This series on Returning and the following series about Rebuilding Trust are new pieces of my Coming & Going series at the main site. I may eventually move the articles over there so that they can be read in the context of the entire series.
It is not uncommon for an MLCer to come back, moving home long before the end of the crisis. This is especially common for those Boomerangs who are of the Clinging type. Some may come back multiple times. Coming back is not programmed into some timeline—though each individual may have a set time cycle. But back-and-forths are based within the dynamics of the relationship with the alienator and with the spouse.
Depending on your level of detachment, breadth of experiences within the crisis and number of prior return attempts, you may think this is it! Your MLCer is home, rejoice! Whoa. High-Energy Clinging Boomerangs are the most likely to have multiple back-and-forths, so my descriptions are based mostly on that type. This type are cake-eaters and back-and-forthing is cake-eating.
The axis of boundaries when they are home needs to be on the idea that living arrangements are conditional. Obviously No-Contact is not a boundary if your MLCer is living at home, but if the affair is continuing and you know about it, the living arrangements need to change. This advice is for a Stander who has been going through this crisis for a long time—more than a year. If Bomb Drop was last month and you are still raw and fresh in this situation; the advice is different. But with detachment and MLCer who is cake-eating and cycling, it’s time for stronger boundaries. MLCers initially need reassurances that their spouse is there, but once they become secure in that notion, they need to fear losing their spouse. In the beginning they are confused; many want to lose their spouse and yet there is a simultaneous fear of losing. Later, after experiencing the positive changes in their spouse, but before progressing to their own levels of stability, they do not want to lose their spouse and yet they have not progressed to being responsible enough to change their behaviors and withstand the alienator addiction. Fear still has a grip on them.
With a cake-eating Clinging Boomerang, No-Contact with you is a consequence of continuing the affair. Without making it an ultimatum it is a strict me or the alienator, but you are not requesting they make the choice. Simply let your MLCer know that if they choose to be with the alienator, you will not contact or communicate with them and living at home is conditional upon their maintaining No-Contact with the alienator.
An MLCer who has tried to return has shown a desire to be with you in marriage, or at least a desire to not give up; often their strength in commitment increases with each attempt. This gives you greater power to enforce boundaries because your MLCer, though in crisis and cycling, wants to be home and wants to be an appropriate spouse.
Paving the Way in early MLC was about being soft and conciliatory, showing positive changes, smiling, be the better choice, build a friendship, give them a taste of cake… Back-and-forthing is not buddy time. Replayers are more interested in buddies than friends and friendship building activities are too often buddy activities rather than based in genuine friendship. No more letting them taste cake! An MLCer at this stage is like a stray Tom cat; feed it and it will keep coming back wanting more. Then it will come inside and spray all over your house.