This morning I read an article over on The Frisky titled, “True Story: My Fiancé’s Ex Is Doing Everything She Can To Make My Life Hell,” and boy, it really rubbed me the wrong way.
The author, Amanda Chatel, writes of her fiance’s ex-wife (although she wasn’t officially his ex-wife when they met, but according to Chatel, this is a minor detail) campaign against her, first against her looks after some Facebook stalking, and then her unending assault on Chatel’s current beau for being a bad father and bad person.
I have seen a couple of articles like this in the past, and seriously, every single time it comes across as petty self-aggrandizing crap from a completely unreliable narrator.
Let me tell a little story:
When I was nineteen, I started dating a dude who was eleven years older than me. I met him on Okcupid, and we were very casually seeing each other. My year had been absolute shit thus far: I broke up with a boyfriend I was absolutely still in love with, and then the week I was moving out of the apartment that we shared, my dad unexpectedly died. After a few months of living with a bunch of random girls from Craigslist, I decided to take off to the Bay Area. The tiny town I was living in was suffocating me, and I had to get out. There was an urgency in it that now I can barely articulate. I knew I needed to leave or I was going to die.
Turns out, though, that moving to a place where you have even less money and only two friends who work crazy schedules doesn’t do much for loneliness. It was the kind of loneliness that weighs on the chest. It made every rejection sharper, and forced all of my vulnerability to bubble to the surface, even when it wasn’t appropriate. I started trolling Okcupid out of boredom, and although I don’t remember who messaged who first, I hit it off with a super cutie who lived across the Bay (for those who are familiar with the Bay Area: I was in Oakland and he was in South San Francisco).
We dated very casually for a few months, and sometimes the way he acted was so odd. He seemed unavailable, and was sometimes unreachable. When we saw each other it seemed like he was spilling his guts, quickly sharing this emotional intimacy and intensity, but it seemed sporadic and strange. At the time, I was too young to think anything of it, and dismissed my own curiosity.
You’ve probably figured out where this story is going.
I found out several months into dating that SURPRISE! He was casually dating a woman before he met me and knocked her up. She was well into her pregnancy by the time I found out, and the only thing that made it really shocking was my own ignorance. He fed me a ton of bullshit about how terrible she was and how she really stifling him. How she didn’t understand him and how this was all such a big mistake and he was so misunderstood. All he wanted was to be with me. Blah, blah, blah. And unfortunately, I was young and insecure enough at the time to buy into this idea that she was the bad guy. She was the problem.
That relationship was short-lived (thank goodness), and one that I generally pretend doesn’t exist because of how embarrassed I am. In case you aren’t caught up yet: He was the real fucking problem, and was actively pitting the two of us against each other to get what he wanted from both of us. It was ugly. He used and manipulated both of us in the worst way.
I’ve been in multiple situations where women have been pitted against each other because of some dude who likes to fuck around; I think women are so often socialized to compete with one another that it can be easy for us to go there, even when we fundamentally don’t really believe what we’re perpetuating (or even if there is no real conflict between the two of us). It took years for me to beat the “I’m A Cool Girl” misogyny out of my own head, and even as I was doing so, I still went down that path. It’s all a process. We all deserve better than this, and deserve to be better than this.
Amanda Chatel apparently hasn’t gotten the memo that her fiance seems like the actual problem in this equation and it sucks that she’s continuing to take it out on the ex-wife, thus perpetuating the issue entirely. It takes a lot of energy and many mental gymnastics to hate a person, and to believe that their feelings and their anger at their long-term partner (a person who may have good reason to believe said partner is basically abandoning their family) about you instead.
Here’s what I think is really going on:
She’s involved with a shitty dude. A Darth Vader boyfriend, if you will. Why does she know about the nasty things this woman supposedly said about her? Did he tell her? Why would he tell her something that would just make her feel bad?
Almost everything in this article sounds like a total and complete vilification of this poor woman who is dealing with her divorce, understandably hurt that her husband was ready to shack up with someone new before the ink was dry on their divorce papers, and reasonably worried about what is going to happen in the relationship between her now ex and his young child (especially now that there is a woman in the picture who doesn’t seem too keen on having kids and acting as a maternal figure part time).
And this is not to say that Chatel is the real shithead, here; although publishing this article is almost certainly not her most flattering or mature moment, I don’t think she’s the villain either. This article, in particular, is petty and narcissistic, and I am giving her the benefit of the doubt when I say that I assume this is some of her at her worst. It sounds like she’s pretty eager to get married and have her big romance (AT ALL COSTS), and the fact that she went out of her way to write an article for a well-known site sniping at this woman suggests that she really needs someone to talk to about this (therapists are awesome, by the way), and really needs to be validated.
Most of us have been there, and it is absolutely terrible, especially since I would be surprised to find out that she doesn’t know, at heart, that she is behaving in a way that enables her insecurity and exposes the worst of her. At the very least the article is human, although I don’t think it’s realness and emotional impact is exactly what Chatel intended.
It seems like many of the comments in the article (including one from one of my favorite people) are pointing out the many things wrong with this article, and I hope that Chatel takes some of the feedback to heart. They aren’t dogpiling her, and offering truly constructive responses to her perspective. I just hope that Chatel doesn’t end up becoming like Amy from Amy’s Baking Company and dismiss even the worthwhile criticism as “bullying from the haters”. Goodness knows she needs the feedback.