In which a lady (repeatedly) sleeps with a man who is not her boyfriend

A weekly series in which modern day ladies ask Marie Antoinette for advice on love, life and personal disaster. To send in your own quandary, email whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com to be answered next Sunday.

"How does this keep happening?" asks the tender maiden in the painting The Stolen Kiss by Jean-Honore Fragonard.

My boyfriend and I broke up more than a year ago (a mutual thing). After we split we continued to…visit each other in our private quarters, if you know what I mean. Which, was fine for me, since I was having fun and I didn’t want the drama of a new relationship. I know everything about him, but I was surprised to hear he’d gotten a new girlfriend. We somehow keep “visiting” each other and I don’t know how to stop. What should I do?

-Ex with benefits

My darling Miss Benefits,
We don’t accidentally find ourselves in a gentleman’s quarters anymore than we accidentally know every detail of a gentleman’s personal affairs. I’m sad to be the one to tell you that you never did break up at all. Couples who have broken up do not continue to share each other’s (ahem) private quarters.

You might think I have no exposure to things like this, but quite the contrary. In my day, women of certain wealth and age had many of the same freedoms women like yourself do when it came to receiving a gentleman’s private attentions. 18th century ladies, how you say, got around. If a lady were discrete, even a married woman could act as she liked with whomever she pleased with nary a consequence (in fact, most married women did). Such arrangements were incredibly fashionable for ladies of majority (25 and older).

You’ll note, however, that I describe a fashion and an arrangement when you are drawn by neither. You wish you had the steely heart to allow to you act however you like with this man or another, but thankfully you do not. You only have eyes for him and he does not have eyes for you. Use your studied knowledge of his habits to construct a busier life without him. Refuse to answer his correspondence and don’t allow him a formal visit. Your breakup starts forthwith.

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