Listen to this: About a year ago I became entangled in an affair with a married woman. She was bright and funny and I was immediately attracted to her, even though we initially "met" over the phone. To cut to the chase, we had an at times blissful, at times less than blissful three months. I knew she was married, but she didn't really act the part. She'd come over to my house every couple of days or so and stay until early in the morning. It ended after I ran into her, her husband, and their three children in the part one day. I rebounded with a really sweet, nice girl. We always have a great time together, but she's not the person I see myself growing old with. I assumed we'd have some good times, some great sex, and then we'd both be on our way. The problem is that it hasn't worked out that way. Every time we're meet up, she tells me she loves me. The first time was early in the relationship and I didn't feel guilty not saying it back, only weirded out that she said it at all. But now we’ve been dating for about six months and it's starting to get uncomfortable. I'm still stuck on my married gal and every time my girlfriend says she loves me, there's not much I can do. She knows when I’m lying, so I either change the subject or smile or kiss her or something, but I've never said it back. Sometimes I think, "This isn’t so bad; I could be with her," but I think I know I'll never be in love with her. Signed, I Love Spending Time With You Okay: When I was younger, I used to play Tetris at least 10 times a day. And most of the times, I'd die trying to make those blocks fit. But every so often, I’d mess up early on in a game, maybe dropping a block into the wron' space or not turning it enough times, and I’d get frustrated and mess up again and pretty soon the whole puzzle would be so fucked up that I'd drop the blocks straight down on top of each other, ending the game kamikaze pilot-style and starting again. What I'm saying is, you messed up and it's time to end the game. In your current relationship, you have what's known in pop culture vernacular as "hand" (from two of pop culture’s most revered heroes, George and Jerry). If you’re more of a literary type, in her "Ballad of the Sad Cafe," Carson McCullers describes each relationship as comprising of a "love" and a "beloved." In a working, reciprocal relationship, those roles and the people who don them are not set in stone. But that's not the case here, is it? You can pretty much do whatever you want and she’ll keep following you around, batting her cow eyes and wagging her tail. And I'm guessing that you've thought about breaking up with her, oh, about every other day or so, but for one reason or another (could it be the great sex?), haven’t dropped the bomb. Part of me, the unrepentant amoral part, thinks that if you love the married woman and she loves you, you should just continue your part-time passion. But it sounds like that really isn't an option for you. Here's the thing: Rebound Girl? Not an option either. It doesn't matter how long you've dated her; she's still a rebound, if perhaps an especially fun and comfortable one. But the longer you string her along (which is exactly what you're doing), the more hurt she's going to get every time she says the L-word and you just stare at her like she’s got spinach in her teeth. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, so dump the sweetie. Then drop another quarter in and go find someone who actually wants to have some good times, have some great sex and then you both go on your merry little way. Listen: My mother (52) recently started dating this man who is my age (29). They go out to a different restaurant every night of the week, parading around and hanging on each other like lovesick fools. You can probably tell I’m not happy about it. I only got married last year, moving back to my hometown to settle down and raise a family. Instead the entire town is talking about my mother and how she and her boy toy are going on a cruise in a few weeks. My husband and I have tried talking to her about finding a man her own age, but she told us it was none of our business. How can we get her to stop seeing him? Signed, Troubled Daughter Okay: If my mother suddenly starting dating a man my age, I'd be upset, too. Mainly because my mother is still married to my father, but still, I get your point. Unfortunately, your mother's right, unless she's still married to your father or to someone else, it's nobody's business but hers. I'm not going to bring up the older man, younger woman cliché again; I'm sure you're well-aware of the double standard. And there's a chance, just a small one, that this young-un makes her happy and she might Ñ gasp! Ñ even love him. Of course, you’d have to ask her. On the other hand, she might just like the attention (from him and the town). Either way, it looks like you and your new hubbie are stuck with her new beau. That is, unless you can get a court to declare her mentally incompetent and name you guardian of her estate. But I think that might be a stretch. (Gotta problem? Pass it on to Mary at cashiola@memphisflyer.com.)

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