After the Love Is Gone

I may hate his guts, but I still miss my ex

I recently took care of my sister's Yorkie-poo while she and my brother-in-law were on vacation. Even though I walked him and groomed him and played with him and snuggled with him, all week long he was visibly yearning for my sister.

He missed her. He needed her. He wanted her back.

When she finally returned, he couldn't contain his joy. He rushed to the door, woofing and spinning in happy circles. He was thrilled and relieved.

She was back! Life could begin again.

I know just how he feels.

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It's been exactly one month since I discovered that the man I'd loved and trusted for 20 years had a secret girlfriend for the past ten.

When I stumbled upon the evidence that Mike was in love with Maggie, he lied about it. He insisted that it was nothing. Then, when he finally came clean, he told me that the affair was my fault.

He had turned to Maggie, he explained, because I didn't fully appreciate him. I undervalued him. I didn't treat him as a full partner. Worse? I had refused to marry him.

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"Are you saying that your embarking on a ten-year-long secret love affair was a reasonable response to my refusing to marry you?"

"Yes," he said.

He has no remorse about the affair itself. He's just very sorry that he got caught. It's not as if he had a crisis of conscience, told me about Maggie, cut off all ties with her and promised to do whatever it took to regain my trust.

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Instead, it was pretty clear that having two girlfriends was working for Mike. If it were up to him, that little setup would have continued forever.

Did Maggie know about me? You bet she did! She knew all about me. Mike told me that he and Maggie actually went back 30 years. They had fallen in love in grad school. Mike had cheated on his wife with her three decades ago!

Clearly, there was no future for us. I gave him a hug, called a cab, threw him out, changed my status on Facebook to single and got on with my life. I've found consolation and comfort in the terrific friends and family who do love and care about me. And I've got a good therapist.

But I still miss him.

We weren't married (thank God!) and we didn't live together, but he's been central to my life for the past 20 years. You don't erase something like that overnight.

Our relationship, at heart, was always an ongoing conversation. We spoke on the phone several times a day. We talked about everything that mattered with each other. (Or at least that's what I thought.) One of the many things I loved about Mike was that he not only understood everything I said, but constantly said things that surprised me. And nobody made me laugh as often and as easily.

Yes, he was a smoker (with no health insurance). And he was always broke. Financially, the guy was an absolute train wreck. But he was also a gifted artist. His collages and paintings covered the walls of my house. Seeing them made me happy. And it wasn't just me; my other artist pals also liked his work.

The first thing I did after I threw him out was take all his artwork down. And, after a few post-breakup phone conversations, I asked him to stop calling. Because he doesn't really feel bad about the affair. Instead, he's angry at me. For finding out. For writing essays about it instead of staying quiet. For not fully appreciating him. (Maggie, apparently, does.) For refusing to marry him. (Maggie, apparently, would—if she weren't already married to someone else.)

I don't just miss talking with Mike. I miss everything we did together. Going for walks. Visiting museums. Spending the day in New York City with friends. Just enjoying our morning coffee and reading together. I want all of that back. More than anything else, I want to be able to pick up the phone and talk to him.

The problem is that I want to talk with the man I loved and trusted. The wonderful guy who loved me. Not the scoundrel who loves Maggie, lied to me so easily about it—and not only feels no remorse, but believes that lies were all I deserved.

I never want to talk to that man again.

But I still miss him.