A reader asks Marie: Why is he flirting with my best friend?

Each Sunday, Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France, lends her wealth of experience to your modern-day problems. To have the queen weigh in on your personal dilemma, send an email to whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.

Dear Marie:

I am really confused, the boy that I like is crazy. First he flirts with me and treats me like a queen, everything was amazing until I went to a trip and when I returned I found him flirting with my best friend and she flirted back! They have cute nicknames for each other and he invited her to watch a musical (and he knows I love musicals)! What should I do? Please help!
– Love, Miss Heart Broken

"So, um, do you guys think you'll be back soon?" A lady asks rake David Garrick leaving with a new lady in this painting by Joshua Reynolds.

Miss Heart Broken,

The heart wants want the heart wants but that makes it no less tiring when it changes its mind. The Madame de Pompadour once found herself in a similarly awkward position in 1752. This famed King’s mistress, a lady who had served his majesty successfully as an unofficial assistant for national security affairs, was suddenly dropped by the King as his mistress (Gasp). Louis XV went so far as to create a personal brothel at the Parc-aux-cerfs to replace her. (Gasp and ungasp). While he didn’t leave Mme. for her friend, as your love has left you, his time with common street harlots was equally disheartening.

What to do, what to do? Madame acted quickly, cleverly and with genius. She simply announced that she was no longer the King’s first lady. She regained control of her own position and saved face at court and with the King (whom she still treasured as her friend). In one move, she ensured she was not held hostage to a King’s whims or to the future ambitions of the Parc-aux-cerfs girls, many who’d likely yearned to ascend to Mme. Pompadour’s influence and position. Our girl took the high road, looking strong and unassailable. She was named duchess and lady in waiting to the Queen (since, of course he was still married!).

This is not to say Mme.’s change was easily made. Mme. loved the King and worked closely with him as his behind-the-scenes prime minister. She still served him doggedly and likely felt awkward and  hot from jealousy, but focused on her twin goals: helping her country and respecting her love for the King. She kept her mouth shut and her eyes to the horizon.

You also, likely, care deeply for boyfriend and best friend. If you choose to keep them in your life, you must announce that you accept the new situation and extract yourself completely. Whether you break from both or not, make no scenes and utter no harsh words. Shattered hearts heal less quickly when their owners are nursing fresh regrets.

I must note that these dear hearts are not burdened with your sense of attachment, shock, esteem or personal loyalty.  If they retain your friendship, she dares venture it is not an equal match. Your humble queen suggests you find new consorts with whom you can enjoy your love for musicals and professional theatrics. (In the meantime, she suggests a little Sondheim to get you over the hump: this one for wallowing; this one for when you’re feeling wistful; and this one for nabbing the gentleman who deserves you.

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