Archive for the ‘Breakups/Divorce’ Category

Had Enough of Her 54-Year-Old Lover

In Breakups/Divorce, Dating on March 12, 2010 at 3:15 pm

His age doesn't negate a fragile heart. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Yenta,

I am caught in a love triangle.

Boy number 1 is actually not a boy. He is a 54 year old man and I am a 29 year old divorce’. I have been seeing this guy for about 2 years and we’ve been through a lot together–health, crises, business closing… We have always been the support system for each other, but as he ages, I feel like I am, to put it bluntly, riding on a sinking ship. He is perfect in all other ways—he massages my feet (and likes it), he always brings me flowers, he takes me to the spa for dates, cleans my house, loves my dog, loves my family, is funny, sensitive, fabulous in bed, writes me poetry every day (sometimes twice)….but he has serious old man syndrome and I wanna party with the good years I have left.

Boy number 2: Think John Travolta in Grease with tattoos and hair died in the pattern of a skunk’s tail. This is the only man in this town my ex-husband threatened to kill if he touched me. A true ladies’ man [plural possessive intended]. But, at the same time, a dedicated father, a sweetheart with a devil’s tongue, and the sincerity of Honest Abe.

I know there is no chance of a real relationship with the greaser, but nevertheless, I don’t feel I can devote any more of my life to a kind of crotchety old man.

What should I do?

Caught In a Love Triangle


Dear CILT,

My guess is that the problem is less this “old man’s” aging, and moreso your own. I have to say it bothers me that you call your man of two years “crotchety” when you and I both know that he isn’t. If he were so ancient, you would not have enjoyed all he could do for you for so long.

What is important here is why you chose a man fifteen years your senior, why suddenly that doesn’t float your boat anymore, and what this new homeboy represents. What I imagine is a big piece of the allure of a much older man from the get-go is how youthful, alive, fresh and gorgeous you feel. As he ages, you get to be the specimen of virility, something and someone that makes him feel ageless which in turn makes you feel ravishing.

But those feelings don’t last. In the end as flawed as we are as human, we are also whole, and my guess is that you desire a more balanced love. It is not so much a matter of his years, as much a matter of the incompatibility. Another thing about an older man is that there is something safe, some Daddy-esque element that keeps you from worrying about being hurt (again). If you found him post-divorce, then he was probably a rebound man to help sew your heart back together.

Now, as you start wanting other men, different men, and yes, younger men, it is your heart’s way of saying it is ready for a deeper love, one that is less about being supported and more about mutually enjoying one-another. I caution you against calling this man names, his age was null and void when he was tending to your needs, so don’t be cruel by suddenly using it as a reason to ditch out.

I say the greaser and your ex are both people you can now live without. They are sirens, directing you forward. One taught you how to be loved, another taught you what kind of passion and youth you desire, and now you can move forward and seek a partner who is really your match, sharing your stage in life so you can pass through the next twenty years in cahoots.

BF(Forget It)

In Breakups/Divorce, Drama on February 25, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Dear Yenta,

I’m starting to realize that a friend I’ve become very close with over the past year may not be the friend I had hoped she could be. We’ve been able to talk to each other about our troubles, and have had lots of fun shooting the sh*t, but I fear that the times she has hurt or disappointed me are now clouding over the good. While I believe I’ve been loyal and supportive…in the past year, she has pursued relationships with two people I was interested in/involved with, lied to me, broken plans, neglected to include me in important group events, and all-in-all seems to be unable to understand how her actions might make me feel.

I feel a bit stupid that I ever thought she would help me in a time of need, and a bit pathetic that I am so hurt she did not. She says she “needs” me and I’m her “best” friend, but I feel very blah about the whole thing. Do you think it’s worth it to try to give her another chance or would it be better to just cut my losses?

– Out of Love With My BFF

Serena and Blair fight like animals, but love each other long time.


If it doesn’t float, why get in a boat? It hurts to lose a friend, but wasn’t that boat sinking anyways? There is a fine line between love spats and deep dark divides that are not meant to be bridged. That doesn’t mean, though, that the actual moment and act of separating doesn’t break your heart a little, whether it be a slight separation or a full on divorce.

Give her another chance at what? Hurting you? The truth is, friend annulment happens. It hurts, it sucks, it feels weird, but sometimes moving on from those that cause you regular pain is a necessary part of growing older. This doesn’t mean you two are through, it means that for now this relationship is not serving you and it might be best to put all that love and positive energy towards someone who supplies a more regular return rate.

We all develop patterns early on, often patterns that involve loving people who don’t love us back, not the way we want to be loved. (See this kooky 1970’s self-help book, Scripts People Live by Claude Steiner) If your friend’s words say one thing, and her actions another, you have every right to re-evaluate and possibly walk away to protect your own heart. Or, you can just slightly withdraw, lower the intensity of the friendship. The only rule is that you do everything with love, attempting to communicate, so as not to cause undue pain.

How did you get yourself in this situation? What does it mean that she “needs” you so badly, and you hardly even like her? Use this conundrum to learn so you can pick kinder friends in the future.

As my grandmother’s nurse says, “If on first glance you see someone and want to be their friend, turn in the other direction.” Sometimes we need to unlearn scripts in order to find people who are good for us, following new instincts rather than those that taught us how to join a clique in Middle School.

In the end you get to decide when to withdraw your bet. Especially, if you have done all you can to communicate and your communication yielded very little ownership or understanding on your friend’s end. Friendship is a two way street.

Just remember, in the words of my mother, “Where you cut one branch off, another grows.”

For help with future friendships read:
The Smart Girl’s Guide to True Friendship

Or, try Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More and/or attending a CODA meetingg, ie, Codependents Anonymous.

Merissa Nathan Gerson | Create Your Badge

Loving Yourself on Valentine’s Day

In Breakups/Divorce, Drama, Mental Health on February 14, 2010 at 3:18 am

Cake Love is Self-Love. Photo courtesy of

Dear Yenta,

It’s Valentine’s Day and I have no one right now. I am in-between relationships. I don’t know how I should feel about the day. Is it ok to feel lonely? Should I give into it? I am so afraid I am going to go into a dark space, going down deep into pain. I don’t want to be desperate, but I feel pathetic. Is this ok/normal? How should I spend Valentine’s Day?


Single on the Fourteenth

Dear SOTF,

There are many types of people in the world. People who have spent a lot of time alone, people who are always in relationships, people who are terrified of solitude. There is no right way to be, no best form, there is just where you are. And on Valentine’s Day, depending on who you are and where your love stars fall, life can feel like a rung of someone’s sick version of hell.

But, the good news is plentiful. For one, Valentine’s Day is just a day! Yes, come Monday, boom, it is gone. And then, the gifts on Valentine’s Day that are meant to be received are awesome; chocolate, flowers, orgasms. And third, you are your best friend, so step up to the plate tomorrow and make it a day you will never forget.

There are no laws against self-loving on the “most romantic day of the year.” Seeing that real love knows no calendar date, you can rest assured that your real Valentine’s Day may come in June or December. Just chill, and begin a day of long slow loving. Make breakfast plans with yourself . Walk to the nearest café and get a latte and a chocolate croissant and the Sunday Times and sit for hours.

When you wake up, kiss your own hand, thank yourself for the amazing life you have given yourself, for keeping yourself alive. Try not to spend energy on what you don’t have, use what you do. Like, say, for example a bathtub. Take a bath, burn some tea lights. And if you want, on this one day, have a brandy in the tub. I am dead serious: whatever it is that is your indulgence, give in. Whether it be yoga or pancakes, go there.

You might just need some vision. Where do you want to go that you never go? Go to a museum, take a long drive alone to somewhere new, take a hike, get a long slow brunch. Go to the batting cages! I love the batting cages. Just make a date, like you would with a partner, but with yourself.

Cook yourself something amazing. And, my favorite, order yourself gifts. Why on earth wait for someone else to give you love if you have a well of it to dish out? Order some flowers and have them delivered. Watch the Olympics and enjoy that knock on the door, with a bouquet and a note, “Thanks for always being there.”

It is always ok to feel lonely because loneliness means you hear your heart. And believe me, you are not the only one. What is not ok is to give in to the voices that condemn you for your solitude, your single status, or anything else the demons of the mind might conjure up.

Another great way to spend the day? Give to someone else. Get beyond yourself and visit a hospital with a pile of valentines. Other people are alone too, and your smile might make their day, and yours. Think about giving compliments to friends, visiting a nursing home or a soup kitchen. Give that love you would have given to a lover to the people in your community who need it most.

Whatever you do, plan yourself a badass Valentine’s Day now, and let someone else do the loving for you later, when the time is right and you are ready to share the gushing love in your massive heart with just one.

Try Toys In Babeland!
Or ordering brownies from Zingerman’s.
Or getting a new Yoga membership.
Or finding a silent retreat.
Or committing to running a marathon.
Or finding a new Stitch N’ Bitch.
Or try dancing, like nobody’s business, completely naked and alone.

Dating a Divorcee

In Breakups/Divorce, Dating, Drama on January 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Dear Yenta,

I am sleeping with a man going through a divorce. Is this inherently a bad idea? How do I go about making sure he is not expecting me to fill his ex’s shoes?

-Dating a Divorcee

Are you his baggage receptacle? Photo courtesy of

Dear DaD,

First things first: what are your intentions? Are you looking for a husband, a lover, a partner, a boyfriend, a one night stand, a sugar daddy? Where are you putting your energy and why? If you want a one night stand or a fling, enjoy the man, the sex, and his sudden newly cut strings. If you want more, then read on.

When dating a man for serious whom you know just emerged from another woman/man’s bed, take a few things into account. This man, whether his former relationship was long dead or recently altered, has ties to another human and their personal business. Careful that that drama does not suddenly become yours.

Even if he is with you, and loving you, and amazing, he still has a piece of himself sorting through yesterday’s baggage. This could be as simple as transferring a suitcase from home to home or as complex as dealing with the leftover shards of a cheating/lying/deceptive relationship that may have hurt him. The only thing to be truly wary of in dating a divorcee is this, being fully aware that you may not be receiving the entirety of the man resting in your arms.

Everyone is compartmentalized to some degree. Everyone has some doors to their hearts open, and others not, so in this case it is extra important to communicate. Don’t fall too hard in love with a man with a recent ex without being sure that baggage was shipped to Tahiti with a one way pass. The last thing you want is to be head over heels with a man who suddenly announces he is a) not ready for more commitment b) not over his wife c) not that into you.

Or, as you seem to fear, make sure he doesn’t just want a new version of the old love. Watch him, listen to him, use your intuition and see: is he wounded and seeking you as relief? Or has he moved on, coming to you not as a wet rag, but as a strong and equal partner?

Just keep an honest line to your own heart open, and another line open in conversation with his. Divorcees deserve love too, but the first person you should be worrying about is not the divorcee in distress, but how the whole mess might effect your personal well-being. Don’t get sucked into saving a wounded man if that’s your secret thirst.

Depth with the recently-divorced is like dating two people, the man and his ex, so just remember that and be slightly protective of your heart and very patient. That, and enjoy the wild emergence of a possibly previously repressed man. If your relationship is well-rounded, you will know because you will feel strong. If you feel drained and exhausted, like a giant human band-aid, maybe seek a new lover.

Ask Yenta anonymously by e-mailing merissag[at]gmail[dot]com via

Sayonara, Don Juan

In Breakups/Divorce, Dating, Drama, Sex on January 7, 2010 at 12:54 am

He might be pretty, but next to him, you are invisible.

Dear Yenta,

I started dating/sleeping with a guy I recently met in my social group. After a short time I realized he’s an egomaniac, and the sex isn’t as good as I thought. How do I end it and still make it feel okay to see him socially?

-Doing a Narcissist

Dear DAN,

Gross, sex with an egomaniac can’t be good. I just imagine you two on a bed while he watches himself in the mirror, posing in all sorts of odd positions, you naked in his peripheral vision.

If you want to stop sleeping with him AND preserve the love, you need to step up and be the mature and amicable adult. This means give him a little hug and say you are through, that’s the easy part.

I consulted a sage on the topic of ending casual sexual relationships and his advice is as follows:

“I would say
End it in a nice way
Offer a hug or whatever

Say you still want to be friends

And then it’s up to you to be comfortable around him, even if he doesn’t take it well at first.”

The hard part is two-fold. A) Sticking to your decision to leave a man once you announce an exit can be hard when the relationship is only about sex. You will have to be strong and hold to your word. This not only keeps you honest, but also works towards issue B. B) You need to smile and be a warm friendly presence when you see this dude again if you want friendship. It is basically up to you to keep things as un-awkward as possible. So, vow to be normal and nice in the future, and see if you can handle your decision.

Awkward is contagious, and so is grace. But beware, some men have a resistance to forgiveness and feel generally castrated by the ending of a sexual relationship. Others take a hot minute to come around after being dissed, so be patient. If in time he can’t handle being as sweet as you choose to be, then cut your losses at that. What’s worse? Dissatisfactory sex with a self-stroking egomaniac, or, life without him as you search for a proper lover?
Have a burning question? Ask me anything by clicking here and sending your e-mail to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com.

Breaking Up Sucks

In Breakups/Divorce, Dating, Mental Health on December 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Dear Yenta,

I’m a 23 yr old man who recently got his heart broken after being in a committed relationship with a woman. We broke up after three months of being apart (when I went to visit her). Another month and a half had passed, and now she’s back and reaching out to me. To be honest, I’m feeling kind of scared – my instincts are telling me to avoid her, even though I know we need to talk and gain closure. Even tough the breakup was really hard on me, she was abroad having a great time, so maybe it’s not real for me. This is all uncharted territory to me. What do I do?

-Closing Up

Dear Closing Up,

To me, the post-relationship window is a lot like many other life crises. It is like leaving home, or graduating college, comparable to culture shock when moving back from a foreign nation, or perhaps it is more like going abroad alone. What all of these stages have in common is a loss of comfort zone and a stepping out into new personally uncharted territory.

Life can sincerely suck while we learn lessons, for example, how to re-open our hearts after someone stomped on them. I was so relieved to hear you admit how scared you are. That takes real guts and self-awareness. It is scary. Last night I heard a woman do a spoken word performance about leaving the comfort of her job as a second grade teacher. She described jumping out into the unknown, and how thrilling and terrifying and very important the whole process was to her.

In some ways being in a relationship is like building a ship. You and your partner learn to navigate life together and then when the ship sinks, you have to re-learn how to swim. Couple that with the life questions, career choices, etc that come with age 23. In your case it also sounds like this woman suddenly feels like a stranger, because of the loss of trust. That can flip your world view completely, when you deeply trust something or someone and suddenly you no longer can.

My advice? Worry about number one.

It is up to you to sew your heart back together, closure or no closure. You get to choose if now is the time to talk to her, or if you need to wait. You get to choose if you need space or if you need a hug. As hard as it is to stomach, post-relationship you don’t need to be worrying about what is best for her, just you. The only key, though, is being respectful of yourself and this woman as you decide what that is.

Leaving a loved one is all of the aforementioned, leaving home, a sinking ship, going to a foreign place. Be easy on yourself as you navigate this new space of pain and loss. A woman on a plane today told me, “If you only get your heart broken once in a lifetime, well, that’s some kind of achievement.” When we got to talking we agreed that a million broken hearts could also be a blessing, because with each we learn how better to love ourselves and in the end, how to better love another.

On an airport shuttle I asked the psychotherapist sitting next to me what he would do for a man with a broken heart. He suggested you seek the counsel and leadership of one Sparrow Hart, facilitator of Circles of Air, Circles of Stone.

Whatever you do, know that when put towards the next hearts that enter our lives, the lessons we glean from heartache yield a bigger, more swollen version of love.

Mother-In-Law, May I?

In Breakups/Divorce on December 20, 2009 at 12:21 am

Dear Yenta,

My husband left me and my son 6 months ago. His mother was a great
help to me and friend during and after the divorce. However, I found
out about 2 months ago that all her help was covered by lies. She was
trying to take my child away from me and telling people who live in
our small town that I am an abusive, neglectful mother who is ruining
my son. I confronted her about this and she did not deny any of it.
Since the confrontation, I haven’t seen her, or her husband. We
haven’t spoken, but she still tells people that I am a horrible
mother. Her son, my ex-husband, finally stood up to her and told her
to stop, but it hasn’t.
I feel like my son is going to miss out getting to know that side of
his family, but every time I try to mend the bridge between us, it
blows up in my face. I have quit trying, but feel like I should do
something. I am not a bad mom. I am neither neglectful or abusive. She
has not seen my son in 2 months, and I feel guilty for it every day.

-Mother-In-Law Mayhem

Dear MILM,

In Judaism there are strict laws about preserving life and health. I would apply those laws here, and be mindful of your own well-being. While it is sad for your son to lose his grandmother’s attention, it would be even sadder to lose the balance of his mommy.

Your mental and physical health are what should come first, so that in truth, you can put your son above yourself. If some woman is lying and cutting you down and trying to take you from your baby, and if you really are not neglectful nor abusive, then she is not a good human to keep near you or your son.

What happens now does not have to dictate what happens later. Perhaps after solidifying your role as mother in the midst of this divorce, and with time, this psycho mother-in-law will turn a corner and learn to re-enter your life with respect and self-control. Until then, maybe focus on the good figures in your son’s life.

When I was little and my grandparents couldn’t come to school, my mother’s cousin always came with me for grandparent’s day. Having an older woman who loves your child is the next best thing, and having your own dignity is priceless. Use all that wasted guilt energy on locating and luring in the many women in your life who I am sure adore your kid. Grandmothers come in all shapes and sizes. In these early years of your son’s life what is important is returning to the preservation of love and security in your home. That includes working hard to maintain your own mental health.

Apres Paula Abdul

In Breakups/Divorce on December 10, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Dear Yenta,

Twice I seem to have started to fall in love with girls who claim only once I’ve plunged my heart overboard for them: “it is not the right time for me.” – Their excuses being along the lines of having just arrived in a new city and feeling a need to commit solely to one’s work, one’s craft, or one moving on to another country, another school, or whatever and therefore not wanting to commit to a relationship. Are these excuses, or am I just busted? Am I falling in love with them just because they become unattainable? How do I both simultaneously tell a girl how wonderful she is, how beautiful, how amazing while at the same time keeping my distance so she can breathe and not feel as if I am suffocating her growth as a woman? How should I best keep calm – best maintain proper communication when a request for less communication has been flagged?

Thanks Yenta, and Happy Chanukah.

-Two Steps Forward and Two Steps Back


I adhere to the strict belief that when we choose our partners we choose them with full-subconscious knowing. By this I mean that you knew, when you chose these women, that they would eventually leave. My grandfather used to say that there is a lesson to be found in everything. When it comes to matters of the heart, we are always being clued in to our own emotional maladies. The good news is, when we pay attention to these issues, we are given the opportunity to heal them.

This is not a simple question. For one, I think you need to ask yourself what “fall in love” really means. Have you known real “love?” Is this “love”or the projection of it? Psychologist Robert Firestone talks about something called “The Fantasy Bond.” He writes:

”Most people have fears of intimacy and are self-protective and at the same time are terrified of being alone. Their solution to their emotional dilemma is to form a fantasy bond. This illusion of connection and closeness allows them to maintain an imagination of love and loving while preserving emotional distance. Destructive fantasy bonds, which exist in a large majority of relationships, greatly reduce the possibility of couples achieving intimacy.”

This leads me to my presumption that you might have issues with intimacy. Why do you feel that having a girlfriend implies needing to adorn her with words like “wonderful, beautiful, amazing?” As nice as it is to express these sentiments, they are not an inherent part of being in a loving relationship. Quite the opposite, in fact. If you are always putting your woman on a pedestal it not only dehumanizes her, but it also implies your own self-loathing. It is a faux version of real love, one that is veiled in emotional lies and ultimately serves to push her away.

There is a fine line between compliments and obsessive expressing. Also, don’t underestimate the power of non-verbal communication, even a quick loving glance often communicates admiration and appreciation. You do not sound like you are communicating, but distancing with all of these compliments. Do the compliments have anything to do with what you are actually feeling, beyond sparkle eyes for your lady? Do you enter relationships so you can give love, or share love?

It is best to come into a relationship whole and to seek to enjoy the wholeness of another. As cheesy and impossible as this sounds, it means that the work you have cut out for you is YOU. You need to explore your own issues with intimacy, discover why it is that you have been actively cutting love’s aorta for yourself, not the other way around. A common cause of intimacy troubles are related to childhood abuse. Check out: Emotional Unavailability : Recognizing It, Understanding It, and Avoiding Its Trap by Bryn Collins

Also, remember that a woman’s growth has nothing to do with you. She will thrive or destruct based on her own choices. You can support her growth, or witness and appreciate it, or, in attempting to lasso this lady with such tight reigns, you also might find that you are a hindrance and therefore a disposable entity on her path to becoming. Your version of “communication” is more like smacking her with positivity in an effort to control her and keep her by your side. Perhaps she is exiting in hopes of less bullshit. In the end, instead of tethering yourself to a woman, it is high time you get the reigns on yourself.

For more help read: Fear of Intimacy by Robert W. Firestone and Joyce Catlett.