My Ex and I have been divorced for two years. I live in the house we used to share, with our children, and he moved out after the divorce and in with his new woman. However, he still comes over whenever he wants (he still has a key to the house), eats dinner with us occasionally, and we still do “housework” together from time to time.
He still treats me the same as he did when we were together. Saying he’s coming over and then doesn’t show. Giving me the Silent Treatment when I tell him his actions are rather despicable in the big scheme of things.
I’ve asked him why he still comes to see me when he has a new partner, but his typical response is that he is in love with both of us and can’t make up his mind. He’s been seeing this woman since before the divorce and as far as I know, she doesn’t realize what’s really going on when he comes over. My guess is she probably thinks he’s visiting with the kids.
I have been letting him come over because the kids enjoy his company and also because I still have feelings for him.
Why can’t my narcissistic Ex make up his mind?
Dear Hanging On,
There’s really no easy way to say this, but it’s not that your Ex can’t make up his mind. He just wants you to continue believing that so he can continue having the “best of both worlds”, at least as it pertains to him. He’s taking advantage of your inclination to give him the benefit of the doubt while having you believe he still loves and cares about you.
This Narcissistic, self-serving behavior is actually more common than people might think or at least want to admit to. If he can persist in persuading you that he is a noble man at his core who is simply torn between two lovers, he can continue taking full advantage of both you and the situation.
It goes something like this: You tell him you don’t like being second best and he dramatically pretends to be torn and remorseful (shifting the attention back to him). Because of his obvious turmoil, you forget about his cheating and lies as your compassion kicks into high gear due to the obvious heart-wrenching battle he is going through. You agree to give him more time to figure things out.
In truth, his sense of entitlement won’t lead him to “figure things out”. He’ll instantly toss your wish that he make up his mind already and the whole episode will be forgotten within seconds because he’s gotten you back on board.
It’s every cheater’s dream.
I’m going to give you the dirty low-down here. As long as he is able to maintain this swindler’s yumminess, he is never going to change or choose.
You have two options here: accept the situation as it is and that he won’t change or throw him to the curb while setting a better example of love and marriage for your children and open your future up to the possibility of real and genuine love that doesn’t involve cheating and infidelity.
I know you have a shared history and all and you may believe you’re maintaining some sense of stability for your children, but they know their daddy has moved in with another woman, and in spite of your very best efforts to go stealth when doing “housework” with your Ex, your kids either already know what’s up or they will figure it out. Then what? They’ll grow up thinking it’s okay to cheat. It’s okay to keep a family on the back burner and throw out crumbs from time-to-time.
In turn, they will grow up not having a clear idea of what’s right and wrong as it pertains to romantic relationships and either not take them seriously and/or grow up tolerating a future partner cheating on them because that’s what dad did to mom (or vice-versa).
Not only that, your Ex will string you along for years never giving you the chance to build a new life or create an opening for another man to love you because, let’s face it, he still wants to control you even though he chose to move out and start a new life with someone else.
I would highly suggest changing the locks on your doors and starting a visitation schedule for him to visit your children—outside your home. He will no doubt be angry with this new boundary and will probably give you the silent treatment for a while, but it has to be done or you will be stuck in this La La Land limbo indefinitely.
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