Stopped in the name of love
Q: I’ve been dating a man for 14 years, and engaged to him for seven. Unfortunately, I cannot move forward because I’ve never gotten over my high school sweetheart. We swore we were best friends and soul mates forever, and dated from 15 to 23, then got engaged. I broke our engagement to date another guy. That lasted a month before turning sour. I realized I’d made a major mistake, but he was already dating another girl. He married her on my birthday. They’re still married, with children. My birthday is now a yearly reminder of my horrible error. I sometimes hear he still carries a torch for me. I would never interfere in somebody’s marriage; however, I’m in need of closure, and find myself mentally writing him to express my feelings. Life is short. I need to share my sincere apologies and let him know how special he was to me. I’ve kept this secret for too long. —Lost Soul Mate
A: You’ve "kept this secret for too long"? Too long for whom? As if the guy has just been sitting around all these years waiting for you to drop by and say, "I’m so sorry I’ve been somewhat delayed in trying to break up your family." The way you put it, you just can’t hold back, in part because of your teen pact, "We swore we were best friends and soul mates forever." Really? When I was in eighth grade, I announced, "Rollerskating is my life." Yet, here I am spending my days writing, not zipping around doing "shoot-the-duck." It doesn’t help that you buy into the myth of the soul mate — the ridiculous idea that there’s one person out there who’s absolutely perfect for you. Of course, this person will speak your language and maybe even attend your high school; it’s never somebody thousands of miles away who’s running around spearing wildebeests while wearing underwear made out of a gourd.
You have made a "horrible error," but it wasn’t ditching the guy for some studboy who caught your eye way back when. That’s just garden-variety 20-something rashness and stupidity. Besides, in your teens and 20s, you don’t really know who you are, so you bond with a guy because he’s kinda cute and likes the same movies. Meet the same guy at 35, and you could find yourselves vastly different. But, never mind considering that. You’re too busy chanting "life is short!" — while putting your life on hold and seriously screwing over the guy you’re with (maybe for the entire 14 years of your relationship). Whoops, did you forget to tell him you’re emotionally unavailable? Maybe High School Harry does "carry a torch for you." This doesn’t give you the right to grab it and burn his family life to the ground. Not surprisingly, you cloak what you’re after in a "need to share (your) sincere apologies." How will that play out? "Hey, I’m really, really sorry, and by the way, should you feel like leaving your wife and children, I’ll be outside in 20 minutes with a rent-a-car and a suitcase." Conveniently, mooning over a tragic lost love has none of the emotional risk of giving your all to a relationship that actually exists. If it really is "closure" you’re after, decide to get on with your life, and exercise the self-discipline to do it. You’ll finally be able to celebrate your birthday for what it really is: a yearly reminder that you’re that much closer to having jowls — a legit reason have the cake lady write "Sorry for your loss," and to swap out the candles for a tiny funeral pyre.
Throne for A loop
Q: I was on a first date with this guy. He was totally normal, except he kept going to the bathroom! It was really weird. I'm talking three times here. Drugs? Eating disorder? Bladder infection? Finally, I asked if he was OK, and he got flustered and changed the subject. I like him, but this is throwing me. Is it a stupid reason to decline a second date?
A: Maybe he's insecure about his conversational ability, and hoped to crib something witty from the stalls. When he got back to the table, did he launch into "Here I sit, broken-hearted...whoops...never mind"? The first date is when you ask a guy where he's from and where he went to school, not whether he experiences a burning sensation while urinating. It's natural that you'd wonder, but you don't mention him seeming altered, wiping white powder from his nose, or doing a little tap duet under his chair with the guy at the next table. Keep seeing him and you should eventually find out what you need to know; maybe just that he's too well-mannered to fill you in on all the little things he brought back with him from Mexico.
© 2009 Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.
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