It Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time: Three Ways to Get Back at Your Ex (and Why You Shouldn’t Go There)

The outrageous ways people exact revenge on cheating spouses may invoke both admiration and alarm. If you’ve recently found out you’re headed for divorce with a two-timer, we encourage you to just take a step back for a minute. There are a lot of reasons you’d like to soothe your sore heart by doing something not so nice to your doubtless deserving ex — but we’d like you to realize you’re only hurting yourself. Take, for example…

1. The Cheating Ex Clearance Sale. As described in this Huffington Post Story, angry spouses sometimes exact revenge by selling off the ex’s things. It makes for a great story, but in reality, it can get you in hot water in court. Breaking a marriage vow does not entitle the injured spouse to confiscate all property — and destroying it (as the woman in the story did to her husband’s truck) may make you liable for its value in the settlement.

What to do instead: If you can’t bear to look at your ex’s belongings, give him or her a week to remove personal belongings from your home, then put anything left behind into storage. Make sure you document anything of value, such as jewelry or collectables, because leaving it behind implies your ex doesn’t value it — and that could help you in the settlement. Make sure to let your divorce lawyer know you are taking this step.

2. The Online Wall of Shame. Facebook. Twitter. Blogs. Even Pinterest. Social media offers so many ways to tell the world what a rat your ex was without you having to do more than click a few buttons (social media is also at the root of why couples split up in the first place, according the CBS News report “The Social Face of Divorce“). Before you go ahead and post, tweet, or pin, keep in mind that there are laws against defamation, and you could find yourself up on libel or slander charges if you post nasty things about your ex.

What to do instead: If you genuinely need to discuss your ex’s behavior, find a therapist to help you work through your emotions. Or, keep a journal (on paper) so that you can express your thoughts and feelings, with a goal of reducing hostility and anger. But if you simply must vent publicly, use savvy when it comes to venting about your divorce on social media. For example, if you just have to blog about this, do it via an anonymous blog—making sure to omit identifying details, including your name as well as your ex’s.

3. Turnabout Is Fair Play. Your spouse cheated, so why can’t you? And maybe you’ll twist the knife a little more by cheating with your spouse’s best friend or sibling. But consider: taking that path has many potential drawbacks, including STDs, unwanted pregnancy, and the messy social fallout from involving a third party in what should be a two-person dispute.

What to do instead: Take the high ground. If you want to date, go ahead, but stay away from anyone who is friends with or related to your spouse. Take the point of view that you want to find someone better than your ex — not stoop to their level.