Does He Want Her – Even Though She’s As Awful As He Says She Is?


The Question:

Hello Rori, My partner of 7 years has just gone back to his ex-wife.

The whole time we were together she was difficult (unreliable, constantly calling etc), he told me she was awful, abusive and violent but he was always pandering to her every need (She has two sons with him and he would always say it was ‘for the boys).

I got so fed up of all the ruined holidays, birthdays etc that I said we were finished until he sorted it out. He promised to do so.

Even said when he had we would get married.

Now three months later I find out he is back with her.

He says he has strong feelings for her and the boys, and wants to have another go at making the relationship work.

He can’t separate his feeling for them from her.

I am in complete shock. I really thought he would sort it out and come back to me. He always said he loved me.

Now I find I am rewriting my own history and alternating between wanting him back and hating him. My daughter and I are so sad. What do you make of the situation? Kate”

My Answer:

Kate- when a man is all about another woman (his ex something, usually) it’s because – no matter how AWFUL she is and he SAYS she is – he wants her.

Hear this, please, all – and know – you cannot win against an ex if his energy is over there – even if you work VERY HARD at it!!!

And I mean turn yourself into a pretzel to be like her…

The play and movie Chapter One by Neil Simon is all about this – and, yes, Marsha Mason (Neil Simon’s real-life wife, enacting her true-life situation) won out against his dead wife on screen and in life – for awhile.

And then it ended.

The fabulous film Vertigo is about this, isn’t it? Kim Novak dresses up to be a ringer for James Stewart’s ex?

(I realize there are plot twists – but the essence of the relationship is this, I think – if I’m wrong on this, let me know…).

A Hill Street Blues episode LONG ago, and “House” too, where the man cheats on his wife for hookers, other women who cheat, all kinds of things – because that’s what he wants.

It’s TV and movies, yes – and TV and movies are ALL based on real life!

Writers write what they know and what they’ve experienced – they just put their story in different settings.

I’ve read and heard, and coached around this story over and over, with  both clients and friends:

A man (reasonable sounding) faced with a choice between a beautiful, sane, loving, smart, sane…fun, sane woman… and the crazy-acting, mean, vindictive, nasty, weird, erratic ex.

He chooses the woman who keys his brand new car.  Over and over and over….

Don’t fool yourself.  He may say one thing…and be tied emotionally and physically in ways we cannot comprehend.

And, we have all heard, and many have even personally experienced the reverse! 

The lovely, smart, beautiful woman, faced with a choice between a handsome, sweet, loving man and an edgy, unpredictable, mean, narcissistic, demanding, emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive man – chooses the one who makes her cry.

Kate, you dodged a bullet. I am personally thrilled for you that you’re out of this dead end and recalibrating.

Love to hear other examples of this from any Sirens out there!

I have an unending supply of poor choices to share. (Likely a great many you still haven’t heard…ha!)

Love, Rori

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