When Sleeping Beauty and her prince get together after much drama, literal monsters and a curse-induced coma, they seem to have earned their happiness. But what if, after that wake-up kiss, she’d said, “I love you so much for killing that dragon and saving me. I got some stuff I gotta do, though, so can we put a pin in this relationship for a couple years ? Then we’re gonna be together for sure! I’ll call when I get back!”
That’s kind of what Aidan Shaw (John Corbett), long-lost love of “Sex and the City” heroine Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) asked her to do late last month on the season finale of Max’s “SATC” reboot, “And Just Like That...” After decades apart, the two finally found their way back to each other, and Carrie’s purchased a multimillion-dollar home on Gramercy Park where they and his kids could be together. Finally, a happy ending! But on the eve of the big move, he tells her he needs to be back full-time at his Virginia farm to guide his troubled youngest son through adulthood. No long distance. No visits. See you in five years.
If I was in that situation, I would have tearfully kissed Aidan goodbye, wished him and his kids well and gotten back on Tinder. True love is great and all, but as a 50-something widow like Carrie, I know we’re not promised the next five years or even the next five minutes. It’s admirable and right to focus on your family, particularly when there are issues. But asking anyone, especially at this big age, to go no-contact for half a decade while expecting them to wait for you is madness. I don’t think you take a break. You just break up. But am I alone in that sentiment? I took the question to some professionals.
“If I were giving her advice, it would be to go have fun and find someone who floats her boat, and then if, in five years, she was still available, he’s more than welcome to look her up,” said Michelle Jacoby of D.C. Matchmaking, who has not watched the reboot but was a fan of the original series. “It sounds like he made his choice, and it’s the children right now.”
Rachel Dack, a clinical and relationship counselor in Bethesda who is a big “Sex and the City” fan, agrees. “My understanding is that he is going to focus on being a father and being physically present to his boys, but he doesn’t want to lose Carrie. It felt like he was downplaying how big of an ask this is for Carrie, and in some ways, it came off very selfish and one-sided.”
I KNOW, RIGHT? I asked Dack if she’d advise a client to agree to straight-up radio silence with a partner for five years. “If they had not already gone through so much together and understood what it was like to lose each other, I am not sure I would advise a client to sign up for this type of arrangement,” she said.
Even if you do agree to wait, there’s no guarantee that’s going to work, said Raffi Bilek, a licensed clinical social worker and relationship counselor with the Baltimore Therapy Center. “I saw a couple where he was planning on getting divorced and she was waiting,” he said. “It’s always going to be something else. Right now, on the show, it’s ‘My kid has this problem,’ and it’s wonderfully noble to be attentive to that. But then what’s next? Your mom is sick? I don’t know anyone who can perfectly plan for five years from now.”
I guess the answer depends on your definition of waiting. Not long after nonprofit and philanthropy executive Karen Paul’s husband died, she was reacquainted with a high school friend named Steve, who was recovering from a painful divorce. Like Carrie and Aidan, their hearts were willing but the timing sucked. “My youngest was 14, and I still had a lot of parenting left to do, and honestly he [Steve] didn’t want to live with a teenager,” Paul said. “It was very clear to both of us that it was going to be long distance for quite a while. We were committed.” They formalized that bond with a commitment ceremony last summer.
Paul said she thinks “And Just Like That...” has mostly portrayed Carrie’s widowhood well (I agree) and doesn’t know why Aidan “couldn’t just say, ‘If in five years you’re still around, meet me at the top of the Empire State Building. As Carrie knows, and as you and I know, nothing is guaranteed.”
A social media friend who’s about my age told me a heartbreaking story of falling in love with a man who’d been planning to leave his wife two decades ago, before a stroke left the wife incapacitated. Though my friend and this man are in love, “we cannot — he will not — do anything about it till she passes,” she wrote. “I just keep counting the years forward, you know?”
It’s a tragic situation, but she truly believes this man is the love of her life so she’s willing to wait. I wish she didn’t have to, because, as I said, there are no guarantees. Of anything. While that’s not a romantic sentiment, it’s true. There are no hard and fast rules, and Carrie and Aidan are fictional people whose break is most likely a plot device conceived to let her date on screen — while keeping the fairy tale in the distance, so we never know what’s going to happen.
“Waiting will feel very different for Carrie if she still has positive, consistent contact with him [as] opposed to being expected to wait without healthy contact,” Dack said. “And Aidan might find that there is a path that includes prioritizing fatherhood and making space for Carrie at the same time, even if it’s not the perfect balance. It does not have to be an all-or-nothing mindset.”
No, it doesn’t. Also … what’s my Tinder password again?