The Best Worst Relationship Ever

I have a dating nightmare story that is, I think, something of a urban legend. That is to say, I’ve never actually met anyone else to whom this has happened; sure, I have friends who have friends who know someone who has gone through this, and I’ve no doubt they exist, but I’ve never encountered these people personally.

I always sort of had the feeling that my ex was still in love with his ex girlfriend, but it would never really sink in. I suppose that I felt like I was the heroine in the movie version of my relationship, not the other woman (or, I guess, man)-that’s-totally-wrong-for-him-but-still-has-a-good-heart (AKA, James Mardsen in The Notebook, James Mardsen in Superman Returns, James Marsden in Enchanted and James Marsden in X-Men). But I was so the James Marsden and therefore I wasn’t at all surprised when I let myself in to my ex’s house (with the key he had given me with the understanding that I would meet him at his house that night–great timing, douchebag) to see him doing the mommy-daddy dance with said ex-girlfriend.

I turned around and left without screaming or throwing anything and felt myself crying but I couldn’t really make my heart feel what my mind was obviously feeling. “What the f*ck is wrong with you?” My brain would scream, “You just walked in on him having sex with another woman. A woman he obviously cares about way more than you.”

I did cry as I called my best friend and even went out and got drunk and cried some more but still, something was strange, I felt strange. I didn’t realize what it was until the next morning.

I wasn’t devastated. I was relieved. My suspicions were confirmed, I was so right and I was so…free. I had been holding on to this guy, trying to prove to myself that I could be special and make him care about me and I had been so, so wrong. And he, in his infinite wisdom, I’m sure, had given me a clean out.

It’s still a fun story to tell at parties and people have a hard time believing me when I tell them how great the experience was, as a whole. I think it speaks to this mindset that women have, that we are already pre-wired to react to certain situations in certain ways. When we see our exes bumpin fuzzies with someone else, it is supposed to be a life-stopping event. We are supposed to lock ourselves in our rooms with a can of frosting and watch James Marsden being cuckolded until we feel better about ourselves.

But why can’t these stereotypically devastating events be cathartic? A relationship baptism? I felt better after seeing my ex do the humpty dance with his ex (who he was really meant to be with) than I ever felt in our actual relationship.

I think it’s because I realized that all those feelings of inadequacy, of self doubt that the relationship had instilled within me, were all self imposed and therefore somehow less true. He didn’t want to be with me because of me so much as he was crazy about someone else. And even if he wasn’t crazy about me, that was his problem, not mine.

Am I saying that everyone should go out and get slapped across the face with their lover’s infidelity? Not at all. In fact, it’s not something I would ever wish on anyone else. I am saying that these horrible moments in our relationships have good sides too, sides we shouldn’t be remiss in noticing.

[have you had an experience like Jessica? Did you come out on top, or on the emotional bottom?]

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