You seemed so happy!

“You seemed so happy!”

“Well, I WAS happy.”

“So why aren’t you dating him anymore?”

“Well…”

I’m having this conversation with my 10-year old niece.  She’s asking me about my Ex.  How do you explain to a child that just because one person is blissfully happy doesn’t mean the other is feeling the same – or even if both people are happy, it still doesn’t mean there’s a happy ending to the story?  How do you break it to them that life’s not a fairy tale?

I have a new guy in my world right now.  We’ve been dating about two months now.  I like him, but sadly, I don’t LIKE him.   Always respectful,  I would never lead him on or toy with him, but I’m also aware of this relationship’s limitations.

His Scarlet Letter

My new guy is branded with a scarlet letter…

“S” for “Separated”.  I didn’t think much of it when we first met.  Of course, I had some concerns about the length of the marriage – 22 years – compared to the shortness of the separation – 8 months, but he was upfront about it all from the very beginning.

Surprising to me, however, is the number of people who think it’s adultery to get involved with a separated man.  I would never, never date a married man, but I see no ethical quandary about sex and the separated.  SHE decided she wanted out.  SHE left him.  That’s as good as leaving a used couch in an alley – if someone else sees the vintage appeal in it, they’ve got every right to pick it up, clean it off and put it in their living room (wow, bad analogy!).  She let him go.

Still, I realize that dating the separated is sticky business.  The two biggest snags are what I call the “Two R’s”.  Numero Uno “R” is “Rebound”.  This guy has been with this same (hot, if you remember from my previous post) woman for 22 years.  It’s very doubtful that he wants to burrow right in to anything more than frivolity and fun.  It’s understandable, no matter how good our connection. I am the rebound chick.  The second “R” is “Reconciliation”.  Separated isn’t the same a divorced – she can come back.  He told me on our first date that she decided she wanted out – he wanted to make it work.  He didn’t want this.  He’s the injured party and I’m fairly confident he’d take her hot-ass back if that’s what she wants.

Further, I realize that he’s dealing with a lot of messiness right now – struggling with this new lifestyle, trying to stay cordial with his ex, dealing with a bewildered teenager and trying to come to terms with his grief. He says he’s ready to move on, but he could be in complete denial of how entrenched he still is.  22 years is a long time.  He’s got to be lost and fucked up.

Where does that leave me?  Vulnerable – the “V” word.  Spelled out above in black and white, my first inclination is to RUN.  I realize how bad my odds truly are.  But that’s just fear talking, isn’t it?  Fear of getting hurt.  We cannot live our lives in fear.  I would have just as much chance of getting hurt by a single guy who’s never been married.  There is just as much chance of his leaving.  Perhaps even a bit more, since he’s never been able to make a long-term commitment in the first place.  At least with Mr. Separated, I know he’s capable, even if he’s not quite willing.