I was sucked into Emily Giffin’s new book, Love the One You’re With as soon as I read the synopsis. I am such a sucker for unrequited love stories or stories that involve past loves coming back and spinning your world into chaos. I love the drama. Explains a lot, huh?
Ellen and Andy have the perfect marriage. They love, trust and support one another, but one day walking down the street in New York City, Ellen bumps into her old love, Leo. And from that moment, Ellen’s marriage heads into a tailspin. It’s not that she doesn’t love her husband; she loves him dearly and cherishes the life they share. But she also never stopped loving Leo. He was the mad passionate love affair; Leo was the one that got away.
What begins as a simple run in turns into so much more. Ellen goes down the dangerous path of reminiscing over her relationship with Leo and wondering how things fell apart. She also partakes in the treacherous comparison game between Andy and Leo, which never goes well. All her old feelings for Leo quickly resurface after their encounter and Ellen is left feeling unsettled.
She starts to question her marriage to Andy and cannot deny the strong attraction she feels for Leo. Slowly she feels herself being sucked back in by Leo even taking a photography gig that he helped get for her. All the while Andy suspects nothing.
To escape her feelings for Leo, Ellen agrees to move to Atlanta so that Andy can work for his father’s law firm. Her resentment towards Andy only builds in Atlanta, where she feels like she has morphed into a stepford wife, which only causes her to question her marriage to Andy more and what her feelings for Leo means.
Eventually the truth comes out right before Ellen is about to fly back to New York to do another photo shoot with Leo. Andy is upset and gives Ellen an ultimatum, if she goes to New York than she better not come home to him. And even with this dire threat, Ellen has to go to New York to see Leo.
There she must decide what she wants out of her life. Does she throw away her marriage for a man whom she has loved desperately, but who also hurt her deeply? Or does she return to a man who has loved her, but to a life that leaves her unsatisfied?
I enjoyed this book more so than Giffin’s previous novel, Baby Proof. I could predict the ending, but I was happy with the way it ended. Spoiler alert: I’m glad Ellen realized she was about to ruin her marriage for a man that didn’t have the balls to fight for their relationship when they were first together. I’m glad she didn’t cheat on Andy and realized that he is exactly where she is supposed to be. As she states, “I hold that day deep within myself, as a reminder that love is the sum of our choices, the strength of our commitments, the ties that bind us together.”
I think it’s fascinating how we can hold onto our past loves and they almost become idolized in our heads. I know I’m privy to that. There is one ex in particular where all I remember is the good times and I gloss over the rough ones. And I sometimes wonder what would happen if he came back into my life asking for another chance. Would I let him have it or would I remember all the reasons why we’re not compatible? And when I finally meet someone new, will I still wonder about him or will he just be a past love that brings a smile to my face?
Do you ever fall out of love with someone or does that love just merely change and morph into a new type of love? As I said, I love books that pose these types of questions. And while there was a happy ending to this book, I appreciate the fact that Giffin didn’t wrap it up too nicely. Even a year later, Ellen and Andy still struggle to find the right balance for their marriage and have found a compromise that works for the both of them currently. I’m relieved that she broke free of Leo’s hold on her.