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Q: I’m in a relationship with a man. He claims he loves me, but every time we argue, he runs to his ex-wife’s couch. Is this a relationship worth having?
A: Lemme catch my readers up first: Y’all, I emailed L.L. back for a little more info. She’s 46, and he’s 10 years older. They’ve been dating for about a year and half.
OK, back to you, Dear. L.L., I have my doubts about the quality of this man’s love as well. It just doesn’t sound like it’s doing much to nourish your spirit. You know what Toni Morrison says, “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”
This man’s love sounds as thin as cheap tissue. If you sneeze too hard, you’ll probably blow right through to the other side. Is this a relationship worth having? For me that answer is an easy, nope. But, I don’t know what your life is like. Maybe, in comparison to everything else you’ve got going on, this seems like a worthwhile use of your time. Maybe, despite your fella being a pro at relationship musical chairs, his love lifts you up in other ways.
And if that’s the case, well, then you’d better get cozy with the ex-wife being a constant, unwavering presence in your life with this man. I don’t know how long they’ve been divorced, how long they were married or why they parted ways, but I think what is clear here, is that they simply aren’t ready to let go of each other. To quote another woman who has a way with words, Mariah Carey told us in her 1997 smash hit “Butterfly,” “Fly abandonedly into the sun/If you should return to me/We truly were meant to be/So spread your wings and fly/Butterfly.”
Hun, he’s the butterfly, you’re the sun, and she’s his Mariah Carey. He’s drawn to you, but he’s always going to return to her. And if you truly believe he’s just cooling his heels on her couch after arguments and not heating up her bedsheets, then you’d might as well get to know her too. Everything will be much simpler if y’all are on good terms with one another. I mean, what if he storms out after an argument without packing his jammies? You don’t want it to be awkward when you swing by to drop them off. And it’ll be a relief to have someone to split the labor of caring for him in his old age. You’ll also want to very carefully choose your battles -— what if the argument you have next is the one that sends him off to her sofa for good? Now, if this doesn’t sound like your ideal situation, there is an alternative. It’s not an easy one, but it is the most obvious one.
Leave him. Then use the space of his absence to fill your life with better people. People who can give you a comfortable kind of love, not the kind that leaves you insecure and up all-night fretting your partner is doing you wrong. Use the time and energy you were sinking into him to explore new interests and find new passions. Don’t make a hobby out of heartbreak, L.L.
The truth is, you can be all the things to him, but you cannot be her. And he needs her in his life in some way and she him. They might not even want to be with each other. They’re just trapped in this ugly cycle of sabotaging each other’s relationships. Who knows. All you need to know is that you don’t have to get caught up in it.
When I found out over the holidays my boyfriend of a few months was cheating on me, it was with a girl he’d been cheating on, off and on, for two years. As I listened to him over the phone, give me all the excuses — She’s my crazy ex, I love her in a friend way, she won’t stop texting me — I interrupted him to say, “She’s always going to be there. She’s the one you run to when the woman you’re with upsets you.” And the truth of it struck him so hard he admitted I was right. I decided right then there were too many books to read, too many places to travel, too many people to love to use any of my time left here on this Earth on him. Which decision will you make?