When you use WordPress to power your website, there is a feature which allows you to see search terms people have used to find your site. When people aren’t using the word “shrink” in a different context (e.g., “will my penis shrink if I have too much sex?”), I’m often found by name and the topic of a certain article or post I’ve written. Other times, they use my name and creative phrasing, such as “Dr. Rob is a narcissist,” or “Rob Dobrenski bad writer and shrink.” Most recently, three people used the phrase “Rob Dobrenski, gay.” Why they included a comma in the search is unclear at this time.
With this in mind, there has been of pattern of search terms related to a post I wrote a few months back, “Reuniting with Your First Love…on the Net.” To wit:
Is reuniting with first loves dangerous
Should I reconnect with a lover from years ago
Saw my first for the first time in years
Meeting lost love after 35 years because of Facebook
Leaving husband for first love
Imprint of first love
“First love” attachment
Talking to my First Love on Facebook
Clearly this phenomenon is impacting many people’s lives. And in addition to the hits on the article, I actually get a fair amount of emails asking for flat-out advice on whether or not a person should leave a marriage for a former love. It’s flattering to think that someone might consider my opinion on a life-altering decision, but this is problematic. Not because I don’t want to help, but because I simply don’t know the answer.
If you want to be able to consider/discuss this topic intelligently, the most important point to remember is that no one knows the answer (I’m looking at you, people who have emailed me with “the answer”). The people who have this delusional hubris of “I know what to do!” are the extremists: the hardcore anti-divorce groups – or, to a lesser degree, those who think everyone simply suffers from the “grass is always greener” phenomenon – and those who believe that everyone should just “follow their hearts,” regardless of the consequences. For everyone else, it’s an extremely complicated and nuanced decision that can take months or perhaps years to decide. Children, finances, realistic/unrealistic expectations for the current relationship/possible new one, and impact on family/friends are just a few of the factors that people need to consider. Those who say otherwise are simply proselytizing and oversimplifying the problem. If you “know” the answer, I’m sorry to inform you that you’re not working with a complete understanding of how psychology works.
In many ways my original post on the topic is inadequate. It doesn’t give any real answers because the choice will vary from person to person. And like most, I’d love to have instant gratification, that ability to take a complex problem, crunch the numbers and pop out an answer that can be bottled for everyone’s consumption. Unfortunately, that’s not happening, and that inability to say “just do this…” is an extremely difficult aspect of my job to swallow.
If you’re one of the people who are looking for help with this problem, seek out people you can trust to give you guidance and balanced perceptions. Don’t struggle through this decision alone. And if you’re on the listening end of this conversation, do just that: listen. Save your knowledge and opinions until they are solicited. Judging and being officious isn’t helpful, it’s simply pushing your own personal agenda, especially when you can never really know what the best choice is for the person sitting in front of you.
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