Carry The Torch

Carrying a Torch

Dear Robin:

I had a brief but very intense love affair several years ago. The relationship ended for one big reason that I can’t discuss, but when we broke up it was very hard on both of us.

I am married but I have never had a connection with anyone like I did with her. I miss her and I think about her all the time.

Sometimes I reach out to her with a text or an email, and over the past few years we have had a couple of lunches together. Every time we speak and every time I see her, the old feelings come racing back.

It makes me angry with myself for letting her go and angry with my wife for the simple crime of not being her. I know that doesn’t even make sense, since the end of the relationship was my choice.

She is married too and has made it clear she will not have an affair with me, but I feel pretty certain that, like me, she is not over our relationship and that she still loves me.

Should I stop reaching out to her? How do I forget about this woman who I consider the greatest love of my life?*

Gary

Dear Gary:

You say the liaison was brief but intense, that it ended for one big reason that you “can’t discuss,” (um, why are you writing to me if it’s all so damn private?) and you note that the relationship’s demise was your choice.

Interestingly, you refer to the relationship as a love “affair,” which, when added to the other information you did include, leads me to believe that this was a woman with whom you cheated on your wife.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument (and because I’m always right) that you had an affair with this woman while you were married.  I’ll call her Zoe.

My guess is that she gave you an ultimatum: leave the wife or it’s over. And you, not being one to accept ultimatums, chose Door #2.  The affair ended, Zoe moved on with her life, and at least one and possibly both of you still have feelings for each other.

You asked me for advice and I’m going to give it to you:

I don’t know what you should do.

I don’t know how to advise you on how to forget about this woman. For some reason, you two (if your assumptions about her are correct) are still connected to one another, despite the end of your relationship.

I know many people who still have feelings for someone they shouldn’t – feelings that aren’t enough to trash their current relationship but which nevertheless are still very real.

Relationship Interruptus

Perhaps you continue to harbor feelings for each other because your romance had an abrupt ending caused by an outside force: your long-suffering wife’s stubborn refusal not to perish in a tragic but well-timed tractor accident.

It is far easier to move on from relationships, be they with friends or romantic partners, when there is a natural progression from birth to death.

For lovers, the progression generally goes like this:

Ask DesCamp Relationship Stage Progression Theory™

  • The “Meet Cute”
  • Get boner/lady boner
  • Go on dates
  • Fornicate
  • Commit to each other in a formal or informal way
  • Fornicate some more
  • Have some kids
  • Don’t fornicate
  • Stop appreciating each other
  • Fornicate, but with someone else
  • Slam some doors
  • Get irritated by their mere existence and eye color, which you’ve suddenly noticed is an awful shade of puce
  • Humiliate each other at a dinner party (she will imply he sucks in bed and doesn’t make enough money, he will counter she spends like a drunken sailor and her ass is getting too big)
  • Separate
  • Divorce
  • “Meet Cute”
  • Lather, rinse, repeat

Freeze Frame

I read once that a drug user who starts heavy abuse in their teens suffers from age suspension, so that they never mature beyond the age they were when they started using even if they get sober later in life. This explains why Lindsey Lohan is such an immature asshole.

It sounds like you and Zoe were still in the early phases of your relationship. Then she made a demand, you rebuffed her, and poof! The good times were over and you were back to a marriage that does not make you happy.

You both remember your time together in an ideal light. You got the best of each other and none of the worst: the bills, the kids, the aging parents, the everything that makes marriage tough.

It’s easy to idealize an affair but don’t fool yourself into thinking that you and she could have ridden off into the sunset together and lived happily ever after. You had too much bullshit baggage stacked against you.

Isn’t this a lovely photo?

riders-in-sunset

That picture? Probably wasn’t gonna happen for you and Zoe.

Can We Get to the Advice, Please?

Should you still reach out to her?

Probably not the best idea.

However, if you go against my hunch this isn’t a good plan, be honest with your wife if you plan to have lunch with this woman, and make sure she is honest with her husband as well.

With your history, an innocent meeting to catch up with an old “friend” could be wildly misconstrued if you aren’t both transparent about it with your spouses.

Lastly, it’s possible the two of you are perfectly suited for one another and you could have had a lifelong romance to rival any other were it not for poor timing.

Be glad you found each other for the brief period you did, because millions of people never find that kind of love.  You had a taste of it, and a taste is better than nothing at all.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.

-Rumi

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*time crunch today – please forgive rerun