Do You Love Her?


I know that she turns you on. She must, you slept with her. And though I don’t believe you to be the most morally steadfast person — I don’t know if you’re familiar with the concept of “principles” outside of the one that ran your high school — I know that you don’t sleep with just anyone. You have to be fundamentally interested in them, beyond just what they can offer to you in your bed. Plenty of girls want to sleep with you, plenty of them like to play with the buttons of your shirt while you talk to them in the darker corners of a bar, but you don’t sleep with them.

You chose her, though. She must have done something right.

She knew that you were dating someone. We all like to play the wide-eyed innocent when we are confronted with the truth about something, but she knew. There were a million ways to know. I mean, I was even presented to her as your girlfriend. We locked eyes and she was incredibly pleasant. She shook my hand like she was interviewing for a job, and maybe she was. She wanted to be impressive, to please the jury so they would put that tiara on her head and that sash around her chest. You are a prize, and always have been. I can understand wanting to win you.

And she did win. I don’t have exact numbers and dates, but you carried it on for a long time. I knew, and I didn’t. I think, at a certain point, my love for you was more colored by jealousy and a need to make things work in spite of themselves than actual affection. I couldn’t let her win — I had invested too much. I used to listen to Beyoncé’s “Ring the Alarm” and scream the lyrics at the top of my lungs. Looking back, it was all a bit silly. But when all you are given is drama and tension, that’s all you start to want.

Even as I planned to confront you, my assumption was that you would prove to be one of the endless cheaters who never works up the courage or true desire to leave their partner. Sure, I was going to win on the comfort factor, but at least I was going to win. You would crumble into tears and I would learn to forgive. We would look back on this years later and think about how much energy for bullshit we have when we are young.

Of course, you told me. You told me you were leaving, and at least had the decency not to pretend that it was just to be alone for a while. You were leaving me for someone else, you had someone else that touched you or spoke to you or understood you in a way I couldn’t. You used a lot of elaborate words about how she made you feel “different” and “alive,” but I’ll admit that I don’t remember a lot of it. It was just kind of an enormous blur of humiliation and begging. I asked you not to leave, and you did anyway.

I was dead for a bit there, but I’ve come back to life.

And the only question that seems worth asking is: do you love her? Can anyone really love someone whose beginnings are so illicit, who prove from the start that they are capable of lying through their teeth and intentionally hurting a total stranger? If you do, why? What is it about her that makes her so deeply lovable — so much more so than I? Yes, I’m comparing the two of us directly. Yes, I know that it makes me immature. But you forced that comparison when you slept with the two of us at the same time. You forced me to see myself through the spectrum of how much better she is. So — do you? Do you love her? More than you did me?

Then perhaps it would be a good idea not to do the same thing to her that you did to me. As someone you once claimed to love, I can attest that no one you care for deserves to deal with it.

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