple as that.

          Ah…the so called “hostile veto”.

          My state actually has guidelines for parenting time (they’re phasing out use of the word ‘custody’ but retaining the reality behind it) which recommend 50/50 for couples that meet certain criteria, e.g., live close to each other, low/no conflict, both parents active in child’s life, etc., and my ex and I meet everyone of them…we’re perfect candidate’s for 50/50.

          But she said ‘no’.

          My lawyer even asked her, “do you feel JP is an unfit parent in anyway?” and she said, ‘no, he’s a fine parent’. LOL.

          She doesn’t even need a reason to say no…the courts would take our disagreement in this ONE area alone as evidence of too much conflict to make 50/50 work. Hence, the “hostile veto”.

          The only chance I would have would be to go for full custody, with the 10s of thousands of dollars and indignities of GALs, psych evals, mutual accusations of mental illness, etc., that that entails, just to get to a place where I could negotiate something close to what I want. (I didn’t do that, btw, because I didn’t have the money.)

          It’s a winner-take-all system that promotes conflict and impoverishes parents.

          Of course, the idea that as a fit parent I should just HAVE equall access to my own children by default is completely alien to the system.

          JP

  19. Alnico
    April 9, 2010 at 3:10 am

    My ex-wife did tell my daughter is was my choice. The place she was trying to put me is giving up my time with my daughter to have her spend more time over at her friend. Her friends often believe the posion, one actually told me they would not reciprocate if I dropped her off at a party by letting thier daughter – becuase they did not feel my home was a safe environment. These of course were the same people that pre-divorce freqently had me watch thier children with mine while my ex went out and did church things with them. My kids are with me about 38% of the time — so they are going to make friends and will want them to go back and forth — but the ex plays games. She actually sent me this a while back:
    “I suggest you assist in meeting more of the kids in your neighborhood, and to make friends with the kids near your home so that she can have play dates with kids that live near you when she’s with you. I’m sure you and are more than able to connect with the neighbors around you and facilitate play dates for in your own social circles and with your family friends.”

    I have had one person that used to reciprocate. But that person does not reach out to me any more AND de-FB friended my current wife because she was given the ultimatum of loosing her FB frienship with my ex.

    I am thinking of telling the kids that I have a new rule: They cannot go over to any child’s house until I meet the parents and have the child over for a playdate — so I can see if the child and parents have the kind of good character I want my children around for myself.

    • shrink4men
      April 9, 2010 at 3:14 am

      Good plan. I still don’t think you should let her infringe upon your time.

    • jp
      April 9, 2010 at 4:28 am

      Alnico,

      This is a tough dillemma that will only get more complicated as she gets older and her friends become more important to her.

      You don’t want to lose your time with her but you don’t want to deprive her of social opportunities and generate resentment on her part. You need to think creatively about how to solve this instead of falling back on new rules and old-school, grouchy dad stuff.

      First, you need to make it possible for your daughter to make new friends that are associated with your new life and not your old one. And since you don’t want her spending time with those friends at the expense of your time with her, you need to develop connections with the parents too so you can get some recipricol socializing going for kids and parents together.

      One thing I/ve done is invite a bunch of my kids’ friends and their parents, via email, to meet for a playdate at a playground, as a group, and not at my place. This is great if you don’t know any of them. Do this and you’re the hero organizing the cool play date, not the a$$hole your ex has been saying. Circulate at the playground, meet and joke around with the different parents, and show them you’re a great guy, then build from there.

      JP

      • Alnico
        April 9, 2010 at 7:02 pm

        JP. “And since you don’t want her spending time with those friends at the expense of your time with her, you need to develop connections with the parents too so you can get some recipricol socializing going for kids and parents together.” That is easier said than done. When someone has a smear compaign against you, people may judge before they ever meet you. I and my kids have already developed plenty of social connections on our own.

        Some of my duaghters friends, that have already drank the cool-aid would not come for a playdate at a playground because of the cool-aid.

        Of course, I am not trying to be the bad dad. However, it sends a very bad message about my home and me if I let my daughter go to someone elses house will not let thier own daughter come to mine because they “don’t trust my home situation” for no reason other than I did not want to be married to my ex any more.

  20. Alnico
    April 9, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Ok, so speaking of games, here is my current delima:

    Should I let my daughter attend a party and spend the night. My daughters friend’s family are friends and FB friends with my ex — but I have never met them. They live in the neighborhood by my ex and the friend attends the same school but different class.

    The friend’s b-day party is schedule to fall on a weekend I enjoy with my daughter. The party is a sleep over starting at 5pm.

    I am conflicted. My daughter would like to attend. My ex in the past has had friends that will invite my daughter but are unwilling to reciprocate with having thier kids over to my place, etc. This person has already demonstrated they are unlikely to reciprocate since my current wife’s first attempt to contact them was a rebuffed facebook friend request where we were seeking to invite said duaghters friend over for a playdate.

    Suggestions? Ideas?

    • shrink4men
      April 9, 2010 at 2:57 am

      Hi Alnico,

      Your custody time with your children is precious. This is nothing more than a maneuver by your ex and her friend to make you the bad guy if you say “no” and insist upon your custody time. Your wife should not agree to overnight weekends on your time. As you noted your wife’s friends don’t reciprocate so this is probably a coordinated stunt.

      In the future, your ex should tell your daughter, “That’s your father’s weekend and you need to spend time with him.” The only way I would agree to let her go is if you then get her for the two following weekends. Even so, I think you need to set a firm boundary with your ex that your custody time is off limits.

      Best,
      Dr T

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