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Should I remarry my ex spouse? by Gem Stone

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Taking Stock after Divorce by Sandra Prior

It took hours of therapy, and more hours drinking vodka cranberries with friends, to figure out why I was in this sexually rewarding yet emotionally draining downward cycle. And the answer is that I was addicted to charismatic, unstable and emotionally unpredictable women. This was nothing new.

My pilot father died in a plane crash when I was 13, leaving me in the care of my mom, a charismatic, unstable and emotionally unpredictable woman. Left alone with three kids, she struggled mightily, particularly with me, the only boy.

I learnt to keep her happy and smiling by apologizing for things I hadn't done wrong, coddling her and subsuming my own wishes in order to keep the peace. All you head doctors out there won't be surprised that I lugged that steamer trunk of emotional baggage into my romantic relationships. From my 20-year-old film-auteur-wannabe varsity girlfriend to my wife, I had liaisons with tremendously talented and sometimes sweet women who demanded unconditional appeasement from me.

In taking responsibility for always picking the impossible girl over the sweet woman, I also had to accept my less charming characteristics. If cutting remarks and impatience were virtues, I'd be spooning with Joan of Arc. Every woman I have ever loved has endured withering sarcasm and condescension, an ugly side of me that I didn't fully realize until I watched a dear friend mock his sweet girlfriend for not being able to name any members of the Ramones. I thought to myself, God, is that what I'm like?

I try every day to be a little less of a prick, but some days I fail. And you realize that not every dream girl you meet is going to sign up for that. I try to be a better man and approach every date with optimism.

Still, dating fatigue kicks in. You reach a point where you've told your life story so many times, you feel like a bad comedian on an endless tour. When the Chardonnay arrives on the table, I'll open tonight's monologue with the self-deprecating anecdote about being the only whit guy at a former heavyweight champ's wedding. If it's a good audience, I'll save the death of my father for dessert.

Not long ago, I met a woman for dinner at a restaurant I cherish like a dependable friend. But that evening was a classic disaster; a pal had oversold a friend of hers, telling me that Karen could be Mary-Louise Parker's twin. Not quite.

We didn't hit it off, and when she excused herself for the ladies' room, I recalled how many women I'd brought here for dinner. By the time she returned with a bright smile and said, 'You were telling me about a story you did in Angola', I was up to 12 or 13.

It was all I could do not to start crying. Maybe I had exhausted my lifetime supply of 'the ones'. In the restaurant's mirrors, I could see my hair graying, my crow's-feet crawling and the circles under my eyes darkening. I felt old.

I quickly got the bill, said a very hasty good night and decided to walk the three kilometres home. A blustery autumn storm whipped debris through the streets as I made my way toward home at midnight.

My mind wandered to a December night in the last year of my marriage. My wife was away in Europe on business. After a long day, I sat on the leather couch in my room, watching the rain fall, and played Bruce Springsteen's 'Valentine's Day' over and over again. Our relationship by then was irrevocably troubled, but that night I longed for nothing more than to have her back in my arms.

As I walked home, I realized I missed the missing, the feeling that to one human you mean more than the earth and the sky. I wasn't lusting after another conquest; no, it was a craving for an intimacy that comes only after you've told someone all your stupid self-promotional stories and she loves you anyway. It was for a woman who becomes more interesting the more you understand the lines on her face. For a woman who appreciates the man you are and roots for the man you could become.

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