An ex is an ex for a reason. So, why would someone be having an affair with the ex? In my opinion, here are the top reasons:
1. Confusion: not sure you did the right thing getting divorced. 2. Loneliness 3. Sentimentality—you just miss the person. 4. The desire to get back together. 5. You just need sex and this seems safe.
While all of these reasons are understandable, I think having an affair with the ex is in most cases toxic, not to mention, really dumb.
What got me so fired up about this subject is this email I received from a reader:
My Ex husband left me for a horrible woman. I did everything, I respected him, I was loyal and truly loved him. After several months of being with this horrible woman, he admitted he made a mistake and we ended up in bed. Many times behind her back. We were still married and I didn’t care about her. I normally don’t do this to people but I was so angry at her. He just couldn’t break up with her and said all the right things to make me still sleep with him, even though I was still suspicious. Well the horrible woman got fed up with him because he is a loser and I still slept with him. I don’t know why but I had to have him back. The last day we slept together he told me he wanted to date other women. It was a huge slap in the face and I did the no contact which has helped me move on. It’s been 9 months and he is with a woman I thought was my friend. I don’t talk to her and I still feel angry that he gets to be with someone and I am still alone. I have kids but they are older and want to be with their friends. I feel frustrated and wonder if there are any nice guys out there. I am starting to lose hope and not trust anyone anymore.
I have a few thoughts on this situation. First, her focus seems to be on this “horrible woman” just as much as it is on her ex. Why?? This woman is not the culprit. Mr. Ex-Wonderful is. (That was sarcasm.)
So, the ex cheats, leaves her for the woman, and then begins to cheat on his affair-turned-girlfriend with his ex. Classy. What is so upsetting to me is that this woman would actually even consider sleeping with him, even one time.
I’m not going to say that in my lifetime I’ve never been in relationships that were toxic, or that I was never really dumb. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of really dumb. When I was young, I dated a guy who was in a serious relationship. I was the other woman. I kept kidding myself that he would break up with her and would choose me. It was beyond toxic to my self-esteem and still makes me cringe. I also feel terrible that I did that to another woman. In other words, I hated myself.
My point is that I’ve been there—in that place where you are with someone who is shattering your self-esteem, who is making you hate yourself, and who is only offering you frustration, emptiness and misery. That’s what sleeping with an ex who cheated on you will offer, as well.
Remember that movie, “It’s Complicated?” It’s about this very subject. An older woman’s husband leaves her for a younger woman and is very unhappy in his marriage. He begins having an affair with his ex-wife and tries to get back together.
Although I loved that movie, and anything written and/or produced by Nancy Meyers is amazing, I felt it was unrealistic. Why? Because if someone cheated and left you for the person, how could you possibly want to have sex with him again? I could maybe see thinking about it, and maybe even considering it, but how could a person actually go through with it?? Hollywood tries to make us feel good with its movies. But in reality, how often do you think this happens? Umm….never?
So, back to my reader. She begins having an affair with her ex. Then, it seems as if the other woman dumped him, so the affair continues. But then, he tells the ex-wife he wants to date other women??? That is what killed me. This guy sounds so messed up.
To her credit, she did the healthy thing of cutting off all contact with him. And he, the coward, got back together with the other woman. Here’s what I don’t understand. If the ex-wife cut off all contact, that was her attempt to move on. So, why hasn’t she? Nine months later, she’s still angry and thinking about “them.” That’s unbelievable to me!
Now she is wondering if there are any nice guys out there, and is losing hope??
This woman needs to get it in gear by doing a few different things. One, she needs self-esteem. Maybe that means improving her professional life or surrounding herself with people who love her and care for her. Maybe that means physical changes. Maybe it means giving back or doing something that makes her feel good about herself. Whatever it is she needs to make her love herself more, do it. Next, she needs to stop thinking about her ex and assuming he and the woman are blissful. I am 100% sure he is cheating on the other woman. That’s how I think that relationship is going. And lastly, not all men are like her ex. There are countless men out there who want monogamy, and who have good emotional health because they have done the work to get over their marriages. What I mean by “done the work” is they have gone to therapy and really figured out what went wrong and why, as well as what they want and need for the future.
I think the reason this woman doesn’t trust anyone is because her ex left her. He then came back into her life and left her again. A few times That would cause anyone not to trust anyone. So, maybe she needs to do the work, too.
We just entered a new year, and with that new year comes new hope and new beginnings. Maybe a resolution she can make is that she will make better choices when it comes to the men with whom she gets involved. In other words, stay away from the toxic and embrace the good guys. I just said this to my friend last night: I think the best relationships are the ones in which you really like yourself when you’re with that person. He or she brings out the best in you.
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.