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 Classmates.com. 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.

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* 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 Globe.com 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 MissedConnectionsCasting@gmail.com and a Casting Producer will be in touch ASAP.

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12,867 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. Hot Mess Nest says:

    I can only 3rd the idea about a dog. They make better life partners than some spouses! Haha.

    Love & War, you deserve way better. It sounds like you’re even beyond the point where you really feel hurt by his action. That numb feeling is a lot worse than it sounds. I’m so sorry you’re going through that. I hope you are able to make the right decision for yourself, whatever that ends up being.

    I’m having a rough day in this whole process. Just lots on my mind and lots that you all have said that struck a chord in me.

    My husband and I have both cheated. Him first, and I forgave him years ago. Then me, with the reconnection to my FL even though it wasn’t physical. And then he cheated again while we were “rebuilding” which he made clear was a way to punish me. All the while, it’s obvious we’ve held a lot of the truth back. We’ll probably both never know the true story, and neither of us really cares at this point. That’s one of my big signs when I knew it was over… I imagined him cheating on me and felt nothing. I didn’t care if it was punishment, or if he truly cared for the other person. I just felt… nothing.

    My reason for staying was my son. And that reason quickly disappeared when other truths that I couldn’t so easily live with were revealed about my husband. When I worry about the future it’s not “where will I live” or “how will I pay bills.” I know I’m smart enough to figure that out. What I worry about is my son, so I’m putting him first, because this transition isn’t easy. I read someplace recently that children who grow up in homes where there is struggle and brokenness, but also love, often become some of the most well-adjusted, successful people. Probably because they understand how to be flexible, to handle stress, and grieve at an earlier age than most. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m clinging to the hope that I can love and support my son into becoming a great man, even if I am divorced from his Dad.

  2. Leaving Arizona says:

    Hot Mess,

    There are a lot of well-adjusted kids that come from broken marriages. I think it’s far worse to put the burden on them for your happiness. If they know that you are staying solely for them, how do you think they can handle that guilt? If kids know that it’s a broken marriage, then they have stress from that too.
    When they see you able to step away and rebuild, it helps them see that nothing is impossible and it’s not all horrible when changes happen.
    If you stay, and he gets to be 20 years old and knows you were miserable but only stayed for him, you have now put him in a position of knowing that he was responsible for your unhappiness.
    Your misery was a result of him.
    I have 2 kids. My son is 20 and my daughter is almost 18. They both know it was for the best that we leave. They are both really amazing well adjusted young people.
    I stayed for the kids too until I just couldn’t sell myself out anymore. I realized they were as miserable as I was.
    They both know it was in everyone’s best interest to separate and they have both evolved right along with us. It helped them see that it is possible to go through changes and come out the other side better. It showed them hard work and challenges and I think it provided growth in ways they never would have had I stayed and pretended for them. They know. They get more than you think they do. Kids are very adept at reading their parents.
    I just think the lessons they can walk away with teach them more in knowing that it’s okay and not a horrible experience if you provide the stability and love.
    They can count on me without question. That is the bottom line. They know I am now healthier and happier than ever and that is the best you can do.
    Don’t stay for your son. Don’t saddle him with that burden.

  3. Dragonish says:

    L&W-I too am in a 15yr marriage and I know I certainly struggle with being able to separate my needs/wants/feelings from what my “marriage or kids” need since that is all I have known for 15yr. For all these years I have made every decision as thinking for the entire family unit. I am struggling to be able to identify me individually.
    Can I ask you ladies how often you talk with your FL? The last few weeks I have really distanced myself from my FL out of fear of rejection and overall being super scared to get overly emotionally involved. When we were talking I was soooo emotionally invested that I was crying and upset all the time. I have no reason to be worried about rejection as he has done nothing and that is my own personal issue. I miss him so much but now that we aren’t talking as often things seem different. He is holding back…I’m holding back. Some days I am able to get through no problems and even tell myself if we stopped talking all together I would be fine. THEN inevitably its a day or 2 later and I start missing him like crazy and want to be more involved in his life. Then I start thinking even with us talking…it all seems pointless. This cannot go anywhere right now. I will not physically cheat on my husband as we (hubby, FL, myself) all deserve better than that and would only end bad.
    Does this ever get better? Do you eventually learn to just walk away? Do you find a balance of trying to being friends with FL? I am so lost and confused.

  4. LA says:

    Dragonish,

    I can tell you without reservation that it does get better. The initial contact and the year or 2 after that are hell. I remember feeling that desperation and that craziness. Many of us that met on here during that time were in the same place and were struggling with the push and pull and the tears and the emotional nature of these relationships.
    Because of his work schedule, I am able to talk to my FL daily. When I say talk, that mostly means we text all day. But we do physically talk a few times a week and we make it a point to talk one day a week for an hour or 2.
    I guess, in this situation, it’s about as good as it can be given he’s been married over 35 years. I mean, this is what it is and it won’t change. We both know that and his point in all of this is that he knows it but won’t actually speak the words.
    I know it and when we get in an argument about it, he tells me that he thinks I should move on and meet someone else.
    When you ask about it getting easier to walk away, no it doesn’t. Especially with more time invested. And especially knowing we should have learned from our lessons the first time around about walking away back then.
    I go along and I am fine and then something happens and it all comes rushing back to me and I get upset.
    Something happened yesterday that is seemingly benign but it really upset me. It relates to our past and present coming together again.
    I have access to see his FB without him knowing that I look at it. I can’t log in to it but I can see activity. Anyway, I noticed two weeks ago that he added a new friend. An older gentleman that is actually from my home town (not his) and that man and I have mutual friends. I was wondering how in the world he would know this person. The man knew my parents which is really really odd.
    I wanted to ask him but I knew if I did, he would know I can see his FB and I don’t want him to know that. So I let it go.
    Yesterday he texted me a picture of his class ring from high school and a letter from that man that said he was returning his class ring that this man’s father had found using a metal detector!
    The really really odd thing is that the man and his parents were from the town I was born in which is not close to the town that I lived in when he and I met. And this man knew my parents when I was growing up.
    The class ring is a source of contention for me. When we were dating and I was in high school and he was in college, he told me that he wished he hadn’t lost his class ring because he wanted me to have it.
    So he showed me the ring in a text and said here is my class ring. It is bent so he took it yesterday to a jeweler to get it fixed. I said well, that is supposed to be my ring. He didn’t respond.
    I said you told me you wanted to give me that ring way back in high school and he said yes. But I know that his wife knows the man returned it to him and I also know that he probably took it to a jeweler that they use because I asked where he took it and he told me it is a place that is right down the street from where his wife works.
    So it was upsetting to me. I won’t be getting the ring and it’s like one more thing in our relationship that has come back around that proves further that we are what we are and that is nothing more than this right here.
    For me, I think it really is like a death in that it doesn’t go away, it just gets easier to push it down the longer it goes on.
    Thinking about it right now, I could cry about it –I feel it right beneath the surface but it does no good and it doesn’t change anything.
    I think in the beginning I tried everything I possibly could to get things to change or to create a situation that would be the impetus to change but nothing ever did so now it is easier to just move forward and let it go because I know whatever we are right now is what we will continue to be year after year after year.
    I understand your emotions and the day to day missing but it gets easier if you can just wait it out. The pain is still present but it isn’t near the surface it is pushed back down where it was in the 30 years in between which is knowing he is married and doesn’t want to be with me.
    He chose her. Not me. She gets the class ring so to speak. It’s definitely odd that the ring came back into play all these years later. But it did and it helps me see where I stand now. I need those things.
    I want to move on and be okay knowing that he’s there and I am here and we know we still love each other but it can’t be more than that. I want to be able to walk away and be good with that. I’m trying to do it.
    We are best friends I guess. I keep telling myself that best friends don’t do that to best friends but then I see his side of things and he considers me his best friends which means unconditional. I am unconditional to his face but inside it hurts like hell. I know it always will. It will be up to me to want more and walk away. It’s all on me.

  5. Dragonish says:

    LA-OMG…you totally brought me to tears. My heart aches for you as I see my story in your words in regards to your FL and when you spoke about your prior marriage. Pretty weird…so many similarities.
    I completely identify with just “pushing” everything down. It seems so much easier to acknowledge we love each other, we have a history, he will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart for a variety reasons but reality is we cannot be together right now so I need to walk away. However…easier said then done. Especially considering I have been thinking about him for at least 13yrs and he just pops back up like no thing. It is crazy how much time can go by yet the connection and feelings remain the same. I tend to be my own worst enemy in regards to always thinking the worst when I don’t hear from him…which is very destructive since I tend to then pull back and he catches my heat and has no idea what is going on lol. Ughh…smh. There are so many days I fanaticize about being able to be together and let our relationship grow and develop without any restrictions.
    Unfortunately I know that is not an option and in reality I do not think I would want to get seriously involved with him right now as he is dealing with a lot in regards to his ex-wife and custody issues. No offense…but I do not want the drama…I want to be supportive and encouraging as a friend but that is too much to handle in a new relationship.
    I DEFINITELY know what you mean in regards to weird (benign) things bringing up feelings and it catches me off guard. I too…checked is social media last week and saw some women that he friended and found myself getting annoyed and angry. I even told myself “I’m not going to talk to him anymore…let him have those women”…so crazy. Our relationship never got physical and as awful as this sounds….I kinda regret that I didn’t even get a kiss…I least I could hold onto that. These situations are really just so heartbreaking but I think you are completely right about HAVING to keep perspective and never lose sight of what the reality of the situation really is. It is so easy to get caught up in this pretend world that the feelings and love with our FL bring us. He and I have talked quite a lot this week which as you know is both good and bad…causes more confusion…
    I am definitely a huge believer in fate and that things happen for a reason. In my situation my FL has now “popped” back into my life 2 separate times while I have been with my husband. The 1st time was prior to being married (about 13yrs ago) and my now husband had recently cheated and I was going through something really serious that my husband was not there for and my FL came out of no where and was completely supportive and got me through the whole thing. I still have no idea why I didn’t give him a solid chance way back then. I think I was so scared and still upset with him for how things ended with our relationship. And now he “pops” up when I am significantly struggling in my marriage.
    Life is a weird thing…..really makes me wonder what the universe is trying to tell me….

  6. LA says:

    Dragonish,

    If you go back on this site a couple of years ago, you will see a lot of different people sharing. They will all attest exactly what you said about the connections feeling the same way and how intense they are. A lot of us also thought the worst when no contact was in place. Well, they must have changed their minds, their spouse found out and it’s truly over, he/she must realize they don’t feel the same anymore, it wasn’t meant to be….and on and on.
    There were so many different scenarios here with everyone, but in the end, they were all so similar in how we felt. That desperation and the hurt and all of the feelings that resurfaced. Lots of scenarios with people married, not married, bad marriages, abuse, alcohol, loveless, you name it. It was all here. You can scroll back and find these stories and they are all so touching. I feel for everyone here because it seems like it’s an abyss you can’t climb out of.
    I know some that were able to follow through with their FL and discover that it was a bad situation they wish they had never gotten into. There are those that have contact once or twice a year and have been told it will never be more than that.
    I can tell you the stories because I took every one of them to heart because I felt that intense love and knew, because we all shared here, that I wasn’t alone. So you’re not alone.
    I remember we all talked about wishing we could zoom ahead so many years so we could get past all of that ‘drama’ and hurt and see what the future held for us.
    I too believe in fate but I also believe that history repeats itself. I have found that in my own situation. I believe unless you learn from the first mistakes, history will repeat itself.
    I think love is definitely something that you make it. If you are both all in, then it seems pretty easy. If only one of you is in it to win it, then there is heartbreak.
    Someone can tell you they love you all day long. They believe it and they can tell you over and over they are in love with you..if only…but the truth is, if they really are in love with you, their actions are the important part of love.
    You can love someone but if you refuse to make good on that word, it’s really just nothing. It’s not real.
    It’s like them repeating day after day..I love you BUT…. after a while, you don’t even want to hear the I love you part because you know the ‘but’ is coming and your heart can’t take it.
    The fantasizing is something we have all done. We all wished for and could actually see ourselves being with our FL’s. I think that goes away with time too.
    I don’t see that anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love my FL but I know and see his short comings.
    To be honest, I think he feels it in our relationship. I think he feels the disconnect because he tries awful hard some days. I remember asking him where he was and what he was doing and I felt so dumb doing that. I don’t anymore. But he sure does. He will ask me why I am quiet and say I am working.
    In the past almost nothing would stop me from communicating but now it isn’t a big deal. If we talk we talk and if we don’t we don’t. I think it matters more to him now. He wants to know why I am quiet, well, I hate hurting knowing his life will always be just that. He has relegated us to a perpetual affair.
    I understand wishing you had left when your husband cheated but you can’t go back. My advice is to learn from that and try not to repeat it. For you, not for him. Just for you.
    The part about benign things…we all had those too. The friending on FB is a huge trigger. I questioned everyone, every like he did on posts and I also have vowed a million times not to talk to him again for one thing or another.
    What I’ve learned from that is, it isn’t like to happen. I will always talk to him even if I say right now I am not going to talk to him, if he sends a text, I will answer. I don’t know why. I wish I did.
    They do always seem to come back when it’s a time in your life that you’re questioning or ready for change or something. We all had that too. Why now? Why him? Why did he get that ring back when I was there at a time when he lost it? He just texted me that he was leaving for his counseling appt early to go by and get his ring. Part of me wants to speak up when we talk later today but I know if I do, it won’t do a thing but cause him grief. I’ll let him tell me about the oddity of getting his ring back and probably pretend I’m happy for him.

  7. Dragonish says:

    You are completely right about all the prior stories…I started reading those when I found this website and got through quite a lot of stories but have thought about going back and reading on more of that…as they do provide a lot of comfort to hear others in same situations.
    Your story about your FL ring…was so touching. I cannot imagine all the feelings that brings up for you. It seems like the reoccurring theme in these situations is feelings are never able to be totally put out there and honesty and someone is always sacrificing something for it to work (or at least communicate). I know this is a process and I am just going through whatever work I need to do to get into a healthy place emotionally and mentally. It truly means a lot to have yours and others support on this board. I know it will be a matter of time until I decide that I need to walk away until my circumstances change…it is too upsetting and painful to have something I can see but out of reach.

  8. twice shy says:

    I am one of those stories from a few years back. My FL and I don’t talk anymore, I accept that and respect that his family is his priority, of course it is.

    Now I just feel stupid and embarrassed that I made such a fool of myself.

  9. For You 1000 times says:

    Sorry to hear you feel like this. How did you make a fool of yourself, Twice shy? You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself!

  10. Dragonish says:

    Twice Shy-I’m so sorry to hear how things played out for you. I fear that will be my fate very shortly. I too am getting to the point that I feel like such a fool. Its so ridiculous how I have allowed myself to get caught up in this…and why cause I’m unhappy in my marriage and not taking the steps to address that….whether it be to stay or go. I think in some ways I was looking to my FL to “save me” and be a good reason for me to leave my situation. In so many ways I have been using him. I’m using him as a distraction, a comfort and something familiar. The feelings these situations bring up, the memories, the short-falls of our lives and all the “what-ifs” all come to the forefront. These are definitely difficult things to face and navigate.

  11. Love and war says:

    Dragonish and LA-
    I feel for both of you. I understand about putting family before yourself. I’ve always taken care of everyone else and then myself last. It’s rough because you lose yourself somewhere along the way and start to want your old self back. At least that’s what I’ve been feeling lately.
    I too am the kind of person who thinks the worst when I haven’t spoken to my FL in a while. We are speaking now weekly. It’s complicated too because like you said, I won’t cheat on my husband even though he has cheated on me. My FL won’t cheat on his wife. Plus even if I wasn’t married I wouldn’t want to ever put him in a position where he would compromise his morals to be with me. He would only feel guilty after and then regret being together. I do think things happen for a reason. Maybe there is something to it that both our marriages are shakey at the time we reconnected. Maybe the universe is trying to tell us something. Then again maybe it’s just coincidence. He doesn’t know that I know about his wife’s FB account since my friend told me it was her. I don’t know if he knows or not but his wife has been doing some serious flirting with a man on there. My FL doesn’t do anything online so I don’t know if he knows but I also can’t be the one to tell him. You know the whole kill the messenger thing.
    LA- I can totally sympathize with what you said. It broke my heart hearing about the ring. I feel for you. When I spoke to my FL the time before last he let me know he was trying to work it out in his marriage. Before that he had told me how his heart lies with me and he feels like he’s cheating just talking to me because he loves me and doesn’t feel the same for her. At the end of the day though men will chose what is physically closest to them. It’s easier and less risky for them to stay with their wives. I was so upset when my FL told me he was gonna work on his marriage. I felt like I was the runner up, the back up plan in case his marriage didn’t work. He chose her. After telling me I’m the one he loves, he chose her. He told me before that that his entire life he had always wanted me to be his wife, then the next conversation he’s gonna work out what he has. Ouch. He basically is trying to give her my ring. He flirts with me and tells me he loves me but then tries to get her to take his ring. Hell no! I’m not gonna be treated like a side piece. I was the first woman he ever wanted to marry. I’m the one who waited and worried myself sick when he was fighting in Iraq, hoping he was going to come home ok. Any girl he was with after me and him has no idea what that’s like. Now I’m supposed to be some girl he flirts with? I decided I wasn’t going to call him anymore. He had said before he’s not the type of person to pick up the phone and reach out to people. So I figured I’d give him plenty of time to work on his marriage with me out of the way. I stopped calling him. I have been taking that time for myself as well. Focusing on things I want to do. I did realize that i do truely love him. That it hurts to think he may want someone else now but in truely loving him I my have to let him go and just be his friend. And as I’m trying to accept that after a couple weeks, the phone rings and it’s him and it starts all over again. Arrgh

  12. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Love and War: I am in the same place you are. My FL says I am his true love, he longs to be with me, and yet by not having the courage to leave his wife, I am second choice. It is more complicated than this, but it is how I feel sometimes. We have a real chance at happiness, but each day that passes, is another day lost.

    And then there are the issues with my marriage that continue to be unaddressed and unresolved. It is overwhelming to deal with it all.

  13. Hot Mess Nest says:

    @Love and War – I’m so sorry to hear things have gotten complicated and painful. It happens quickly when you pop the lid off of these old feelings. Can I ask you something? What if… your FL called you tomorrow and said “I’m ending my marriage. Let’s be together right now, today, and not wait another instant.” Would you do it? If he had his mind made up, would you be ready to dive back in?

    On the flip-side, what if you called him up and said the same thing: “I’m leaving my husband. Let’s not waste anymore time. Let’s be together.” What if he said “No”? What would you do then? Would that tell you everything you needed to know?

    Asking myself questions like this, and doing some honest thought experiments, are what helped me settle my own feelings. I realized that I did truly want to be with my FL, and I was willing to make very big life changes to do that. So it was really important for me to know early-on if we were going to make it happen, and if he’d have been like “No, I cannot do that” it would have told me what I needed to know and I would have probably walked away at that point. Because like you, I don’t want to be or have a sidepiece. And if my relationship with my FL after 18 years was only to amount to some trite affair, it would have devastated me.

    I know you two just recently reconnected. There’s a lot to be said about showing patience and letting things play out. But if you start to feel like you’re in that limbo period–riding the emotional ferris wheel where one day you’re up from knowing he loves you deeply, and the next day down, not understanding how he could choose the woman he’s married to–it might be a good time to address it. That might mean formally asking him for space. That might mean asking him to talk more seriously about what your feelings for each other mean, and if either of you are actually going to do anything about it.

    You said that you tend to put others first, ahead of yourself. A lot of us here do (or did), too. It definitely comes across in your writing. You seem like a truly loving, empathetic, and careful woman. Just know that despite your urge to take care of others, your feelings matter too. They matter a lot, actually. How it makes you feel when he says one thing to you, and then doubles-down on his marriage… it matters. It’s okay to ask for what you need.

    Anyway… that’s just my perspective. I hope you figure out what’s best for you. You seem like you’re handling it with a lot of grace.

  14. Love and war says:

    down the Rabbit Hole and Hott Mess Nest-
    It sucks right. That feeling like your the consolation prize if things don’t work out with his current marriage. Your right though, it gets more complicated when marriages are involved. I know his is not going well and mine has it’s problems too. I think it’s got a lot to do with when the relationship with our FL’s split up long ago we all had to move forwar. Kind of the sink or swim situation. We moved on, made commitments to other people and probably during all that time never really thought we’d be at this point now. I’m sure it’s gotta be like that for them too. I know he’s had trouble and been through a lot. My FL is dealing with PTSD. The really strange part is that from the time we started actually dating to the breakup he doesn’t remember it. During those years he can’t recall most of his life. All he remembers from then is how much he wanted to be with me. A friend of mine who has family that suffers from PTSD said she thinks I’m the reason. He’s blocked out a few years of his life like we never happened. She said the trauma of our breakup combined with the war is probably what did it and that he doesn’t remember so he doesn’t realize I’m the problem. I don’t know if it’s accurate or not. All I know is we have talked about it, he knows why I did what I did. He said he is not mad at me for it he just wishes things had gone differently. It’s all kind of heartbreaking.
    The question of would he or I drop it all to be with the other is a great question. Thank you for that because it does help. My best friend told me to just be patient because he’s going through a lot too and he probably doesn’t know what to do either. He said he knows he loves me, he always has. I know how I feel about him but I think your right. Patience is not going to hurt anything. I pretty much am just trying to be positive, focus on things that make me happy and if they match up with someone else, great! If not I know I’m strong enough to be his friend and wish him the best. Like you said, my feelings should matter too. I guess it will just take some time to see where all this goes.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am someone who posted on this forum a few years ago. I am someone who was married for more than 20 years. I am someone who was contacted, on FB, by the person they called their FL more than 30 years after laying eyes on them and I was someone who didn’t let that contact remain casual. I became a cheater and betrayed my spouse’s trust. I have risked my family and all I hold dear for something I now know isn’t real and certainly isn’t worth the pain I have caused my partner.

    I’m here to tell you if you value your relationship with your spouse then you drop all the ridiculous and romantic fantasies that are swirling around in your head. Drop the idea that because this is your first love it’s different. It isn’t different. It’s cheating and that is going to devastate your partner. You have no idea how hurt, bewildered, lost and alone your actions will cause the person to whom you promised to forsake all others but then decided that because it was the FL it didn’t really count. It counts. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one night stand, an EA or a full-blown affair. It counts. You don’t get a hall pass.

    I will never be able to undo the hurt and pain I have caused to the best person I have ever known in my life. He is everything to me and I lost sight of that and threw it away for what? I can’t even answer that question because there is no good answer. I have killed my marriage. It’s dead. I have to leave it to my husband to decide what he wants to do. I don’t get a vote and nor should I. I cast my vote when I decided to cheat and img voting privileges are now permanently revoked and that’s just the way it not only is but also the way it should be. If he decides he can see a way to move forward with me then this is will be my second marriage. It will have to be treated as a new relationship but one where I can never again be fully trusted and that is only good and right because I broke the trust. I am the liar who schemed behind his back to betray him.

    You can debate on this forum in post after post about FL and how it’s different but, those who are married or in committed relationships, I strongly urge you to take the time to put yourself in your spouses shoes. What is he/she was pining away for some long lost love? How would that make you feel? I’m really hoping the answer is it wouldn’t make you feel good about yourself at all. You have to do this for both yourself and your significant other. If your marriage isn’t good then talk to your spouse about it and either take steps to make it better or walk away. If you walk away then you’re free and clear to start a new life for yourself but don’t do this while you are committed to another. To say it isn’t fair to the other person in your relationship is a colossal understatement. It devastates the person who loves you. The person who trusted you. The person you vowed to spend the rest of your life with. There’s no coming back from that.

    I used to believe this was a good place to post that it helped me. Nothing can be further from the truth. Posting here let me believe I wasn’t a bad person, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. That is so far from reality that I can’t even fathom it happened; but it did. Nothing about what I did was right. There is no justification for having done it and then spent years talking about what I had done. It’s insane.

    It is so easy to get caught up in a group- think. It’s far too easy so, if you’re married or committed to another, I urge you to step away from this place and really think long and hard about how your actions affect others. I’m telling you it isn’t worth it.

    I would also like to apologize to Di. I have no idea if she still posts here or reads this site anymore but I owe her a heartfelt apology. She was right.

    If you need to talk to someone about how you are feeling then talk to a counsellor and if you’re cheating then it’s time to bite the bullet and confess. That’s my advice to you now. Don’t wait to be found out. Just confess and face the consequences of your actions. You have no idea the level of hurt your cheating has on your partner until it’s far, far too late.

    It pains me to say there are no words to atone for what my thoughtless, selfish and reckless behaviour has done to my partner. I’m sorry is so far from enough but those are the words we have and I am so deeply sorry for the hurt he is feeling because of me.

  16. Facing the Truth says:

    Dear Anonymous

    Di may have been right about the cheating if you love your spouse. She loved her husband. But if you don’t love your spouse, then I guess this would be an okay place to try to work it out. Even if Di loved her husband, she was still here day after day fretting over her FL.
    I appreciate your post and it says a lot about how you really feel inside about your spouse. To others here though, there is a lot of confusion about their marriages to begin with.
    We were all here together, all kind of in the same place but certainly there were some here who were conflicted about inviting the FL into their marriages or maybe they were contacted, like yourself, and threw a wrench into their happy life that they were suddenly unsure that it was happy.
    I wish you well and I hope your husband takes you back. I hope you can rebuild and I hope your FL has been flung far away from you in all of his crazy selfishness too.
    Good luck.

  17. Anony says:

    I was married when I was contacted by my FL, as was he. He’s the one who woke me up to leave my physically abusive husband. We talked for months, realized we still love each other. Exchanged I love you’s I’m still in love with you, etc. Did it become physical? Nope, but close to it. So maybe I should have just not spoken to my FL in the first place, and just stayed in a loveless abusive marriage. Or maybe every situation is different. Just saying.