In my first post here, I made a confession that not many New Yorkers, especially native New Yorkers would admit…I watched Sex and the City with my mom while living in the Midwest. The problems Carrie faced in High School are still problems relevant in the dating world today, albeit many of the problems and catalysts would be slightly different. For example, instead of missing all of her phone calls when Carrie’s friends were missing her birthday party and coming home to a landline machine with messages explaining why people were late, everyone would have sent her a text or called her cell phone. Worst case scenario, you think they’d have the tact to call the restaurant so Carrie wasn’t waiting at her own birthday alone. She wouldn’t have to go looking for a Taxi because she would order an Uber. Her shoes might have gotten stolen, but more likely than not she would have snagged a photo of the guy who stole them, or he would have simply taken her phone instead of her shoes. In the final movies, Carrie does get a cell phone, but she throws it in the ocean after listening to a voicemail left by her “soul mate” who managed to mess things up for her again after not only marrying a younger model-looking WASP named Natasha and cheating on her with Carrie, getting a divorced, but also after leaving her alone at the alter on their wedding day because he had major commitment issues. Like why. Why so many chances? I have always been one of those people who believes that relationships end for a reason. My emotional doors and ability to open back up to someone again after things end becomes less likely very quickly.
I just watched an Episode from Season 6, Episode 19, “An American Girl In Paris (Part Une).” Carrie Bradshaw begins packing for Paris from her New York apartment before she heads to a goodbye dinner with her best girl-friends with departure scheduled for that evening. Mr. Big, the stalker/control freak he is, creepily waits outside of her apartment. She had a dinner scheduled for 5:45 that evening. She had deleted his message and ignored it, moving on with her life and leaving behind a man that wouldn’t make her a part of his.
This is the trick. It’s like all men know when a woman is finally moving on entirely. When we delete the number or are just about to get into a serious relationship or move in with someone new, or are completely over it…or at least we aren’t looking at their social media accounts or even really thinking about them on a daily basis, if at all…the guy finds a way to ask a question, or nudge his way back in to the lives without even acting like that type of persistent behavior is wrong. In my last post, I talked about when someone from your past – your own personal romantic loving past – should be a non-negotiable when it comes to keeping that person out of your life. I pondered whether the time between the past relationship and the current relationship or the amount of time since being completely platonic friends is taken into consideration. Link to post 7 here.
The episode does not really ask the same question about letting go of an ex, but rather highlights the ways that we do move on and that uncomfortable ambiguity between what and when we tell someone from our past that we have moved on, or whether we intentionally choose not to even tell that person anything at all. I mean, once someone is no longer a part of your life, doesn’t that mean you don’t have to fill them in on things. Maybe they don’t even care what’s happening. If the nature of the friendship or relationship from those from our past is such that they don’t even know you’re moving or in a relationship, it is perhaps less a question about when to let go, but rather when someone SHOULD let an ex go, and let them move on and be happy.
Big leaves a message on Carrie’s machine that he’s in town and leaves his number in case she’s forgotten it. Before Carrie can hear the number or be tempted to call him, she deletes the message. Energetically, she wasn’t going to let Big come into her night and life and ruin anything before she goes to Paris. Bravo Carrie! Big move for Carrie and a difficult one to do when you still have feelings for someone who, for whatever reason, your heart still held on to for so long.
Because Big really respects Carrie’s privacy (not!) and he is actually a creepy ex boyfriend stalker happened to be in the neighborhood and saw her lights on (even creepier than the fact he made up that he was “in the neighborhood” he was outside waiting for him in his car with his driver Raoul.
Big is outside and says he’s been “starting to feel like a needy chick” when she hasn’t returned his calls. Carrie says there’s really no point. She says it without emotion and without apology really. Instead of taking the hint, Big continues to ask her out for drinks and dinner. Carrie just stays silent. She does not owe him an explanation. It takes a lot of strength to not rub it in an exes face when you’ve moved on and are happy; for her to not tell him right away showed real progress on her part. She was letting him go and letting him move on, and asking nothing but the same for herself in the silence. Notice she never asks why he is in town. Who he’s been dating. She has absolutely zero interest in knowing about his life without her in it. Why couldn’t Big take the hint?
The dialogue goes like this…
Carrie: I’m sorry for not returning your calls.
Big: Yeah, I was starting to feel like a needy chick. Did I do something to piss you off?
Carrie: No, it’s.. I’ve just been busy with other things.
Big: Look, I know I freaked out about us – the last time I was here and I wanted to…
Carrie: It’s fine.
Big: You were amazing to me and I just…
Carrie: You were fine.
Big: Would you let me finish? And since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about us..
Carrie: Look, you don’t have to do this okay? There’s really no point. It’s all fine. Raoul’s [Big’s driver] freezing and I have to go meet the girls.
Big: Got it. How about dinner tomorrow? Drinks? I’m starting to feel like that chick again.
Carrie: I won’t be here tomorrow. I’m leaving for Paris tonight.
Big: Paris, wow. You’re finally taking that vacation, huh?
Carrie: It’s not a vacation. I’m going there with a man that I’m in a relationship with. He’s wonderful, and I’m happy. So…please don’t feel bad about anything. Goodbye.
Big: Wait, wait, wait.- What do you mean goodbye?
Let’s analyze this situation a little objectively. A woman does not return a phone call from her ex-boyfriend she had dated on and off for six years. The man/ex-boyfriend shows up outside of her house the first night he is in town and checks to see if her light is on, and continues to wait outside until she comes out. Who knows how long he has been there? If a woman and a man date for six years and she wants to call or see you, she will do so, right? But rather than take a hint, the man shows up anyway. Not only does the man pretty much beg her to get into his car because it is cold outside so he can get answers from a woman who owes him absolutely zero explanation, but he also pretty much demands an answer or explanation from her by asking her out to dinner, drinks, and then assumes she’s going to Paris on vacation rather than moving. Once she finally gives him information, he reacts by being surprised she’s in a relationship and offended that he did not know about it or her intentions to move – like she was supposed to tell him. The same man decided to move to Napa without really telling her before. To get engaged without telling her before. And when she does the same things, he shows up at her place acting crazier than any actions she had done to be a part of his life. During the dialogue, the woman does not ask for nor expect any explanation from the man about his life, why things turned out how they did. The woman actually cuts the ex boyfriend/man off, insisting everything is okay and not to feel bad. She even says that she is happy. Then she walks away. He gets out to follow her and demand more explanations. It’s obvious at this point that Big is not used to not having control over someone or over situations.
From an objective standpoint, the man should really just let the woman go and be happy. After all, isn’t that what loving someone is really all about? It isn’t about being selfish enough to mess up emotions for the other person; it’s about knowing that they made a decision and even if that decision doesn’t turn out how you want it to, you respect their quest for happiness and want that for that individual. I’ll continue this in Part Deux of the post. (Update with Link to Living in the City while Watching Sex in the City, Part Deux post)