Audacity, thy name is…Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla

"Darling, care for a slice of raspberry chocolate ganache cake to accompany our heaping helping of infidelity?"


A little bit of a departure here from my personal story … to turn the spotlight onto a juicier, timelier, potentially awesome-r soap opera.

This tale is half Westside Story (without the power ballads), half Legends of the Fall (without the sibling power struggle) and half Fatal Attraction (without the boiled bunny. Yet.).

And yes, I realize that makes it 1.5 times a story, but so be it: I told you, it’s potentially awesome-r than my story.

The protagonists: Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla. They’re like Angie and Brad. Only bolder.

The antagonists: Marriage. Fidelity. Vows. Oh, and journalistic integrity.

So this story I’m about to relate was published last weekend in the super-sick New York Times.

(Urban Dictionary, btw, lists five definitions of “sick”:

1. To feel ill, or not well.

2. A secondary word for awesome.

3. Gross, disgusting.

4. Tired, pissed off.

5. Horny.

I’ll let you decide which version I’m referencing)

So as I was saying, in the sick Times appeared a sappy hearts-and-flowers love yawn yarn right under the headline – wait for it – “Vows” (irony much?). The profile chronicled a certain Romeo and his dazzling Juliet, who just happened to meet, as silly fate would have it, in a pre-kindergarten class their children both attended.

The problem for this star-crossed-duo: Said children were from their respective (and very current) spouses.

That would be a pesky little thing I like to call obstacle # 1: the current spouse. (And as a former obstacle #1, I’m totally allowed to call it both “pesky” and “little.”)

So the story goes on, detailing the remarkable evolution of a beautiful friendship – if by “beautiful friendship,” you read “filthy flirtation.”

“The connection was immediate, but platonic,” the Times story reports. “In fact, as they became friends so did their spouses. There were dinners, Christmas parties and even family vacations together.”

Um. Ick. I mean, really…ick.

So there, my friends, would be obstacle #2: Temptation. It rained down on this poor, powerless couple like a million little, red, succulent apples.

And now here comes my favorite part of the story. According to the Times tale, and this is Riddell (undoubtedly played by Angie J in the future big-screen blockbuster) speaking:

“The part that’s hard for people to believe is we didn’t have an affair,” Ms. Riddell said. “I didn’t want to sneak around and sleep with him on the side. I wanted to get up in the morning and read the paper with him.”

Oh, right on…she just wanted to get up in the morning and peruse the Local News section with him.

Wait a sec, but doesn’t that beg the question: After a night spent doing what, sweetheart? Knitting scarves with spun silk and stuffing chicken flavor Top Ramen and cans of Sirloin Burger Chunky soup in care packages for the homeless?

Nah. I’m thinking they would have been spending their pre-morning-newspaper nights SEWING GIANT BLOOD RED “A”s ON THEIR CHEATING LITTLE CHESTS!

Yes, I’m yelling. Because yes, that’s cheating: Any time you engage on an emotional level with a person outside the confines of your marriage: You. Are. CHEATING! (Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below…bring it friends, I’m ready for a heated debate.)

So cutting to the chase: They proclaimed their love for one another, vacillating à la The Clash in a stereotypical “Should I stay or should I go now” struggle (WTF with the Spanish back-up vocals in the middle of that song, anyhow?).

But as all star-crossed lovers do, they managed to overcome obstacle #1, channel obstacle #2, and our star-struck Romeo seamlessly slid into Juliet’s wide open – ahem – arms.

Then they got married. Then they decided to shove their seedy, sordid story down the throats of the entire New York Times readership, a story that spread like Athlete’s Foot throughout popular blogs, all breed of social media and the morning news shows.

Then they got blindsided by the backlash.

Obstacle #3: public perception. It’s a doozy, especially when you do something morally reprehensible, brag about it, disrespect all key players along the way (including the most innocent victims of all – children) and expect what, exactly? A warm embrace from a forgiving readership that believes you are MFEO? (Come on, people…Sleepless in Seattle? “Made for each other?” Only the best acronym EVER.)

So according to, even Twitter was all a-twitter yesterday about the story, with Slate movie critic Dana Stevens tweeting, “That Vows column was staggeringly monstrous. I’m waiting for the Modern Love column that’s a rebuttal from the abandoned spouses.”

Hmmm. What an interesting idea for a blog. Maybe even one that starts out something like this. Just sayin’…


So what do you all think about this story? Am I just crazy … or are they?

And you can check out the New York Times story by clicking the pic above, if you’re so inclined. Just be sure to show me the love by coming back and commenting. Early and often, baby…early and often…

101 thoughts on “Audacity, thy name is…Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla

  1. gvanguard says:

    Well now that is sick on so many levels. I humbly agree that cheating on your spouse on an emotional level with someone else is well, CHEATING. Your quip about them packing bags for the homeless is excellent indeed. One thing that really bothers me is that these SICK individuals had to ruin the X-mas season for their ex spouses and children. What a bunch of A-HOLES.
    Regards gvanguard

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      You know, that’s a really good point: ‘Tis the season for — what, sanctimonious narcissism?

      I can attest to the fact that there is another side to this “pretty picture,” and these people on the other side of this unholy union (the original spouses) are feeling hopeless, punched in the gut, self-conscious and angry. While we don’t know the nuance of their relationships, I think these are some pretty universal feelings from people who have been betrayed in such a public manner.

      I do wish the first spouses of these now-perfectly-matched souls much solace this holiday season. Healing does happen, in time…but it’s much harder when you’re dealing with people who feel entitled to their newfound happiness, their newly created family and their new lease on life (after leaving you in the dust!).

  2. Daisy Wakefield says:

    read your comment on the Parilla story and followed the link to your blog – where i’ve been sitting for the last hour reading all the back posts. i’m not a divorcee, but i am a freelance writer – and your writing is a new favorite. keep on.

  3. kathy young says:

    I too come from a similar situation! My x had an affair with one of my close girlfriends, yes, we did dinners, hung out together, vacation, same church, etc…yes, they were stealing time togehter, running out for more wine, taking bottles to the recycle bin, both going to the bathroom at the same time etc…and yes when I finally found out and discovered just how much they had been cheating and the lies lies lies..I totally threw up! I did make sure I TOLD EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD WHAT CHEATING PIECES OF SHIT they were…and if I could have I would have written it across the sky! And yes, they are married…and yes “supposedly” happy! I do agree with your comment about your husband and his wife, how I am glad they did find each other as well, because I would feel so sorry for anyone else who had to come in contact, much less get involved with two so selfish, selfcentered, ugly and godless people. I too wish them allllll the luck in the world. I am lucky, I ended up with the husband of another couple we were also friends with, whos wife chose, about 6 months after my split ut, follow in the cheaters footsteps and have an affair with the husband of ANOTHER couple we all hung out with! Yep they are married now too…beleive me you need a flow chart to keep track of it all..I think we became the true life desparate house wives! Keep up the writing! No one ever beleives my story when its told! At least when I married Dave, he and his kids were not strangers to mine! LOL!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Wow Kathy … definitely need a flow chart or a “follow the bouncing ball” on that one. But I do not judge — I ended up (for a brief time) dating the ex husband of my ex husband’s new wife. Because my ex and his new wife were “ex-exes” (they dated before he dated me), I referred to her ex as “my ex’s ex-ex’s ex.” Talk about needing a flowchart! 😉

      I’m so sorry for what you went through with your ex, though. I can totally relate to how sick you must have felt — and in fact, I vividly recall learning that my ex and his now-wife-then-ex-girlfriend were meeting up at the gym for months before he left me. I’ve never felt so sick in my entire life. 😦

      Thank you for sharing, and I wish you all the happiness in the world — and congrats on finding a worthy man!

  4. Tricia says:

    I don’t know where to begin…..these folks have ZERO minds! I assume from the article that “damn the torpedos…full speed ahead” is their moto. The exs and kids are so immaterial in their “new love” that they couldn’t wait to “share” all with the public. It just goes to show you that some people are just STUPID and HEARTLESS!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I know, right? I mean, please…enjoy your newfound, icky, grotesque love based on infidelity and lies. But DO NOT share the story and expect universal commiseration or understanding.

      And even in enjoying their new love, there are such unacknowledged victims in this story: children and extended families. They don’t get a voice, they are expected to simply “roll with the punches,” yet we all know the statistics as they relate to children from broken homes. And they’re not good…

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I can’t imagine marrying a man who has cheated on a spouse. Can you even imagine the lack of trust that serves as a foundation for that kind of relationship?

      As I said…good for them that they found one another. Glad it’s not me — any more…

  5. MissKay says:

    Your blog is frickin awesome and the fact that you are chronicling your journey and relating it to current news (even if it is of 2 wretched people who have pro-claimed their lust, sorry love for one another.) Keep up the good work.

    Remember everyone, cheaters suck!

  6. nonny50fire says:

    I love your blog. Keep fighting the idiots and don’t let them win. If all us people that were cheated on and thrown aside stick together, we can’t lose. My ex walked out 2 days before my 50th b-day for a nasty little skank. He couldn’t even get his midlife crisis right. I thought he was supposed to have a pretty little young thing and a sports car. Instead he got a nasty looking thing with a pickup truck. He is a redneck so that accounts for it I guess. They were on and off again for about 3 years. Right now they are off. He will be all alone for Xmas and I will be with my wonderful boyfriend and children. Karma,karma,karma.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      You’re absolutely right — I’m so tired of this societal standard that we who have been dumped need to be “graceful” by not acknowledging anything/talking/emoting. It SUCKS, we have a right to feel it and live it and share our stories. And there’s certainly no statute of limitations, either … my ex seems to think that because 2.5 years have gone by since our divorce, that I’m clearly “not over him” in some way because I’m choosing to talk now.

      I’m so TOTALLY over him. But this really is the first time I’ve been able to talk about all of this — the scars remain, so now my goal is to help people who may be going through similar circumstances.

      So sorry ’bout the ugly redneck skank. Hope you read my “Is she hot” post…I can relate!

      • Indie Mom says:

        Here’s a quote I’ve studied for years and reflect on during my own pending divorce …

        We must be, at bottom, fundamentally healthy or we would not have stayed alive this long. Like all living creatures, we can heal from our injuries and our suffering. If we have a healthy environment, healthy behaviors, healthy relationships, we will recover. We need to identify our histories of trauma, abuse, neglect, grief and loss. We need to overcome denial on all of our addictive behaviors. We need to provide ourselves with good health care. We need a safe place where we can be who we are, and be welcome. We need quiet, respectful attention as we tell our stories in as much detail and as many times as we need to.

        If we get these things we will not just stay alive, be we will have good lives. Lives that are free of the curses of mental and physical illnesses. Lives that are productive and creative, lives that are filled with friendship and love. :: David L. Conroy, PhD.

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          Oh. My. GOD. I love this quote. My favorite part:

          “We need quiet, respectful attention as we tell our stories in as much detail and as many times as we need to.”

          This summarizes much of my goal with this blog: We get to live our experiences and heal in whatever manner necessary. Yes, my divorce happened 2+ years ago, but this pain still creeps into my daily life (especially when the ex and his wife attempt to hurt me through the kids, which routinely happens), and the recovery is still in process. I’m better off, but I get to share with others the journey to my own healing. And others can benefit as they share their stories as well.

          Thank you so much for sharing this quote. Now I’m off to research other writings from David L. Conroy, PhD.

  7. mynakedbokkie says:

    Do you actually realise hwo many men THINK that it is only cheating when their bodies start going through the motions? Up until that point, they think that they are just friends. I AGREE!!! Once you create, or even allow an emotional connection…..there is a problem!!! My dad’s blondie seems to think that the fact that she apparently “counselled” my father while he was in the throws of an “Awful” marriage… was only good behaviour. Nothing that could have encouraged something even worse. It was an open door. Can you feel my anger!!!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      …and that sounds like totally appropriate anger! Ugh…how classless! 😦

      There is a reality about men (more so than women) that when they are attracted to someone, their bodies physically react. IMHO, encouraging “that reaction” by seeking further opportunities to spend time with said attractive woman — no matter how “innocent” it appears to be — is cheating, plain and simple.

  8. haroldwoodcrafting says:

    I agree! Male/female, physical/emotional/spiritual it is ALL infidelity! A vow has been broken or two or three. Stay with the one you took to the dance. What do people not understand about “until death do us part”?

    Marriage takes work people! You bring two people together either or both with their own problems/baggage/idiosyncrasies and expect “happily ever after”!? Get real!! Pull your head out of the sand or clouds or that place that is physically impossible, but mentally you are there.

    You have fallen out of love? Time to get back to work! Marriage is 24/7/365 or 366. No days off, no weekends away and no holidays! Both are 50% of a marriage = 100%, but both had better be giving 100% of that 50%!

    I rave, I rant, being quiet? I can’t!
    I squawk and talk, come beside me, I also walk.

    (it is on the way Mikalee) 🙂

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I’m glad to see there are some out there who feel this way: I definitely did at one point, but now I’m losing my faith in the institution of marriage.

      You see, I think I now believe that people are too weak to live up to such high standards of “’til death do us part.” I mean, biologically, evolutionarily, are we cut out for that? I don’t know.

      I do know there are some around us who are, but that those numbers seem to be waning, thus suggesting “survival of the fittest” may be taking hold…

      Great comment — thanks!

      • BrokenPicker says:

        I find this particular conversation/angle, intriguing. Biologically, there’s not much we can do about the way we were made. In my view, it comes down to choices, and perhaps how we process information and use our brains. My wife cheated on me, only the once that I KNOW of because she admitted it after my son told me. But I won’t say that during 7 years of marriage, and a sex life that was suffering, that I never encountered women by whom I was tempted, or felt a spark. The point is….. I didn’t ACT on that. I CHOSE not to put myself in situations where anything further could come from that. It doesn’t mean I didn’t feel anything thing – chemistry, or attraction or whatever. Those feelings may have been there.

        But haroldwoodcrafting used a word that resonated with me. Vow. I made a vow. I kept it. It wasn’t always easy (and not just in terms of sex, but sickness/health, richer/poorer, etc… etc…) I remembered and kept my vow.

        Guess it’s upbringing. I did stupid shit when I was a teenager into my early 20s, but it didn’t take me long to figure out… you get OUT of the thing that you’re IN, BEFORE you get IN to something else. Y’know what? It’s not that hard, really…..

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          BrokenPicker, I think you’re absolutely right: It boils down to choice. I’m just wondering if we are beginning to see “weaker willed” people populating the planet, thus also validating my Darwinian perspective.

          One thing we do tend to acknowledge from a biological perspective: Men are driven to procreate. So should we really “blame” them when they are simply satisfying their biological obligations?

          I don’t know the answer…all I know is that these questions will undoubtedly prevent me from marrying anytime soon. Once you’ve been betrayed by a person’s interpretation of the word “vow” — especially when you yourself never believed there was any grey area to the concept — well, let’s just say you may get a little jaded.

  9. gus3 says:

    It isn’t usual that “consider the source” is applicable, but when it comes to the New York Slimes, it’s always sage advice. Tawdry, reprehensible apologists for immorality run the show there.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      It just makes me sad that the New York Times “Vows” section is one of the most universally read and LOVED sections of any publication. It represents many girls’ dreams … and the glorification of this couple on that page is just plain icky, when I think of my own daughter someday reading that section and hoping beyond hope to find “love” that is “just like that.”


  10. patridew says:

    Just read that article in the Times.

    She said, “To even think about it was disruptive and disloyal.”
    She knew, even though it was ‘platonic’.

    ‘she remembered crying in the shower, asking: “Why am I being punished? Why did someone throw him in my path when I can’t have him?” ‘

    Before coming to your blog, I read another blog written by a mom losing her 4 year-old daughter to incurable cancer. I think SHE could ask this question, but it’s smacks of privilege and entitlement coming from Ms. Riddell in this context.

    One Times commenter wrote, “The saving grace to this is that Carol and John did not actually cheat on their spouses or lie to them. They told them the truth. They were adults who acted like adults.” Saving grace!? Oh yes, when the -cough- truth-telling is saving grace. Telling the truth is not the adult thing to do. Kid’s tell the truth all the time, much better than we do. “Grandma, how come you’re so fat?” or, “My dad says you smell like feet.” Adult? Okay, then here’s adult Truth: your nose job looks like Michael Jackson. How adult would that be? Or Truth: I am dating you but I really want your 16 year old daughter. Very adult things to say.

    The adult thing to do… another blog post idea?

    Keep writing!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      You always provide such great inspiration!

      Of course, I think another blog idea may be, “What to do when your lover smells like feet…” 😉

      And you know, having been in an eerily similar situation, I’m guessing the idea that Carol and John “told” their first spouses before pursuing the other relationship is another example of revisionist history. I’m sure my ex would say the same about me … even though after the fact I found out he and his now-wife had been “working out” at the gym before I even knew she was around.

  11. Hilda Wallace says:

    I totally agree that cheating is awful, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to face all of the challenges of divorce. But can I ask, would you have rather it worked out? To stay in a relationship that isn’t working? Is it possible to make a mistake and this not be the person you want to share your entire life with? I understand that marriage is a lot of work, but it be so much work you don’t have any joy any longer? Isn’t there some good to come of finding out the person you are with no longer loves you so you can move on? Then you have the opportunity to meet some to enjoy a real relationship with, a person who loves you and treats you the way you deserve? Am I wrong, is there no silver lining?

    • Heidi says:

      Hilda, I can’t resist commenting on your comment.
      I don’t think Mikalee is making a point about spending the rest of your life in a bad relationship…the point is really more about timing.
      I recently had a friend (we shall call her Jen) break off an engagement with a man who also happens to be a friend (let’s call him Jon). They had some significant issues in their relationship, so I think they will both be happier in the long run. With that said, Jen’s timing sucked ass (excuse the crude expression, but it may be fitting in this situation). Jen broke up with Jon just two weeks before the wedding, but after sleeping with (oops it slipped) another man for almost a month. Perhaps Jen should have considered breaking up with Jon prior to having sexual intimacy with one of her “friends.” Jen remains a friend, but one that I lack some respect for in the way she handles her life. Maybe I am just naive, but it seems like one should have a frank discussion with their partner if they are contemplating slipping into bed or even an intimate emotional relationship (you know when it is wrong) with someone else. By the way, Jen is still sleeping with said friend, but that still doesn’t make it alright in my book. Jon is recovering and having a good time with his life.

      • Mikalee Byerman says:

        Perfect interpretation of my intention and an excellent, pertinent example, Heidi! Thank you for sharing.

        I wish “Jon” luck, by the way. Sounds like a horrible situation, and he definitely deserves better. Far, far better…

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Hilda, great points, and I’m really happy you brought them up. Because the true answer here is this: I couldn’t be happier for the star-crossed couple having found one another. Seriously — like attracts like, and it sounds like these two are a match made in heaven.

      The point I’m hoping to make is that when you do what they did — sneak around, destroy families, engage in the most inappropriate of affairs — you inherently broke vows, lied, cheated, hurt countless people, betrayed trust, etc. That was their choice to make, and I can’t judge them for that — only those in the relationships with them have any right to pass judgment.

      But what I can judge is their decision to shout out loud about their new beautiful romance in a public forum like the NY Times. Out of respect for their former spouses — no matter how shitty they may have been (and who knows, they could be real saints, but let’s for the sake of argument assume the worst here) — and out of respect first and foremost for their children, refrain from making a public spectacle out of this kind of love.

      They’re welcome to enjoy it themselves. They just shouldn’t be surprised when others don’t enjoy it after realizing what the happy couple chose to do to get there in the first place.

      Does that make sense? I hope so … I certainly don’t want people staying in unhappy marriages for the sake of appearances…

      • Heidi says:

        You are taking the high road, Mikalee…good on you. I, on the other hand, DO judge them for everything, start to finish. If you are in a committed relationship and find yourself contemplating “… to get up in the morning and read the paper with him.”, then it is probably time to let your partner know there is something missing in your relationship, so that you and said partner can make a decision on how to move forward…splitting up, getting counseling, or even, turning a blind eye to infidelity in your relationship (speaking of icky), are just a few possibilities. I firmly believe there are a number of right ways to handle such situations and ignoring your feelings and sobbing in the shower during your pity party for one is not the RIGHT way. Get over your selfish selves, people! Sometimes feelings change in a relationship and that is ok, as long as you honor your commitment with honesty. I will try to refrain from stepping up onto my soap box again, but these folks have got my goat with their incredibly selfish behavior. ICKY!!

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          Yeah, well, I’m trying to be all high road…but in reality, I’m right next to you on your soap box!

          I guess the long and short is that while I won’t publicly judge them, I would never, ever, ever, ever act like them.

          Never. Not ever. Did I mention…never?

          Icky people making a spectacle out of an icky story. I only feel for the poor exes, and the poor children… 😦

  12. Maggie G. says:

    Somehow I knew you’d have plenty to say about Riddle and Partilla and then saw your comment on HuffPo. Did they steal the idea from your ex and his Marilyn Manson double? I like your writing style and I love how you speak your mind. You’re taking the horse shit that’s been shoveled to you and planting roses with it. Keep up the good writing. I’m here and definitely with you.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Thank you so much, Maggie G! A friend of mine posted the link to the story on my wall on Facebook, and the second I saw the story, I read and read and read for about 5 hours. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote for about 3. And I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking about it ever since!

      The situation is almost too similar to mine. Talk about the universe sending me a big fat message! At least it’s not in the form of a brick…


  13. Jim Krouskop says:

    Riddell and Partilla are getting way more than their allotted 15 minutes. But they do draw attention to an interesting question of what constitutes cheating. Whether you mind fuck or just fuck someone, you’re cheating. Cognitive dissonance makes people do and say the craziest shit, like “the connection was immediate, but platonic.” And he only stuck it in to the tip too, right?

    Mikalee, you’re blog entry and writing are sick and much more awesome-r than those two. Keep it up.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      OK, you made me laugh out loud a few times with this comment, Jim!

      Totally agreed that cheating can be physical or emotional. And being someone who was betrayed by cheating, I’ll tell you that the speculation about the emotional connection shared by your then-spouse and another — thinking about them talking about intimate details of YOUR life, about concerns and insecurities you’ve shared with only that person, etc. — that can hurt more deeply than thinking about the physical connection.

      Fucking, at its core, is a biological function. Talking, sharing, communicating, relating — that’s far deeper shit.

      And since I’m hoping you don’t think my writing is horny, gross or tired, I’ll assume your definition of “sick” is “awesome.” And if I’m right about that, I thank you kindly. 😉

  14. cindie says:

    I love your blog. I agree on almost every point here. But … OK, I know I’m opening myself up for a teardown, but I don’t think just engaging on an emotional level with someone constitutes cheating. Maybe I’m misunderstanding your meaning, but I hear this a lot and it worries me. I have a lot of guy friends — happily married guy friends, single guy friends. My best friends are men. We engage on an emotional level ABOUT how cool it is to be happily married, among many many other things, usually things my husband just doesn’t connect with (writing, ultraliberal politics, horror movies, etc). Some of these guys were my friends before I got married (and I got married at 20). Should I have ended those friendships? Are men and women incapable of friendship?

    My husband rocks, but he doesn’t have to be everything to me. If I want to talk about books to another writer who happens to be male or my husband wants to talk about politics with someone who happens to be female, that’s fine with us. Just because I engage with someone emotionally (which is pretty much the definition of friendship) doesn’t mean I am going to, or even want to, sleep with them — or them with me.

    Now, if I start replacing my emotional engagement with my husband with that of another man, that’s a different story. Nor do I put myself in the position of doing that for a man. I do not tolerate complaints about wives or girlfriends. That’s not my place, nor is it part of what my friendship is based on. But the idea of my husband being solely responsible for my many and varied emotional … needs? (that’s not quite right, but the right word is escaping me) doesn’t seem fair. Nor do I want to be his everything. I want us to have interests and friendships outside our marriage. It keeps us growing and learning and interesting. I don’t want to narrow my friendships based on gender.

    Yes, maybe I’m monumentally naive and have my own brick coming in my future. But I’d hate to start limiting my connections with people based on that fear. Instead, I’ll keep my guy friends and keep those friendships clear and boundaries strong. It’s not that hard to tell when a guy wants friendship and when he’s using that friendship for something else. And why would I want to be friends with someone like that? I never really buy that whole friendship-slipping-into-fucking excuse anyway.

    OK, ramble over. Heatedly debate at will.

    • haroldwoodcrafting says:

      There is a difference between friendship and emotional attachment. But you did get there when you said “replacing” that’s when the line is crossed.

      I heard it best…its like tingles… when you can’t wait to meet someone at the water cooler because they give you the tingles…WARNING WILL ROBINSON!!…time to stay away from the cooler when they will be there.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I was trumped by markp427!!!!

      Haha…I told you on Facebook that I would be referencing When Harry Met Sally, and Mark already did (his comment is below). Your comment immediately made me think of that awesome part of that awesome movie (one of the best comedies ever, IMHO) in which Billy Crystal’s character asserts that men and women can never truly be friends when one finds the other attractive.

      Now, I’m not so sure it’s that cut and dry, but I think there’s some truth to it. I believe that IF one person is sexually attracted to another and establishes a friendship, the art of manipulation (subtle or overt) takes over. There is always the “maybe I can be just interested/interesting enough to get him/her to sleep with me” suggestion in the back of an attracted person’s mind.

      This doesn’t mean that you can’t get out of a relationship exactly what you need and want if the other person is sexually attracted to you (while he/she is not to you). You may be getting everything … the other person simply may not if he/she is attracted to you.

      I’m quite sure you don’t have your own brick making its way through the universe to you as I type. I simply think you are getting what you need/want from these relationships (that are clearly NOT driven by sexual attraction), and that works for you. And these men in your life may or may not be getting what they need, depending on their personal drives.

      And of course, there are many levels and kinds of attraction. We do almost always find ourselves being friends with people whom we find attractive…most of the time not sexually, but rather intellectually, or spiritually, or philosophically, or due to shared experience, etc.

      So the long and short of my theory is this: Emotional engagement based on a sexual attraction = a problem; emotional engagement based on a platonic attraction = ok.

      Make sense?

      And yes, I realize I’m a bit jaded based on personal experience. I’m so glad you’re able to be in a trusting relationship; I can’t imagine ever being in a relationship in which I think my boyfriend/lover/husband having copious female friends = ok. Never.

      And I really, really hate that…


  15. Indie Mom says:

    Great comments. Great blog. Shirley Glass’s book: “NOT ‘Just Friends'” is the best read I’ve come across in helping me understand infidelity (soon-to-be-ex had an affair with my colleague for over a year and my teen son knew about it long before I did but was afraid to tell me), what’s going on in the USA and workplace, etc. It’s based on her 20 years of clinical research of working with married couples and infidelity.

  16. Monique says:

    Wow…what some do for attention! Those two are a pair alright! Nice blog…i will add you to my favorites. Oh…love dthe “little” entitlement remark too! Laughed my ass off here at work…people must have thought I was nuts!

  17. MeGonZ-71 says:

    OMG, O M G
    Why in the world would they have the children in the pic for the paper? Are they so high in the clouds that they can’t see their consequences-adults will read the article and than see the kids and talk about the whole sad situation, which of course the kids will repeat to each other and than to the kids, sad sad sad. What does this teach the kids? Promises can be broken, values forgotten and morals..what are they for?
    Keep writing..

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Thanks for the support — I plan to keep on writing as much and often as I’m allowed!

      I totally agree about how egregious the pic is … they are certainly entitled to make their own choices as adults, but come on — these are just children who were thrown into the middle of this stitched-together-like-Frankenstein family. I’m sure there can be lots of love there, and I pray for that for them … but to include them in the sordid mess of a story was the worst decision a parent could make.

      That simply underscores how self-serving and narcissistic this couple seems. Once again: made for each other!

  18. Kimmee says:

    What kills me is they really believe they’ve taken the “high road” of adultery. They claim decency within the confines of their indecent behavior. Oh, yeah, and what a fab idea! A NY Times feature! That”s the cherry on the class-and-tact sundae!!

    Both of my parents were cheaters and broke up other relationships. They were also very open about it in a very selfish way causing pain and very awkward social situations for years. At the time, my sister and I were on board because, well, kids want love and approval from their parents. So we bought into it and celebrated “true love” narcissist style.

    But boy howdy what a surprise little Carol Anne and John have coming when the love buzz wears off and the children realize what’s happened. There’s a way to extricate yourself from a relationship, and this ain’t it.

    Love your blog, Mikalee.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Thanks so much for the great comment, Kimmee. You’ve given me hope: At times, my children seem eerily unfazed by the whole change they’ve experienced; at others, they’re wrecks.

      While I prefer their sense of calm when they seem unfazed, part of me also fears the calm = complacency, and that this situation will just seem “normal” to them when they grow up … thus inspiring a bizarre understanding of love, commitment and loyalty.

      But it sounds like this is largely a coping mechanism, and that with age will come a deeper understanding of reality. I look forward to that day.

    • KP says:

      Oh it gets better. My GRANDPARENTS did this….and their grandchildren all know them as the cheaters….it will reverberate through your family relationships for generations.

  19. grumpybutterfly says:

    I don’t think people who are not in love should stay together. But WOW, did they really need to air this in the paper. These are two people who care more about being seen than how their behavior affects others and how humiliating this story would be to their exes and children (not many people look happy in that picture from the paper). Cheating can happen on many levels, and I find it hard to believe they managed not to have some intimacy before they came clean to their spouses…and especially afterwards if it took him 6 months to make up his mind. My husband, lovely man, hates it when cheating is fed to us as romance…Cheating sucks, no matter how they want to wrap it up and shove it down our throats. .

  20. markp427 says:

    I agree with Cindie, but it’s admittedly a fine line. Brings up the whole When Harry Met Sally “Can men and women be friends?” debate, a question I’ve waffled back and forth on for years. Ultimately, I think the emotional connection doesn’t equate to cheating, but it’s the first step in a slippery slope that often leads there…if that makes sense.

  21. ridleymocki says:

    I find this to be a very interesting debate. Personally, and I know I’m only young so feel free to correct me should you wish it, I find nothing dishonourable or uncommitted about feeling a physical attraction to someone outside of your marriage. I find it very honourable when you do feel attracted to someone but you resist temptation and distance yourself to avoid disaster. Whether there is love in your current relationship or not, you DO NOT cheat plain and simply due to a respect you have for partner. But as soon as start making excuses, and you start finding ways to be with the other person, basically when you feel like you have something to hide – then its dishonest and its cheating. This is my perception anyway.
    BTW love the blog and can’t wait for the next installment.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Cheating really does come down to choice, doesn’t it: If you choose to not allow a base-level attraction to come between you and your spouse, you’ve chosen the respectful path. If you choose to let it, then you’ve chosen to cheat.

      And it can take many forms…not just the physical.

      Thanks for the comment!

  22. Young dad says:

    “And it’s only cheating if you’ve inscribed the words in a brick…”


    Also, I’m gonna go against the grain. I think flirtation is healthy. I don’t personally do it (anymore) as it nearly destroyed my relationship. I took it a little far. But if I’d have done it on a different, more subtle, level I’d probably have been okay with it. I’m sure my partner does it too, though she’s a little silly and doesn’t notice that she does sometimes.

    So….Flame me now. lol.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Flirtation may be healthy, but it’s also a slippery slope (I’ve always loved that expression, but it just “feels” so right here, dontcha think?). 😉

      So the second you decide you want to wake up and read the newspaper with someone, you should know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’ve irreversibly and completely slipped down that slope!

      I think we all flirt to varying degrees. But it’s what we do with that flirtation that comprises a component of our character.

      And again, keep in mind that I don’t necessarily judge these people on their relationship: Yes, it sucks being the person left, but I’m sure most of us would agree that leaving is a better option than staying in a harmful/hurtful/loveless/lackluster relationship.

      But it’s the manner in which these two are glorifying their love story that makes me sick. And not the good kind of sick, either…

      There…that wasn’t so bad, right Young Dad? 😉

  23. Jack Howitzer says:

    Claiming fidelity while ditching your spouse for monogamous time with someone else is cheating. And no one believes claims of monogamy. If your spouse rationalizes that behavior, dump and slander, then repeat.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Great comment, Jack. It does seem many people these days have a very self-serving definition of monogamy. Like “if I only intend to sleep with one person, but accidentally fall into bed with another, I’m in a monogamous relationship.” Justification much? Just sayin…

  24. Brian says:

    In a few years, your ex will likely do something selfish again and Marilyn will be left out in the dust. She’ll have to reflect on the way she’s treating you now when she finds herself in the same exact position. Their childish “marriage” is the direct result of his poor impulse control and lack of integrity. His defects will only exacerbate with time. FWIW, when men cheat on their wives, the mistress is usually a directly INFERIOR instance of the spouse. A gorgeous and brilliant friend of mine lost her husband to a (literally) cross-eyed and illiterate girl. The latter is easier to control for a weak male and provides a more reliable steady stream of validation. Until her utility depletes, which it invariably will. Best to you!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Wow, Brian … cross-eyed and illiterate. Really?

      Yet another entry in a chapter of my book titled, “You just can’t make this shit up…”

      Thanks for the awesome comment. You made my night. 🙂

    • Indie Mom says:

      Thanks for this comment, Brian. When I found out who the other woman was in my husband’s life, I was devastated and questioned my own self worth for a very long time, especially when a colleague of mine initially told me that this woman was just a stupid bimbo that guys liked to make jokes about. I had expected her to be this amazing woman more accomplished and beautiful than me, yet she was younger, less educated, not very pretty, known in the community as a ‘walking STD’ and had cheated on her own husband 4 times who she said abused her. I kept asking myself, ‘What is wrong with me that my husband of 25 years would choose a woman like that over me and our children?” I have realized the past year, painfully, that it’s not about me. It’s about him and his need for unconditional validation and need to control someone.

  25. monicastangledweb says:

    These folks are shameless and should be wearing scarlet A’s. Long before my ex left me for another woman (someone I didn’t know), I suspected there was something going on between him and a “good” friend of mine but I wasn’t able to prove it. Yet my gut tells me it was so. With hindsight, knowing his cheating ways, I know I’m right.

    Thanks for another great post!

  26. Salmart says:

    It looks a lot like the Evert/Norman scenario to me with two HUGE egos fighting to dominate. And we all know who got the last laugh there!

    The confessions by Chris in this piece in the Sydney Morning Herald in July last year might bring some comfort to others here, as it did for me. Will Partilla & Riddell be saying the same things one day? Will our ex’s?

    Chris Evert misses ex-husband, children

    Former tennis star Chris Evert says she had “no idea” her divorce from Australian golf great Greg Norman was coming.

    Evert, 55, married Norman in a lavish ceremony in the Bahamas in June 2008. They were divorced 18 months later.

    “I had no idea it was coming,” she told Woman’s Day magazine, adding that the pair had agreed not to go into the details of their split in public.

    “It wasn’t talked about, ever. “Never in a million years did I imagine it would end up like this.”

    The couple announced their engagement two years after Evert’s 2006 divorce from American ski champion Andy Mill, to whom she was married for 20 years. Norman divorced his wife of 25 years, Laura Andrassy, also in 2006.

    Evert, who has been in counselling since the separation, said she thought her love with Norman would last forever but they turned out to be “just very different people”.

    “It was our priorities and our lifestyles,” she said. “I wanted roots and he wanted wings.”

    The former world No.1 with 18 grand slam singles titles to her name said she spent far too much time away from her three teenage sons after marrying Norman.

    “I am the first to admit I need to hold myself accountable and responsible, which I am doing,” she said. “But Greg needs to take accountability for the promises he made and the way he left.”

    Evert also said guilt played a part in their marriage breakdown. “I still had an enormous amount of guilt,” she said.

    “I brought that into my marriage with Greg and I allowed it to have an effect. “I’ve also learned, chances are, any relationship that starts out in a dishonest way is not going to work. “It already had a strike against it.”

    Evert was asked if she missed Norman.

    “I miss my family time with Andy and the kids,” she replied. “That was 20 years of history. Probably the best years of my life.

    Norman was Evert’s third husband.

    She married English tennis player John Lloyd in 1979 and they divorced in 1987.

    A year later, she married Mill, an Olympic downhill skier. The couple had three sons – Alexander, 18, Nicholas, 16 and Colton, 14. They divorced in December 2006.

    Evert said there was a part of her that was still “angry and hurt” but she was working hard on “healing and accepting”. “I blame nobody but me for leaving my marriage [to Mill],” she said.

    “But I have been trying to figure out why I crossed that line. “What was it in me that I allowed myself to fall in love with another man when I was in a marriage?”

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      “I’ve also learned, chances are, any relationship that starts out in a dishonest way is not going to work. It already had a strike against it.”

      I can only imagine…

      Best of luck to all couples who begin in a dishonest way. You’re going to need it. Because if he did it once, and she did it once, what’s stopping them from doing it again?

      • BrokenPicker says:

        Yup. There’s a piece of me that wants so badly to warn “him”, but there’s a bigger piece of me that wants to beat him to a bloody pulp. Time is the great equalizer, and I know that somewhere deep down, hopefully well enough to avoid the latter, and just wait his regret. It is wrong of me to assume that the regret will come, but I am 99.99999% sure that it will.

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          Well, even if the regret doesn’t come, those of us looking from the outside in still feel nothing but pity for the poor couple.

          I mean, really…how do you ever trust? There would always be a nagging sense, a constant struggle, an unanswered question.

          And here I thought the Internet was the great equalizer? Or at least it can be…


  27. ThePioneer says:

    Infidelity is an occupation hazard for career narcissists. I can’t get very excited when people who make a living being self absorbed (most celebrities) are self absorbed. I read all your posts tonight, and I found them to ride the seesaw of sassy and classy perfectly, but despite agreeing with you that these people are wankers, I disagree with the idea that cheating is about the act. Its not the act that makes it cheating, its the betrayal.

    Cheating is not about sex, or else masturbation would be cheating. Cheating is not about intimacy, or having a good friend would be cheating. Cheating is not about emotions or connecting deeply with someone would be cheating. Cheating is about betrayal. I had sex with another woman and I’ve been deeply involved with other women emotionally. My wife currently has a huge crush on a man, and the reason she hasn’t slept with him is because he has never pursued it, not because she and I are married.

    None of this is cheating, because we are always the first to know. She knows my emotions and fantasies about my female friends, better than they do, and I know her emotions and fantasies about her male friends better than they do. We’re partners, we should know those things first, not last. Marriage is a partnership, and only a partner can be cheated on. Its impossible to cheat on a prostitute, because its a contractor/contractee relationship

    Cheating is about using one member’s belief they are a partner as a tool to hid the fact you’re treating them like a mere contractor. Having the very person who you should be able to trust the most using your heart to gain at your expense is what hurts so much. If you focus on what the cheater got (sex and companionship and warm fuzzies from two honest lovers while you got them from only one liar) instead of the mechanism they used to get it, it sets you up to be betrayed again.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Very interesting perspective here, and I’m glad you shared … though I do respectfully disagree with much of it.

      Personally, I don’t see cheating as a black/white issue. I think there are shades of grey, and many of the situations you present would inherently be “cheating” to me if I were in a committed relationship with someone. You write, “Cheating is not about sex, or else masturbation would be cheating.” I do believe that masturbating about someone else is a form of cheating. Is it enough to end a relationship? Probably not, but if continued fantasies outweigh the current relationship, we have a problem…

      You write, “Cheating is not about emotions or connecting deeply with someone would be cheating.” Again, another shade of grey: If you find yourself connecting with another in deeper ways that with your spouse, that is a form of cheating. At least in my book.

      Finally, you write, “I had sex with another woman and I’ve been deeply involved with other women emotionally. My wife currently has a huge crush on a man, and the reason she hasn’t slept with him is because he has never pursued it, not because she and I are married. None of this is cheating, because we are always the first to know.” I believe the acts themselves and what they represent inherently makes all of this cheating. Just because you’re the first to know doesn’t mean you’ve not inherently done something to hurt the other. To me, the word “cheating” means engaging (acting, constant fantasizing, etc) with someone outside of the pre-determined boundaries of your marriage. Perhaps it’s not cheating to you because you and your wife have established different boundaries and limits in your marriage. But I would argue those are not universally accepted in our society.

      Again, though…very interesting thoughts here, and I’m interested to hear other perspectives as well.

      • ThePioneer says:

        As long as you disagree respectfully. 🙂 And thanks for the chance to let me get on my soapbox for open marriage, even though it doesn’t apply directly to what you were talking about.

        Perhaps I should have gone with the far shorter version of what I wrote: Every couple gets to work out fidelity for themselves, and those are the standards we’ve worked out for us. I made the very broad and easily argued against statement “cheating isn’t about sex” to paint the other side of the continuum of gray, not to say that we should all have sex all willy-nilly. Even in an open marriage, there is such a thing as cheating.

        But I stand by the universal idea that what makes cheating wrong and hurtful is the betrayal and not the specific method of betrayal. I think the real heartbreak doesn’t come from the act, or even the lies of word and deed that take place to allow the act, but the fact the person we considered our partner was totally OK living a lie. I think its that “ok-ness” with deception and manipulation that hurts so much.

        I think its important to focus on that and not the specific act, because rules based on principal are easy apply to new situations, but rules based on specific forbidden acts are very easy to circumvent. If the principal is “Don’t have secrets” you always know whats up. If the principal is “you can desire other women, but not too much, fantasize, but not regularly, and love but not to deeply” your fidelity hinges on ideas that very subjective. How much, is “too much”?

        Finally, I respectfully disagree with your statement “If you find yourself connecting with another in deeper ways that with your spouse, that is a form of cheating…” My wife cannot meet all my needs. Not spiritually and not physically. When I want to connect sexually to an admired partner, she’s the only one. When I want to connect around lecturing on role of transportation infrastructure in the history of democracy, she’s not…nor does she want to be, and thats OK. The path to open marriage was a slow one that started with that realization, and ended only after 7 years of conversation about it, with an open bed.

        Thanks for responding, and keep up the good work.

  28. Connie T says:

    The article just makes me sick, bragging about what they did. My heart goes out to you and what a jerk you husband was and even a bigger jerk by bragging about it in a news paper.
    I once knew a great couple. The woman was a good friend of mine. She caught her husband cheating. They divorced. His name was George. He married Linda. They were so “happy”, until she came home and caught him in bed with another woman. Oh no, how could he do that to her.
    Well how could she do that to his first wife. What comes around, goes around.

  29. whathappensafter5 says:

    I read this article too – I thought it was so creepy!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog – hope you’ll come back!

  30. Heather Stark says:

    You asked for comment on “Any time you engage on an emotional level with a person outside the confines of your marriage: You. Are. CHEATING!”. And I am inspired to comment, so here goes: I think this attitude puts way too much pressure on the marriage relationship to be everything, and fulfil your every need. Your use of the word ‘confines’ in this context is interesting. To me, this view of what marriage should be IS very confining. Basincally, I think I agree with the Pioneer, though the details of how we work our relationships differ a lot. (For one thing, I am just so not into transportation policy…)

    Nice blog. You really seem to be enjoying yourself, and your posts are enjoyable to read. (I even engage emotionally with them….;-)

  31. writerwren says:

    A most excellent blog.

    I for one must agree with your “Any time you engage on an emotional level…” statement.

    It is an odd world we live in. For the unhappy wife, the dissastisfied boyfriend, anyone who is looking for something more, a sympathetic ear is never far when the Internet can be turned to. Chat rooms, online games, dating is a menagerie of options.

    And it can be wonderful. I for one have an incredibly odd job which makes it difficult to meet people, I have truly formed some inspiriational connections through the web.

    However, it seems increasingly easy for people to rationalize getting close to someone emotionally online (or through any means) as harmlesss, because it doesn’t involve the sex-factor. For me, personally, if I found out my husband was talking to some woman about his deepest fears, his dreams, everything, it would be just as bad, if not worse, if it were a physical relationship.

    In regards to the referenced article, I am weary of people justifying their selfish choices. What happened to a good, old fashioned sense of shame?

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment — I COMPLETELY agree with you!

      I especially agree with this: “For me, personally, if I found out my husband was talking to some woman about his deepest fears, his dreams, everything, it would be just as bad, if not worse, if it were a physical relationship.”

      In the aftermath of my “brick,” I once told someone that while I had no idea whether physical affair had occurred, the alternative was actually far worse. Because he was sharing with her aspects of our lives that were only intended for us. That was the ultimate betrayal for me.

      Though I still removed the bed from our room and put it on the front lawn until he came and removed it. 😉

      It seems to me the Internet is the great equalizer … and also the great rationalizer. I’m tired of watching people connect with past loves, start inane chat sessions that blossom into more, all the while viewing online cheating as “just innocent flirting.” It’s wrong, plain and simple…

  32. Debbie189 says:

    I recently re-discovered the story of the two cheaters and it led me to your blog, for which I will be forever grateful. There are a few points I’d like to make. In the picture, Partilla has a child who is maybe 3. The wife he left HAD to have been pregnant a good bit of the time he was contemplating leaving her, based on their stated timeline (Met in 2006, married in late 2010, so the child in his arms was likely conceived in 2007). Despicable.

    Their “connection was immediate:, they state. However, they met first, had this “immediate connection”, then pushed their spouses and kids together to dinners, picnics and even on vacations. They basically had their families along while they “dated” one another.

    One quote that really stands out is, “As Mr. Partilla saw it, their options were either to act on their feelings and break up their marriages or to deny their feelings and live dishonestly. “Pain or more pain,” was how he summarized it.” He may want to re-write it that way, but the people who felt the pain, especially the “more pain”, were the spouses they shoved aside in their haste to consummate their infatuation, and their five children.

    Also, I simply do not believe they did not physically cheat before they asked their spouses to separate. These people do not seem capable of denying themselves any desires, nor do they seem the type to burn bridges before ascertaining their sexual compatibility with one another. I call Bullshit.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Such great points, Debbie189! I hadn’t really thought about the timeline in terms of the kids … despicable indeed.

      I just can’t imagine anyone publicly celebrating such a tragic beginning to a relationship. Yes, they can personally celebrate their own union — totally their right. But to expect others to read the story of how they were all friends, and it just “happened,” and yet it clearly was orchestrated (as you said, they brought their respective spouses along on their dates…ewwww!) — how can we feel anything but disgust? And once you factor the exes and the children into the picture, it’s just overwhelmingly tragic. Not “Vows” section appropriate.

      Thank you for the comment — you clearly “get it.” Sadly, Carol Anne and John don’t — and most likely never will…

  33. Sarah Een says:

    The story was ridiculous, it seems many people lack self-awareness..However, you must never, ever, question the Clash..Joe Strummer is watching over all of us, as is Joey Ramone.

  34. JM says:

    These people are rejoicing in the breakup of 2 families. Shame on them. Divorce is sometimes necessary, yes, but with children involved, it is disgusting to flaunt this. My husband fell in love with someone else, and he would not stop seeing her. I could not “stay for the kids” because I did not want them to think that was normal. She was also married and had a child. Things happen in life, you make the best of what life gives you. However, this is not something to be “celebrated” or “glorified” in any way. If in 20 years they did a segment on this couple, explaining what had happened, and they were still going strong, then, great. They have not proven anything about their staying power as a couple at this time, all they have done is gotten a piece of paper signed that makes their relationship “official”. I know how confusing divorce, and 2 separate homes with joint custody, is for children. I hope for these children that all of the parents can act like grownups from now on.

  35. Marilyn says:

    How I missed this I don’t know…actually I do – I wasn’t blogging at the time but this is so right on smart and wise and witty. I love this. I love that you could analyze it with wisdom and wit and see just what was wrong with the whole sordid mess. What I truly love though, is that you called a spade a spade when you say “Getting involved at an emotional level is cheating” (paraphrased) well said! And one wonders now if they are each respectively getting to know other potential spouses in their kids classes.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Thank you so much, Marilyn — your comments mean so much to me! And yes, these horrible people deserved the negative attention. I’m sorry, I typically don’t ascribe characterizations to people I don’t know, but I feel we can all assume they’re horrible — simply based on what they did, the manner they went about doing it, then decided to publicize it and paint some revisionist history version of the truth. Ugh.

      And yes, I’m quite confident there is some desire-to-read-newspapers-in-other-people’s-breakfast-parlors already going on…

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