I met up with a former student for lunch a couple weekends ago because she was in the middle of a relationship crisis and wanted to talk about it with someone who wouldn’t judge her. She’s been with her current boyfriend for two years and is very much in love with him, but she cheated on him with a guy at summer camp this summer (which I found hilarious, because I did exactly the same thing at exactly the same age and remember how gutting it was to try to navigate the situation). She says she’s still talking to the new guy all the time – that he arouses a kind of passion in her that her boyfriend doesn’t because they have shared goals and interests and she feels comfortable completely being herself around him. Welcome to NRE, I say. I tell her to try not to compare them, which she says is impossible.
I ask if she still wants to be with the boyfriend. Yes, absolutely, she says. He’s kind, giving, dependable. He’s a Good Man. I ask her if consensual non-monogamy is a potential choice for her. No, she says – she’s monogamous (…). I tell her, then, that she should probably cut off contact with the new guy. She says she doesn’t want to do that – he’s intoxicating (quite literally). And then she says this hilarious thing that I think all of us have thought but few of us actually say out loud:
“Jo,” she says. “The thing is – like, do I really have to do the right thing? What if I’m just okay with not being a good person? Is being a good person really all it’s cracked up to be? I’m not sure it is.”
Oh, sister. We’ve all been there. The NRE has blinded her to the fact that she’s already broken her boyfriend’s heart – he just doesn’t know it yet. We talk for a long time and go through every possible permutation of potential action that can be taken, and I finally tell her that it doesn’t matter what I say – she’s going to do what in the end feels right for her, even if she knows it isn’t. The heart wants what it wants. When I was her age, I wouldn’t have listened to anyone’s advice – I would follow my cunt, because that’s where my heart lives. I told her to be careful with the hearts of people she cares about and sent her a link to www.morethantwo.com *just* in case. On my way home, I thought: You couldn’t pay me to be that young again.