Things

–I am fascinated by the ways people make themselves busy and important by creating work for others. Like not the normal way you create work when you have people who work under you. Like, if I hire you to ship things, I’m not talking about me coming to you and asking you to ship things. I’m talking about how, if it’s my job to put things in the box and your job to send the box out, and I’m the one who orders the boxes, since I’m the boss of the department, if I claim I can’t order the boxes until you measure the thing that goes in the box, even though you never otherwise touch the thing. So, then everything’s held up because I’ve decided that I can’t be bothered, that I don’t have time, to measure the thing I have regular contact with and which you otherwise never have contact with and that you must measure it.

That type of power move. One thing I’ve noticed a lot out in the working world is that you can tell a lot about someone’s internal measure of misery by how often they pull this kind of nonsense.

–I’m also fascinated by the ways things that seemed interesting to me and sad and romantic when I was younger–and I have to tell you, in the interest of being honest, I was a sucker, A SUCKER, for this–like, the poor man tragically stuck with the wife who didn’t understand him, but who finds me (or someone else) an irresistible balm to his pain. From my own end, I think this is because I rarely feel found, let alone looked for, (which sounds kind of sad, but I don’t mean it to. I just mean that the people who’ve come to like me have come to like me because they came to know me. I don’t think I have ever had the experience of someone seeing me and wanting me without knowing me. And I imagine, hearing from women who have had that, that it is neat for a while and then grows tiresome and somewhat terrifying.) and never being chosen in my own right led me to an ugly place where it felt awesome to be then chosen over someone else, to be the thing so awesome that a person would risk everything important to him.

But then you get old. Ha ha ha ha. I mean, it’s just a lot clearer here in my 40s that, aside from this being a really shitty way to see yourself or to treat another woman, no one is stuck in a marriage. So, there’s no romance. There’s just a pack of lies and those lies start with the lies the dude tells himself to justify his behavior.

But the thing I have observed, which, granted, is not a large sample size, is that a lot of men have affairs for the same reasons they might drink–because they’re bored with themselves and their problems and want some easy way to not have to think about that. The drama and excitement of an affair keeps a mind busy outside itself.

It can have nothing to do with the person being cheated on. And it certainly has very little to do with the mistress other than that she can be brought into the drama the cheater is looking to create for himself.

Obviously, the dynamic is different in a marriage that genuinely isn’t functioning. I know people who’ve cheated who’ve gone on to long healthy relationships with the people they cheated with, but those rare occasions happen because and when the marriage is a hot mess already. (And obviously, this has nothing to do with people who seek companionship while dealing with a partner with dementia or something.)

But in marriages where one person thinks everything is okay, if not perfect, but at least working and making them happy and the other person is secretly running around? Then that cheater tends just to be a perpetual cheater. No relationship can satisfy him, because he’s not looking for satisfaction. He’s looking for escape.

This, I think, is why open marriages don’t work for folks like this. The thing he’s getting out of an affair isn’t the non-monogamy. It’s the drama. If everyone’s okay with what you’re doing, then you’re not getting the charge you need from it.

But again, what’s that have to do with the women involved, except cause them pain?

Nothing.

One thought on “Things

  1. These essays are the times I think you should bundle some of your blog writings up and publish them. They feel like a comfortable eye looking over our culture and throwing out ostensibly blithe comments that are in reality too deep to focus on.

    “One thing I’ve noticed a lot out in the working world is that you can tell a lot about someone’s internal measure of misery by how often they pull this kind of nonsense.”

    That hits an issue square in the face. Why do people do the small, silly, damaging demands on other people’s time? Well, they are not happy in themselves, I think.

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