PQ 8.11 — Am I afraid that anyone my partner has sex with will try to persuade her to leave me?
“Tell no one this, but if I’d met you when I was dating her, I would have dumped her and gotten with you instead. You’re the kind of woman I wish I’d married,” he said.
At the time, I blushed and unwisely took it as the greatest compliment. His wife was a truly difficult person, after all (she had trouble maintaining friendships, let alone anything more serious), and their relationship had some challenging dynamics, so I could see why he felt this way. And I’m ashamed to admit it, but at the time, it felt good to “win” at a game where I was only supposed to be playing for a tie.
I let it go right to my head.
Of course, in retrospect it was a giant red flag. Setting aside the slight to his other partner (never a good sign), it was also a very monogamous way of looking at things. As though he thought there was one slot for Truly Significant Other and everyone else was a Side Thing, and somehow I’d outgrown my britches by being cooler than anticipated.
And as the months wore on, it became painfully clear that the dysfunction of their dynamic wasn’t just her fault. I learned that he was dishonest to everyone. Yes, to her. But also to me. And even himself.
To anybody who would ask a partner to leave me, I have one thing to say:
Go ahead. Ask my partner to leave me.
Because if they say yes to you, if they leave simply because you ask, you’ve done me a favor. You’ve saved me some time.
As I said before in my essay Homing Pigeon Primary, things that are meant to last are really, really hard to fuck up. And there are relationships that are really, really easy to fuck up and will end, without emotional martyrdom from everyone involved. The kind that, incontrovertibly, should end. And some, yes, that are somewhere in the middle.
But if my partner would leave me simply because someone else they’ve having sex with asks them to? Then it’s clear where our relationships falls on that spectrum. And I’m better off without them.
I would never want a partner to be with me solely out of obligation. Or a sense of mere convenience.
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.