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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13,515 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. Love and war says:

    Hot mess nest- thank you so much for the insight. I’m so glad you and your FL are working towards being together. My FL actually called me the day after he was talking about his marriage so much. I was surprised because I had gotten the vibe he was trying to focus more on his marriage after our conversation. He called and told me he and his wife had been having problems for a while. I told him to take some time to really think about what he wants because I don’t want to be this person who is seen as getting in between them and that if she makes him happy then I will respect it and we can remain friends but that I understand if he needs to focus on his marriage. He said his entire life he’s never been able to stop thinking about me. So I think your right. This is something that doesn’t need to rush. We’ve both been in love with each other since we were 15 years old and I doubt those feelings will just disappear now. I do though think that if he has a chance to be happy with the life he’s worked at making with someone else I should respect that and give him the room to figure it out.

  2. Rhs22 says:

    Wow…so much to read thru here, and do much to think about. A lot of great insights as well as some really tough questions.

  3. Hot Mess Nest says:

    @Love and War… Wow! There’s your confirmation. How are you feeling after that conversation? Sounds like it was very heavy. You’re doing the right thing. Patience is going to help you both right now. You’ve held each others’ hearts for all this time. That’s not going to change just because you take your time. Keep us posted, please.

    @Dragonish I know how you’re feeling right now. I said very similar things not long after my FL and I went NC, agonizing over how impossible it was to decide what to do next. 6 months. That’s how long I gave it a go in counseling. About 3 months of that was with absolutely NC with FL. Some people in my circle don’t think 6 months is long enough, but I can tell you, marriage counseling is hard work and 6 months (20 sessions together, and 3-4 each separately) was not phoning anything in. The situation with my marriage got really messy really quickly when, while in therapy, a lot of surprises and secrets came out about my husband. In the beginning I was going to try to stay with him for our son, at the expense of my personal happiness, and I was impressed at how easily he could forgive me for having an “emotional affair.” Turns out the reason he was so eager to forgive was that he had a few worse things hiding in his closet. So, with the new developments (and I’m sorry for being cryptic here, it’s just very personal and very jarring–not something I want to share even anonymously), I realized there was no way we would pull up from this nosedive. My separation is a work in progress and it’s messy as all get-out. We do have a young child (3) together, and that’s the hardest part. FL and I have this agreement that I will prioritize my son, myself, and then us, in that order (the way it should always be!). So that’s what I’m doing. It’s going to mean I live alone with my son for a little while to get used to new reality. However, amidst all of the change and pain, it’s also exciting. Like you, I am very independent, a hard worker, and have been on my own since I was 17. If leaving my husband were the wrong choice, right now I’m sure I would be racked with shame and doubt. Instead, it’s such a relieving exhale… it’s like throwing down a weight I’ve been saddled with for too long. I’m forever scarred, and I’m tired, and the fight isn’t over, but damn, I’m free.

  4. Leaving Arizona says:

    Dear Dragonish,

    I was 30 when I got married and 48 when I left. My kids were 11 and 14 when I left. It has been almost 7 years and I don’t regret not even one day. Even the hard days on my own were better than the hard days with him.
    I just think that best friends don’t do that to their best friends. You may be friends and joke and laugh etc but it’s a cover for the underlying issues.
    He has not dealt with how he has abandoned you this whole time. He has allowed you to carry the weight for all of the entire family. He may be a great dad but the example he is setting is not great. It’s remiss.
    My ex-husband just now texted me to tell me his car broke down. He uses it for his job. I know he is wanting me to come to his rescue but I am going to resist jumping in to save him. He will figure it out. He has to. More than likely he will borrow the $ from our son who works and is in school. I hate that but I can’t intervene on my son’s behalf, he’s almost 21.
    You are not responsible for anyone but yourself and your minor children. That’s your responsibility in all of this.
    My FL has gone to counseling for years now and if there is one thing I’ve learned from all of his counseling is that we are not responsible for anyone else but ourselves. You can’t mitigate someone else’s feelings for them or try to circumvent the outcome of any situation. It has to be organic based on our own circumstance.
    You can’t kill yourself with stress and worry. What would happen to your kids if, God forbid, you died in a car accident? What then? How would he survive?
    I know it is stifling and hard. I get that. But the freedom, as stated by “Hot Mess Nest” above is how it should be. That is what life is. Take that brick off your chest. Breathe girl!

  5. Faith says:

    I contacted my LL a few years ago after i suddenly began thinking of him after over 25 years apart. This began when I experienced a very strange dream, which in turn seemed to jog my memory about the past. A few weeks following the dream, I had some forgotten (repressed?) memories return. The memories were very painful, and I realized I regretted the mistakes I made back in 1987, perhaps so much so that I had repressed the events.

    I wonder now if part of the regret was due to unhappiness in my marriage, ad I suspected my husband of cheating. Eventually , after about a year or so of attempting to fix our marriage, we separated.

    I would not recommend divorce unless you’ve tried hard to fix your marriage first. Realize too, that there are some things that are unfixable…and I think abusive behaviour and serial cheating are such things.

    I also believe there is, in some of these stories, an inexplicable connection that draws people back to a lost love. I say this because there had been a number of strange incidents throughout the years, that were connected to my LL. Then the dream I had which prompted me to reach out for him, and events that followed, were all highly strange.

    No matter what your story is, I would never recommend just leaving a marriage as soon as you reconnect with a LL. I also don’t think an affair with a LL is ever okay….this is one of the more difficult aspects, because it’s so painful to have no contact or communication with your LL, but any contact will lead to accusations of an affair from your spouse.

  6. Dragonish says:

    This continues to be a challenging situation and I feel as though my emotions are all over the place. It has been about 6 weeks since D-day and about 2 weeks since FL and I have really talked. He sent me a message New Year’s Eve stating he wanted to take a step back but still remain in my life in which I did not respond. I broke down and reached out last Wednesday…I was so nervous. I have a lot of abandonment and rejection issues. I know by me not responding to his last message it gave me a feeling of having some kind of control. I have felt this whole time my emotions and feelings have been completely out of control and feeling as though my FL is calling all the shots. It is my FL that is keeping me at arms lengths, was VERY hesitant to ever meet-up (although we did a cpl times), he is wanting to respect my marriage. As awful as this sounds…I know if I was calling the shots I would be in a lot deeper than I am now (nothing physical has happened but I would have been willing). When I spoke with him last week he was happy to hear from me and was a little hurt that I never responded but he figured I was trying to work things out. I have reached out 2x since then and nothing. It makes me feel so stupid when I call or text and he doesn’t respond. It makes me feel so desperate and needy to keep being the one to reach out first. It’s one thing for him to not reach out first and I know it doesn’t want to interfere but not responding to calls or texts?!?! I cannot help but go to bad thoughts of “he was playing me this whole time”, “he thought this whole thing was a game”, “I was willing to put everything on the line for him and he cant even text”. I know this thinking is ridiculous and unhealthy. I just can’t stop myself from feeling so stupid and foolish. And now that I have reached out a couple times with no response I am back to being upset, crying and upset with him….now he has control again.
    To make me feel worse…my husband has been working so hard at addressing our issues and make me happy. How can I still be thinking and pining over FL and be thinking about him all the time! I think about my FL in very inappropriate situations with my husband….definitely times I should not be. In so many ways…I wish my FL never reached out to me and would have just kept his distance. I’m too old to be sitting around crying and upset about some man…ESPECIALLY when I’m married….that’s RIDICILIOUS. I have a husband that despite all of his downfalls loves me unconditionally and does things daily to let me know how much I mean to him.
    Now that my FL is not really around and I am feeling pretty rejected by him I am worried that my situation with my husband will become normalized again and I will just accept things as they are.
    Is anyone else really struggling with feelings regarding their FL? Feelings of rejection? abandoned? angry?
    When I spoke with him last week he reiterated that he loves me and wants to see me as soon as we can schedule something. Not sure that will happen since he has a history of cancelling our plans due to him feeling so bad and not wanting to interfere in my marriage. Ughhh…feeling pretty frustrated and sad lately.

  7. Leaving Arizona says:

    Dragonish,
    Everything you feel is normal in this situation. It’s a push and pull and it’s so agonizing knowing what is right and what we should be thinking and feeling vs what we actually think and feel.
    The no response, no contact is horrible. Also, your FL may be sending you a message by not responding, just as you didn’t respond to him previously. He said it hurt, it does.
    I understand feeling rejection, anger and abandonment. I have been there many times. My FL is my best friend and we talk almost daily except (for instance) like yesterday–his wife was home and we couldn’t communicate. There is resentment there. He is living a life that is a big secret. He knows that if something happens to him health-wise he will be having to deal with knowing that his wife and I will be crossing paths at some point. I know it and he refuses to think about it. Or if he does, it will be a resolution that comes about from circumstances and not his doing.
    He doesn’t want to hurt her and he loves her. He loves me too. It’s convoluted and hard. Sometimes it all comes spilling out and we have a week or 2 of hard days. Then it settles again, I suck it up and he puts it aside to not think about it again. He does the same thing in his marriage. If something remotely related comes up in his marriage, he figures out how to make everything okay and move forward without resolution.
    It was very funny to me recently. Last February his sister’s husband passed away suddenly. She has always had a daddy complex and her husband was much older. She’s in her mid-50’s. So he died and she is already dating someone else (another older man) and my FL criticized her for jumping the gun and already dating when her husband hasn’t even been dead a year. I didn’t say anything at the time but I wanted to say…are you kidding me? You are married and have a girlfriend and your’e criticizing her for dating too soon? It’s like there is a huge disconnect and lack of really seeing what is going on.
    He also told me that he talked to his counselor about his place in his extended family. He’s always considered himself to be the alpha-male and the leader of his sisters and their families. But lately, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore and it really bothers him. So he brought it up to his therapist who told him that he needs to focus more on it still being the case with his immediately family, his wife and kids. That is also so funny to me. But he said so in his immediate family it still is and remains as he thinks it should be and that is the man of the family and taking care of things as he should and he said that his family sees him as the patriarch and that is all he needs to care about.
    That really really bothered me. It says that he sees his family the way it should be and that is without me anywhere in it or that I am not even a consideration.
    The very next morning I had a meeting so when he sent a text saying good morning, I didn’t answer right away. He waited a bit then sent another text asking me if I was upset about our conversation the previous day. So I know he thought about everything he told me and realized how ludicrous it is. It’s such a huge disconnect on his part to not be dealing in the reality of his life but then again, maybe the disconnect is with me.
    I struggle all the time, then especially after a conversation like that, knowing that after 7 years now, we have actually not moved one step further to be together.
    He loves me, I have no doubt. He worries about losing me but he would survive and not hardly miss a beat if I walked away. He would continue forward as if I was never even here.
    He has seen his therapist since 2013 so almost 5 years. Earlier in 2017 he had decided he didn’t need to continue to see her weekly. That lasted about 2 months then he returned to a weekly appointment with her. It happened sometime after I again pointed out that after 4.5 years, he has never really resolved me in his life. He goes to her weekly for himself but deciding he didn’t want to see her weekly anymore with me still in his life seemed almost comical. What had he fixed or resolved? I don’t understand that part and it’s obvious to me, after that conversation about his family seeing him as patriarch that we are not the conversation in his therapy sessions. We never have been and I can bet we never will be.

  8. Dragonish says:

    Oh LA…my heart goes to you so deeply. There seems to be no good outcome or even decent middle-ground during periods of even being on speaking terms. These are such heartbreaking situations. It is almost as though we are torturing ourselves…having something we want right in front of us yet so far out of reach.
    I know when I was regularly speaking with my FL…I would be upset and so sad when I did not hear from him…so crazy! (i.e. didn’t text 1st thing in morning…or got text at 9am but not again till 8pm). It was as though I was carrying on a full-fledged relationship in my head…without any benefits. So in many ways the NC has been a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to finally disconnect a little from my FL, get my head out of the clouds and get out of this fantasy world. However…the feelings are still there..lol. I sometimes worry or think that I was using my FL as an escape from my current situation and almost looking at him as my “knight in shining armor” to save me from my frustrating, hopelessness, unhappiness and etc in my marriage.
    Everything seems so upside in these situations. We are constantly questioning ourselves..our FL and their intentions. Ughh. It seems like an endless cycle. I can totally identity with the “spilling out”…my FL and I were having those bi-weekly lol…and then move on and push those issues way down. You are in a tough situation with your FL being married and you being divorced now. Do you ever think about dating? My situation is reverse…he is recently divorced and im married. There are times I feel like everyone in these situations lose. Everyone. No one is able to be their true self and so everything is looked at through this jaded prism and I don’t know what to trust. Hang in there girl!

  9. Leaving Arizona says:

    Dear Dragonish,

    I think about dating all of the time. I have actually dated a few times but I always stop it before it goes too far. I’ve told him about 2 of them not the 3rd one.
    I can tell you that as it has gone on, as these relationships move on year by year, it gets easier. I saw him for lunch on Saturday. It isn’t the way it used to be. We actually eat lunch and talk –which we did before but now the physical isn’t so urgent. It’s still very physical but it’s not like it was in the beginning.
    But as we go into our 7th year of this, I am resentful and tired and it seems a bit of a pain in the butt to see each other and have to negotiate all of it.
    I hope like anything that somehow, someone he and his wife know, will see us out somewhere. He’s never very worried about it and we have been a lot of places together. Near his home and not near his home.
    We’ve traveled together and I’ve been to his home many times now when she is out of town. That is always interesting and, funny enough, I find myself glad that I don’t live there because, if I did, I would have to clean and remodel. LOL –seriously. I know the add-on’s they’ve done on their house and I never would have done them that way so I spend some of the time sitting there thinking about why they decided to put that fireplace on that wall when they could have put it there and it would look so much better. LOL Anyway, it’s a funny dynamic sometimes. For the first 3 years I spent a lot of time crying and fighting against the way it is. Heartbroken that we reconnected, that he asked me to marry him and that it never went further than that. When she found out about us, he backed up and went to counseling to try to help him sort it out but he has been in counseling without any sorting going on or maybe he has sorted it out and this is how it is.
    He’s careful about what he says about her and them in different scenarios and I am okay with that because it avoids feeling pain. I just let it be for the most part.
    My daughter is almost graduating from high school and I told myself once she’s in college and my son is where he needs to be that I’ll focus on me. Right now I focus a lot on them because that’s where my heart is, with my kids.
    I’ve learned in 7 years there are way more important things than him. I love him and I always will but I resent how it is. I am an optimist so I am happy a lot of the time anyway so I try not to let it get to me but I can see us living like this forever and I’ve told him so. If we stay exactly like this and nothing upsets the apple cart, he would be happy forever. Until he goes into the hospital for something and then he will be wondering why in the hell he didn’t do something.
    It will come down to that. She and I will be somewhere at the same time and then she’ll know it never stopped. Heck she could already know it never stopped and just not care if it doesn’t change her lifestyle.
    In the mean time, I have my kids and my job and my life that is pretty great. So I let it go for now and some day I might date again and it will be someone that loves me back and we can move forward and then I’ll lay it on him.
    I’m not afraid of that. I have reconciled much of our relationship and I came out the other side.
    The days we don’t talk, it used to be painful, now it’s just another day. I don’t cry anymore and I don’t long anymore. We are what we are.
    Sometimes, like Saturday at lunch, I could tell he was more in the moment than I was. I almost have to make up how I feel about him in the moment now because it has been a long time that I don’t have anything to take away with me. I mean that, we can love each other as much as love is. We can love everything about each other, be best friends, soul mates or whatever other term you want to give it and we can be at capacity with it, but at the end of the day, he goes home to his wife. So whatever we are at that moment, is just at that moment. It doesn’t leave that car or that restaurant or that hotel room or whatever. It can’t go further than right there because it isn’t allowed.
    So whatever fulfillment you get from the relationship has to stay right where it is. There is no growth. There is no solidarity and feeling so connected that you know that’s as good as it gets. Because it isn’t. Until he decides, if he ever decides that it will be more, it will only be what it is in that moment.
    I can’t even feel sad about it anymore. I just have to let it be.
    No contact used to be horrible and I remember crying and being in a tizzy about it. I don’t anymore.
    But I can relate and I can feel for you because I remember at first how it felt and how desperate I was for just one text or a word or knowing he looked at my pic on FB or whatever. There is no payoff for me anymore.

  10. Love and war says:

    Dragonish hand LA- I feel for you both. This whole thing is just giving me whiplash and I’m wondering if I should just make the decision to stop all contact. My FL and I recently have been in contact after a very long time. He is married and so am I. I know he’s been having problems in his marriage and has told me it was looking like it was over for them. He knows I’m married and that my situation is not a happy one. I know the right thing is to let him try to make his marriage work if it’s possible and take things slow if it doesn’t work out for them. But it’s getting so confusing. I think about him would I should be thinking about my husband and trying to make things work in my marriage. He says he loves our talks on the phone and at one point told me he felt that he was cheating because his heart is with me and not in his marriage. I felt the same way. Then he calls me almost a week later and tells me he is going to try to make his marriage work but he wants us to still talk frequently and be close friends and that if it doesn’t work out in his marriage then he wants to see each other. He says he doesn’t want to wind up old and alone. He tells me all this on the night my husband is out with his new flavor of the month. In over 16 years of marriage I have never once cheated but I know that my husband has had at least 1 affair that lasted many years of which he still tries to deny. Now he’s got a new one and thinks I don’t know but I do. It sucks cause I do still love and care for my FL very much but I refuse to be his consolation prize if his marriage fails. Why tell me his heart is with me and then turn around and say let’s be friends cause I have to do what my wife wants in order to not be alone. Everyone said this would be a can of crap when the door opened and they were right. It would probably have been better to never know. At least then I could have fantasized that it would be great and we would be happy together some day. Right now the only thing I know is that I’m not gonna stay somewhere so I can not be alone. I’m going to go after my dreams in life. If my FL happens to get divorced and wants to talk then, we’ll hopefully I won’t have found someone else by that time and be unavailable. I do love him and I have missed him for a very long time. Maybe the lie I told him then I will pay for still in that we will never be together. I don’t know. My best friend says that she thinks he just doesn’t know what to do and to just be patient and live my life. She thinks he is just struggling with it all and that I just happened to get this info on a bad night and it makes it feel worse. I just don’t know.

  11. Leaving Arizona says:

    Dear L & W

    I’m sorry your husband is cheating. I am also sorry that your FL responded this way but I think when marriages are involved, it is just so hard to walk away and change and there is fear in change so it’s easier to remain.
    In your situation, if it were me, I would leave my husband for my own peace of mind. If you’re unhappy and you know he cheats, do it for yourself.
    Let him have his life and you live yours and then worry about your FL situation after that.
    There is little comfort in a marriage that you know is over and you also know it is for him too since he’s seeking fun elsewhere.
    Just my 2 cents. I think you deserve better.

  12. Love and war says:

    LA-
    Thanks. It’s nice to know someone thinks I deserve better. I do plan on leaving my husband. After the last conversation with my FL it’s just frustrating. You are right though, when marriages are involved I think there is a lot of fear of the unknown. I can tell he’s scared of being alone. Even if with both wound up divorced I think it would have to be taken really slow with us. With all the stress lately though I don’t feel much like I want to be with anyone. I think I might stay with my idea to get a dog- lol.

  13. Leaving Arizona says:

    Love & War,

    I agree about the dog. I also think it’s so freeing to be on your own and figure out what you really want and kind of make your own way again. It really is a benefit to do that, especially after being in a marriage where you’re not appreciated.
    Then when your FL stuff comes up, you don’t have the stress of your marriage to consider. You can deal with it solely on your own accord and without the muddling of having to worry about someone finding out or having them to consider at all. It’s just what you have going on that you need to worry about.
    Good luck. Keep us posted!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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