Meeting the Ex’s New Girlfriend

September 5, 2008 by Susan Rae Williams  
Published in Relationships

I was surprised at the speed with which my ex-husband replaced me. I was surprised at the similarities I shared with his new girlfriend.

I separated from my husband of 17 years on November 1. A few weeks later, my husband had placed an online ad, met a woman and moved in with her part time. Our divorce was quick, but it was no match for his swiftness in replacing me. At the time, he was still asking for us to get back together, so it makes sense that he would ease the transition by finding someone similar to me.

Clearly, he needed to keep that “position” filled. He was a tower with no air traffic controller, so he had little time to waste. Immediately, he plugged this other woman into his life. He plugged her into the business we had created 12 years before. He plugged her into his weekends with our kids.

I did not think much about her. However, the day I met her I was surprised at how similar she really looked to me. Physically, we were the same type. Our figures were similar. Our hair was the same color. She seemed nice enough. We had this man in common, but like many an ex, I assumed that made me smarter than her. We each had four kids. We were about the same age. However, as we made small talk, I began to think of the differences between us. I recalled snippets of information about her that I had heard from the ex or my kids. I had heard rumors of her educational background, her drinking habits, her parenting history. I am not proud to admit this, but I was a little smug about some of our differences.

I talked to a friend about the encounter the same afternoon, noting that it was like meeting my clone, remembering that clones are often inferior in terms of longevity. We also joked about how they may be inferior in other ways, a la Michael Keaton’s characters in Multiplicity. The website for the government’s Human Genome Program states that cloned animals have more immune system problems, infections, tumors “and other disorders.”

It sounds mean, but we giggled more at the expense of my ex than at the girlfriend. I apologized to my friend for the jokes, admitting that I do not really know the girlfriend. My friend agreed, but told me I had the right to a little laughter, given the fact it must be a little “surreal,” she said, to meet one’s replacement.

I had almost gotten used to the idea of being replaced when I began to consider the implications of being a replacement, myself. I fell in love with the Julia Louis-Dreyfus show, The New Adventures of Old Christine, before I ever had to consider divorce. The premise of the show is that the main character’s ex-husband finds a girlfriend who shares her name. There is an “old” Christine and a new one.

I began dating a man who informed me his ex-wife is also named Susan. When he introduced me to his grown daughter with, “This is Susan,” her response was: “Seriously?” Could such coincidences really be matters of taste, or could they even represent a lack of imagination?

John Mayer sings “I’m Gonna Find Another You.” One line of the song says, “If I’m forced to find another, I hope she looks like you.” Depending on the circumstances, the cloning process can be flattering or disturbing. I have been the replaced and replacement, and I know it is possible to feel both ways, simultaneously.

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