Ask E. Jean: My Ex-Boyfriend Is On a Dating Reality Show

Life & Love

Dear E. Jean: My newly ex-boyfriend, whom I dated for four years, is “looking for his soul mate” on a popular reality show. His episodes are in constant reruns, so my phone rings with friends, coworkers, and family members who “just saw Jim!” (not his real name) and ask why we split up. The true story is a nightmare: His “best friend,” who used to stay with us for months at a time, was actually his male lover, his ex-girlfriend turned out to be a transvestite, and he cruised and picked up men-for-hire when he was “working late.” I had to plead with his mother and brother to give me the facts. I’m absolutely devastated. I tested negative for all STDs, but I still feel betrayed. He used me! Lied to me, my friends, and my family! After my coworker watched him landing a date on the show, she said to me, “Don’t be jealous. He’s only doing it for the acting experience.” This is horrible! What do I say to people who keep calling? Please give me some ideas. I don’t want to be stuck in this sordid situation forever! —Needing Courage

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My Dear Miss Courage : Say with chirpy elegance, “Oh! You saw the show, darling? I’m so glad! Wasn’t he great? So handsome! So witty! So gay!” Whenever one breaks up, Miss Courage, one should always prepare a press release. Nothing pleases friends and officemates more than a simple, beautiful encapsulation of your entire romance delivered in a seven-second sound bite. Example: “Jim and I were together four years and he has many magnificent qualities, but his nonstop man-shagging prompted me to kick his prevaricating, phony arse out the door.” Don’t fret about reactions. It is customary for people to respond to the even most tangled and messy demise with a “I knew it all along.” Then, they either change the subject to their own frightful story or immediately endeavor to fix you up with their cousin, “a super­cool guy, if you overlook the flatulence.” The main thing is for you to step back, remember all of the loving things about him, try to understand the pain that would cause him to hide his sexuality, wish him well, and be happy you’re rid of the big fake.

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at


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