Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net

They say that you never forget your first love. And with the exception of yours truly, who would rather stick his tongue in a bear trap than even think about his high school girlfriend, many look back on their first romances with fond feelings. Although not everyone thinks of that relationship for more than a passing moment or so, some must wonder what it would be like to rekindle the romance they had when they were teenagers or college-aged.

Suppose for a minute that you could. What would that be like?

As of 2003, Dr. Nancy Kalish had studied over 2,000 “lost love” relationships. She said that three-quarters of first loves who reunite years later decide to stay together, even when the reunion begins as an adulterous affair. Normally, most marriages that begin as affairs terminate. How are these people reconnecting and why would the relationship work at a later date?

The web, of course, is where most of these meetings begin. When Dr. Kalish was doing her research in the early 2000’s, the most popular site for finding people from the past was At that time, the site found that 36 percent of respondents had used the net to look up or contact a former significant other. And Dr. Kalish stated in an interview with the Boston Globe that while many people begin their search as simple curiosity, affairs can escalate quickly *. The interviewer, Carey Goldberg, noted an anonymous respondent from Dr. Kalish’s research to highlight this point:

“It’s like you’re falling in love all over again,” she said. Her first boyfriend found her on the web, and before she knew it, she was obsessed, and then lying to her husband, and then sexually unfaithful, and then caught by her husband – who, to her continuing gratitude, stuck with her instead of divorcing her.

Dr. Kalish brings up a very interesting point: “therapists tend to underestimate the powerful nature of such old loves, especially first loves. As a result, they tend to tell such patients that their feelings for their re-found loves are based on fantasy and that they can find the same feelings in their own marriages if they only try. But that fails to take into account that reunited lovers really do know and love each other, and a first love, in particular, remains unique. This is not about sex, it is not about the spouse or the marriage, it is not a midlife crisis,” she said. “The reunion is a continuation of a love that was interrupted.”

Carey Goldberg notes some research indicates that a teenager may attach specifically to a first lover in much the same way as a baby attaches to a mother. This hypothesis was given by Dr. Linda Waud, a Psychologist who wrote her dissertation on three reunited couples.

“There is an actual neurological attachment that happens between these individuals,” she said, “and that’s why it’s enduring and it never leaves your mind. It’s there forever and ever.” Interestingly, Dr. Waud herself reconnected with a long-lost love after 35 years apart.

In her in-depth interviews of the three couples, she noted that they had unusually intense sexual connections, which made her posit that sexual attachment may work with the same kind of specificity as baby-mother attachment.

Although a dissertation with only three couples makes generalization extremely difficult, she is onto something. I’ve made the very mistake that Dr. Kalish pointed out: that the former love is simply a fantasy and that one’s current relationship can satisfy this new need. And this is coming from someone who is not only a product of divorce, but someone who also spends most of his days thinking about why marriages fail, so I obviously thought I had some weight behind my advice. After I was wrong not once but three times with clients who ultimately chose to leave their marriage for their high school sweethearts, I had to rethink my position. There’s a possibility for a permanent footprint in your brain when it comes to your first love.
What does this mean for current relationships? With Facebook now in complete control of the human race, more and more people are reconnecting. Many will get back in touch with old flames, possibly their very first romance. Depending on how those conversations go – and yes, of course many of them will be simple hello’s and good-bye’s – casual chat may turn into flirtation, then a discussion about status and availability. And when the relationship moves from Facebook to IM to text to telephone and then to personal contact, the attachment that Dr. Waud talks about has perhaps manifested itself in a true rekindling of the romance, with much more backing than any affair could produce. For some, decisions will need to be made. If married, do I leave for what might be really ‘the one?’ Or do I stay and honor what I’ve agreed to while relinquishing what my mind had perhaps bonded to years ago?

Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to that question and I’m pretty sure that we could get a 50/50 breakdown if we asked enough people. Every person in this spot will need to answer it, however. And from what I’ve seen in my practice, it’s an agonizing choice, especially when the current relationship is at least somewhat satisfying. So essentially I’m along for the ride as people decide what is in their best interests as well as the other parties involved. This can take months, perhaps years, to weigh out the pros and cons, the practical and emotional changes involved in life-altering decisions like these, the risks involved in making the ‘wrong’ choice. In other words, watching a client grapple with a problem like this is very difficult to watch. Even if you think you know the right choice, you can’t give it to the client. He or she truly has to come to it via the self. It can’t be spoon fed. Some will leave their families and begin new lives with a former love, usually with a large amount of guilt. Others will stay put and feel that permanent imprint tugging at them. Either way, it’s not a particularly envious position in which to be.

If you enjoyed this piece please consider giving your blessing to my Facebook Fan Page. Thank you.

* I’d link to this specific article, written by Carey Goldberg, but it’s archived and you have to pay to read it. Hit up if my piece doesn’t summarize it sufficiently for you or if you don’t mind spending the fee.

Related Post: Reuniting With Your First Love…On the Net (Revisited)

Update (11/20/13): I’m not sure if this is of interest to anyone, but I received this solicitation and agreed to post it. Consider it useful until early December, 2013:

Now Casting: People Looking For Missed Love Connections!

Do you believe that your one true love is actually someone from your past? Do you often think about “what could have been” with an old flame? Or perhaps someone that you met and felt the timing was off, but could have blossomed under different circumstances? Do you dream of reuniting with a high school or college boyfriend or girlfriend, but don’t know where to find them? Was there a person that you had a steamy vacation tryst with, but have never been able to track down?

If so, we want to hear from you! A major production company is casting for people who dream of working with an expert to make a love (re)connection with someone from their past. To learn more or refer a friend, please email us at and a Casting Producer will be in touch ASAP.

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12,037 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. OA says:

    LOL now that is very funny.

    Is this like Dr. Who where we have to guess the next character?

    Bring on Ms. N.

  2. Have Faith says:

    I read through the comments posted over the weekend and I thought this quote about leaving a marriage was true in a way:

    “It is so hard to leave – until you leave. And then it’s the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

    It’s true in the sense that the most difficult part is trying to prepare yourself – you keep going over everything in your head and it’s always the worst case scenario that you keep imagining. But then when you have gotten past that part it does get easier. Now I know the plan and that alone just makes me feel better and more settled.

    That said, certain aspects of this are still very difficult. It’s the trying to explain things to other people (and even though I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation) people still ask. And they still have opinions (not always helpful!) that they feel they need to share with you. I just came home from a few days away visiting my sister and of course the main topic of conversation was the ending of my marriage. I find that can be one of the more difficult parts of this – when someone tries to tell you that maybe you are doing the wrong thing: “Maybe you should stay in the marriage for financial reasons, maybe your husband can change, just give him another chance, he just needs to stop drinking, leaving him will upset everyone else….etc. etc.”

    I realize that leaving a marriage is an extremely difficult thing to do, but what some people fail to realize is that they don’t have to live with my husband. I know things are not going to be easy. But I still find it upsetting when someone doesn’t seem to understand that staying with my husband is compromising myself to the degree that I am constantly unhappy. Of course the compromising also covers the feelings that I have for my FL…if I stay in my marriage those feelings are also compromised. I realize that there is no guarantee how anything will turn out in this situation, but at least now I know there is some hope of a future. I think just having that hope is something that makes me feel better – the numbness is slowly fading away.

    The other area that is challenging is dealing with my husbands emotions, which for the most part I recognize as a means to try and elicit my sympathy. Though once I recognized what was happening, it made it easier to deal with.

    For those here who have been discussing leaving their marriage – I agree that it’s not easy at all, and sometimes you really have to put your trust in the “universe”. You have to go with your heart and go with your intuition, and stop dwelling on all the negative things that may or may not happen.

  3. Rob Dobrenski says:

    Dr. Rob here,

    Ugh, since too many of you can’t play nice and use this forum in a way that isn’t abusive and childlike, all Comments will now need to be approved by me before they will be posted. No name-calling, trolling, bullying, or attempts to unearth identities will be allowed. Thank you in advance for taking away time from my workday so I can police you.

  4. Have Faith says:

    Thank you Dr. Rob. I’m so sorry you need to spend your time policing this site.

  5. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Have Faith: been thinking about you. Interesting note on struggling with questions and meddling from others. I think for myself that would be a huge issue. My spouse is widely known and connected. From all appearances, our marriage is almost perfect. A separation or divorce would be shocking and tongues would wag.

  6. Don't Do It says:

    Dr. Rob, not sure if I should waste your time by thanking you. But, THANK YOU, so much. This can be such a wonderful place and I’m glad you didn’t decide just to shut the entire thing down. It has become ridiculous.

  7. Have Faith says:

    Probably many marriages appear perfect to others. The issues are not apparent to people looking in as most arguing is done behind closed doors. If someone is abusive they don’t show that behavior in public. This is one reason some people can’t understand why I want to leave my husband. To them he appears to be a good guy most of the time. And a lot of the time he is a good guy but that doesn’t mean I should have to live with the times he is being abusive.

    People are always going to talk and gossip. We shouldnt let the opinions of others control us. I learned that eventually.

  8. skeptic/sketch says:

    So, Dr Rob – I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I question whether it is really you or not – being how crazy this place has become! I really do hope it IS you, though – and that you can return this to the place it used to be! And if that includes listing an email again, I’m all for it! Soooooo tired of all the fighting and nonsense!

    Dr. Rob edit: rest assured, it is me. Everything can remain anonymous, but there will be a lag in between when you post and when it appears onscreen because I can’t keep up with the site in real time.

  9. BB80 says:

    It’s been noted that 1981 was a pivotal year for many of us. And now that group for the most part is over 50.

    A few have mentioned being in their early 60’s.

    Is anyone out there much older than that? Could it be that once we move into our late 60’s and beyond that we’ve made peace with the situation and moved on?

    And thanks for putting an end to the awful postings Dr.Rob.

  10. Sleepless & Heartsick says:

    Dr. Rob, at the risk of making your work here a little harder (since chaos seems to follow in my wake lately), I also just wanted to express to you my appreciation. For some of us, this whole experience has been extremely painful & confusing. In trying to heal & walk away, it helps to know that this site will remain a relatively “safe place” for others who unexpectedly find themselves overwhelmed by these emotions. Being able to feel supported by others in similar circumstances has been sanity-saving, so thank you so very much! …Now, if only it was possible to “edit out” the blatant deceit & manipulation. 😉

  11. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:


    Maybe the ones older than that do not use the internet.

    LL and I are in our early 40s.

  12. Have Faith says:

    I do appreciate the effort Dr. Rob is taking to keep this forum functioning as it was intended to. Having been on the receiving end of the harassment I appreciate it all the more.

    BB80, I think that most people posting here are in their late 40s to early 50s but I know one who is in her 60s.

    S&H is the deceit and manipulation you refer to on this site?

  13. Sleepless & Heartsick says:

    Sadly, yes, Have Faith. -The irony being that I could care less about the anger & displaced aggression of others (I’ll never be a “WHAT will everyone think?!”-kind of person)! I only care about my LL (though I should know better than to care by now). However, he seems to have aimed most of his anger at me instead of where it rightfully belongs! (Trust me, I’ve been “FB slapped” for punishment enough for a lifetime.) :-(

    I posted in a moment of weakness, being foolish enough to imagine that there was someone whose story I could relate to who might also understand MY pain. I have my guesses, but never having been told the truth about what’s going on, clearly I fell into something that has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone expressing honest feelings. It seems instead that I got “tricked” into stepping out onto a stage, where everyone else knows their parts –and I never even got a script!!

    Good luck navigating these rough waters, Have Faith. At least it sounds as if your time “on the fence” is coming to an end. Once you are firmly on one side or another, a lot of the weirdness in your life ought to dissipate, I’d guess. Stay strong & stay well.

  14. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    I for one am relieved that Sybil has left the building. Thank you Dr. Rob.

  15. Have Faith says:

    S&H, DTRH
    I think if someone did want to be “Sybil” and post under multiple identities there would be no way to prevent that. The only thing that can be prevented is abusive comments. A few times I have had suspicions that people were actually using the stories of previous posters who were no longer on the board and impersonating those people. It’s easy to go scroll back and get that info and use those details. I have no idea why someone would do that, but it seems likely that they have. But again, there is no way to prevent anyone from doing so.

    S&H, I am trying to understand your comment (as it was sort of cryptic):
    [It seems instead that I got “tricked” into stepping out onto a stage, where everyone else knows their parts –and I never even got a script!!]
    I guess I have to ask- who is the ‘everyone else’?

    When it comes to being on the fence I guess I could say my heart has never been on the fence, but it’s hard to always just blindly follow your heart. It’s been a slow process for me and I’ve had to come to terms with many difficult things – past mistakes, realizing I was in denial about my husband’s behavior, realizing that I still had the same feelings for my FL as I did years ago.

    But I no longer feel like I’m sitting on the fence. It’s interesting that I keep running into people who only reinforce my belief that I’m doing the best thing in leaving my marriage. There have been some relatives who have questioned it but I do realize it’s hard for them to understand my husband’s behavior as they seldom witnessed it. My husband has not been living at home for the last few months and I find I really don’t miss him. Sometimes I miss certain things like having someone there to do the things I don’t know how to do (like change a tire) but overall I enjoy the peace. Though I find it kind of sad to think I have spent 28 years with someone and I really don’t miss them….I’m not sure what you mean about the weirdness in my life dissipating. Do you mean the initial feelings of change at the end of a marriage?

  16. Just Heartsick says:

    Have Faith, I’m happy for you that you are finding peace in your life and following your heart! Despite mayhem around you, it can feel so great to be stretching yourself to become the very best version of yourself.

    While I consider whether or not I want to try to answer any of those questions, maybe you’ll consider answering one for me. Since you’ve separated from your husband, will you now be in closer contact with your FL?

  17. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    FL contacted me again. He misses me, loves me. We talked just long enough to share I Love You’s. We both know we can’t go back to where things were a year ago. Friends with no benefits. That’s how it has to be. I think I am finally coming to terms with it.

  18. Have Faith says:

    I hope things get easier for you. Sounds as if you are still finding this tough.
    Heartsick (I assume you were S&H)
    I would definitely like to be in closer contact with him but there are a number of obsticles in the way so it may prove difficult.

  19. Have Faith says:

    I tried to post earlier but I think the comment may have been deleted. So if you see a repeat comment that is why.
    I hope things get better for you. It sounds like you are still struggling to accept the way things are.
    Heartsick( S&H I assume)
    To answer your question I would love to be in closer contact with him but many obsticles are in our way. I still have hope, though. I feel that I will never find someone else I will feel this way about and it’s so sad to think that without him I will live the rest of my life

  20. Have Faith says:

    I tried to post earlier but I think the comment may have been deleted. So if you see a repeat comment that is why.
    I hope things get better for you. It sounds like you are still struggling to accept the way things are.
    Heartsick( S&H I assume)
    To answer your question I would love to be in closer contact with him but many obsticles are in our way. I still have hope, though. I feel that I will never find someone else I will feel this way about and it’s so sad to think that without him I will live the rest of my life without love.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Leona Lewis: from “Take a Bow”

    So take a bow.
    Cause you’ve taken everything else
    You played the part and like a star you played it so well
    Take a bow
    ’cause this scene is coming to an end
    I gave you love. All you give me was pretend
    So now… Take a bow

  22. Guiltridden says:

    I’ve been following as usual all your ups and downs and I too am grateful to Dr Rob for leaving this site open… It certainly has been a lifeline for me for the past 8 months or so and a form of psychotherapy to just have somewhere to listen to others who are going through this whole crazy thing and be able to release some of our pent up frustrarions and emotions.
    An update on my situation… Nothing’s really changed… My FL did finally get in touch after a couple of months with a brief, friendly, chatty email… He’s reliable at least in doing what he says! A couple of back and forth emails with me obeying the ‘rules’… Nothing personal… He’s going to let me know his travel plans as soon as he has them so we can meet again, probably in January….
    Have Faith.. Your last few words sum up so well what I feel.. The overwhelming sadness that at my time in life (and after waiting and hoping for over half my life that if we did ever reconnect there would have been SOMETHING there between us ) I am most probably going to face the rest of my life without the love I had so desperately wanted to express as well as receive.
    I still don’t know what my LL really FEELS and probably never will, in spite of my trying to eke it out of him at our previous meetings! The main point is, as he told me the first time we met, is he’s happy…..period. I probably should have just given up then and walked away instead of prostrating myself at his feet in a letter telling him how much he’s meant to me all this time. I so wanted some reaction, empathy, compassion, god knows what really …and I suppose he’s done, and is doing, his best to ‘help’ me.. by seeing me. Again .. He’s relaible, dependable and has kept his word as the ‘friend’ he considers himself to be.
    I’m finally coming to terms with the reality of my life after a lot of soul searching, self analysis, analysing my life, my marriage etc.. My LL obviously doesn’t need me in his life … and perhaps doesn’t want me in his life either? … although I was getting used to the idea of being just ‘virtual friends’ and then it was him who suggested in January that we could continue to see each other occasionally when he’s in the country..why?
    I still have unanswered questions but find it so difficult to REALLY talk to him when we do see each other… I feel I’m in an emotional straightjacket and am actually probably afraid of his answers if I do ask direct questions!
    As he said if he had been free his love could have been rekindled… Makes me think there are some embers there…. but he’s clearly told me he wouldn’t do anything to hurt his family… I already felt bad about myself before us meeting up but this has made me feel so much the woman with no moral or ethical principles who would have done the opposite if there had been something there on his side. He muttered something under his breath last time we met about me ‘wanting my cake and eating it too’ and I think he believes I just wanted an affair and doesn’t get this whole LL thing. I feel I want to set the record straight and tell him it’s so more complicated than that …. but I find it hard to put all this into words in his presence. And the bottom line is.. It doesn’t and won’t make any difference anyway, so what’s the point. Perhaps I just need to try and enjoy his company as merely ‘a friend’???
    However the next time I see him I definitely want to hear ‘his side of things’ about how we split up as he hasn’t really told me all that, as he had previously promised once in an email.
    In spite of all the negative things I have written here I am finally getting into a better place pyschologically and with my h… I’m finally starting to sleep slightly better, our relationship is better than it has been for years and I’m feeling more positive about my future with him. I’ve let down some of the emotional barriers I had and not surprisingly his angry outbursts have diminished. I am fortunate to have great children and grandchildren too.
    Yes I know I’m still so screwed up and it’s fundamentally wrong to be living a lie with someone you’re not ‘all in’ with. But this ‘experience’ has made me look at him and our relationship in a new light and really appreciate what I have and the qualities that attracted me to him initially. It’s not perfect ….and the ‘perfection’ I had dreamt of with my FL would in reality, (if he had reciprocated my love which isn’t the case anyway!) have most likely been far from it……
    Having read the stories here of those who really do have a reciprocally deep emotional connection and mutual love with their LLs … Realistically there are very few ‘success’ stories here – life has just got in the way for both parties involved and built up so many obstacles and entanglements that need incredible willpower and determination from the two involved in equal measure to overcome.

  23. just me in limbo says:

    After no contact for over a year, a series of life events have caused the silence to be broken to lend each other support. Every time my fl and I are in contact it makes me realize how miserable I’d have been if I pursued more. It has taken years to grasp that breaking up in the seventies was the best choice and for all the pain this reconnection has caused me and my spouse I’ve realized that where once I couldn’t imagine letting go, it is time. I once was planning a different future that I was willing to fight for. Now I realize that though my current situation may not be perfect, I am where I should be. My fl and I have been in regular contact. I was the last to reply. I have not heard from my fl for over a week. I am glad. This week has helped me have time to think. I am pretty sure I won’t respond again.

  24. Have Faith says:

    My apologies for the multiple postings…perhaps I should stop trying to post from my phone.
    I feel I have to comment on some of the points you bring up. Having lived my life with someone who is prone to angry outbursts, and therefore having looked into the personality issues of those who behave that way, I stress that you are not responsible for his anger. No one is ever responsible for someone else’s anger, but that is one of common things that abusive men will say – “I had to hit you/yell at you/ throw stuff at you/ (take your pick here) because YOU made me do it.” After hearing this for so many years you will probably start to believe it.

    To these guys everything is about them. If they feel bad ( and they very often do) you are somehow responsible. They never take responsibility for their actions and they never realize how their actions affect the other people in their life. When they have an affair the blame will shift to you – you are responsible because YOU didn’t give me enough attention. You will be accused of loving the children more than loving him.

    I think many people make mistake of perceiving an abusive man as someone who is constantly beating up his wife, but that is just how they are portrayed on movies and TV. In reality they are often very charming, with many good qualities, and that is what will make them attractive in the first place. So I’m sure your husband does have many redeeming qualities – but you are the only one who can say if you are able to live with his less attractive qualities. But never let him place the guilt for those less attractive aspects on you.

    It’s true that no relationship will ever be perfect. I don’t have unrealistic expectations on that, and I know that if I had been able to stay with my FL all those year ago, that would not have been perfect either. I do find now, however, that I am able to look back on that time period with a little more clarity and see the reasons I ended up with my husband. It was never that I loved him more than I loved FL. When I first began dating my husband, I was not in love with him at all – I was attracted to his good qualities and I went out with him only because he pursued me, but at the time I still had feelings for my FL. Eventually I had to hide away those feeling for my FL because there was no way to reconcile that in my mind (being in a relationship with one person while loving another) and I had already gone through the same scenario earlier which had ended in a very negative outcome.

    I think for any of us here who are in less than happy marriages, if we really take the time to look back and analyze how and why we started those relationships, we can learn a lot about ourselves.

    In response to the Anonymous comment – I wonder if a comment such as that is meant to manipulate. The implication of that comment (to me) is that there is someone on this board who is ‘pretending’ in some way or another, or ‘playing a part’. I wonder what motives someone would have to pretend in this type of forum. Most of us are here to share our stories , and those who are here for other reasons would be the ones ‘playing a part’.

  25. Sleepless & Heartsick says:

    Yes, Have Faith –sorry to have confused you (I wasn’t currently “sleepless” when I posted as “Just Heartsick,” so I merely tweaked my name accordingly).

    I agree with your “Sybil” comment and ultimately figured out on my own that names & stories were being “hacked.” Beyond understanding that doing this might lend an anonymous voice the credibility of being a seasoned veteran around here, I must admit that I don’t get it. The true power and benefit of this site is the ability to share one’s own story straight from the heart. The more confusing the love, the stronger the benefit, IMO! Until the pieces of it are put together (through sometimes a painstaking process), it can be difficult to see the big picture! So the person doing this has ultimately slowed the progress of this self-analysis (and potential healing). And not sharing as openly & honestly as possible also deprives this person (or people) of the genuine feedback & support of others. Bravely stepping out of the shadows and onto this “stage” can feel scary-vulnerable when you are doing it AS YOURSELF (only with some appropriate “nickname” attached); however, doing so can be extremely satisfying! (And yes, I do know this firsthand –and hope for others to, as well.)

    My statement about the script & stage were intentionally cryptic, Have Faith. I was sharing my feelings about the experience. There would simply be no benefit in postulating my theories that can so easily be renounced by one determined to maintain such a “deniable distance.”

    It’s a shame that obstacles are keeping you on the fence. It doesn’t really matter what your heart tells you to do if you aren’t able to follow through, sadly. (And if you HAVE formulated a plan, I certainly hope that you have made your FL aware of it –since people have a tendency not to “sit on shelves” forever.)

    While I applaud you for taking steps to identify and act on truths in your life, your statement “My husband has not been living at HOME…” [emphasis mine] reveals that you do not think of yourself as actually separated from him. It seems that you are actually wanting to stay “safely” on the fence –perhaps forgetting what a precarious situation fence-sitting inherently can be!

    This is what I was referring to when I stated the following: “At least it sounds as if your time ‘on the fence’ is coming to an end. Once you are firmly on one side or another, a lot of the weirdness in your life ought to dissipate, I’d guess.”

    The internal tug-of-war that is the natural result of the soul-searching involved in discovering these long-buried feelings is obvious to most of us. But (as you should know), it is also possible to have a very external tug-of-war going on (and right here on this site!) –with an SO hanging on tightly and an FL reaching out with this lifelong love– and, unfortunately, some “battles” are more brutal than others. In the midst of emotional pleas from both sides (and sometimes ridiculously manipulative tactics from one side or another), it can be difficult for the one in the middle to see that the battle is the RESULT of the fence-sitting and can only get worse the longer the situation is maintained! This is at least partially due to the cruelty to BOTH “heart-tuggers” (as I mentioned in a previous comment). The more this pain is inflicted on them, the more strongly emotional it can get –which greatly affects EVERYONE (and “true colors” can certainly be more evident in both reactions) …but most especially, the emotions are going to impact the person in the middle! So, in a way, staying on the fence tortures the fence-sitter every bit as much as the others involved!

    The bottom-line is that you have to choose with more than just your heart, Have Faith. You (like my LL) are the person in the middle of this situation. You didn’t ask to be there –but neither did anyone else in your life. The situation is no one’s fault. But once the realities of the circumstances are evaluated (and each individual’s can be very different), a decision needs to be made and acted upon; otherwise, you’re stuck in this “Limbo.” You will not have peace from this tug-of-war (internally OR externally) until YOU choose what’s true for you (and ONLY YOU know what that is), tell this truth to those involved (clearly & directly –and sometimes even publicly), and get yourself firmly onto the life-path you have chosen. Once you are certain, those around you have no choice but to accept your decision. People only try to bully those they think they CAN; when someone shows him/herself to be stronger than anticipated, bullies have a tendency to back off! “Tugging” might continue for awhile (depending on the aggressiveness of the personalities involved), but once you are seen to be firm & steadfast in your stance, I’m sure that the conflict will eventually subside and peace will reign in your life. If you feel that you HAVE made a heartfelt & wholehearted choice, Have Faith, I would strongly encourage you to not allow any obstacles to get in your way –for your own health & safety, if nothing else!

    In my time here, I discovered this love that I have for my LL –and that it is so much stronger & more enduring than any love I’ve had for any other man I’ve ever known. I believe that he feels that same love for me. I have tried to encourage my LL to not stay on the fence (OF COURSE, I want him to choose ME, but mostly, I want him to have happiness & peace in his life)! But I can only point out these facts so many times & in so many ways –which means that it’s time for me to move on.

    I can identify stalling tactics when I see them –even in myself! I hope that I’ve helped you even just a little bit, HF. However, even though my LL is apparently still trying to stay on his fence, I cannot choose to dedicate my life to sitting around waiting fruitlessly for him to decide to even have a conversation with me! So I have no choice. I need to get myself to a healthier & happier place if I’m going to survive –let alone THRIVE– in some pretty stressful years ahead. And I’m positive that I will have a man in my future who will love me as wholeheartedly as I’ll love him! Because of WHO I AM, I need to choose love and JOY …even in my difficult days.

  26. Sleepless & Heartsick says:

    Guiltridden, the reason that there are very few success stories HERE is that this is the “hospital” for the wounded. The ones who knew their own hearts and took their leaps of faith are out THERE –living their happily ever afters!

  27. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    @Have Faith: glad you are still moving forward. I hope you have a chance at a satisfying, loving relationship. Yes, I am still in a tailspin but better. My FL will always love me, and for now that has to be enough. He’s having a very hard time too. Obviously, as his ‘keep to a minimum’ contact lasted only a week. I will continue to leave communication open but only if he reaches out. Will not let myself go down the rabbit hole again. Not until we can both fully commit, if ever.

  28. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    @Guiltridden: your LL still has a thing for you. But I think it is he who wants his cake too.

  29. Have Faith says:

    When I say my husband has not been living at home, I also mean he has been living out of town. I guess I could word it differently, but I can see how you you might take that comment to mean that I still think of “home” with him there. The fact is that the ‘home’ I live in is a home I ‘built’ with him, and it is a difficult thing to accept that the dream of a life together is over. But I also have had to accept that what I have been clinging to, all these years, is a “dream of a life”. By that I mean I often denied reality and accepted his behavior, just to have that dream. I think that is so often the case – we know on some level that living the way we are is not good for us, but we don’t want to give up the dream and make the changes. And let’s face it – change is HARD.

    So at this point, I am not ‘on the fence’ anymore. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I have been doing some reading on abusive relationships, and talking to others involved in those types of situations, and that has helped. I think one of the hard things is we often will only see the good part of the abusive person and try and ignore the other parts – we see Dr. Jekyll but not Mr. Hyde. And accepting that is really difficult – that someone can act like they love you at times, and at other times you can see they clearly don’t. Some articles I’ve read say to focus on all those hurtful things that they have done, keep those things in mind (and I think that goes against they way we want to live, so it’s hard) and that way you have the resolve to follow though. I like this quote “When you think about quitting remember why you started in the first place”.

    So far, I am not ready to really “go public”, with our separation, but many people (family and friends) know about it, so it’s not as if it’s a secret. Some people were shocked to hear about it, and some, who knew more about our struggles, were not that surprised.

    You are right that this can be a battle – with a spouse holding on a FL pulling the other way. When all this first started I had a sudden, intuitive type of thought, I thought to myself ” I don’t know if this(being with FL) will ever be possible because I know that our spouses will never let us go”. I realize now it was ME who had to do the letting go.

  30. Sleepless & Heartsick says:

    RE: “I realize now it was ME who had to do the letting go.”

    Have Faith, I agree with you that ^THIS^ is such an important insight! Whatever else this “journey” has been, it has DEFINITELY been a learning/growing experience! [I don’t mean that to sound quite so negative; I’m just frustrated once again because I’m left wondering if I did something wrong …ONCE AGAIN, and if so, what on earth I did. –and I’m so very tired of wondering; I JUST WANT TO TALK TO HIM!! And I also have to wonder exactly who (and how many people!) might know about the FB page I created for him …because I thought that my LL would be the only person reading it; how would anyone else really know about it?! …But I’ve been picking up a weird vibe… Ugh, I’m just wanting answers so much today! And I know that it’s pointless to even be venting about this; I can’t get any real answers, can I? …But I DO kind of feel better now after letting it out! -Okay… done venting –at least for now. 😉 ]

    -Back to letting go: I don’t personally think that the only reason to let go necessarily has to be one of abusiveness, Have Faith. Sometimes, a relationship needs to end simply because of “irreconcilable differences” (at least, that’s what they used to call it). When two people discover that their priorities and life-goals have become so very different that one or both find it impossible to imagine any kind of truly happy (as opposed to “settled-for”) future, it may be that a separation is the best solution (-and yes, overwhelming & enduring love for someone from the past definitely can affect the outcome of this kind of decision; it’s a reality that must be addressed).

    Compromise is important to the success of ANY relationship; however, when one finds that the compromises required to make a particular situation “work” (-when these push the person to “bend” until they feel they will BREAK), it certainly may be time to let it go. And then when you factor in very hurtful behaviors, the scale just kind of… tips (at least, that’s how it felt to me).

    That said, I agree with you that the death of any relationship (even a very dysfunctional one) is difficult and needs to be mourned so that it can be released. This process can be made so much more complicated, though, if the person you’re mourning is still around and trying his best to show you what a great guy he can be (I know from sad experience) –and yes, I completely concur with the insights that you’ve gained from your research, Have Faith.

    Someone like me (and maybe you, too) –who wants to think the best of people and to give the benefit of the doubt– is especially susceptible to this kind of abuse, and as someone has pointed out to me recently, I’m really not going to see the signs of it until it’s too late UNLESS I take the time to educate myself and be “on the look-out” in a future relationship. I have a hard time seeing myself as someone who will decide to live her life cynically questioning and distrusting, so a challenge that I will have going forward is learning how to reconcile the vulnerabilities that I’ve discovered in myself with the person I want to continue to be (if that makes sense). And it just may be that I will have to come to rely on some outside help with this on a fairly ongoing basis –so that I can feel the freedom to pour my love out on someone …but don’t end up finding that I’ve turned myself into someone’s “doormat” again! I really don’t want to allow my past experiences to cause me to hesitate to move forward into my future, though. It will be a tricky balance, but I know that I’m up to the challenge of embarking on a “relationship adventure!”

    I hope that you will also be able to put aside any trust issues you might now have, Have Faith –so that you can enjoy the happy future that you deserve. And I hope that you stay strong.

    Oh, and BTW… thanks for the clarification on your situation –and, for the record, when I said “publicly,” I wasn’t meaning like a newspaper announcement, megaphone, billboard, or anything …LOL; I only meant widely known among your family & friends)!

  31. just me in limbo says:

    I agree with the hospital reference to this place. I think that the minority of these stories work out. Married or not. The majority here are stuck in limbo. I feel most of us are either throwing crumbs or having crumbs thrown at them and that as long as we accept the way things are we will forever remain at a standstill. Obviously the crumb thrower having more control. Whether the crumb thrower or the receiver, each is feeling that they are getting something out of those crumbs. And until we own what’s happening it is about the HOPE that is kinda unrealistic.

  32. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    I’ve found the link below helpful in understanding the rollercoaster that is my marriage. Of the items on the list, I have been subjected to several, including bunny boiling. I knew when my spouse was expressing constant disdain for my pets, it was really contempt toward me. I also know that even though things are great now, it is unlikely to last. Until I came across this site, I didn’t fully grasp the significance of all the subtle (and not so) that emotional abuse encompasses. I also realize my FL has been subjected to forms of it too. He may never leave because he feels such an obligation to be there for the wife who clings, controls, and isolates him. I too will struggle with leaving my marriage, but realize I may have to if the cycle repeats and my spouse won’t recognize he must own it and change. Very unlikely.

  33. Have Faith says:

    A billboard? LOL…..but I have known some people who immediately post everything that goes on in their life on FB, and some that have sent out e-mails to everyone they know to tell them that they have decided to divorce. I’m just not like that.

    I don’t believe that thinking of this journey as a learning experience could be considered negative – I think all experiences where we have a chance to learn or grow are positive, even if they are painful.

    When you ask about how many people would know about your FB page do you mean that you used a different name, an alias, for your page? If not, then can’t anyone search you out and find your page? I do know people who use ‘alias’s’ on FB, but of course they let their friends know what name they are using. But if you haven’t had any friend requests then it seems unlikely that anyone would know it’s actually you.

    When I said letting go, I was really thinking more of letting go of the ‘dream’ of how I think life should be. I think, for most of us, we get married with certain expectations. When reality doesn’t match those expectations, we still hang on to that dream. And you are right that abusiveness is not the only reason to let go of a relationship. People can grow in very different directions over time, too. Consider the age most of us were when we got married or began the relationship….I bet most were in their early twenties or younger. Now, when I look at kids that age I realize how ‘young’ that actually is. No wonder we made so many mistakes.

    It’s true also, that after you have been involved with an abusive person, that getting over those trust issues can prove difficult. After you have spent your life with someone who you later realize was not the person you initially thought they were, your ability to trust is damaged. But also, as mentioned earlier, that can give us another opportunity to learn and grow.

    I also know all about the attempts to show what a great guy he can be and how he will change, or as some call it, hoovering (sucking you back in). The thing is that when you are aware of the behavior it’s easier to deal with, so I find learning about the topic is helpful. When you know more you realize what is happening, instead of just continually forgiving and forgetting. I do believe in forgiveness, but not to the point that the other person uses your willingness to forgive as an opportunity to continually repeat their bad behaviors. Eventually one learns what is going on.

    Thanks for the encouragement…I also hope you find the love that you are looking for and the answers that you seek.

  34. Sleepless & Heartsick says:

    I both agree AND disagree with you, “just me in limbo.”

    First of all, I believe that those who are truly affected by this thing we call FLAD are very few & far between! The “rash” of posters that have “broken out” on this site (over the past year, in particular) can give the wrong impression. This “condition” is extremely rare; most people, when contacted by someone from their past, are able to take it in stride, satisfy their curiosity, and then go on with their lives just fine (just as we did with any others we were in past relationships with)! Your characterization of your FL fits this description very well: “Every time my fl and I are in contact it makes me realize how miserable I’d have been if I pursued more.”

    The feelings that bring those of us really & truly FLAD-affected people to this site are very real and not merely idle curiosity. These rare connections have every thing to do with Dr. Rob’s description in his article (which led us to post here)! I believe that out of the ones who genuinely experience this phenomenon (and it FEELS just as bizarre as it sounds!) the truth behind the few statistics that there are show that out of the ones who go on to pursue an actual renewed relationship, the odds of success are very much in their favor!

    This doesn’t mean, of course, that everyone who reconnects this way will pursue a do-over. I, personally, believe that only the ones who BOTH highly value this true-love connection will take the leap of faith to pursue it; when only one does, that unfortunate person winds up stuck HERE (or places like this one)! A little compassion goes a long way here in this “FLAD hospital” –as the pain of NO CONTACT (NC) can be intense (and every bit as real as physical pain –and, at times, worse)!

    You are sadly right about the crumbs of hope, “JMIL.” Knowing that my LL is here has made it a real battle for me to stay away from here this past summer. But you are right; I’m here for the crumbs (so is he, I think). And I know that we both deserve so much better!

    What’s REALLY crazy is that I’ve been dragging my feet on deciding whether to accept an invitation to a “feast” …in order to “beg for crumbs” from my lost love!! But I can’t help it. He’s the one I love.

    However, I know that I’m not here to stay. So, for at least the next few days, I’m going to indulge myself & share here (throwing some crumbs & hoping for a few in return), and I’m okay with that.

  35. Have Faith says:

    I think always think bunny boiling refers to someone like the Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction. If your husband is actually being cruel to your pets then that is a concern. I have read that same article before….I think many people don’t always see those behaviors as abuse. Sometimes they just think they are being too sensative.

  36. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Sleepless & Heartsick: I believe my FL and,I meet the FLAD criteria to a T. We both truly adore each other and could be very successful if we took that leap.

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