My partner left me for a woman he barely knew. Simply because she was young and hot.

I was 38 when my partner of seven years — the man I thought I was going to marry — came home and told me that he was in love with someone else.

The months — years, really — that followed were some of the darkest, most terrifying, most painful of my entire life. I truly didn’t think I would physically survive it, let alone recover any semblance of confidence in myself as a sexual being.

Hell, I didn’t think I was even worthy of love — anyone’s — at my lowest.

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But I found my way back to myself. Now, this is what I tell my friends when they find themselves in a similar situation:

Let it happen.

You’re going to be tempted to email, call, or text your ex at every opportunity. Like when the furnace stops working or you realise he left one of his socks in the laundry bin.

Don’t do it. No matter what.

Let me enlighten you to a little bit of knowledge that you aren’t going to believe at the moment: He doesn’t deserve to be in your life. His exit was the biggest blessing that could’ve happened to you.

I know this doesn’t seem possible. It seems like a big mistake. He’s such a good man, you keep telling yourself — he’s just having a momentary crisis. If you remind him of your life together with little, innocent notes every now and then, surely he’s going to wake up from this stupor, right?

No. I assure you, he made a decision and he is not going to change his mind. This is the real deal.

Do not waste your time trying to influence his behavior. 

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One day you are going to be very clear about things that seem muddled and hazy right now. Yes, he actually ended your relationship in order to be with someone he barely knows because she’s young and hot. 


And if it happened to you like it happened to me, yes, he lied to you and to her while he dated her.

In other words, he showed nothing but a total lack of regard for you (and your family, if you had kids) and then threw you and your life together in the garbage.

Surrender to this. And when you’re stronger, thank the heavens for this. You are so lucky. Trust me — this will become apparent soon.

Be exceptionally kind to yourself.

You’re going to want to blame yourself for this. You’re going to come up with half a million reasons why this was your fault.

You let yourself go. You looked fat when you were having sex. You farted that one time in front of him and he said it was disgusting and unladylike. You didn’t shave often enough, and goddammit, you should’ve waxed your pussy the way he liked. You have too many stretch marks. You’re annoying. You’re ugly.

Oh, and you’re old.

Every one of these thoughts is going to prolong your torture — and for no good reason. Because he didn’t leave for any of those reasons.

We all know why he left.

Do not hurt yourself more than you have been hurt. What happened says nothing about you and everything about him.

Bake yourself a cake.

The first year after my ex left, I threw myself into work to the point where I was causing myself to experience severe, stress-related health issues. 

In some ways, I needed to do that as a distraction from the pain that was too overwhelming to handle in those early days.

But eventually, it became a very poor habit that I consistently used to reinforce my feelings that I didn’t deserve pleasure in my life.

One day, a book came into my life that changed everything. 

You’ll laugh when you hear it — it was Ruth Reichl’s food memoir, My Kitchen Year. (I know you were expecting a spiritual self-help book. Surprise!) In it, she describes how she dealt with the grief of Gourmet Magazine closing by throwing herself into a year of home cooking.

When I got to the section in which she shares her recipe for the perfect chocolate cake, I felt intensely driven to make it. I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d made a cake from scratch, but I knew I had to do it.

So I cracked eggs and creamed butter and added flour until my gigantic cake was ready to go into the oven, one busy Saturday afternoon. I didn’t get a single chore done that day, but I ended up with the biggest, most delectable chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

As I was eating it, I cried, realising how hard I had been on myself since my ex left. How little I had indulged in pleasure. How I had come to believe I didn’t even deserve it.


After that, I became passionate about regularly indulging myself in whatever way struck my fancy. Because we do deserve pleasure, no matter who decides they don’t love us, anymore.

Take naked photos of yourself.

Someday, you’re going to want to date again, but it’s going to be hard. 

You’ll look in the mirror and see that middle-aged woman staring back at you and you’ll imagine your ex across town, in bed with his young bride and wonder: Who will ever want to touch me? 

And likely you’ll have already encountered many men who have told you, sorry, they don’t date anyone over 35.

Take off your clothes, set up your camera on timer mode and start taking pictures. Yes, it’ll probably feel like shit at first, but keep going.

Some of the pictures might make you feel incredibly deflated, confirming your worst fears about yourself. But keep going.

Eventually, you will start to notice something that you find attractive about yourself that you maybe never noticed before. 

Suddenly, those gym sock boobs start to look achingly sexy. 

Those cellulite-y thighs are actually quite shapely thanks to all your yoga. Maybe the curve of your hips is sensual or perhaps you love the slope of your shoulders.

We’ll never be free of our body issues, I fear, but it’s so important to be able to see ourselves as beautiful, sexual beings. So often being left in this way can make us feel like someone has removed our femininity, our sexuality, our very womanhood.

But it’s there. The camera will prove that to you if you have the fortitude to keep exploring.

Realise your freedom.

Our culture teaches women that we exist only in relationship to men. 

If we have partner, a social agreement has been made that we must be sexually and romantically worthy of attention. And if we don’t have a partner, we are unfinished, incomplete beings whose worthiness is in question.

The truth is, having a partner doesn’t make us sexually desirable. Having a partner doesn’t make us lovable.

We are free to exist in our own space, without context, without explanation, without anything but ourselves. And not just free to exist, but free to own our inherent worth as sexual beings — and as human beings.

Your ex leaving you for a woman half your age doesn’t detract from your worth in any way. It doesn’t make you less sexually desirable. Less lovable.


Only you get to determine how desirable and lovable you are. Some will recognise the value you placed on yourself. Others (like your ex) will simply never be able to see it.

Remember, you are free to detach from people’s perception of your worth and move forward only with the people who recognise your value.

Give yourself time.

Healing from a loss like this is intense. It literally shatters you into a million pieces and in the aftermath, all you can do is slowly sift through them and try to put them together in a way that can function again, even if it bears little resemblance to the person you were once before.

It might take months — or years. Don’t rush the process. A deep transformation is occurring here, one that will prove to be a huge blessing a long time from now.

Trust me. You’ll find your way again. You’ll come into your sexual power. You’ll build a successful life for yourself.

One day, you’ll look back on your relationship and see that you deserved so much better. You deserved the kind of life I have built for myself. And no one can take this away from me.

I did it all on my own. And you will, too.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished with full permission. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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