All my life I have had contempt for people who stay in relationships that aren’t working. Sexless marriages, or unions that involve a lot of screaming, or “business arrangements” abound (especially the latter in Malibu) and I have always been Judge Judgey McJudgerson about it. “Why would people stay married?” my ex-husband and I would ask each other, as we frolicked through the streets of New York City, traveled through Europe and then settled in various beach-side suburbs of LA. We were insufferable.
“The dining dead,” we would smirk, as yet another couple sat across from each other with nothing to share. We never stopped having endless things to talk about and laugh about, before and during marriage. One night at the trendy West Hollywood eatery Jones we were all over each other, as usual, when my then-husband spied a colleague across the room, which is not an easy feat at Jones as the lighting is low. The guy didn’t approach us, but the next time my ex-husband heard from him, he mentioned to the guy that we had seen him.
“I thought you were married, man,” the dude had said with a mixture of judgment and envy.
“Yes, that was my wife,” replied my bewildered ex.
Apparently we looked so happy, sexy and intimate, that the man decided that my ex could only have been having an affair.
And we were. For at least twelve of fourteen years, we worshipped each other, and people were alternately sickened and inspired. He fixed my daddy issues. I satisfied his lifelong fascination with redheads and “foreign women.”
We met when I was 23 and he was 37, and I never “dated” before that. I slept with people and then if we liked each other, we became boyfriend and girlfriend. There was some drama and A LOT of heartbreak, and I did get a sense when I met my ex that he would be rescuing me from all of that. I just didn’t know I was going to end up seeing dating in the 90’s as the “good old days.” Before texting, and Tinder and kids, there was only chemistry and “Your place or mine?” I never in a million light years imagined I would be meeting men in the same place I get my cat videos. Though not on the same site. That would be weird. (Although maybe that could be an app—Boyfriends And Cat Videos—call me Venture Capitalists, let’s deal.)
What manner of hell is this dating thing? I honestly do not have the fortitude for it. Men who text and call and then DISAPPEAR. Then re-appear days or weeks later as if no time has elapsed. Guys I have nothing in common with, who make no effort to actually “see me,” who refuse to disappear. People projecting their baggage on each other, something I was never guilty of, has now become the norm. I have turned into the kind of woman that is expecting to be disappointed by men, that is to say “an American woman.”
People say nice things and look good, but then turn out to be rotten to the core. Other people look horrible, have awful energy that makes it clear they take no care of themselves, and think I should be okay with that. I try not to even meet with anyone unless I think there’s a potential for some kind of connection, with the result that I never go meet anyone. I just can’t waste my time that way; have to trust my instincts when they are screaming at me even during a simple phone call “DO NOT PROCEED. CAUTION: ACCIDENT AHEAD. DIVERT, DETOUR, VAMENOS.”
Jesus. I thought I was crazy.
To qualify, I don’t regret the separation, or think my ex-husband and I should still be married. Of course it would be nice, for the children. Of course I wish I didn’t have to parent alone. It was actually the most honest choice with the most integrity, and yet I see people who stay married all the time who lie, and have “arrangements” and cheat and I’m starting to wonder if integrity is really the way to go in these situations. Integrity just may be overrated.
And even though it was probably the right choice, the decision to leave was, in the instant, made by my vagina. (Heck, my Vagina is so great, she deserves capitalization.) My Vagina, while having plenty of wonderful talents and abilities, does not count among them “cognitive function.” A vagina does not gather data to make an informed decision about whether a couple of years of therapy might fix something, or consider the ramifications for a specific disorder its owner has which makes it at times physically painful to be alone, or wonder how she is going to meet a man who will want to do more than just stuff her mouth. The move was, at the very least, ill researched, and I don’t let my Vagina make decisions anymore, though she tries. Always trying to get me to check out that one, or pursue this one, or text that idiot with the ridiculously good hair; you’re drunk, Vagina, go home! My Vagina wrote a check that the rest of me can’t cash, and it appears I will be paying for that for a very, very long time.