Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Father is Having an Affair”

A few months ago I found out my dad was having an affair with a woman at his work. I’m 19 years old, going to college, living at home, and pursuing my dream career. I grew up in a loving family and was very close to both my parents. They were my best friends and I considered myself blessed to have them in my life.

Last year, my mom came home from work white in the face saying that my dad had called her and confessed that he “may” have kissed someone at his job. Needless to say there were a lot of tears, a lot of screaming, and a lot of pain. In the days to come the plot thickened and we learned that not only did he kiss someone else, he was having a full-blown affair. Still, my mom who is a beautiful, intelligent, and a dignified woman decided to honor the 25 years they had together by giving their marriage one last shot.

Right before Christmas, my dad left the house. He tearfully moved away saying that he needed to, “fix things and get himself together.” After ceasing all communication with his paramour for several months, the phone bill revealed that he had called this woman the night before he left. A few days later he took his phone off the account so my mom couldn’t see whom he was talking to and added the other woman on Facebook!

My dad was someone I could always count on for wisdom and advice. We were kindred spirits who liked the same kind of movies, shows, books, and activities. We had a special bond and now I feel like I don’t even know him anymore. It feels like he has been possessed by aliens.

I can’t talk to him and “hang out” with him like he wants me to because I can’t be a hypocrite and pretend like nothing has changed between us when my world has been rocked due to his own selfishness. I told my dad that I don’t want to see him until he gets rid of this home-wrecker. I’m not asking him to reconcile with my mom, just to stop being “friends” with his fellow adulterer who has ruined our lives. I promised him that if he even considers making her his “official girlfriend” that I will personally call everyone in our huge family (who don’t have a clue as to why my parents are separated) and tell them what he’s done with this sleazy woman.

I feel like my family life has turned into a trashy harlequin novel where my mom, my little sister, and I are just backstory. Over these past seven months, I have learned a lot of disturbing things that a daughter should never have to know about her father and unlike with any other man in my life I can’t just MOA from him because he will always be my dad. What are your thoughts? — A Disappointed Daughter

First of all, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m sure it must be difficult to have “your world rocked” as you say in such a way and to learn the difficult lesson that parents are not perfect and sometimes they do stupid, selfish things that affect their kids in detrimental ways. It isn’t fair, I know. But, unfortunately, life isn’t fair, and these things do happen.

The good news is that your father’s indiscretion does not have to define your parents’ marriage and it certainly does not have to define you, your family, or your dad. He is still the same man he always was — the same caring, loving father whom you thought of as your kindred spirit. He still loves you very, very much, I’m sure. But he has problems, temptations, and limitations that have obviously affected his judgment. Maybe he’s going through some sort of midlife crisis. Maybe there have been cracks in your parents’ marriage for a long time. Maybe there are many things that you are unaware of — things you were hopefully spared the knowledge of because they weren’t your business — that could explain why he’s made some of the painful decisions he has.

But those painful decisions he’s made, as well as the personal limitations he has as a flawed human being, don’t mean he loves you and your sister any less. They don’t even mean that the love and bond he shared with your mother was any less meaningful than you believed it to be. They don’t mean that every man shares those same flaws or will make similar decisions. All that these things you’re learning about your dad mean is that in this moment in time, this man — your father — acted irresponsibly for reasons you don’t understand.

Here’s something else I know: Those reasons, whatever they may be, don’t really matter. You may think they matter. You may be curious. I’m sure you want answers. But the answers won’t give you the kind of closure or satisfaction or relief you’re searching for. They won’t fix things. They won’t restore your family to what it once was. Your reality has shifted through no cause or fault of your own and that sucks.

But this probably wasn’t the first and it definitely won’t be the last time that happens.

Life throws curve balls and this, my dear, is a big one. You have to learn to accept and love your father in spite of the glaring flaws you’re seeing in him now. It isn’t an easy thing to do. Harder still, is trying to remain unjaded and keep a healthy, optimistic perspective on love and relationships (and men!). But I urge you, please try everything in your power to do just that. Speak to your parents about helping you find someone to talk to. These are crucial months for you to unpack some of the baggage you’re beginning to carry. The load gets heavier the more life experiences you gain and if you can find someone to help you sort through it at the young age you are now, you will be a better person for it.

Your father is not a bad person; he’s just made some bad decisions. There’s a big difference. And despite everything you say you’ve learned in the last seven months “that a daughter should never have to know about her father,” rest assured there is much you don’t — and won’t ever — know about him, your mother, and their marriage. No one — not even the kids who are a product of their parents’ union — know what truly goes on in someone else’s relationship. Everyone makes mistakes and your father isn’t the only party in your parents’ marriage who has likely done something he regrets. Please try to keep that in mind.

You compare your current situation to a trashy Harlequin novel, but there is rarely a real-life narrative in which one person is the villain and the other a completely innocent naif. We are all so complicated and multi-layered, capable of hurting those we love and care about with thoughtless words, ill-intentioned acts, and selfish deeds. Let’s all try to be more compassionate with each other, more understanding. You’re only 19, I know. But you’re not too young to learn these lessons. If you can find it in your heart to grant your father even the smallest bit of forgiveness and the tiniest breadcrumbs back into your life when you’re ready, you will be better for it. If you can’t do it for him, do it for yourself. Your future relationships and happiness are depending on it.

146 comments… add one
  • ReginaRey March 1, 2012, 9:28 am

    Wow, LW. I’m really sorry for what you’ve been put through. I can’t begin to imagine the emotions you’ve been feeling throughout this.

    Wendy gave you some really good advice. Our whole lives, we tend to see our parents as super-human. They take care of us, they provide for us, they’re always there when we need them, they seem to have everything figured out. It’s jarring to realize, in the most significant of ways, that a parent is human – complete with many flaws, faults, and bad decisions.

    As far as I know, my dad has never and would never cheat on my mom. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to fight with him less and get less frustrated with him than I did as a teen, because I’ve been able to accept his human flaws. There are some things he just won’t ever do or understand, and that’s who he is. It doesn’t take away from all of the other wonderful things about him.

    Like Wendy said, I encourage you to see the humanity in your dad. The propensity to be confused; to make mistakes; and to be emotionally and mentally tormented. I know it’s jarring to feel like more of an “adult” than a parent; right now, I’m sure you’re feeling more mature, more pulled together, more loyal, more honorable than your dad — and it probably makes you sick to your stomach. I don’t think you have to forgive him right this second. I think you’re entitled to be hurt and mad and sick to your stomach for a little while. You don’t have to like this woman he’s with. In time, when the hurt isn’t so fresh, those feelings will fade away, I think.

    If you feel the need to do or say something to your dad now, I’d recommend that you urge him to go to a therapist or a counselor. Leaving your wife after 25 years is no small thing. The mental and emotional turmoil and confusion and angst he’s likely been experiencing for quite some time means that he very likely could use someone to talk to. Someone unbiased, who can help him sort through those complex feelings. I think it’s OK to tell him you’re hurt and angry and that only time will tell if you can come around to forgiving him; but for at least the sake of you and your sister, ask him to get a bit of help.

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    • melanie March 1, 2012, 10:47 am

      I totally get what you’re saying here and agree with you. Parents DO make mistakes. It happens, they’re human. But, I think whats making it hardER for her to cope is that he didn’t just screw up once and fix it. He left saying that he needed to, “fix things and get himself together.” Which implies that he’s going to do his best to mend the situation but she felt betrayed again when he added the other lady to facebook.

      One and done is a lot easier to move past.

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    • SweetPea March 1, 2012, 11:42 am

      “I don’t think you have to forgive him right this second. I think you’re entitled to be hurt and mad and sick to your stomach for a little while.”

      I like that you added this. I think that the LW has every right to just feel like crap right now about this. We don’t have to be graceful and perfectly mature when we’ve been hurt. We can be big babies for a bit. While I don’t recommend wallowing in self-pity forever… I think it is realistic for her just to allow herself to be mad for a while. Sometimes it just feels good to cry and get angry and “let it all out”.

      However, I think she needs to express this anger and heartache to a neutral party- such as a good friend. It is a bad idea to: Feed her Mom’s anger, say things to her Dad she will later regret, and especially call everyone in the family to tell them about it. I can’t stress this enough- Don’t add to the drama!!! This may make it worse for her Mom. The rest of your family doesn’t need to know a damn thing unless your Mom sees it fit to tell them. She may need to mourn the loss of her marriage in privacy. I suggest going out with an understanding friend as often as possible. Someone who is okay with being a shoulder to cry on or an ear to take the brunt of your anger. You can sit around and talk about what a jerk your Dad is… and not have to worry about any repercussions.

      And this is what I would tell my Dad (or at least the way I hope I’d react)… “Look Dad, I’ll always love you. But, I am so angry at you right now that I can’t stand to spend any time with you. You need to give me time to cope with this. Yes, you are only human and you make mistakes, but you have hurt us all so incredibly. So, I’ll need some space for now”

      And then give yourself that time to heal. The hurt will never disappear, but it will fade. And you’ll be able to reopen the relationship with your Dad… who has acted like a jerk, but doesn’t deserve to lose his daughter.

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  • silver_dragon_girl March 1, 2012, 9:34 am

    There is so much anger in this letter, LW, and I can understand a lot of it. When I was 19 my dad left. I mean he just *left*, without telling anyone where he was going. We found out later that he basically became super depressed when his doctor switched his depression medication, and kind of went off the rails for a bit. I still don’t know the details, because at the time I refused to talk to him about it. Even after he came back, I refused to speak to him for weeks. Right after I found out he just took off, I called him and left a horrible, angry, nasty, accusatory message on his phone.

    After he came back things were ok for about a year. Then my dad called to tell me he and my mom were separating. He didn’t go into details, and I don’t know if any affairs were involved on either side, but even so, it was so, so hard for me to know about. The next time I went home to visit, he showed me his new rental house, and I almost cried.

    I think it’s a pivotal moment in every person’s life when they have to realize that their parents are just people. That’s all. People exactly like you- they mess up, they do stupid things they later regret, and then they have to live with and learn from them.

    Do me a favor, and talk to your dad about how you feel. I mean really talk to him about it. Don’t just threaten him with “outing” him to your family, or yell or angrily tell him how he’s ruining everyone else’s lives…I mean talk to him. And listen.

    I have never talked to my dad about how I felt about what he did, not really. Now that it’s been several years, and he’s back with my mom, and they seem very happy, I just don’t want to bring up all that bad stuff again. I know I should, but it’s so, so hard. So please, LW, do it NOW. Yes, it will be hard, but I promise in the long run you’ll be glad you did.

    And one more thing: stop thinking of this other woman as the “home-wrecking adulteror.” Seriously, life is way too short and too hard to carry around all that anger with you.

    And take all of Wendy’s advice, too. It’s superb.

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  • kerrycontrary March 1, 2012, 9:38 am

    I agree with everything that RR has said. But, please, for God’s sake, do NOT call up your entire extended family and tell them what’s been going on. You may think that you are shaming your dad, but you are also embarassing your mother and opening up a very private matter. You shouldn’t have been involved in any of this in the first place, but please don’t involve more opinions than necessary. If your father and mother wanted people to know what is going on they would’ve told them themselves.

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    Budj March 1, 2012, 9:43 am

    I can’t emphasize enough how much you need to not let this jade you with all men or cause you to act out self-destructive behavior with the hope that it will spite your father…you will regret those decisions someday if you end up going there. There is a whole level of complexity in your parent’s relationship that you are just getting the tip of the iceberg with. It is an eye opening experience discovering your parents aren’t these perfect people that never made mistakes…

    I second Wendy’s advice to work through any jaded feelings, whether by “forgiving” or with a trusted friend or counselor, so you can prevent any potential relationship issues you may have in the future.

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  • bethany March 1, 2012, 9:53 am

    I know what you guys are saying is the grown up, mature way to look at things, but if I ever found out that one of my parents cheated on the other, I’d react the exact same way as the LW, and I’d probably never want to speak to them again. And this is coming from a 30 year old. I honestly don’t think I could ever get over it.

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      Budj March 1, 2012, 9:55 am

      I’d have a tough time with it too…I’m just saying she should be working through her feelings on this because I’ve seen a few young women in my day make some decisions they have regretted due to acting out against an unfaithful father. That doesn’t necessarily mean forgiving him.

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    BriarRose March 1, 2012, 9:54 am

    LW, what a terrible thing for you to have to go through. I’m so sorry. I will relate to you what happened in my marriage, because I feel like it does support what Wendy said to you-that in real life, in real romances and marriages, “there is rarely a real-life narrative in which one person is the villain and the other a completely innocent naif”. Of course my situation is different-my husband and I were younger, had been married for far less time, and our daughter was only 3 at the time. Still, bear with me and hopefully it will help.

    My husband and I had been married going on 5 years when he had to go to 6 months of Army training in a state about 2 days drive away. We decided that I would stay with our daughter in the house we had just bought, while he rented an apartment during his training. He visited us twice, and I visited him once. Since he suddenly had the freedom of no wife and child to come home to every night, he was free to go out every night, hang with friends, getting some beers, etc. Nothing too scandalous. There was a married couple there that he hung out with, along with another guy.

    He come home in April, and the night he came home, he told me he loved me but was unhappy. Two days later he told me he wanted a divorce. I have never in my life been so shocked, so confused, so completely had the rug pulled out from under me. He had been having an emotional affair with the married lady, and it continued while he lived with me for a few more months. He would text her non-stop and would go outside to take her calls. Right in front of me!! As you said, it was like an alien had replaced this man, my husband, who I had known since he was FIFTEEN years old! I had no idea what to do, how to proceed. I was devastated. I felt like a fool, like I had been tricked and lied to. And it was perfectly clear to me, my friends, my family, heck even HIS family, that I was the victim in all this. I was the poor, innocent victim and got nothing but sympathy from anyone and everyone. His own mother said she couldn’t understand, where did she go wrong in raising him, etc. No one would talk to him, no one supported him, no one really cared much about him at all.

    I convinced him to go to counseling. He moved out. He moved back in. We went to counseling some more. As time went by, I started to realize that maybe I wasn’t the victim everyone had made me out to be. Sure, the shocking way he went about things wasn’t kosher at all, but my husband was terribly unhappy in our marriage, and I had played a part in that. In counseling I found out for the first time about so much of his unhappiness and disatisfaction, that he had never shared because he didn’t want to cause trouble. I am not defending my ex-husband here, not totally. I will NEVER understand why he didn’t say anything. I will NEVER understand why he dropped so a bomb on me. But I do now see just how unhappy he was, how unloved he felt, how completely and utterly trapped he felt. And I also finally acknowledged that I felt the EXACT same way, but had never been brave enough to even entertain such thoughts.

    As time went by, I realized that he and I didn’t make each other happy. I wish it hadn’t gone the way it did, but in a way, I am thankful that it all happened, because if he had never spoken up, he and both would still be trapped in a relatively loveless and unhappy marriage. We are now divorced, our daughter is 7 and doing just fine, and while life is pretty tough at times (man do I miss the two incomes), I am so much happier than I ever have been.

    I apologize for just how long this was. I know personal ancedotes are usually self-serving, but I really hope that mine was able to give you a tiny bit of insight into what may be happening. Your mother is not perfect, she played her part in the marriage just as your father did. You don’t have to approve of what he did, but his actions do not take away from the father and man he always has been. I’m not expecting you to read this and go running into his arms all full of forgiveness, but I do hope that maybe it convinced you to not cut him out of your life. There is a bumpy road ahead, counseling is an excellent idea to help you navigate this road. Please do consider it. I hope your family is able to make peace with this and stay intact in some way.

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    • Francine March 1, 2012, 10:23 am

      Thanks for sharing your story. It can be applied to so many situations. There are two sides to every story and usually much more going on than what is seen on the surface. And while fully knowing the situation in full depth may not lead to forgiveness, the enlightenment can offer a better understanding and open a path to moving on.

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    call-me-hobo March 1, 2012, 9:54 am

    Hey LW,

    When I was a young teen, I was in almost your exact same situation.

    IT SUCKS MAJOR BALLS. I wish there was a more articulate way to say it, but alas, there isn’t. The affair (who was a neighbor and personal friend) lasted until I was about 16ish, with lot of tears and verbal abuse along the way. I hated what my father had done to our family, I hated my mother for not leaving him, and I carried a lot of hurt and anger for several years.

    That anger and bitterness almost destroyed me. I was a raw and vulnerable teenager, and I had some people who used that against me in order to gain my trust, and ultimately take advantage of me. Anger, even righteous anger, never truly brings anything good in the end. You mostly just end up hurt.

    Don’t do what I did. Go get help, hopefully, a third party counselor- which your college most likely offers for free, as covered by your tuition. Do NOT become a confidant for either parent. Like you said, you do not need to know the messy details of this situation. If your mother or father try to confide in you, ask them to be left out of it. Believe me, it will help. I would also suggest moving out- either in an apartment or campus housing. That environment is NOT good for you.

    After some counseling for that and a few other issues that were caused by the affair, I can now say that I am a relatively well-adjusted female who has a healthy relationship with her father.

    I’m not saying that you have to forgive your father or pretend everything is ok, because it’s not. He has not only violated your family’s trust, but your own as well. It’s ok to let him know how much this has hurt you. But I am saying, you need to get help to sort out these feelings in a healthy way (Read: with a professional) in order to make sure that you WILL be ok in the future.

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    • Taylor March 1, 2012, 10:57 am

      “Anger, even righteous anger, never truly brings anything good in the end. You mostly just end up hurt. ”


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      MELH March 1, 2012, 8:53 pm

      I second your comment about not becoming either parents confidant. My parents nearly divorced when I was in college. Not over infidelity, but over my mom’s drinking problem. My mom kept the appropriate distance. My dad didn’t. When I was at home on breaks, he would wake me up in the middle of the night and cry and tell me how confused he was. Once, he called me at school and asked me whether or not he should divorce my mom. And that wasn’t even the last straw,. The last straw was when he called me while I was away but nearby for the night, and told me that he needed me to come home or he might hurt himself. I talked to him until he calmed down, but I didn’t come home, and in the morning, I told him that this couldn’t go on.
      My parents eventually got back together and have worked everything out, and my mom is still in AA. What my dad did was really inappropriate and very very hard for me. Don’t put yourself in that situation.

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        call-me-hobo March 2, 2012, 9:17 am

        I’m so sorry, MELH. That was so unfair for you. During the affair stuff, my mom would crawl into my bed at night and cry until she fell asleep, and do things like your dad- ask me for advice, ask if she should get a divorce, etc. I was like, 14, so I had no idea of the impact that would have on our future relationship.

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        MELH March 2, 2012, 9:29 am

        Thanks, call-me-hobo, I’m sorry you went through that as well. I was at least a little older, I was 19 or 20, so I guess my dad felt like he was dealing with an adult. It was still wrong, but I had a younger sister who was 16 who was totally kept out of it, I think because of her age. You were way too young to be dealing with that!

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    rainbow March 1, 2012, 10:00 am

    “I told my dad that I don’t want to see him until he gets rid of this home-wrecker” … “his fellow adulterer who has ruined our lives” … “I promised him that if he even considers making her his “official girlfriend” that I will personally call everyone in our huge family and tell them what he’s done with this sleazy woman”.

    I think your anger is misdirected. This woman never promised your mother anything, your father did. So if you don’t want any “sleazy” “home-wreckers” in your life you’re going to have to let him go, because he’s the one who betrayed your mother. This woman was never responsible for you or your happiness, your father was, and if someone “ruined your life” then he did, not her.

    Of course it’s much easier to blame her than your dad, because as you said you’re stuck with him for life and you can always hope she’ll disappear, but that’s no excuse to put all the blame on her: no one can “wreck” a happy home, nor “take” a man who doesn’t want to be taken.

    Threatening to out your dad as an adulterer is a very unhealthy thing to do. You can decide to not be in his life if you’re not comfortable with how he lives it, but don’t make any threats, please. Trying to control other people through fear is a very bad idea and it backfires every time (in this case, he’ll probably lie more so you don’t make a scene and you’ll end up feeling awful when you find out).

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      Budj March 1, 2012, 10:06 am

      I get where you are coming from…but the other woman is absolutely not blameless here. She was aware he had a family…she made her decisions with full knowledge of the repercussions…she didn’t care. I personally don’t have a huge issue with people being the “other person” when someone is dating because in that situation I agree with what you said here, but married with children is a different ball game.

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      • Francine March 1, 2012, 10:31 am

        I agree. The other woman may not have made any promises or been obligated in any way to protect the LW’s happiness and didn’t betray her as her father did, but she certainly did knowingly participate in the act that hurt this family. Of course the LW is angry with her too.

      • Jessibel March 1, 2012, 10:38 am

        One thing really stuck out in this letter to me, where he called the other woman the night before he left, then took his phone off of the plan so that no one could see his call records anymore, and then added the woman on Facebook. To me, that’s just sneaky and dishonest. While I agree with pretty much all the advice given, when it comes to everyone saying how he’s a good guy who has made bad decisions…I’m actually questioning whether or not he’s really a good guy. I’m not sure a good guy would go to those lengths to be so dishonest. Maybe I’m totally wrong, but that part was really bothering me. The other woman isn’t blameless, Budj is right, she knew the deal and didn’t care. I get that sometimes you can’t help who you fall in love with, but those are the situations in life where you make a decision and need to own it. It doesn’t really sound like either of them is owning the decision, they’re still keeping their relationship and being sneaky about it. It also bothers me that the dad lied and originally said he just kissed the woman. It was like he was trying to selfishly alleviate his guilt by coming partially clean to her mother, and then he was going to continue the affair anyway. 🙁 LW, I’m sorry that you’re going through this situation.

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        landygirl March 1, 2012, 10:54 am

        Thank you, I agree. While I don’t think he’s evil, he certainly isn’t a good guy because good guys don’t do what he did. The other woman didn’t make the vow to the family but she was aware of the family and didn’t care that she was breaking it up. I have a difficult time feeling sympathy for either one of them.

      • Matcha March 1, 2012, 11:34 am

        Yeah, it sounds like the “fix things and get himself together” really means “get himself together with his mistress.”

    • Flake March 1, 2012, 10:29 am

      I agree with you…

      Warning: an unpopular opinion is coming up…

      LW, I think you are making this a little too much about you. Surely your life has been affected. But this did not happen TO YOU. It happened to your parent’s marriage. It is their relationship that has changed, their way of life. I understand your anger. But that is a part of growing up: realizing that you are not the centre of the universe, even for your parents. Your parents are not living your life, they are living theirs.

      As for the mistress, although not entirely innocent, doesn’t deserve all that anger and contempt. If it weren’t her in particular, I am fairly sure that your father would have found someone else to cheat with.

      And the blackmailing? That is where you lost me. I get that you are angry but that is entirely none of your business… Have you even considered how your mother would feel should you make such a revelation?? How do you know that your relatives don’t already suspect something? And whoever that woman may be, your father, the man you say is intelligent and kind, considers her important enough to risk his way of life for.

      And, yes, my parents are divorced, and my father even married the woman he left my mom for (about 20 years later). And you know what, he is happy. She loves him the way my mom, unfortunately, never could. She makes him happy, and I am grateful to her for that. I only wish that my mom would find the same thing.

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      • Flake March 1, 2012, 10:52 am

        Another note: the parents do not owe their kids explanations. There’s simply no good way to cheat. Once the father made that choice, all the following actions stream from that one decision to cheat. It doesn’t matter that he tried to hide it. In my opinion, it would not have made him a “better or a worse man” had he announced his decision to “friend” her on Facebook.

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        Skyblossom March 1, 2012, 8:26 pm

        I think you’re wrong. When a man or woman walks out of their home and leaves their family behind they are betraying their children as much as their spouse. They are abandoning their children for the affair just as much as they are abandoning their spouse for the affair. Every kid I know who has had this happen to them has despised their dad and had a terrible relationship with their dad afterwards. The child is as hurt as the betrayed spouse.

        When a marriage hits a rocky spot each spouse has a choice of turning inward toward the marriage and working on the marriage or turning outward from the marriage and cheating, avoiding home or becoming a workaholic. Turning outward is destructive to the entire family, including the kids. Being ditched for an affair hurts regardless of whether you are the spouse or the child.

      • Sue August 10, 2018, 12:49 am

        Sounds to me like your are defending people who lack moral character . They both deserve each other as both are amoral . The father should have done the honourable and right thing by divorcing first and not lying . The writer has a right to feel how they’ve feel . Your pseudo empathy is weak and ring false .

    • mcminnem March 1, 2012, 10:31 am

      I wrote the same thing down below, rainbow…I guess we posted at the same time. I’m glad someone else mentioned it – I feel a little harsh.

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    • Calle March 1, 2012, 12:15 pm

      Sorry, but I have to completely disagree. If someone knowingly carries on an affair (not a one time thing) with someone who is married (not separated) and who is not in an open relationship, then that person is complete scum in my opinion. Look, people screw up all the time. This woman did not sleep with him once or twice and go “what the hell was I thinking?” She knowingly carried on a long term affair, knowing that she was not only hurting his wife but his kids. Sure, she did not take any vows but there is such a thing as common human decency. The LW’s father and his mistress are both home-wreckers.

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      • lets_be_honest March 1, 2012, 1:01 pm

        Totally agree. I get the whole ‘its not the other girl’s fault you’re boyfriend cheated so take your anger out on the boyfriend, not the girl’ to a degree. When what you detailed happens, yea, you (being the mistress) are a disgusting homewrecker playing a major role in destroying lives. If she were anything but, she would’ve waited until the man was divorced.

  • SaraRosie March 1, 2012, 10:05 am

    There are so many crazy stories out there it also helps knowing there are people going through similar circumstances.

    My Dad had an affair also – for almost 10 years now, and in that affair he had started another family. I have been struggling with the same thoughts, how do i move forward?? I have told my Dad I want a relationship with him because why should I miss out on having a Dad because of his mistakes? There’s nothing easy about these types of situations, our family home is going into a short sale, my Mom moved out and i still don’t understand how two people who had a home and a life together can end up here 30 years later.

    BUT i do know i can learn from their mistakes in my own relationships and I know that my Dad probably does not even understand where he went wrong, how he got so lost down a rabbit hole. It may take years for him and I be in a better place and i am so so angry with him, my sister is so full of rage toward him too, but i know those emotions are thing i have to work through on my own because my Dad really has no explanations to give anyone – he messed up, thats the bottom line.

    Being honest with my Dad has been the best thing for me, talking about the elephant in the room will really help you LW. One day i found out he had brought the other family to our home, i called him up and said you should not have done that. Rather than stew in my anger, i called him and said that was wrong and i don’t like it. I love you and stop giving me reasons to want to walk away, lets work on our relationship. Its not easy – but holding it all in, all that does it make life harder on yourself, and I’m sure that’s the last thing you need. You will get through this!

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  • sparky629 March 1, 2012, 10:11 am

    LW, I just want to say this…the relationship that you have with your parents is totally separate from the relationship (marriage) they have together.
    I’ll tell you a story:
    I used to date this guy many moons ago, his parents were divorced because of an infidelity on the dad’s part. He was literally angry at his dad because he had cheated on the mom. He was so angry that basically he acted like his dad had never existed…had never taken him to baseball games, or taught him how to drive, shave or all of the thousands of things that dads do on a daily basis.

    For him, the father ceased to exist. That totally blew my mind because I couldn’t understand how his dad’s infidelity = my dad doesn’t exist. Basically, I told him that he didn’t have the right to be angry at his dad, you can be upset that your mom went through that but to take on the burden of righteous indignation was well…setting himself up for some serious anger and relationship issues in the future.
    Needless, to say our relationship pretty much ended after that. 🙂

    But all of that was to say…your dad is your dad and he will be until he leaves this earth or you do. Please don’t define your relationship with him or your eternal happiness by ONE act. If you maintain your relationship with him it is NOT a betrayal to your mother.
    Work through your feelings about the infidelity and just be there for both of your parents and stay as neutral as possible.

    I know easier said than done 😉 but in the long run it will save you some much heartache.

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  • Francine March 1, 2012, 10:16 am

    Wow. I completely understand your anger. You felt great about your life and your dad did something that changed that. Of of course you’re angry about it. When these things happen we expect heartfelt apologies accompanied by a commitment from the offender to change the behavior that hurt us. It’s so difficult to get past our hurt and anger without that.

    But the reality is, you can’t control anyone but yourself. You may never get the action from your dad that you want but it also isn’t good for you to carry that anger and hurt forever. I know you long for the kindred spirit father whom you could always count on for wisdom and advice but you need to accept that he’s now your flawed father and work from there.

    Revealing your dad’s indiscretion and continuing involvement with the other woman to family and friends may sound like it would be satisfying and at the same time allow others to know and understand your pain but it won’t accomplish what you desire… changing your dad back to the dad you once knew. Any momentary thrill you get from inflicting pain on the person who hurt you will soon be replaced with the shame that comes from the realization that you reacted to a bad relationship by doing something that hurts others. Don’t become that which you despise.

    It isn’t bad to mourn the loss of your former existence. But you still need to live in your new existence so do our best not to make it unpleasant. Maybe that means telling your dad that first you need to get used to your new life before you can begin to find a way to relate to our new dad. Keep your distance and gradually rebuild as you feel ready.

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    • Francine March 1, 2012, 10:36 am

      Geez! Make that “your” new dad.

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    IDreamofElectricSheep March 1, 2012, 10:17 am

    I think it would help quite a bit if you went into counseling; perhaps ask your mother about this or if you are in college, I am sure there is free university therapy that is provided.

    I had and have horrible relationships with all the members of my family. Probably the worst with my father; he came home a total of perhaps one month per year (I grew up in an expatriate community, long story). The bank he owned was in one country while we lived in another. Growing up, I always knew something was terribly wrong with the dynanmic between my parents and within my family. Once I went off to boarding school in the States for high school, my parents separated.

    I found out, through my mother, that my father had had another family for years, in the country where he has his business. Not only that, WE were actually the “other” family. Overnight, away from home (which was a blessing), I found out that I had two older half-siblings. My mother had known for years and had just been waiting for her children to leave before pulling the trigger. I felt like everything I had seen and been told had been a big, fat lie.

    It took awhile to recover from that and I’m not sure if you ever “get over” something that life-changing. It’s like when you are diagnosed with a serious condition or lose a friend or family member. I like to tell people that it’s not something you “get over”, but rather that you have to start living life with a new perspective. And what I learned was that I could separate my father into a different aspects of himself. As in, he was a rotten husband and father, yes. But he was a good provider (of sorts, another story) and allowed me to have a great education. He tried to make sure that he gave me as much attention as he gave my older sister. He gave me half his genes and I’m pretty happy with them. He gave me life, so on a fundamental level, I grateful for that. And so forth.

    For each item I could list, it became easier for me to appreciate/disparage my father on my own terms, for each individual trait. It took me a long time to understand that a blanket statement of “My dad was a rotten father” carried with it such a load of guilt and anger. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, trust me, I KNOW. But you will get there. You are entitled to call him every name in the book right now. But the sooner you look at him as a person who is intricately complicated, the easier it will get.

    Wendy is right, too, about how we never understand our parents’ relationship. We don’t know what it is based on, what binds or loosens them, what the subtle shades of adoration and resentment exist between two people. Heck, I’m married and I can’t even define my own relationship with my husband. So realize that you may not know everything, but you don’t need to in order to start healing and recasting the relationship you have with your father into something new.

    Good luck and I wish you the best. Hugs!

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  • haggith March 1, 2012, 10:28 am

    as the daughter of a (multiple) cheater, i understand where you’re coming from. the first time i learned my dad cheated on my mom i was too young to understand it. later in life he even had a child with another woman, a brother i haven’t met yet. of course, i have the same feelings as you have now; confusion, hatred and hatred towards men throughout all my teens and young adulthood because if the principal man in my life betrayed me like that i couldn’t expect other men treat me with honesty. that’s the path i took and i regretted it because, as someone had already pointed out, all that resentment was misdirected. i hated the other women, at least 3 almost 50 years of marriage, but deep inside i really wished he was serious with one of them, that he really was in love with one of them, that at least he had a reason to be with someone he had feeling for; that al least his cheating was worthwhile. i learned since i was very little my parents were fallible human beings, they weren’t my heroes but my parents. while i had so much resentment stored for years, that same knowledge made it easier for me to forgive them (yes, them; i hated my mom for making me go through this and learn things children shouldn’t know) and have a nice relationship with them now that i’m far away

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  • mcminnem March 1, 2012, 10:28 am

    LW, on top of everything else everyone has said, I want to say something you probably don’t want to hear – please, please, stop calling this other woman a sleazy homewrecker. I know you want to hate this woman right now, and that’s fine. But you have to let go of the idea that everything was kittens and rainbows until this woman came in and “wrecked” your family. I’m not saying she’s not partially to blame, but you don’t know her – she may not even have been aware of your dad’s marriage. The scenario of some sleazy woman maliciously luring the married man away…kinda just doesn’t happen. Someone can’t be lured against their will.

    Your dad is responsible for his own actions – the other woman is by no stretch blameless, but “homewrecker” is a word and an idea that needs to go away. Things will be a lot easier to process when you realize that parents, even your parents, are people, and people do shitty things sometimes. Things can’t be undone now, and even if this woman were to go away, there would still be a problem there. Try to hold on to the idea that’s it’s not just one person’s fault – not your dad’s, not your mom’s, not the other woman’s, certainly not yours, and it doesn’t change anything fundamental about who these people are.

    And please please don’t go calling your dad out to your extended family – you can’t manipulate him into undoing what has happened, and while it may feel good for a minute to “shame” him, you’ll only be involving and hurting more people, possibly driving your family apart as they feel forced to “pick sides”.

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    • ReginaRey March 1, 2012, 10:45 am

      Whether or not this woman was some cunning jezebel who willfully attempted to lure her dad away, or some clueless person who had no idea what she was doing, you’re completely right when you say that no one can be lured against their will.

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      caitie_didnt March 1, 2012, 11:27 am

      “The scenario of some sleazy woman maliciously luring the married man away…kinda just doesn’t happen. Someone can’t be lured against their will.”

      This. so much this. If someone is unwilling to stray from their marriage, no amount of flirting and tempting will make them do it.

      I agree that the LW is making this a little too much about her. Which really, is only natural when you’re 19 years old. I would suggest, like many others, that the LW do the following:

      – see a counsellor ASAP. Colleges and universities offer counselling services to all students.
      – look for an apartment on your own if you can afford it, or find some roommates and move out on your own. Or, apply to live in residence/on campus. Your house is not a healthy environment, and physical distance will help give you some emotional distance.
      – refuse to act as a confidant for either of your parents.

      I also think it’s okay to not see or talk to your dad for a little while. He has hurt you and you need to process what’s happened with the assistance of a counsellor. If you need to, just tell your dad that you need some space and some time to reflect and absorb what has happened and that you’re asking him to respect your desire for space. You can contact HIM when you’re ready. But it’s important that you avoid him not to punish him, but to help yourself heal.

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    • Calle March 1, 2012, 12:23 pm

      Eh, I said this before…If she knowingly had an affair with the guy, both LW’s dad and the mistress are home-wreckers. I kind of hate this whole idea that nobody is at fault when this type of thing happens…Even if the marriage wasn’t great, LW’s dad is still at fault for having an affair instead of being brave and telling his wife he wants a separation/open marriage/etc. Also, it is not like LW’s dad cheated on her mom once or twice…the guy carried on a long term affair…I suppose I kind of feel like Dan Savage in one respect…He says that unless one partner is incredibly ill or there is some extreme extenuating circumstances, there is no reason to sneak around…He basically says that people need to grow some ovaries/balls and tell their partner they need to talk about an open marriage/separation/etc.

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    • Calle March 1, 2012, 12:24 pm

      Eh, I said this before…If she knowingly had an affair with the guy, both LW’s dad and the mistress are home-wreckers. I kind of hate this whole idea that nobody is at fault when this type of thing happens…Even if the marriage wasn’t great, LW’s dad is still at fault for having an affair instead of being brave and telling his wife he wants a separation/open marriage/etc. Also, it is not like LW’s dad cheated on her mom once or twice…the guy carried on a long term affair…I suppose I kind of feel like Dan Savage in one respect…He says that unless one partner is incredibly ill or there is some extreme extenuating circumstances, there is no reason to sneak around…He basically says that people need to grow some ovaries/balls and tell their partner they need to talk about an open marriage/semi-open marriage/separation/etc.

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      iwannatalktosampson March 1, 2012, 2:47 pm

      I totally agree. I hate the word “home wrecker” kinda like I hate the word “fag” and hate the word “moist”. There are just some words that really irk me, and home wrecker is one of them. I definitely think this woman is selfish and has a different moral compass than what I want humans to have – but the word home wrecker needs to be banished from out vocabulary. I know it’s hard to hear but you can’t wreck a home that’s not already broken in some way.

      But all that aside I feel really bad for you LW and I would probably be furious at my dad too. But the resentment you feel is only hurting you. Get to therapy and try to distance yourself from your parents marriage as much as you can.

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  • Bossy Italian Wife March 1, 2012, 10:59 am

    I completely understand your inclination to want to totally not deal with your father; this has clearly rocked your world and it’s one of those really defining moments for the people in your family. But I completely agree with Wendy that you need to realize that your father is still the same person. Sure, you are going to be angry, it’s sad and hurtful that your model relationship in life has been ripped apart before your eyes.

    You should also know that marriage is the most complicated beast that anyone can encounter, and there is no way that you can ever have the full story when it comes to the dissolution of your parents’ marriage. Don’t take sides in the matter between them, even though you will clearly have an opinion on the matter. Though his actions are clearly effecting you very deeply, try to keep in mind he wasn’t doing it to hurt you directly. He probably wasn’t even doing it to hurt your mother, if you can wrap your head around that one.

    Of course you shouldn’t act like nothing happened, but at the same time, this action of your father’s doesn’t change his relationship to you on the most fundamental levels. He is still your father and he still loves you, even though he may be acting in a way that seems otherwise because keeping your family together should be his priority but it doesn’t seem to be at this point. Let your parents sort this out on their own–it’s their marriage and they are ones in the driver’s seats.

    Affairs happen to lots of marriages and it’s not always a deal breaker; marriages can bounce back and time heals a lot of wounds between two people. Try to approach the situation from as neutral a standpoint as you can because ultimately you never know what will happen between your parents. I am also guessing no matter what, you will want to have a relationship with both your parents. Don’t burn bridges with family.

    You might want to consider getting some therapy at this point to help you work through what is likely to be a complicated situation with a lot of complicated feelings. Sometimes an outside perspective can help you immeasurably.

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  • Taylor March 1, 2012, 11:14 am

    Think long and hard before you call out your Dad in front of the family and verbally attack him and the other woman on a public stage. This situation sucks – for you, your Mom, your whole family. Your Dad did some bad things, but that doesn’t give you carte blanche to do as you please. Your feelings are understandable, and valid, but if you act in a destructive and hurtful manner in retaliation, you are still responsible for those actions. If you make them big and long lasting, you may regret them later.

    I’m going to be all personal anecdote-ey for a minute – something similar happened in my fella’s family 20 years ago (he was 12, his sister 15), and it sucked for everyone involved. In the long run, things turned out well – his (awesome) Mom says now that her divorce made her a better person. Two decades later, weddings and baby showers and other family things include his Mom and step-Mom and everyone plays nice. Both kids have a good relationship with their Dad now. I’m know I’m sensitive to this because my dad died when I was 21. I wish he was around for all this stuff. So, I advise you – work things out with the Dad you have in as healthy a manner as you can. It won’t always feel this way, it will get better.

    Good luck LW!

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    • mcminnem March 1, 2012, 12:07 pm

      I’m glad you brought this up – LW – don’t underestimate the value of having your dad in your life. Cut him out for a little while if that’s what you need to heal and process what happened – that’s probably actually what would be best – but don’t feel like he has to be dead to you forever, especially because you were so close. Act toward him now in a way that you can look back on with pride years down the road – leave the door open for him to be there for you again someday, when you want and need him to be there.

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    Lianne March 1, 2012, 11:17 am

    Wonderful, thoughtful, caring advice, Wendy! I got chills.

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  • Sarah March 1, 2012, 12:05 pm

    LW, I am so sorry. Feeling betrayed by your parent’s actions by affairs and divorce is one of the worst feelings in the world, I know that from experience myself. But the thing is, and this is something that needs to be repeated, sometimes, parents are f*ckin idiots.

    I can honestly say the biggest mistake both of my parents made in their divorce when I was fifteen was that they just did not understand how much they were oblivious to that fact that the actions against each other were hurting their kids just as much, if not more. I don’t know your dad, but I can promise you that he has no idea that this hurts you as much as it hurt your mom. He sees a separation in his head between you and the affair and split, not because he’s unfeeling, but because he subconsciously feels he has to otherwise he would not be able to make peace with his decisions. He would never forgive himself if he knew. Which he doesn’t, because he’s put a block there. Because parents are sometimes big f*ckin idiots.

    Parents are so in denial about these thing sometimes, that even if you were to actually say what you felt, that he broke your heart and your ability to trust him, I can guarantee you that in his mind he would be patting your imaginary head and telling you that you’ll understand better when you’re older and in a relationship and married and have kids. You might understand more about their relationship later (although frankly I think you’ve heard too much), but it doesn’t mean you know any less about how you feel now. But your dad doesn’t realize that and probably wont for years and years when hindsight has given him a kick in the ass. He’s too far gone in his decision/mistake to actually be able to admit to himself and you that he has really f*cked sh*t up for you.

    And that leads me to the second biggest mistake my parents made. Thinking that, no matter what, they would still have these kids you unconditionally love them and that they would “brave the storm” and still come out respecting and adoring their parents after a trial period. But you and I know better. We know that even though you can still always love your dad, there’s things he can do to permanently wreck the relationship if you let him. So don’t let him.

    So here are my suggestions.

    1.) You have GOT to stop asking your dad to leave/stop contacting his mistress. I knoooooow what you’re thinking, “But if he really cared about me as much as he says, it wouldn’t be a big deal to unfriend her on facebook and get her out of his life.” But the thing is he doesn’t know that, he just thinks he knows better than you (re: parents sometimes are big f*ckin idiots) and every single time you ask him and he doesn’t do it, you’re letting him betray you fresh over and over again. You’re thinking over and over “Dad, pick me over your mistress” and because he doesn’t know that’s what it is, and wont ever know, his actions tell you that he’s picking her over you and your needs, day after day. That, my friend, is a negative cycle that can last for decades. You have get out of it. I promise you, it will only hurt you.

    The other reason why you have to stop asking him that is because him leaving his mistress because you asked him to would be the WORST for your guys’ relationship. Let’s say he does it. Let’s say one day he goes “You’re right, that treacherous wench lead me astray. But I’m back to normal now! I’m your great dad again!” and you’ll take that. You’ll be fine with him blaming just about everything on her (and you might be already blaming her mostly, no?) and you’ll think you’ll have your dad again, because you need your dad to be “dad” again. Only you wont. Because after a while you’ll realize that you don’t feel less betrayed by your dad, that he actually messed up way more than the mistress did. And that forgiveness that you gave him to make things normal for you again will break slowly like a bad scar over a wound that wont heal. And slowly, ever so slowly, you will pull away from you dad. Because its so subtle, that pulling away, you’ll never realize you’re doing it until its too late. Not only that, but if your dad leaves her for you instead of leaving because he realized on his own that she’s a mistake, he will start to have regrets later too. And because he’s already so champ at deflecting, he’ll blame a part of that regret on you. So please, for your sake, stop asking.


    This will change how you deal with your dad and with men. If you get counseling now, it can change how you deal with them in a positive way. If you don’t, you making yourself INCREDIBLY vulnerable to toxic and co-dependent relationships, including the relationship with your dad. This was a big terrible thing to happen to you, honor your feelings about that and get help recovering.

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      JK March 1, 2012, 12:14 pm

      I <3 you Sarah (have I told you lately?)

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    • Flake March 1, 2012, 12:19 pm

      I so disagree with this…

      I am actually 100% sure that the father knows exactly how much his actions have hurt the LW. He made the choice that he considers best for everyone, including himself. How many times women on this site are told not to hang on to marriages just for the sake of the children? He made the decision that, hopefully, in the long run, is best for everyone involved.

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      • Sarah March 1, 2012, 12:29 pm

        “He made the decision that, hopefully, in the long run, is best for everyone involved.”

        I’m sorry, CHEATING on her mother is going to be best for the LW in the long run? Really?



        You know, I’ve *heard* there’s another way to leave a marriage. How does it go, maybe getting a divorce without betraying the family dynamic and the trust the LW had for the most significant man in her life? Perhaps THAT would have been the way to leave the relationship. PLEASE don’t tell me that her dad making the decision to cheat wasn’t a selfish one. Please don’t do that. Because it was.

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 12:36 pm

        I am not talking about his decision to cheat. I am talking about his decision to leave and separate from his wife.

        And I don’t think that the LW would be thrilled if he had just got up and gotten a divorce either.

      • savannah March 1, 2012, 12:42 pm

        But through his choices (and none of the moms) he made those two issues conflated, which is why a divorce would have been much easier to process on its own.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 12:59 pm

        I agree. If you’re unhappy in your marriage the least damaging path is to leave or get help to become happy again in the marriage. Sure, asking for a divorce isn’t likely to sit well with the kids but finding a new partner first and getting prepaired in advance for your post divorce life, knowing that the rest of your fmily is not getting the same opportunity is simply selfish.

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 1:00 pm

        So one day, the father just wakes up, turns to her mother, and says “I want a divorce”, goes to work, sleeps with the other woman… Does that make it OK??

        There is no good outcome in this situation. The father would have come out as a “villain” either way.

      • Sarah March 1, 2012, 1:07 pm

        You honestly think those are the only two ways to deal with divorce? Cheating or not cheating by technicality?

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 1:21 pm

        What I am saying is, in my opinion, there’s no good way of dealing with this.

      • lets_be_honest March 1, 2012, 1:24 pm

        While the outcome may be the same, don’t you think it’d be nicer for all parties to have been open and honest and given the marriage/wife a chance to work through their issues first, then divorce and THEN start sleeping around? At least then the wife and even husband would have a mutual respect for each other and dignity.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 1:11 pm

        That’s a pretty ridiculous spin on asking for a divorce before finding a new partner and getting a head start on your new life outside of your marriage. I suppose if you can’t think of a better way, do what works for you but I think most people have the sense to handle it better than that. Whether they choose to or not is another story.

      • lets_be_honest March 1, 2012, 1:11 pm

        I’d say that makes it better. Certainly makes him less of a coward.

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        landygirl March 1, 2012, 1:26 pm

        If you’re unhappy in your marriage, work on your marriage. If you can’t reconcile it, then divorce. What the father did was use his little brain to do the thinking and we all know that the little brain isn’t the smartest part of a man.

        There was obviously something missing in his marriage and instead of trying to fix it, he ignored the problem and had an affair. It doesn’t say much about him that he was willing to hurt his family for some tail.

      • savannah March 1, 2012, 1:35 pm

        Flake–come on, thats really extreme. Thats not how the vast majority of divorces start. And no thats also not what I meant. I mean a regular old divorce first, no other woman in sight would be better, not “ok”, but better than her dad cheating on her mom first, and then deciding to separate.

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 1:48 pm

        Look, we can speculate on this forever. The way I see this, the father probably didn’t think he would cheat on his wife of 25 years. But then the lady at work thing happened, and for whatever reason the cheating happened. I honestly do not think he made a conscious decision to cheat. He made a decision to kiss the woman (which I know means cheating right away) and then it just snowballed from there. I also am sure that it wasn’t an easy decision to break up a 25 year old marriage.
        I am by no means defending him, I am only saying that it may be easier for the LW to view her father as a fallible human being, because that is who he is. I don’t think that the cheating in particular is the problem. There are a lot of ways that parents “betray” their children’s trust. I know it hurts. I have been through that as well. But being just angry doesn’t help. It is actually pretty destructive. In the end, she is hurting herself even more by basing her opinion of men on her father’s one extremely stupid action.

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        landygirl March 1, 2012, 6:00 pm

        Sorry, I have no sympathy for him. Cheating is a deliberate act not happenstance. She has realized that her dad isn’t the upstanding person she thought he was. You’re right, it isn’t the cheating, its the way he handled it. I highly doubt that anything the daughter did or didn’t do would be enough to change his new relationship because he’s already made it clear that he comes first. The man is a coward. Maybe in time she’ll forgive him but I doubt it will be soon.

      • Sarah March 1, 2012, 12:54 pm

        Ok, “not being thrilled” and dealing with her parent’s divorce and felling like she has no trust left for her father or men in general are radically different things, no? She even says, “I’m not asking him to reconcile with my mom”. The divorce she understands, her dad’s cheating is what is causing the real damage. He chose the coward’s way out of a unsatisfying marriage and now the LW can’t stop looking at him like he is a coward. He threatened the bond they had for his own selfish gain and the ONLY thing going for him is that he’s too ignorant to realize that he hurt her and her sister as much as his wife.

        I’m not advocating the LW stewing in her own unhappiness and be counterproductive about this, but give her the validity in her feelings, because this was a sh*tty sh*tty thing to happen to her and her sister, and she damn well deserves respect of those feelings. Trying to talk her out of feeling justified in being sad and scared and angry is just going to make her turn those feelings inward when they should be turned right towards a counselor.

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 1:02 pm

        I am curious. Why do you think that he doesn’t know that he hurt them too?

      • Sarah March 1, 2012, 1:16 pm

        He knows he hurt his kids, but he also thinks he knows better. He thinks that kids just hate change, and they’ll recover pretty soon. He thinks that they’re separate from his wife, that because he still loves his kids and not his wife and that they didn’t know how it was in their marriage, that he didn’t betray them like he did her. He’s wrong, but that’s what it is. But to admit that would mean admitting the hardest thing a parent could, which is that he messed up his role as a parent for his own gain. That there was a way to give up the marriage but still keep the trust of his daughter, and he took the route that got him a girlfriend faster instead.

        Tell me, what’s the alternative? That he knows he broke his daughter’s heart and that he doesn’t care? Wouldn’t that make him a monster?

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 1:26 pm

        He knows perfectly well that he broke his daughter’s heart, and I am sure that he cares. And it has nothing to do with how fast he got the GF. And it would serve children right to remember that their parents are PEOPLE, and like all people they make mistakes that have absolutely nothing to do with them. I am sorry, but the LW is setting herself up for a life full of disappointment if, at the age of 19, she expects every decision that her parents make to revolve around her.

      • lets_be_honest March 1, 2012, 1:30 pm

        Every decision? Really? I’m thinking she just hoped for ONE decision, the one that truly affects her, for her to have been considered at all.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 1:31 pm

        And her parents are idiots if they think that just because they’re all adults that none of the decisions they make affect her.

      • Sarah March 1, 2012, 1:33 pm


      • Flake March 1, 2012, 1:39 pm

        Well, I think that at one point in life even parents deserve to put themselves first.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 1:50 pm

        And this is the point they should choose? I can see maybe traveling instead of bankrolling your kids’ education, telling them you won’t watch he grand kids every weekend, but when you want to have an affair you should think of yourself ahead of your family and let that be your guide? it’s a messed up world.

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 1:56 pm

        He made a stupid choice. I am not defending it. I am defending his right to make that choice.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 2:05 pm

        You’re right, he does have the right to make tht choice. But I don’t think you’ll ever convince the LW or anyone else who has experienced this that is isn’t happening to them because I’m sure every fiber of her being is telling her differently.

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 2:13 pm

        For the record, it “happened to me” too. And if it weren’t for my mom’s guidance, I and my brothers would hate our father too.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 2:33 pm

        My dad also asked my mom for a divorce when I was right around the LW’s age. There was no affair and my parents eventually reconciled but it was one of the hardest periods in my life. I know the LW must be devastated.

        I’m so sorry hat you had to go through something like that too. I really got the impression from your other posts that you didn’t understand why the LW was angry and that this was simply an incident between her parents that shouldn’t affect her. My apologies if I misinterpreted what you wrote.

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 2:43 pm

        I wrote below that it turned out a lot less traumatic for me and my brothers because my mother made it absolutely clear that my parent’s relationship and the divorce had absolutely nothing to do with us. She always said that my father made a mistake, and they had decided to go their separate ways. She never let us know how painful it must have been for her. And since she seemed to accept it, it was that much easier for us to accept it as well.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 4:01 pm

        That’s good. My mom put on a brave face during the day but her sadness still came through and I knew she cried alone in her room. I remember feeling like I didn’t want to leave her alone because I knew she’d just cry. I stayed home a lot so I could distract her. My younger sisters were upset about having to move and switch schools and my dad just felt horribly guilty even though it wasn’t his fault. I hated thinking about future holidays when we wouldn’t all be together anymore. My parents sold the vacation property that they had planned to retire to which was difficult since we all loved it there. The atmosphere at home just felt different too. Lots of changes and my sisters and I didn’t like any of them.

        I don’t think my parents could have done anything to stop what was happening to their marriage from affecting us. I think its hard to not be affected by things that are happening to the people you love.

      • ele4phant March 1, 2012, 2:46 pm

        Having been in this position myself, I don’t think the father “thinks he knows better” or thinks that his daughter just hates change but will get over.

        I talked with my father AT LENGTH about his decision to end his marriage with my mother, and he knew how heart broken I was, and how painful this was for me. He also knew that he and my mother had both been misreable for years, and if not for us, would have ended it far sooner. Did he mess up by waiting, and leaving my mom for someone else? AB-SO-LUTELY, but I don’t think her every thought “Oh, hon, you just don’t like change you’ll get over it.” It was hard, he fully realized how much his decision affected the entire family, but now that things have settled I do realize that my parents deserve to be happy, and in their case that means seperately.

        And truth be told, it was easier as a grown-up to move on. Yeah, it was scary to have my parents break-up, it broke my heart to see how my father could move on from my wonderful mother, but it WAS easier at 23 than it would have been at 13. I had my own life, my own dreams, my own boyfriend who was starting to build a life. On a day to day basis, I didn’t live with either of them, so there wasn’t a huge impact on my home life, or affect how I conducted my relationship with either parent.

        While I see my father far more realistically than I did before my parents divorce, but in a way, I really appreciate how they keep things together for YEARS so we could have a two parent household growing up. There were years of sacrficed happiness spent in an unfufiling relationship for both my parents, and yes, the split hurt me, but they do have a right to be happy at some point. Even if it comes at a small expense to me.

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      Skyblossom March 1, 2012, 8:50 pm

      You are so wise!

      One thing about cheating spouses is that they tend to think that once their kids meet the person they’re cheating with (cheatee) the kids will see how wonderful the cheatee is and the kids will love the cheatee as much as the cheater does and the kids will want to live with the cheater and the cheatee. Reality is that the kids don’t love the cheatee, the kids don’t want to live with the cheater and cheatee and the kids don’t agree that the affair is a wonderful thing. Cheaters tends to be highly delusional.

      Another thing is that almost all relationships that begin as an affair during a marriage fail. One study found that marriages that began as an affair during a previous marriage had a 99.5% failure rate.

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    AKchic_ March 1, 2012, 12:11 pm

    LW, you are not your father’s judge. Period. What he did isn’t a reflection on you, or a reflection on how he raised you. Just because he did this, it doesn’t mean that you will do it later in life, or necessarily that it will be done to you by another guy. It simply means that your father did something that you don’t approve of. He is an adult and has the right to do what he wants with whomever he wants. That is part of being an adult – making choices and accepting the outcomes of those choices.
    You, as an adult need to realize that he has made his choice. As an adult, you need to choose what is more important: The years he spent raising you, or the few months recently he has had doing things that you don’t approve of. This new woman isn’t replacing you. She is filling a space that was previously empty of something. None of us can tell you why it was empty. It just was. It is nobody’s fault. It’s life.

    You need to learn adult child/parent boundaries. Your mother needs to learn them too. You wouldn’t know a lot of what you know if it wasn’t for your mother dragging you into this drama. Your mother can’t expect you to talk your father back into an unhappy relationship. And you cannot be your mother’s therapist/emotional leaning post.

    Back away from the drama slowly and things will get better. Learn to accept that things have changed.

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    • savannah March 1, 2012, 12:27 pm

      I feel like a lot of what you wrote is uncalled for given the circumstances of what the LW wrote. You’re basically blaming the mother for a lot of things and taking the attitude of ‘thats life’ toward the father, which in my opinion is really not quite how life actually goes down. And yes, you really can mess up years of a relationship in a few months. People do it all the time and the ‘but he’s your father’ line doesn’t have to hold her to some forced duty and obligation that she feels towards him. You’ve really let her mom out in the cold and made her into this emotional boundaries-less person when the LW probably is just trying to process this whole thing. I’m confused as to what you wanted the mom to do? keep this all a secret or not tell her what going on, she’s 19 and not a child.

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      • silver_dragon_girl March 1, 2012, 12:33 pm

        I have to defend AK here. Her mom was absolutely out of line to tell her, initially, that her dad had kissed this other woman. That was none of the LW’s business, even if she is technically an adult. The way the LW writes about her mother, as a paragon, versus this other woman who is a “home-wrecker” and “adulteror,” make it clear whose side she’s on. I would bet money that the mother HAS told the LW quite a bit. While that might not be why the LW is “siding” with the mother, which she probably would have done anyway, it’s totally inappropriate.

        She shouldn’t know any of this about the kiss, the lies, the phone call/phone bill…All she should know is that they separated, and that dad “friended” some woman on Facebook. That’s it. In a perfect world, which obviously this is not.

      • savannah March 1, 2012, 12:39 pm

        Huh. I guess I just have totally different instincts here. There is no way I would have even thought she would have sided with her dad in any way no matter what details were or were not given. Plus I would think my parents owed it to me to tell me the truth, they didn’t separate because her dad friended some woman on Facebook. They separated because he was having an affair. As if the LW wouldn’t already think that from the ‘all she should know’ only details. Gives her some respect and decency about the whole issue with the truth instead of being kept wondering the worst.

      • silver_dragon_girl March 1, 2012, 12:43 pm

        Sure they owe her the truth, MINUS the messy, messy details. All the waffling about what’s “really” going on, and whatnot…totally unnecessary and inappropriate. And I do agree that she’d “side” with her mom, because her dad is obviously the one initiating their separation, and that parent is always seen as the “bad guy” (with good reason, it sounds like, in this case). I think it was her dad’s place to tell her he had an affair. It should under no circumstances have been slowly revealed to her like this, alongside her mom.

      • savannah March 1, 2012, 12:52 pm

        I guess I just don’t see the inappropriateness part of it–unnecessary, sure. I see her as a fully grown adult and so I don’t get the need to prepackage this info/event like she’s 5 and her parents are getting divorced. Life is messy and as adults, people understand this. Maybe I just have a different tolerance for boundaries than others. Plus once her dad set this whole shitshow in motion, he really can’t expect to exact control over the situation and what information goes where.

      • silver_dragon_girl March 1, 2012, 2:47 pm

        Idk, to me, parents should protect their children. Just because she’s an adult now doesn’t mean she needs to know all the gory details. Just tell her dad had an affair and now we’re separated. If she wants more details, she can ask for them. If she IS the one seeking out and finding all this information on her own, then I would definitely recommend she STOP immediately.

        And yeah, he did set this all in motion, and he definitely can’t control it, but as parents, first and foremost, he and her mother SHOULD have decided who would tell their kids what. One would hope that their roles as parents would be supercede their roles as “bitter jilted woman” and “douchebag cheating man.” Alas, they did not.

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        Budj March 1, 2012, 3:53 pm

        I don’t think I would have been ready for that kind of information until a few years ago (I’m 26)…if she is in college she is still going “home” i.e. father, mother, sister in a house for breaks…if she was living on her own I would agree with you that in her shoes I would want AT LEAST the bare bones details…but putting a 19 year old in this situation (college does not = adult) I think is too soon.

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        AKchic_ March 1, 2012, 1:53 pm

        Personally, I don’t think that any adult owes any outsider of a relationship any explanation as to why it failed. You wouldn’t tell the stockboy at the grocery store why your husband moved out. You wouldn’t tell the bank clerk. You wouldn’t go into details to your great-Aunt Minnie that you haven’t seen since your cousin’s wedding 15 years ago. You wouldn’t tell your 10 year old niece.
        If you don’t go around talking about your sex life in it’s glory, then why discuss the private details of the break-up itself? Would you tell your child (adult or not) the intimate details of your sex life? Your favorite positions? What foreplay you enjoy? No. Then don’t discuss the intimate details of the break-up. You have to set boundaries. They are your children, not your friends.
        The LW’s mother is complicit in dragging the LW into the sordid affair, thus allowing the LW to feel as if the father betrayed her as well, thereby compacting her feelings of hurt, mistrust, and deception. Her mother has in essence, turned her adult daughter into her personal spy. The LW keeps track of her father on Facebook (and I would assume, relays the information back to her mother), has sided with her mother and is withholding affection (and presumably meaningful communication) with her father until she gets her way (and her mother’s way) – that the father removes all trace of the other woman from his life for good. The LW is attempting to manipulate her father. Whether she is doing it on her own or subtly being manipulated by her mother (via emotions) is moot. The fact that she is attempting to use manipulation to control her father is enough for me to say “grow up” and look at the facts.
        1) The mother called the LW and instead of simply saying “we’re separating”, she had to go into details. The parents weren’t even separating at that point.
        2) The mother showed the LW all the evidence of the affair. The phone bills of the calls, rehashing the conversations, etc.
        3) Nowhere did the LW say that the mother discouraged her from keeping tabs on her father. To me, that suggests silent approval (or just outright approval/a request but the LW didn’t mention it).
        4) The daughter herself uses language to make her mother out to be a saint, but the father’s paramour the one to blame. Her father is bad to the mother for what he did, but ultimately, she calls the other woman the derogatory names as if she blames the other woman for seducing her father. That once she’s gone, LW and the father can have a relationship again (and possibly reconcile with mother again).

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 2:08 pm

        Again, thumbs up ….

        Now that we are all adults, we are so happy that when our parents were getting divorced, they spared us all the details. My mom even encouraged us to have a relationship with our father. She always said that the failed marriage had nothing to do with us, the kids, that it was strictly between her, my father, and the other woman. I actually went through a phase where I could not understand how my mom could forgive my dad for what he did. But the older I got, the better I understood that nothing about any relationship was black and white. Both my parents have disappointed me at one or another point in my life, just like my brothers and friends. I am sure that I and my brothers have disappointed my parents more often then we would like to admit as well. Thankfully, they have never stopped loving and supporting us. I think we owe them at least the same courtesy.

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        AKchic_ March 1, 2012, 2:23 pm

        Exactly. I have never told my kids the details of my divorce(s). They are too young, for one thing, and for another, it had nothing to do with them. They weren’t the reason, and I don’t want them assuming it is, or feeling burdened with the issues the adults are dealing with.
        My sister, on the other hand, felt the need to air out every piece of laundry (clean or dirty) from my divorce that she knew of, or could make up, plus her relationships.

        It isn’t fair to the child (adult or otherwise) to be placed in the middle of divorcing parents.

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 2:49 pm

        One of the saddest things I have seen is a 4-year old girl who says that her daddy is bad because he stopped liking mommy and likes the “whore lady” now. No child, no matter what age, should be told these things.

      • savannah March 1, 2012, 2:39 pm

        1. your daughter is not the bank clerk(..what?)
        2. I didn’t say anything about telling you’re children about foreplay (again..confused) nor do I combine disclosing an affair with talking about your sex life but I guess we disagree there.
        3.Why don’t you think she wound’t feel betrayed anyway? I think you’re assuming a lot, which you do note so I guess thats fine (like she specifically said she doesn’t want to reconcile her parents)
        4. “It isn’t fair to the child (adult or otherwise) to be placed in the middle of divorcing parents.”- It might not be fair but not talking about it doesn’t mean she’s not in the middle of it. It doesn’t just go away because no one is telling details.
        I guess we just have very different takes on this. I just think the LW is not being outrageously unreasonable for ‘withholding affection’ from her dad right now. He did a shitty thing to her mom and in my mind to her and her sister too.

      • Flake March 1, 2012, 2:46 pm

        I posted this above:

        “It turned out a lot less traumatic for me and my brothers because my mother made it absolutely clear that my parent’s relationship and the divorce had absolutely nothing to do with us. She always said that my father made a mistake, and they had decided to go their separate ways. She never let us know how painful it must have been for her. And since she seemed to accept it, it was that much easier for us to accept it as well.”

        In my opinion, that is how you handle kids and divorce.

      • savannah March 1, 2012, 2:56 pm

        And thats great that your mom did it like that, I’m sure. I just disagree with you to the extent than an affair affects a whole family and I do think it speaks to and reflects upon a parents relationship with their entire family, because to me its not just the marriage that a affair breaks. But I know I might be in the minority here.

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        AKchic_ March 1, 2012, 2:49 pm

        My point is – there is a thing called “overshare”. It happens when we don’t have either set boundaries, or at best, we have blurred boundaries. LW’s mother overshared big time, which is why the LW knows way too much about the details of her father’s affair, which has tainted her opinion of him, and ultimately, her relationship with him. She is judging him based on the information that was overshared to her that she had no real reason to know other than her mother was feeling like an injured spouse (not that I’m blaming her mother for feeling injured in this case, just saying she didn’t establish proper boundaries), and vented to the wrong person on this issue.
        The proper person to vent to would have been a close friend, a therapist, a clergy member. Not a child that was a product of the very relationship that is falling apart. To tell a child of such a relationship can result in three scenarios. A) The child takes sides, or B) The child distances him/herself from both parents to establish proper barriers, or C) the child attempts to comfort the oversharer while maintaining a decent relationship with both, but ultimately becomes too stressed out from the overload and needs therapy him/herself.
        Parents need to realize that adult children are not surrogates for friends.

      • savannah March 1, 2012, 3:01 pm

        I understand your point, I just felt like you were overly harsh on her mom while paying no attention to the actions of her dad. I’m just curious now- isn’t he the man who did all of those things? Even in the overshare situation its not like her mother is lying about it? She’s judging him on real events and his own life choices no?

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        AKchic_ March 1, 2012, 3:18 pm

        As I said originally, she needs to make a decision. Which is more important to her? The fact that he has been there for her for 19 years as a good father, or the fact that yes, he has had an affair, confessed to it, and is now living outside of the “family” home and attempting to move on with his life.

        What has happened has happened. What he did was wrong, but nobody can go back in time and change it. Not unless they happen to have a spare TARDIS hanging around, and even then, the law of logic dictates that if it has happened, it’s going to happen again (in the past) if they attempt to change it (in the past).

        The LW can either forgive her father and move on and quit trying to manipulate him into doing what she wants, or she can continue down the path she is on, and ultimately the father will get fed up and cut her out of his life. The choice is hers to make. Playing the blame game isn’t going to benefit her. It’s only taking sides, and the only thing the father should be apologizing for is if he feels sorry that the LW is hurt by his actions, and that she got dragged into this mess.

      • ele4phant March 1, 2012, 3:26 pm

        AKchic, I agree with everything you said. I tried the tears and blame game on my father once to try to make him change his mind or feel super shitty, and all I got was “I am so sorry you are hurt.” He already felt like shit, but he’d made up his mind.

        I’m sure if I’d kept up with it for months and months, things would have been forever damaged. What’s happened happened, things can only go forward, as much as you try to fight it.

      • ele4phant March 1, 2012, 3:04 pm

        Agree agree! Right after my parents first split, they wanted to open up and vent to us, and I asked them not to. Not to say I didn’t want to talk them about the hurt they were filling, the fear, the uncertainity and support them in that way – but I DID NOT need to hear “You’re father did this” or “You’re mothers been this way for years.” Yes, the break-up of the marriage impacted the whole family, but the relationship that founded that marriage was between just the two of them; likewise my relationship with my parents individually was private to me and each respective parent.

        Thank God my parents both my request not to hear trash talking of the other!

    • Flake March 1, 2012, 12:39 pm

      I wish I could like this 1000 times.. This whole thing about grown children expecting to still be catered to is not right, in my opinion.

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    • Francine March 1, 2012, 12:42 pm

      “It simply means that your father did something that you don’t approve of.”

      But he also did something that changed her life in a way that she couldn’t control and isn’t happy about. She isn’t just an observer. This is happening to her too and he was the catalyst. She may not have the right to make him stop but she has every right to be upset with him.

      He did make a choice and he will have to accept the outcome but so will his family have to accept the outcome and I’m sure right now to the LW it feels like he chose his happiness over hers. A tough pill to swallow from a parent.

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      • Flake March 1, 2012, 12:54 pm

        Her life did not change. She still wakes up every morning and goes to school. She still hangs out with friends. She still has her sister, mother and father. The only thing that did change is the fact that her father is no longer “perfect” in her eyes. Everything else is under her control still. It has been said here before. You cannot change/control other people’s actions. You can only change/control your reaction and perception of them. It sucks that this has happened to HER PARENTS (not her). She can choose blind anger and hate, or she can choose to see the situation from a different perspective.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 1:07 pm

        Sure, the motions are the same but her life is not. She now has an angry sister, a hurt mom, a dad who isn’t behaving like the dad she grew up loving. The dynamics of her life are different. Since she can’t control anyone else she will have to adapt but that doesn’t mean that she isn’t entitled to be upset about it.

      • lets_be_honest March 1, 2012, 1:07 pm

        Are you serious? Her life didn’t change?!?! His actions DID happen to her. And her life is very different than what it was.

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        landygirl March 1, 2012, 1:32 pm

        I disagree, it changes everything. I don’t think its about his not being “perfect” but about the underhanded actions on the father’s part. It isn’t that he cheated, it’s the way that his happened and the way he handled it, which was in the worst possible way. If he had been above board and dealt with the dissolution of the marraige without cheating, the daugher would have a completely different view of her dad.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 1:39 pm

        I agree that her feelings of betrayal have a lot to do with dad not owning his actions and about him soft pedalling them. He may have kissed someone at work? Oh wait, no it was actually a full blown affair. Leaving to fix things? Nope, leaving to resume contact with his girlfriend.

      • ele4phant March 1, 2012, 5:08 pm

        Well, I agree she feels betrayed and that’s hard to deal with, but as someone who’s been in a similar position, I have come to realize a) its not really relevant, and b) his decisions about his marriage have nothing to do with how much he loves his daughter.

        Bottom-line, this man doesn’t want to be married to her mother anymore. The cheating is probably a symptom of a bigger problem which is that he wasn’t happy. That’s really only the important part, at the end of the day. For the LW to know all the details is just going be painful. Its not going to change the outcome (the divorce will still happen), and it’ll make her feel worse. For instance, I KNOW my father cheated, but how much, how soon, all those details I don’t know because they don’t matter. Its made me change how I looked at my father, its changed our relationship, but that’s actually not a bad thing. I see him as who is, a flawed man, a man who’s made some big mistakes, but who loves me unconditionally. And who I, despite his errors, love unconditionally too.

        She’s entitled to her anger, but the details of her parent’s split and their personal lives is NOT HER BUSINESS, even if she is somewhat impacted, and her father has not in any moment betrayed his love for his daughter.

      • melanie March 1, 2012, 2:41 pm

        Whoa whoa whoa. Speaking from someone who went through two affairs with her parents, it changes EVERYTHING. Don’t even act like it only affects the mother. Their family is broken now. It’s devastating to the kids.

      • ele4phant March 1, 2012, 4:47 pm

        Honestly, things change, but not that much when you’re an adult.

        I do concede that this particular LW lives at home, but most grown-ups don’t (I didn’t). Don’t get me wrong, it was an incredibly rough time, but in my day to day life, things really didn’t change all that much for me. Nothing as huge as it would have been if I was still living with my parents, and suddenly been split between two households. And my interaction with my parents hasn’t changed that much. I live far away from both (and did when they were together), so its still pretty much over the phone. Really, holidays are only the tricky part and they come around once a year.

        Nobody’s saying she doesn’t have a right to be pissed and hurt, but at some points the parents do have a right to be happy, and the adult children have to let go of the fanatasy that their parents will stay together just for them. And as for the pain she, and everyone is feeling right now. It WILL receed.

        And he did choose her happiness over hers, for years maybe, so she could have both parents together for her childhood. I do appreciate how hard it was for my parents to stay together just so we could have our childhood.

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    Amybelle March 1, 2012, 12:45 pm

    Wendy’s advice is absolutely spot on perfect here. At various times in my life I have been the cheated on spouse, the cheating spouse, and the other woman (and believe me, at 19 I never would have believed I would be any of those people!), and it’s never a black and white situation.

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    • Lucy March 1, 2012, 8:24 pm

      Thank you. The overwhelming righteousness of most of these posts is stifling.

      The LW has absolutely no idea what was going on in her parents’ relationship that led them to this point. Her mother has foolishly violated parent-child boundaries in dragging the LW into this. Her father has (one of his few admirable actions) wisely not retaliated in kind. Every story has two sides. It’s very unfortunate for the LW that she’s even privy to these details of her parents’ marriage and its dissolution. She needs to take several large steps back and stop trying to manipulate and control her father. If he believes he loves this woman, there is little chance he will leave her just because his daughter is making wild threats. She is only setting herself up for disappointment and her mother up for a very public humiliation.

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  • lets_be_honest March 1, 2012, 1:05 pm

    One thing I have asked of my SO is that if at any point, he wants to cheat, to just please break it off first. Even if he’s in a heat of the moment about to rip her clothes off thing, pick up the phone and tell me its over and then go about your business. Sounds silly I guess.
    Basically, have a pair of balls and leave me before you have your cake and eat it too.

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      JK March 1, 2012, 1:09 pm

      I asked the same thing of my husband, at least have the decency to tell me if heps ever interested in someone else to tell me about it so we can figure out what to do.

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      • lets_be_honest March 1, 2012, 1:19 pm

        Exactly. Just give a chance to either figure out and deal with issues in the marriage, or decide that they can’t be worked out and walk away with your dignity and respect for each other.

      • Francine March 1, 2012, 1:28 pm

        I hope the LW’s dad knows that while he’s had time to come to terms with his marriage ending and has the support of a partner, this is a fresh wound for the rest of his family. Even if his wife was sensed that their marriage was falling apart she old have been hoping it could be repaired while he had already moved on.

        The facts are that the marriage is over and he’s with someone else but he needs to be more sensitive as his family processes this. Friending the new woman on fb was not necessary.

    • bethany March 1, 2012, 3:01 pm

      I said the exact same thing to my husband.

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    • GatorGirl March 1, 2012, 9:26 pm

      We’ve got a similar agreement- if either of us is interested in another…talk about it. Maybe we can work something out, maybe it would end the relationship, but no one would be blindsided.

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  • MsMisery March 1, 2012, 1:50 pm

    LW, remember one thing- people are multi-faceted, including your dad. Just because he was a shitty husband, doesn’t mean he is a shitty father, a shitty worker, a shitty American, etc. Humans aren’t perfect. You’re allowed to be mad at him for this because it affects your life, but it affects your parents’ marriage *even more.* Remember him as a father, not a husband.

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  • ele4phant March 1, 2012, 2:04 pm

    Oh LW, I feel for you. A few years ago, my father left my mother, and very shortly (or perhaps concurrently) thereafter became seriously involved with someone else.

    I too, had a very special relationship with my father. I was so angry at him. Angry for destroying the image I had of my family. Angry at him for crushing my mother. Angry he wouldn’t tell me what he was about to do when we took a vacation, just the two of us, just a few months before-hand.

    I told him all these things. I asked why he was breaking up our family. I said some hurtful things. Things were strained for a while. He kept saying that he loved me, but his relationship with my mother and him was private. At that time that, that sounded riduculous, I mean we were all in one family, right? This affected all of us.

    After my initial anger and shock receeded, I did see that no matter what kind of husband he had been to my mother, he had always been a wonderful father to me. Was still being a wonderful father to me, despite all my anger. I decided I couldn’t just write him off. So I didn’t.

    And truth be told, my parents breakup was actually a GOOD thing. Even if I didn’t want to see it, neither was happy in their marriage. They are both so much happier now. And as for my relationship with my father, its changed, without a doubt. Its more adult now. We were forced to hash out a lot of things that never wouldn have been said otherwise. We were forced to move beyond the Daddy’s Little Princess relationship we had previously had. I now see him as a flawed individual, and I love him anyways. Our relationship may no longer what it was before, but dare I say, its more honest and real.

    And for the love of God, tell BOTH your parent to STFU when it comes to talk to you about what the other one is doing, or has done. I know they’re both hurting, your mother probably more than your father, but they don’t need to air the dirty laundry of their marriage to you, or your siblings. They can talk to you about how they’re hurt, scared, uncertain, and you can support them on that, but you don’t need every detail. They weren’t sharing things about their marriage when they were still together, you don’t need to hear it now. I asked both my parents to do this early on, and for the most part they didn’t trash-talk one another to me. Because again, no matter what kind of spouses they were, they were both amazing parents to me.

    And finally, as for the new woman. You don’t have to like her, become her best bud, or let her be your new surrogote mommy, but there is a high road. Take it. Just because she comes off as the classless husband stealer doesn’t mean you need to sink to her level.

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    • ktfran March 1, 2012, 2:21 pm

      ” And for the love of God, tell BOTH your parent to STFU when it comes to talk to you about what the other one is doing, or has done. I know they’re both hurting, your mother probably more than your father, but they don’t need to air the dirty laundry of their marriage to you, or your siblings. They can talk to you about how they’re hurt, scared, uncertain, and you can support them on that, but you don’t need every detail. They weren’t sharing things about their marriage when they were still together, you don’t need to hear it now. I asked both my parents to do this early on, and for the most part they didn’t trash-talk one another to me. Because again, no matter what kind of spouses they were, they were both amazing parents to me.”

      THIS! THIS! THIS! Unless someone is in danger, I personally don’t believe parents should trash talk about each other to their kids. Nothing good comes from it and it’s unneccessarily putting people in the crossfire. If you want to trash talk a spouse, do so with an adult ally. Not your child.

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  • Mike March 1, 2012, 2:46 pm

    Agree with most of this, but have to ask Wendy what she was thinking with this line:
    “The good news is that your father’s indiscretion does not have to define your parents’ marriage and it certainly does not have to define you, your family, or your dad.”

    Really ?!?! How can a betrayal of trust and ongoing cheating NOT define the marriage?? Or impact the daughter and the family? Sorry, but that makes completely no sense.

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    • ele4phant March 1, 2012, 2:56 pm

      Because parents are imperfect beings. Because they make mistakes. My father leaving my mother was incredibly painful for me, for our family. But he has, does, and will always love me. I was ANGRY at him. Our relationship was, for a time, blaste to bits. But I eventually came to terms with my father’s imperfections. And we rebuilt, for the better I would say. I don’t idealize him, I see his short-comings, but there is an honesty that never would have come had we not gone through this.

      Yes, she has every right to be hurt. This does impact her. But no, one (MAJOR) mistake does not have to forever sully the relationship she has with her Dad. Change it, sure. But just because someone f’s ups does not mean they should be banned from our lives forever. If we did, we’d be left with no one.

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    • Taylor March 1, 2012, 4:07 pm

      In terms of it not defining the marriage, I think that just means that the way it ended doesn’t invalidate the happiness in years prior…

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      • mcminnem March 1, 2012, 5:44 pm

        Yes, this – I think she means that his cheating doesn’t have to become the only thing he’s ever done. He’s not JUST the guy who cheated on mom – he’s also the dad she was close to, who was there for her birthdays, taught her to ride a bike, taught her to drive, all that stuff. He f’d up enormously, but it doesn’t erase all the good he may have done in the past.

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    Lili March 1, 2012, 3:00 pm

    I really appreciate your thorough responses. As someone whose gut reaction would be to do what the mother did because I’m currently in a very boundary-less situation with my own parents, I’m realizing now how complex and ever-changing the boundaries between adult children and parents are. Hearing all this about how the relationship between the parents is private is crucial in setting appropriate and independent relationships well into adulthood. No matter what life event occurs.

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  • ele4phant March 1, 2012, 4:18 pm

    I do think if my father did this, I would seriously consider MOA forever. Apalling:


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      landygirl March 1, 2012, 5:42 pm

      There is something seriously wrong with both the man and the young girl.

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  • Witchmom3 March 1, 2012, 4:21 pm

    Oh LW, please, please, please do not OUT your father to your family/extended family members. I know you’re hurting right now but this is your parents’ marriage and you are a casualty of what’s happening right now.

    If you’re finding things out about your father through your mother, remember that she is very hurt and is simply telling you things to vent and probably needs you more as a “girlfriend” rather than a daughter. If she’s telling you hurtful things about your father, just be there for her and remember that there are two sides to every story. Remember that he was a good father to you and he is going through a crisis right now.

    I’m not siding with your father. What he did was wrong, plain and simple and you are justified in the angry/hurt feelings you have for him right now. But in one/five/ten years from now, when things have settled, they’ll still be your LOVING parents. Good luck.

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  • anonymous March 1, 2012, 5:51 pm

    This is a different perspective. I figured out that my dad was having an affair with a family friend when I was in college. And you know what? I didn’t blame him. My mom was a neurotic, controlling crazy woman. And this woman was a hero-worshipping type. I could totally understand that my mom was very difficult to live with.

    Was my dad wrong? Yes. But it takes two to make the relationship. His stepping outside of the marriage vows was not the only transgression. I don’t know which vows they used, but a common one is to “love, honor, and obey” (from their generation). In my opinion, my mom violated their vows equally by not acting loving and by not honoring him — for YEARS before he started the affair (not that I know exactly when it started, you understand).

    Even if your mom was PERFECT in your eyes, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. And it’s really not for you to judge.

    I’m sorry that you’re feeling so devastated by the situation. Good luck!

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    kmentothat March 1, 2012, 5:55 pm

    LW, I went through a similar experience, but the cheater was my mom. She had an affair with her boss for over 3 years and it all unraveled when I was in college. My parents came very close to divorcing, which I supported, but they ultimately stayed together against my brothers’ and my wishes. It took many months before I spoke to her or would be in the same room with her…my dad had to send her out fo the house for me to visit. I had extreme anger towards the situation (which is much more complicated than I can explain, but involved both my parents ending up in jail, suicide threats, and a hit put out on members of my family) and I tried so hard to be the parent during that time that I lost a sense of boundaries. After being in the middle of everything in a way that was totally unhealthy, I conviced them both to go into therapy and set very distinct emotional boundaries with them (e.g. refusing to talk about their marriage). They dealt with their marriage on their own and I went on with my life and had therapy as well. We each worked on ourself so we could move forward.

    It’s been probably 5 years since then. I still have one or two things that are hard (I still won’t say “I love you” to my mom and I only this year was ok with getting her birthday gifts and Mother’s Day gifts, which is petty, I’ll admit). But I still found a way to make our relationship work because she’s the only mother I have and her actions during that time don’t define the entirety of our relationship. (He is the only father you have. These actions don’t define him.) I now see my parents once a week and we went from a place of “boundarylessness” to redifining what our relationships with each other look like. We enjoy each spending time together again and have boundaries that work for each of us.

    The most important things I encourage you to do are: 1. Mind your own business. It sounds harsh, but at 19 you are an adult and it is up to your parents to decide what their relationship should/shouldn’t be. Don’t put yourself in the middle of it and if they put you in the middle, tell them you don’t think you are the appropriate person to talk to and leave the room. If you do that enough times, they’ll listen. If your dad wants to apologize hear him out, but it doens’t mean you need to get into the nitty gritty of “why are you Facebook friends with her” or “I’ll tell everyone if you make her your girlfriend.” MYOB. 2. Get thee to therapy. Stat. And if your parents try to talk to you about things in a way that feels unhealthy, suggest they go too, seperately. 3. Be mindful fo what you say to your father. I’m quoting the movie Bambi here, but if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all. You can’t unsay the hurtful things you say in the heat of the moment. Vent to your dog, your friend, your pillow, your therapist…but be careful what you say to your mom or dad. And remember…forgiveness is less about making them feel less guilty and more about you being able to let go of the anger that holds you down. Be open to it, if nothing else, for your own sake.

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    • ele4phant March 1, 2012, 6:04 pm

      “1. Mind your own business”

      Yes. When I first found out my father was leaving my mother, I felt like I had a right to be given every detail, and had an equal say in every discussion. After all, I was a part of this family that was being broken up, right? Thing is, me knowing details about my parents relationship wouldn’t have changed the fact the divorce was happening, all it would have done is made me feel like crap.

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  • RhyanShae March 1, 2012, 6:28 pm

    Late to the “party” as usual, I am another person to chime in and say I completely understand where you are coming from, LW.

    My dad was unfaithful to my mother several times throughout their marriage. One time, when I was 11 or 12, he met with us kids and told us he was moving out and into the home of one of his friends from work. He didn’t give much of a reason why, other than to say that he needed some space. I remember falling apart while he hugged me in my brother’s room. I remember the week he was gone: It was the longest week of my life, and I spent a lot of time with headphones on, ignoring the world and being scared. He eventually came back because he missed us, even tried counseling with my mom, and things continued on.

    A few months before my 18th birthday, my mom announced she was moving out, that she couldn’t take it anymore. I was the only kid left in the house, still finishing up high school. She had found out he’d had another affair, and this one was ongoing. I would be in bed in my room, and the walls were thin enough I could hear him talking to this woman late at night. When I would go visit my mom, more and more of her things would show up in the house. I watched my mom fall apart and cry all the time, while my dad continued on like nothing was different, as I was doing all the chores she did.

    Eventually, they officially separated, and years later, divorced. My dad asked this woman to marry him. He was starting a different life. And, I hated every minute of it. I knew things weren’t happy-happy around the house growing up, but I didn’t think my family was dysfunctional. I was horribly angry, even getting into screaming matches the first few years of this mess. I was angry at my mom for being depressed (medically, not just because of this happening), and I was angry that as the baby of the family, I was stuck in the middle. I couldn’t ignore the other woman. She was infiltrating my life, and I hated her, life and everyone else around me. For years, I was so angry that it made me a horrible person to be around.

    I know much more about what went wrong in my parent’s marriage than an average kid should know. My mom had counseling, but she was watching me and my anger and worrying about me when she was trying to take care of herself. She would talk about things with me to try to get me to express what I was feeling. She later apologized for telling me everything she did. But, honestly, I’m glad I know. Yeah, it’s a little weird, but it explains a hell of a lot about things I didn’t understand growing up, and it made me understand my father, the kind of person he is, and why things still sit where they sit.

    Eventually, LW, I got over it. It wasn’t easy. Part of it was seeing how happier both parents were apart. Part of it was the woman getting kicked out of my father’s life when she started into drugs. Another part was a small nod from my dad to say he actually realized what he did and how it did hurt me and my mom. But, he’s still kinda clueless. The affair opened my eyes to my dad’s flaws, and I realized, after I cooled off, that he taught me the best lesson: He taught me what kind of guy to NOT be with.

    I am not going to lie. LW, I was angry as you, if not more. I had all the same impulses. Take it from someone who acted on them: They don’t make you feel better. Calling the other woman a bitch, homewrecker, etc, makes you think you’ll feel better, but it ‘s momentary. Screaming your dad’s mistakes and flaws to other family members seems like it’s the thing to do, but all you do it upset a whole other group of people to share how you feel. Think about it: Does it hurt him to blast his affair to everyone? A little. But, you also hurt them. You bring them into the marital problems of your parents, and quite frankly makes them feel uncomfortable, and maybe a little angry to. How does being this angry feel to you right now? Horrible, else you wouldn’t have written the letter.

    I got over it because I had people to talk to. People who taught me the power of forgiveness. My family worried about me for years because I carried around a lot of anger. I wish I had taken up counseling. I wish I had seen what I see now back then. Maybe the mistakes I made while still so angry and defiant wouldn’t have happened. Maybe the relationships I had would have turned out differently. Maybe I could have spent most of my 20s happy, instead of insecure and pushing people away. I really don’t know. What I do know is doing all the things you threatened (and I actually did), made ME a worse person. It made ME upset. It ruined who I was a heck of a lot more than my dad’s original infidelity every could.

    Please listen to the others. You don’t have to forgive and forget just now. You can be angry and sad. You can feel these things. But, please find help in finding the right way to move through these feelings and don’t follow my path. Your happiness should be dependent upon you, not someone else, and don’t let this action by your father dictate how YOU are.

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      AKchic_ March 1, 2012, 10:03 pm

      A perfect “I’ve been there” response. Thank you for sharing that, RhyanShae.

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  • Disappointed Daughter March 2, 2012, 2:43 am

    Hi this is the LW here.

    Wow, I really appreciate all of your comments!  It’s very encouraging to see so many thoughtful responses to my letter.  Reading everyone’s stories and suggestions has made me feel a little bit better and little less lonely in my situation.  Thank you!

    I wrote  this letter a few weeks ago in a moment of desperation and uncertainty.  Unfortunately, since then, things have only gone downhill for our family.  My sister and I haven’t talked to our father in almost two weeks, which has been really hard on us because we both do love him and still worry about him a lot. I have no idea what he is planning to do with the other woman but have decided not to be a part of his life while he continues in his adultery.   He is sill married to my mother and so far has shown no interest in pursuing a divorce.

    In the beginning, my father and I would have long talks about what happened.  For months, I offered him my support while he cried about how guilty he was. I understood his shortcomings and tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. After promising me he would never leave us or lie to us again, he went behind everyone’s back, called the woman, added her on Facebook, and left the house.  I think that qualifies as betrayal to not only my mother but to my sister and me as well.

    As for my mother, I appreciate her honesty in all of this.  We have grown a lot closer and are planning on attending therapy soon.  We girls have been spending more quality time together and are always being confused for sisters when we go out.  I really am impressed with the way my mother has handled everything even though it has been devastating for her.

    Right now, my dad is living in his brother’s house.  Our extended family is very confused as to why my parents are separated and I have decided not to reveal the truth about his affair.  I figure that in due time, my father will reap what he has sown without my help.

     As for the other woman, I have come to the conclusion that she does not deserve the energy that it takes for me to hate her.  In the end, I believe she will only derive more pleasure from my suffering and I will not grant her the satisfaction of knowing the extent of my pain.  Instead, I plan on channeling all this drive and passion into things that are worth striving for- like my music and studies.   I do have this to say about rage though- it does wonders for songwriting!  

    Finally, I am now trying my hardest to not let this experience affect my opinion about men in general.  My father would always say and continues to claim that my my mother is “the best woman in the world”.  I guess that’s why this has been so confusing for me. Having come from a big family full of divorces where everyone looked up to my parent’s marriage as an example, I can’t lie when I say I am extremely disheartened about finding long-lasting love.  No matter how wonderful the guy may be, I know that doubt and uncertainty will always haunt me in my romantic endeavors.  Right now, I am trying not to let this situation get the best of me and am trusting God with the my future and my dad.  It is out of my hands now. 

    Thanks again for all your encouragement and input.  It means a lot to me!

    – A Disappointed Daughter

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      rainbow March 2, 2012, 9:01 am

      “In the end, I believe she will only derive more pleasure from my suffering and I will not grant her the satisfaction of knowing the extent of my pain”

      Ok, I tried to be polite in my first comment, but this is just ridiculous. I get it, you’re in pain, but are you also 14? Or just incredibly petty and self-centered?

      The fact that she fell for a married man and didn’t remove herself from the situation doesn’t mean that she’s enjoying your pain.

      I don’t know where you got the idea that she’s doing this to make everybody suffer, but I bet she doesn’t care about you enough to waste her time feeling happy that you’re sad. Ok, you’re sort of a casualty in the process, but this is NOT ABOUT YOU. I’m 100% percent sure that this woman doesn’t see you as a competitor, but as a kid who got it rough in the last months and is not taking it very well.

      Also the way you talk about your mother (and that you mention the “sisters” comments like they mean anything) makes me think that she’s completely failing to set healthy boundaries. Mainly because she’s treating you like an equal and an adult when you’re clearly far from being one.

      I’m sorry that you got it so rough, but you’re out of touch with reality. Really, she just wants your dad. She doesn’t want to destroy you or anything. This is ridiculous.

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        Iwannatalktosampson March 2, 2012, 9:10 am

        Okay I didn’t say anything above but you’re comment is completely unnecessary. I too am always on the side of “don’t blame the other woman, she didn’t make the vows/isn’t in a commited relationship”. But it is ENTIRELY different when their are kids involved. Entirely. If a married guy with children hit on me I would find it disgusting. How do you live with yourself for destroying a family? This isn’t a man and woman who might have got divorced anyway – this is a family man with kids.

        So LW – I think you are correct in not wasting your time worrying about her. She doesn’t ever need to be a part of your life. She doesn’t sound like a good person or a good role model. As for your Dad – I’m sorry things have panned out the way they have. I still hope for you that you can eventually have a relationship with him. I just want you to know that I feel your anger. I cannot even imagine the level of betrayal I would feel if my Dad did that to my Mom. So I guess I hope you try to maintain even a baseline of a relationship with him, because you only have one Dad, and life is short. But that being said – I really encourage you to continue placing your energy elsewhere and thriving. This doesn’t have to be a defining moment in your life.

        Good luck and my heart goes out to you!

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        rainbow March 2, 2012, 9:26 am

        I agree that she shouldn’t have done it, and I’m not defending her. For the record, I wouldn’t want anything to do with a man who was married with children.

        I don’t think the other woman is any kind of stellar human being, but the more this LW projects her mothers hatred and her own need for everything to be black and white and about her on this other woman, the longer it will take for her to heal.

        I’m not saying she shouldn’t be hurt, or she should like or forgive this other woman. But I don’t know how seeing her as a monster whose sole interest is taking dads away from little girls and breaking their hearts is going to help her heal. In order to heal, people need to understand. And I don’t think she’s understanding this part of the situation. That’s why I mentioned it.

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        Iwannatalktosampson March 2, 2012, 9:40 am

        I guess I just didn’t like your tone – you asked if she was 14 (when you know she’s 19) and then asked if she was petty and self centered. I’m not sure how being mad at the woman who your Dad left your Mom for is being self-centered. Unfortunately when there are kids involved it IS about them too. This is their family that is being broken up. (Although I completely agree it’s the Dad that’s breaking it up). But I don’t see how her having feelings and emotions about it is petty and self-centered. She didn’t go out and create this drama.

        I have seen the devastation of broken families – specifically when they break up in this way. The Dad and this woman are adults and should know better. They think they just fell in love and it’s their right to be together and blah blah blah. Well it’s not. The Dad isn’t hurting the family just the one time by leaving and cheating. He is hurting them everything they have to associate with the other woman. Does the LW have to invite this woman to her birthday celebrations? What about her future wedding? I think she owes this woman the exact same level of respect she gave her – absolutely none.

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        rainbow March 2, 2012, 9:52 am

        I don’t like my tone either re reading it now, so you’re right about that. I could have been a lot nicer. I apologize to the LW for it. I didn’t remember she was 19, I missed that part. I still mean all the content, though.

        I don’t think she owes this woman respect either, but I do think that she owes herself the truth, and not just believing her (reasonably) upset mother blindly and seeing the other woman as sadistic when she’s probably just confused and unethical.

      • savannah March 2, 2012, 10:07 am

        I agree with you and want to say that while both the Dad and the Other Woman should have known better, it is really the Dad who is much more responsible for the situation the LW is facing. It is not the Other Women’s job to uphold his own vows and responsibilities, that failure lies directly with him and him alone.

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        Iwannatalktosampson March 2, 2012, 10:43 am

        I agree – it was the Dad’s marriage to break. But why are you both so quick to say she shouldn’t be ashamed of herself too? She owes no duty to the LW or her mom. But a duty to mankind not to be a shitty person? I’d like to think everyone owes that to the universe. I would love to walk around all day being like, “it’s not my job to care about other people” and “it’s every man for himself” and that’s totally fine – if you want to be a total dick. I think there is a difference between saying the Dad is the one who broke the vows – and therefore there is no fault on the woman. I disagree there. 99% of this LW’s anger should be at her Dad – but why should she respect the other woman at all. She’s a shitty person who did a shitty thing.

      • savannah March 2, 2012, 11:05 am

        I didn’t say that the women was at no fault, I said it is the ‘Dad who is much more responsible’. I’m of the believe that if he wanted to cheat, he would have found somebody, anybody. This women was not out to get the LW’s family specifically, which is how the LW framed it. So sure 1% of anger towards this women seems justified.

      • Temperance March 2, 2012, 10:48 am

        This is unnecessarily mean. Plenty of “other women” like the power that they have to destroy families. It would be silly to claim that OOPS! they fell for a man who had a wife without realizing it. They made choices, to seek out a man with a ring on his finger, to have sex with that man, and to take part in destroying his family. Point. blank. period.

        LW, my father had an affair with this awful, cheap, trashy woman. I mean, SHE HAD A SPIRAL PERM and wore overall shorts. She was no-good trash. She got off on destroying families and relationships. Her previous “relationships” were all of the homewrecking kind. She was guilty.

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      Budj March 2, 2012, 9:12 am

      I agree this woman probably views you as a casualty and not as maliciously as you stated here…that doesn’t excuse her choices though…

      That said…it’s awesome you are trying to trudge through this with your head up and you are absolutely “write” about the music inspiration in these scenarios. It can also be very therapeutic to turn these negative experiences into a musical creation. Keep it up!

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  • Alex March 2, 2012, 10:29 am

    For everyone who keeps defending the Dad: Stop. Please.

    We are the masters of our own choices. I went through a similar thing to the LW, where in May 2010 my Mom and I found out that Dad had been carrying on an affair with a married woman from work 20 years younger during the move out and sale of my childhood home. I listened, I sympathised that he wasn’t getting enough attention, I made suggestions of counseling, I said it was okay if he and Mom got a divorce, he said he was going to give things another go, try to communicate, etc. etc. We thought everything was OK, though not great, but it turns out he had been seeing the other woman over 3 times a week (FOR SEXYTIMES!) ONE WEEK AFTER he visited Mom in the new home to “patch things up.” The reason for the wait? His younger girlfriend was in China visiting her family.

    After the reveal of the initial affair, the one thing I asked of him again and again and again was for him not to lie. I asked about the Other Woman and her husband, whether her separation was going well (he was a cheater, too!), I asked whether things were getting better or worse. Everything is “fine”. Then, a month before I go to graduate school, my Dad calls me saying Mom is threatening to kill herself but not saying why until I pressure it out of him. Through wading through Dad’s files, I find that not only was he cheating with this woman, but they took trips to Yosemite together (our family place!!), to wine country, multiple trips to go skiing, to San Diego… all while bitching to Mom about how much money she spends. They were planning on having a baby together. He was not using protection. This had been going on for a year and a half.

    So all of you who say “there must have been something going on”– yeah, there was. He was unhappy. Cheaters can be. But instead of talking about it or being honest in any way, he lied about it and cheated and lied more, EVEN WHEN we gave him the option of divorce back in May 2010, even when we were trying to give litmus tests to see where he stood. And he didn’t want a divorce when we served him in August– he wanted to have both Mom AND the girlfriend. “Do you want a divorce?” “Well, no.” “Then you’re giving up ___.” “No, I couldn’t do that.” When Mom finally caved and begged him to stay married to her and keep his mistress, he said “No, I couldn’t do that to ____.” ???? It’s okay to cheat on your wife but not your girlfriend????

    Sometimes, things like this aren’t a case of “good people making mistakes.” Sometimes, it’s a case of “Yeah, we excused x and y and z and b and c before… but now we know that that was his dominant personality/ characterizing flaws.” In my example, my father is a hypocrite of the first order who saw his sister’s marriage ravaged by the same sort of guy, yet forbid us from having contact with him, and who claimed to still bear the hurt from his father’s many affairs with his mother. Yet when _he_ does it, it’s excusable?

    This was a case where we did tell my father’s side of the family, and they DID close the doors on him, they were so appalled. His sister is the only one who didn’t, because she didn’t want to push him into the arms of the Other Woman. He lives with the other woman anyway, 7 days a week, though he insists that his mailing address is with my Aunt. Pfft.

    Commentators, I know this is way after the post and most of ya’ll have left the building, but don’t belittle the LW’s feelings in this matter, please. Wendy, I disagree that it doesn’t mean that the ‘love’ he shared with her mother means any less— by betraying her trust and continuing to lie and refusing to give up the other woman, or communicate and be straight about what he wants, clearly, he doesn’t value the mother in the way he might have. And by lying to the LW, he devalues her as well– though it’s heartening that he’s reaching out.

    And LW, if you find out what went wrong in the relationship, even just from third person studying, apply it to your relationships as they bloom. With my father, I was nosy, and I asked, and I listened, and I looked. Firstly, he was and is a thoughtless, unempathetic asshole– but you can work around that in a relationship. The _bigger_ problem– the takeaway– was that he didn’t communicate what he wanted, and, un-complaining, Mom didn’t ask him. She changed herself and molded herself to what she thought he wanted her to be, but he didn’t at all. They didn’t communicate enough, and they didn’t take enough litmus tests while things were bad or good. I’m pretty sure that neither of them talked about what they wanted in the bedroom enough. I have taken these lessons and applied them to my current LDR, and we take frequent litmus tests and honest conversations to make sure that we’re both on the same page with what we’re wanting to have, what we’re getting and what we’re lacking– and so far we’ve survived 6 months at a five-hour time difference (only seeing each other over xmas) without tanking a relationship that was formerly live-in.

    Do I think Mom would have been happier if she’d married someone else, who complimented her and was thoughtful and empathetic and said he loved her frequently, and communicated? Probably. But we love nice guys and assholes alike, so in your future relationships, apply what you’ve learned here to make sure they don’t go south. And any of your Dad’s bad traits– avoid like the plague. I’ve been lucky to land someone who puts truth above all things (even when it’s bad news) and is ridiculously thoughtful. Our other issues… we communicate about.

    I feel for you, and I hope that this doesn’t derail your career too much. The most important advice I received was “you can’t do everything for your mother.” Being a best friend, confidante, and (in my case only) child to your own mother can be exhausting, but if you set limits for yourself, like always listening but only stepping in when there’s something she can’t do, you’ll feel better and be able to plow forward with your own life. Counseling can help, though I haven’t undergone any directly regarding the divorce (I’ve been through counseling for depression enough times before that I can practically talk myself through it), and finding other adult kids of divorce (apparently there are plenty in this forum!!) and sharing with them can be really helpful and educational– that’s where I got the advice from.

    Finally, LW, good luck with your Dad. Mine is so passive that he hasn’t reached out to me besides saying when we sell the other family home which Mom is moving out of, that they are considering putting down my cat which I could not take with me abroad to graduate school, because Mom can’t take her where she moves, and Dad’s Other Woman has a bird (our cat’s not even sick! Argh!). If your Dad wants to sit down and watch Galaxy Quest with you, like I wish mine did, cherish the feeling, even as you seethe, despise him and his actions, and wish he were the man you thought he was. He’s not throwing _you_ over– and that’s a power you can use for good or evil.

    Hugs and all the best– I wish you well,

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  • Calle March 3, 2012, 2:25 am

    Kind of bummed out about all the semi-defending the other woman, LW’s Dad and criticizing the LW’s mom posts…I’m not saying LW should cut her Dad off, but she is justifiably angry…I also think Dad is more to blame than the mistress, but the mistress is knowingly sleeping with a married man with kids…Do you guys really think a decent human being does that? LW is living at home, she deserves to know the truth of why her Dad has suddenly left the home…Honesty is the best situation in most cases…I really like Dan Savage’s philosophy towards situations. Talk to your partner about open relationships, semi-open relationships, the permission for some on the side once, closed relationships, etc. He basically says there are very few justifications for sneaking around, even if your husband/wife is an awful person or your relationship is flat out terrible….Seriously, is honesty that much to ask? I think one of the situations where he justified sneaking around was when the husband/wife was very ill and not able to be sexual….No, the world isn’t black and white. However, carrying on a LONG term affair after confessing to your kids and wife…Both LW’s dad and his mistress are creeps. Look, if your significant other is that awful or your relationship is that bad you either a) break it off b) COMMUNICATE by asking for a separation/open marriage or c) get counseling….Ugh, really, I get that people screw up and cheat….But they often realize they effed up soon enough and cut it out…But LW’s situation has been going on for MONTHS…Guess I’m just disappointed in all the people who seem to think this is just a simple mistake, and not a huge effing mistake…Look, back in the day I was seriously attracted to another guy while in a serious relationship…But I broke up with my boyfriend instead of cheating…Really, it is not that hard to just be honest.

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  • Luisa June 23, 2017, 2:42 pm

    I’m living this situation right now and it feels like the bottom has fallen out of my life. I’m my fathers eyes this situation is his to be worried about and is certainly no business of mine – he doesn’t understand why I even needed to know. I’ve lived in a numb world for 5 weeks – and hate waking up every day wondering how I’ll keep up the normal act

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