My Perfect Man Is Driving Me Nuts

Boy! Is this ever an Ask E. Jean Classic!

Dearest E,

My dilemma is rather absurd and may have some readers wanting to punch me in the face; but I can’t help but ask:

Am I crazy for having it all, and still not being satisfied?

I’m married to a beautiful, brilliant man and I still have days where I wonder if I would be happier solo. He works so I can be a stay-at-home mom and I love it. I paint, write, read books, get massages and take care of our baby. I’m also in the process of starting my own business. Our life is full of travel and living off the grid on a beach in literal paradise.

I have it all. I know I do and I am so grateful for it. The problems arise when I lay awake at night fantasizing about the unpredictability and adventure of my single days. I traded sovereignty in blazing saddles for predictability in flip-flops. My husband is an amazing father to our one and only babe—the happiest little bean this side of the Nile, in part thanks to our brilliant chemistry together as parents.

My husband is full of adventure, creativity, intrigue, intellect, quirk, excitement (in and out of the bedroom) and yet I still find myself daydreaming of frolicking through Paris at 4 a.m., cigarette in hand and adventure around the corner. Or record-shopping for an entire afternoon on mushrooms. Let me also say that I don’t fantasize about nor have a desire for any other human but my husband. I don’t think I’d be “happier” with someone else. He really is the best.

But as all relationships go, we obviously have our off moments; however, they are microscopically minuscule compared to the happy ones. And yet, despite all this, I still feel unfulfilled and deprived of focusing on myself and my goals (even though he is my biggest cheerleader). I still have to pencil in date nights when I’d rather be painting or learning the art of Japanese kintsugi. Maybe it’s the recent surge of hormones from having a baby and finally accessing my Divine Feminine, or reading too much misogynistic online vomit; but it’s so much damn work all the time!

Everyone says relationships require compromise, but what if I don’t want to? What if I like being by myself more? Is that selfish? And what about our baby? Would I be totally f*ing up his future by flying solo? I count my blessings every day. I know I have nothing to complain about, so why do I still have a gaping hole in my heart? SOS. Love— Foolishly Unfulfilled


Foolish, My Fish Fork:

This is a wonderful letter, a fascinating letter, I love it so much; but there are a few missing sentences and a couple of typos, so here. I fixed it for you.

Dearest E:

Am I crazy for having it all and still not being satisfied?

I frolic through Paris at 4 a.m., cigarette in hand, with adventure around every corner. I spend entire afternoons record-shopping on mushrooms. I love the unpredictability and adventure of being single and never knowing when I might end-up holding an MDMA marathon in a Barcelona bedroom with a beautiful boy I met twenty minutes before on the dance floor.

But I still have days when I wonder: “Could I be even happier married to a beautiful, brilliant man, having a baby and leading a life full of travel and living off the grid on a beach in paradise?” Would that fill the gaping hole in my heart? SOS. Love— Foolishly Unfulfilled

You see how easy that was, Foolish, my Fussbudget?

If you’re single, you wanna be married. If you’re married, you wanna be single. You live on a beach in Paradise? You wanna be in Paris. You’ve got a chap who’s brilliant? You wanna fly solo. There is not a woman reading this who has not recently day-dreamed the pants off of her long-gone college sweetheart.

Everyone wants something else, which is, of course, why you, an annoyed Homo sapien, are flummoxed.You’re designed to want something else. You come out of the womb, look at the world, and what’s the first thing you do? You squall for something else. The future of the human race depends on your disappointment and your gall. I don’t know the age of your Little Legume, but I’m guessing you’ve offered the Beanster a toy and he has cried for another toy about 800 times just today. For those of us without Beans, here’s a tiny reminder:

Can anything more clear? Hasn’t almost every single letter sent to the Ask E. Jean over the last 28 years been from a correspondent yearning for something else? You think this is because the correspondents’ ideal is inaccessible, Ms. Foolish? HARDY HAR HAR!

It’s because our ideal is accessible, and we just grow tired of it.

But your dilemma is solvable. You’re not displeased with marriage. You’re irked to the ear lobes with the routine of marriage. Change it up!

Every couple of weeks, hop a plane, Woman, climb 12,555 feet, and jump. Nothing answers the question about “flying solo” like plunging 120 miles an hour toward the ground.

How do I know this? Candace Bushnell—the journalist, television producer (Lipstick Jungle and The Carrie Diaries on CW) and author of Sex in the City, the inspiration for the HBO hit series—and I got bored in L.A. wearing fabulous outfits and going to fabulous parties, and, one day when we could stand it no longer, we drove out to the desert, paid our 300 bucks or whatever it was, snapped the eagle goggles over our eyeballs, strapped on the parachutes, shoved ourselves out the open plane door, somersaulted, stood up in midair, turned over, spread our arms and legs in our best cheerleading style, and began our hurtling dives toward Earth while grinning like hyenas at our personal video photographers. As we approached the ground, I threw up. Candice, naturally, hit the ground, looking like she was stepping onto the runway in a Giorgio Armani fashion show, unhooked, and asked for a martini. I staggered around, congratulating myself, and dragging the parachute behind me like Amelia Earhart till it was time to leave.

Candace went back to working with Darren Star on creating the first season of Sex and the City. I don’t remember what I was doing in L.A., but from that moment on, I never asked myself about there being any goddam “holes” in my life, I can tell you!

You have the right husband, Ms. Foolish, the right baby, the right house, which is on the right beach, in the right “paradise.” It’s not your marriage and it’s not the lack of Japanese kintsugi that’s got your mind on a trampoline. It’s the routine that’s getting to you, woman! Open the marriage to include solo escapades and heave yourself out a plane door every couple of weeks. Your husband can jump on alternate weeks. And good luck!


I’d recommend a very light lunch before that first jump…

Well, I cleaned up that quagmire, what else can I fix?

Mmmm . . .

Here. I fixed it:

“Well, Stevo, I was stripped of my committee assignments by the US House of Representatives. I scare the crap out of millions of people about the vaccine. I’m the occasional travel companion of Matt Gaetz, who bangs young girls. And don’t forget, Stevie, I’ve been raising frickin’ shitloads money for Trump. And I’m clearly crazier than two bats in a blender.”


Mmmm . . .

Here. I fixed it:

“Hello! I am Governor Ron DeSantis. If you put a “w” in front, and a “g” at the end, I’m “Wrong” De Santis! Yes, folks! You hear me talkin’ up here about jobs? Hahahaha! There won’t BE any jobs after we all croak down here from Covid! More people have died in Florida than all the people who died in Viet Nam! Also, I was wrong on voting rights! I was wrong on women’s rights! I was wrong on every fucking thing I have ever done in my worthless, greedy, acid-sucking life.”


Oh . . . Mmmm . . .

No need to fix this one!

And if anything else needs fixin’, the Conflab is here to fix the livin’ tits out of it!

The Conflab is where we hash over the questions sent to Ask E. Jean—and where our boisterous community regularly rescues mankind. Today, we’re solving the problem of Ms. Foolish, who lives in “paradise,” is happy, loves her husband, is wild for her baby and yet . . . she yearns for the days when she was single.

I’m seven weeks late answering Ms. Foolish’s letter, but I could be 70 years late, and Ms. Foolish would still be thinking she’s the girl “frolicking through Paris at 4 a.m., cigarette in hand and adventure around the corner.” Unless I miss my guess, that’s Ms. Foolish’s self-image. That is how she sees herself.

And . . . so.

What is your self-image? And are you letting it cheat you of happiness?

Me? I’m still that cheerleader soaring above the stunned crowd in the Indiana University football stadium, a big I on my sweater, skirt aswirl, legs split like the atom. I could be 80, 90, 110 years old, but THAT is E. Jean. It was E. Jean then. It is E. Jean now. But I’m not taking the pom-poms out of the closet . . .

Does your self-image help you avoid catastrophe? Or drop you hip-deep in the muck heap? It’s clear Ms. Foolish likes her marriage, hates the routine. Hence the musheroos and record store memories. And who the hell is better than the Conflab at offering tips on shaking up a routine?

So let’s go! Shake it, shake it, shake it—shake, shake, shake shake it like a Polaroid picture!

Thank you to the illustrious Ms. Haley Nahman and her stupendous Maybe Baby Substack, which I drink three times a week like necter from the gods, for reminding me of “Hey Ya” and nearly causing me to dance myself to death.

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Photo of The Kiss, Atelier Robert Doisneau, 2016; photo of woman aircraft mechanic, RgStudio, Getty images; photo of Joshua Matz, E. Jean, and Robbie Kaplan walking into Federal Court: Jefferson Siegle for The New York Times.