In Praise of Getting Back Together with the Dude Who Dumped You

by The Concessionist

The Concessionist gives advice each weekend about the sordid choices of real life. Trouble? Write today.

Dear Concessionist,

I have boy troubles.

Wait! Don’t hang up! Or do whatever email hanging up is! I’ll be briefish.

After years of chill, contented aloneness, I met the most hilarious, most brilliant, most exhilarating person ever to be really good at sex. Affectionate and kind and well-liked. Talented to the point of being a little famous in his field. He said he was deliriously happy and I was too — until he left me for someone else.

The problem is, it’s been about a year and, as Sinead had it, nothing compares. I have friends and hobbies and go out, but mostly I’ve just missed him. Everything else has felt like “Pleasantville” before Joan Allen masturbates. A week or so ago he emailed basically everything you’d want to hear after a year of pining: he misses me, he’s sorry, he fucked up, the girl who came after me is no me, et cetera.

While my head says that seeing him again is a terrible idea (as do all of my friends and my parents and my boss and probably the crazy old man who rides my bus, if he had all the information and was consulted). But my heart says… I think I may love him? What if he’s truly the most spectacular person I will ever meet and may be okay with infidelity if it’s part of that? Isn’t this why people still stay with kooky painters or charismatic politicians or Warren Beatty? Why does everybody else seem so boring? Should I find a trustworthy patent attorney I will eventually learn to love for his steadfastness? Help me, I’m dumb.


Girl Johnny Drama.

Dear Girl,

Why — and how — do we give advice? Two things.

Most often, we give advice to help others avoid pain. We think pain is the worst. Without really thinking of it, we assess a situation and then, like robots, spit out “This is the pain-free way.”

Pain-free advice overlaps with what most of us should actually do a big chunk of the time! Don’t stab yourself with that jerk; come clean and free yourself of torment; stand up for yourself and feel proud; ask for what you want.

There’s a subset of advice which is “Walk through pain for something better” also. That’s like: quit smoking, go to rehab, get divorced, get a really gnarly piercing.

But also, we all know as advice-givers that we will be forced to live with the outcome of our counsel. So also there are times when I do not want to hear about someone’s complicated situation for the next six months! And so I will be like “here is the most straightforward or less harrowing way.”

And so with both those guides operating, most people will be like HONEY NO STAY AWAY RUN RUN RUN.

And that advice may not be wrong? It’s not necessarily a good thing when you’re like “the world seems grey without him.” That means he burns a little too bright, you know?


Here’s the weird email I sent you in response to your letter.

If you were my friend and we were having drinks

I’d be like

Girl don’t do this

YOU KNOW not to do this

except then

on like my third mocktail

I’d be like


No person is perfect

and that goes double for men.

Huh, I email like a drunk Adrienne Rich when I get tired.

Yes, it’s entirely possible that you’re a deluded junkie for a crazy man. That you need to stuff your veins with a big pile of shiny-eyed narcissist monster. But so what if you are? And what if you aren’t?

So what’s the worst that can happen??? You end up in agony and a ton of therapy? BIG FUCKING DEAL. Getting hurt is fine. If we hated pain and loss so much, why do so many of us live with dogs and cats, knowing we’ll probably survive them? Are we supposed to live a life of safety and caution? Nope.

The worst outcome of this is you get dumped again basically. So what!

But promise me you’ll go in this time with some bravado. Like, you’ll come in hot. And say all the things. Like YOU FUCKED ME OVER FUCKNUTS. WHY WERE YOU A DICKSACK? Don’t let him not know about this stuff, at the very least.

The monogamy question here is interesting too. I mean you got LEFT. He did it the typical way — by cheating on you. People say they LOVE monogamy — yet not that many people seem to practice it? Like Christianity!

I have a shortcoming here which is that I think monogamy is silly and I don’t really care where people I love stick their parts. It’s SUPER if a couple loves being exclusive sexually and does that. It’s also HORRIFIC if they commit to monogamy and one of them cheats. Not all of us want to live inside that trap. I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that people demonstrably want to have sex with lots of different people, so the most logical thing is to… make a promise not to indulge in this desire and to stuff it way down deep inside where it will fester into resentment, anger and sorrow??? Like, what? Why! It’s just a stupid religious and parentage-tracking idea that’s become a freaky cultural rule.

Anyway are you still reading this? NOPE you are probably in some gross sex position with him by now. Unlike your friends, who are girding themselves for six months of listening to you drone on about this, I salute you.


I stand behind you. ALL WE HAVE TO FEAR IS PAIN AND SADNESS which are of course terrible but completely survivable.

Also you can love again after him anyway. Dating doesn’t really get good until you’re in your 40s it turns out! PS You’re not dumb. I heard you say that! KNOCK IT OFF.

Previously: • How to Make Your Girlfriend Like You (Again)
How Do I Live Through Getting Screwed At Work?
Help My Friend Is A Snob
How To Share Feelings With Other Human Beings

The Concessionist is an adult human in New York City who is somewhat worn down and willing to make a good number of sacrifices for a peaceful life. Is it decision fatigue? Or just ennui? That’s probably a question for a psychiatrist. Anything else, ask me.