On a hug and a swift kick in the ass.

Dear Coquette,

My husband starting seeing someone else without my knowledge. A few weeks later, his deceit and manipulation led to the decision of divorce. I didn’t know about the girl then — he just started withholding information, being less open, etc. I found out much later that they were seeing each other well before he left. Things didn’t work out between them, to say the least. Cheating is just a symptom of a problem; I realize that it wasn’t anything special about her really but more about the problems that we had.

He and I stayed friends even after I found out about her, and got closer again when they broke up. But I can’t seem to shake the pain. I’m harboring it, the pain, the expectations. I think of this girl and I feel like I can never compare to the way he idealized her. I need to let go and let things be. I can’t wait around for him to come back to me. But when we talk, that’s all I want to know. Is there hope? Is there a chance? Will we get back together? What is he thinking, where is he currently, as far as his expectations? I want a play-by-play so that I can plan accordingly. But all this does is push him away and prevent me from really being present as an individual with thoughts outside of us. I can’t contribute anything except my anxiety.

I don’t really know what I’m asking. I guess I just want a hug or a swift kick in the ass. Both maybe.

Don’t worry, I know what you’re asking. The long-form version of the question is “Why her and not me?” That’s the one your rational mind likes to spin on like a little hamster wheel of anxiety and confusion. The short-form version of the question is “Why her?” That’s the one your ego saves for moments of weakness and rage. Of course, the existential version of the question is simply “Why?” That’s the one that keeps you up at night and prevents you from moving on in any meaningful way.

I’m sorry to say, neither a hug nor a swift kick in the ass is gonna help get answers for you. Playing 20 questions with your emotionally stunted ex-husband isn’t gonna get you anywhere either. In fact, nothing is.

Sure, there are easily identifiable root causes and valid reasons for your divorce, but those are just the who, what, when and where. It’s healthy to analyze and process all that stuff, but it’s never going to churn into a fundamental and satisfying explanation. It sucks, but you need to get cozy with the brutal truth that there is no answer to why. You have to let go of that question. Until you do, the anxiety is gonna own you, and you’ll never really be able to move on.

That’s right. You have to move on — and yes, that really means what you think it means. It’s time to detach yourself emotionally from your ex. No more friendship. No more anger. No more holding out hope. You have to start listening to the stronger parts of your soul and ignoring the desperate little girl inside of you still clinging to the fantasy of reconciliation and some sort of happily-ever-after ending.

Get some distance. Quit making excuses for your ex-husband’s lack of integrity and emotional immaturity. Stop asking your ex-husband all those questions that you should be answering for yourself. For that matter, start referring to him as your ex-husband.

You don’t need a play-by-play from him to plan accordingly. You don’t need a damn thing from anyone other than yourself to confirm what you should already know. You can do better than a man who will always cheat on you. You can do better than a man who’s always halfway out the door. You can do better than a man who manipulates you with your own insecurities.

You can do better.

Read “The Coquette” Sundays and Wednesdays in The Daily.


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