There are a few different things that happened during the time I was newly separated that caused me to classify myself as temporarily psychotic, one of those being when I figured out "my ex is dating my friend!"
I seriously felt like I was going to go insane. Here was a woman who I thought was my good girlfriend. We had gotten together a few times and I had told her things -- personal things about my ex and our relationship, why I was getting divorced, etc. etc. I shared things with her and trusted her. Weeks later, I saw my ex leaving her house. It was like a stab in the heart. Not really because of him, but because of her. I was utterly shocked and in disbelief. I felt like I'd been burned. I felt stupid. I felt like a naïve chump who was the subject of their laughter.
After those feelings came anger. Immense fury like a caged tiger. I wanted to punch both of them! How could they do this to me?! I hated them and everyone else who I thought could possibly know about their relationship. I felt like a victim of deceit. I thought about them giggling and laughing and kissing and being blissfully happy.
The relationship lasted for about 6 months (I think) and years later, I've come to realize how silly and stupid I was for having the reaction I did.
I think, "My ex is dating my friend" is very common, especially if you live in the suburbs, where everyone knows everyone. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some tips on how to handle it and how to keep from going insane:
1. Your ex and "your friend" are the ones who should feel stupid, NOT YOU! What they are doing is really uncool and unacceptable. YOU have done nothing to warrant their behavior.
2. Their relationship is working because of the "scandalous and forbidden" element. That's half the fun for them. When that wears off, and everyone in the community moves on to the next piece of gossip, and your ex and your friend really get to know each other, the appeal will fade.
3. He or she could be doing this to you to act out his or her passive aggressive anger. How sick is that? Don't even put yourself into that venom. Remove yourself from it and rise above.
4. Grit your teeth, accept it, act classy and show grace to the outside world. I remember people in my neighborhood would tell me they saw them out and I would seriously cringe, and then go home and cry. The people weren't trying to be cruel, by the way. Make sure not to react in front of others because it could get back to your ex and your friend (I mean, your ex friend). Plus, when the relationship ends, the only thing people will remember is how you reacted.
5. DO NOT make a scene and get into a girl fight with the girl. It's unproductive, psychotic and immature.You don't' have to be overly friendly to your ex and your friend. In fact, if you are a little icy that's okay. Just don't go postal.
6. Call your REAL girlfriends. The fact that this girl did this to you is probably making you feel insecure about girl friendships. So, call your girls up! Call the ones you know are your true friends. They will support you more than you could have possibly imagined. They will assure you that they are your best friends and that you are loved.
7. The relationship probably won't last. What are the chances they are going to end up happily ever after? Especially if he or she is newly separated. If it does, you can handle it because of tip #8.
8. Focus on your own life. It doesn't matter what HE is doing or what SHE is doing. The person is obviously is a bad friend and you are getting a divorce, regardless of him or her, right? So, let them have their fun and concentrate on making your own life better. Focus on your kids, your career, and your love life, if you choose. A good friend used to say to me, "You're on your own road. Travel it!"
Lastly, if you are on the other end of this, meaning if you are the one who starts dating your friend's ex, PLEASE handle it this way. Confront your friend and apologize. Say something like, "This isn't personal. We really like each other. I hope you understand that we don't want to hurt you. I'm so so sorry."
She will still be upset, but at least you're thinking of your friend's feelings. It's an unselfish act. If she goes off on you, at least you can say you handled it the best way you could have.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!