Exes in the Inbox: Part 12


Once, in New York, I was dating a British filmmaker who was several years my senior named Tristan. We went out a few times, then once, the day-of, he cancelled a date we had citing he was seeing someone else with whom things had gotten more serious more quickly, and that he wasn't one to date two people at a time. I was infuriated--not because he was seeing someone else (so was I, another filmmaker in fact that later spurned my single worst EVER Pink Week Breakup Bender)--but rather because my time was limited, And I had put aside time for him, and he had disrespected that. 

And that is exactly what I told you about how I felt about you sleeping with other people. That I'm here for a limited time, and if everything that you tell me is true, then you should want to spend it with me. And I made it clear that I require nothing short of that.

So that dude, Tristan, texted me a few weeks later and asked me out again. 

"Is this a joke?" I remember asking. 
"No, not a joke. I just thought it would be nice to see you."
"For whom, exactly?!"
"For both of us."

That part of the exchange I remember precisely. The rest I'll have to paraphrase, although the last five words are burned into my brain forever.

"Tristan: no woman, in the history of the world, actively likes being someone's second choice. Specifically me. It might work on someone else in the future, but it will never work on anyone good. So that's from me to you. And that one's for free."

And by that rationale, Mark, no woman, ever, wants to be someone's third choice either. Specifically me.

I told you from the very beginning, as you noted, that while I actively knew I could date someone else that I had no plans to. My exact words were: "Im not your wife. You can't distract me with another man." And the fact that you would even bring this up to me--as if it was something you "dropped", as if it was open for discussion, is fucking disgusting to me. You are not, nor will you ever be the arbiter of who I do and do not date. It's not and has ever been up to you. And there is only one scenario in which it would. 

So I should tell you about that, because you don't seem to be hearing me. 

I am not asking you to get a divorce. That's not what this is. I am TELLING YOU, that based on your behavior, there is no relationship we can have that suits me while you are married. And the reasons why you elucidated yourself in your letter.

You can't not compartmentalize your life with me and your life with your wife, and I can't not have all of you. And I told you that. And I told you many, many times that the absolute one thing I would not tolerate, at all, is that Laura's ever-changing demands and general wishes not dictate what our relationship looks like. I said that REPEATEDLY--we almost broke up about it earlier--and yet that is EXACTLY what you did. And I have no interest in being in a relationship with your wife, and you know that, and furthermore--you knew exactly what you were doing before you did it and probably never planned on telling me.

That night, that you fucked Bryn, you stopped messaging me around 11. I've seen how many times you touch your phone; I know you knew I sent it. But looking, even so much as acknowledging that I'd sent it, in that moment, would have fucked up the last thread you were clinging to of the already tenuous morality that you'd instantly built for yourself and repeated to yourself that allowed you to do it. 

And you had no plans whatsoever to tell me that it had happened. Don't kid yourself. If you wanted to come clean, then you would have just cancelled hoops and asked to see me just like the other handful of Tuesdays that you've done exactly that.

And in that entire night--that entire drunken Thursday you never ONCE mentioned to me that you'd fucking slept with two other people. 


And the fucked up part about this? That if you had been HONEST with your wife, like all the times I asked you to be; if you had told her how you felt about me and what I require from our relationship, then it may not have even gone down like that. But you didn't, and it didn't, and you have been dishonest with everyone in your life and I can't know you like this.

I asked you to be careful with me. I asked you to be gentle with me. I told you that the ONE THING I absolutely require is hyper-honesty and you said you understood --but as it's come to pass, you can't do that when you are "compartmentalizing" your life between your wife and I.

I know how remarkable I am. You don't need to tell me. I am nothing shy of incredible. I have walked from more than most have ever even done in the first place just to go do a new thing. And I know how fucking magical this seems to some--BUT I AM A FUCKING PERSON. And while my life obviously seems just enough like bullshit to you for you to shit all over, it is very real for me and occurs exactly how I, sometimes rashly, design.

Honestly, from reading this shit you sent me, it sounds like you don't want to be with me at all. You malign my choices and disparage the fact that you fell in love with me in the first place, so it's hard for me to read this and think you ever even want to see me again anyway. 


If you do, I have been very clear in what capacity that can happen. Because we both know it can't happen like this.

See how this letter went? This is, as you should know, how I write. I start with a small story, let it flower, speak around it, introduce new elements, then close with a point that I surmised in the very beginning. Every thing I've ever written of value follows this exact same pattern. 

I wish I could tell you, like you once did in such a similar letter all those years ago, that there are so many bar napkins out there with different versions of this in fits and starts; I wish I could tell you that I thought so carefully about everything I was going to say here.

But I didn't.

I just went out and got drunk again and then came home and wrote this half-way to wasted. 

But Mark, that's how obvious this is to me.

And that one's for free.

p.s.: I will NEVER delete this.

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