She Didn't Leave You For Another Guy

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I know a woman who left her husband for another man. I know a woman who left her husband for another man. I know a woman who left her husband for another man.
None of these three women actually left their husband for another man.
Now, if you were to ask the husbands in question, each of them would tell you more-or-less the same story: they opened up their marriage to someone else for some crazy-sexy reason – sometimes they went poly, and their wife dated some new guy. Sometimes they got into BDSM, and the husbands generously agreed to be the vanilla sex while some other dude played Big Daddy.
Then these guys bewitched their wives with crazy sex-stuff, and their wives left.
And it’s sad, watching these abandoned husbands. They loved their wives deeply, enough to go by the old maxim “If you love something, set it free,” and then watched as their love spread their wings, flapped their way over the horizon, and never looked back.
Each of these men are scarred, because they just went head-to-head with another man, often sexually, and were judged wanting. That’s a hard weight to carry. You feel like you must be terrible in bed. Sometimes you see those guys dating afterwards, and they date cringing, almost apologetically. They’re waiting for the next girl to tell them that yeah, this was fun, but Big Swangin’ Dick over here offers a better ride.
Thing is, more often than not, that’s not actually what happened to these poor bastards.
What these guys frequently forget is the spasms of jealousy that overtook them once the marriage opened up, the way they were threatened by the other guy. And the wives probably didn’t act in the best ways, because shit, New Relationship Energy is a toxic drug, and they were falling deep In Lurve and probably spending a little too much time with Too-New-To-Have-Shaken-Out-The-Real-Problems and ignoring Mister Old-And-Assumed.
But what was really happening was that their wives were not falling in love with another guy.
They were falling in love with a new lifestyle.
The new guy (or, hell, girl) is merely a gateway drug. Sure, they’re having knee-blisteringly awesome sex with ’em, but that’s actually a side effect: what the wives are discovering is that they weren’t ever really monogamous, or they weren’t ever really only vanilla, and this guy is showing them that they can have something they never thought they could before… and that something is really good.
And in that sense, it’s like discovering you love heavy metal. It doesn’t mean you can’t turn up the radio now and then and enjoy the hell out of some Taylor Swift. But once you’ve actually felt those guitar riffs surging through you, it’s hard to be told that you can’t listen to those metal songs ever again.
So what happens is that the wife goes a little crazy, the husband gets nervous, and eventually he’s so unhappy that he makes the ultimatum: It’s him or me.Except it’s usually not “him or me”: it’s “abandon this lifestyle you’ve just discovered that makes you whole, or keep me.”
When you dump that ultimatum on the table – “It’s him or me” – then you’ve just crystallized this into a clear choice. Maybe she still loves herself some Taylor Swift, but goddamn she’s gotta catch the Metallica show every once in a while.
And she leaves.
Which isn’t entirely fair, I admit. The husband, as I’ve noted in the past, didn’t necessarily sign up for the Big World O’ Beatings, or the All-Dates, All-The-Time lifestyle. What actually happens in a lot of these cases is that sort of terrible, no-fault issue where the wife discovers that what she needs to be happy is incompatible with what the husband needs to be happy… and really, those sorts of dealbreakers will kill any relationship, sure as the “I want kids”/”I hate kids” issue will often tear a happy couple apart.
You’re not necessarily wrong to want to never listen to Metallica again. But it does sure mean that you can’t live with the Heavy Metal Queen Reborn.
And the wife often does go off with the new guy and sticks with him, because sometimes that new relationship works out. But often it lasts for a year or two until the blood is off the rose and she realizes that New Guy is even more dysfunctional than Old Guy, and she has to abandon him to have the lifestyle she needs to lead.
But I look at all these husbands, and all they can focus in on is the guy. The guy’s an easy target. The guy swooped in, stole his wife, and left. There was some contest they’d inadvertently entered with the guy, and they lost, and they’re constantly turning that struggle over in their mind. They’re wondering, “How could I have been better in bed? How could I have beaten that guy?”
Truth is, my friend, the only way you could have beaten that guy was to either swallow all your happiness, or to be an entirely different guy. What you ran into was a dealbreaker, where your wife had a revelation you never saw coming – maybe couldn’t have seen coming – and discovered she needed something you couldn’t give.
It’s sad. But I’m not sure there was anything you could have done.

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