Today’s lesson for women:
If you decide to chuck a perfectly good man overboard due to your unhaaaaappiness, do not expect him to be your beta orbiter bestie. He wants to get the heck over you after you frivorce him and maybe find himself a new woman who will actually appreciate him.
“When I hear stories of other divorced couples being friends with each other, I turn a little green with envy. A lot of times it’s for the kids, of course, but there seems to be a lot of “we just didn’t function well as a couple” going around. I guess it’s easier to be friendly with someone you don’t have to live with every day.
That’s not my story. I can wish it was all I want, but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me. It’s been almost a year since we ended things, and I can count on one hand the number of conversations we’ve had that didn’t involve the logistics of the divorce or the children.”
Saying that “we” ended things is an interesting way of putting it, by which I mean she’s lying through her teeth. This woman filed for divorce without even telling her husband that she was going to do so, but because she had gossiped about it with some other women, word got back to him before she was ready to spring the surprise on him. He didn’t want the divorce, but it happened anyway. Apparently she thought he was going to be her life-long emotional tampon or something:
I don’t know why or how some couples are able to settle into friendship after a divorce. I’ve certainly tried, but the results have not been good. I invited him for ice cream with the kids at the mall once, and I thought we might be crossing over into the land of friendship, but I made the fatal mistake of mentioning it.
“This is nice,” I mentioned, as our daughters were playing together in their own world. It was a little awkward, but the conversation was flowing, and much to my surprise, I realized I was actually enjoying myself a little bit. “It is,” he agreed.
“Just because we’re not married doesn’t mean I don’t want to be friends,” I said. You think I’d know by now not to say such nonsense, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted a friendship not just for the kids, but also because there are parts of him that I genuinely enjoy — I did marry him for a reason. No such luck.
Now, the former Mrs. Erikson does have a way of collecting drooling beta orbiters:
Men, can you please stop doing this? Those of us who are, in our own highly imperfect way, trying to straighten out the messed-up modern female herd are seriously hampered in our efforts when you give this kind of sexual attention to a woman who is not and never will be your woman.
But lo and behold, it seems like her uber-beta ex-husband, Leif, is finally getting a clue.
He just stared at me and said, “I can’t be friends.”
“What do you mean?” I cautiously asked.
“It’s all or nothing. I can’t be just friends if I can’t have you for my wife.”
And that’s basically it right there. The fundamental personality differences that made it impossible for us to have a mutually satisfying long-term marriage are now making it incredibly difficult for us to have any semblance of friendship, no matter how superficial.
Good job, Mr. Erikson! You have finally, finally passed one of your ex-wife’s fitness tests (aka sh-t tests). It’s a shame you couldn’t have started doing that ten years ago, but today is a new day, and by refusing to become her beta orbiter, you’ve demonstrated some higher value that made her take notice enough to write a whole column about you.
(Note: Thank you to reader Heywood Jablome for emailing me Jenny Erikson’s latest Cafe Mom article.)