It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.
I got married two years ago and have three children now. Last week, I met up with my high school sweetheart at cricket. He played for my hubby’s team and they have become friends now. It’s hard for me because meeting him again has brought all my memories back and I long for him now. We even started speaking on the phone this week, and now I’m having all these mixed feelings again. I have so much to say to him about our past, but I don’t know if I should! Please, can you give me some advice? — Longing for My High School Sweetheart
Stop talking to your old high school flame on the phone, avoid him at games, and focus on your marriage and the family you have now. Find a therapist who can help you process the pain of your pregnancy, subsequent abortion, and breakup. Most importantly, communicate with your husband about how you’re feeling. If you start closing him off and fantasizing about someone else you haven’t spoken to since you were a teenager, you risk losing the family you have now, which should be much, much more important to you than an old high school flame, however much in love you may have been when you were 16.
What’s not to understand? It sounds like he’s had at least three serious breakups and doesn’t want to risk another one anytime soon. You should thank him for being honest with you and not leading you on. If what you want is a commitment and this man has told you he can’t give that to you, MOA. If you don’t mind keeping things casual and just enjoying each other’s company without worrying about the “next level,” keep seeing him. But just beware that if you ultimately want different things, it’s probably pointless to invest anymore time and emotion into this relationship.
Run for the hills.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SasLinna May 24, 2013, 9:09 am
For LW1, I think past trauma can resurface when you meet one of its protagonists again. You should be careful not to confuse the intense memories you have with the present and your current life. If you can’t deal with this guy without being confused, then definitely stay away. Make sure that this relationship doesn’t venture into inappropriate territory. That said, it’s just been a week since you’ve seen this guy again after years. If you tread carefully, maybe there’s a way for you to interact with him again without causing any drama. Definitely talk about your husband and tell him your story, if he doesn’t already know the details of it.
bagge72 May 24, 2013, 9:12 am
LW:2 What is the next level after 9 months, it sounds like you are in that next level, unless you are already wanting to get married. What do you really want to change, besides wanting to hear from him that he wants to marry you? If you are at the point in your life, and you are looking for marriage, I say MOA.
LW:3 You can’t read this site, and think this is a serious question. Your boyfriend sucks at lying, but I think he found somebody who is very very easy to lie too. Also get tested for STD’s, because obviously he wasn’t using protection.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 9:44 am
I feel like #2 is such a clear case of if someone tells you something, believe them.
bagge72 May 24, 2013, 10:31 am
Yeah he said he doesn’t want what’s next, so if she does she needs to move on to somebody who also does.
iwannatalktosampson May 24, 2013, 10:33 am
She just didn’t like his answer so she’s looking for advice on how to change his mind. Where’s the validator?
LK7889 May 24, 2013, 9:18 am
Run to the hills – run for your life.
mrmidtwenties May 24, 2013, 11:09 am
oh Iron Maiden, I now have to listen to that song.
LK7889 May 24, 2013, 11:29 am
I’m glad that someone caught the reference, haha.
SasLinna May 24, 2013, 9:18 am
For LW3, it sounds like she’s waiting around hoping that the baby is not his. But really, it doesn’t matter: He cheated and didn’t use protection. You have more than sufficient reason to dump him, even if the baby isn’t his.
Liquid Luck May 24, 2013, 12:34 pm
Pssh, everyone knows it’s not REALLY cheating if you don’t ejaculate inside the other woman.
Fabelle May 24, 2013, 9:22 am
I feel really bad for LW1’s situation— I can’t really blame her for having all of those feeling resurface again. She needs to be smart, though, & cut it out with the private conversations. And WWS…definitely talk to your husband about what happened in the past, LW, if you haven’t already. Explain that seeing this guy has brought back painful memories and feelings. (Yes, say “painful” not that you’re “longing” for someone else.) It may be the case that your husband has to scale back on the new friendship.
LW2, this man ~told~ you that he can’t give you what you want. By still seeing him everyday & being “steady”, you’re letting him know that it’s okay. Stop seeing him if what you want is a commitment. Nothing good will come of hoping he’ll change his mind.
LW3: WWS. Run, run, run, run.
TECH May 24, 2013, 9:24 am
LW 2, It is painful when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear, but like Wendy said, be thankful that he is being honest with you! Honesty is such a precious (and sometimes rare) commodity. Ultimately, honesty is an act of love. He doesn’t want to lead you on. He doesn’t want to give you a false promise. Appreciate and respect that about him.
This seems to be a situation where the timing is off.
Nine months is not a lifetime. Since he has told you he can’t give you what you want, you still have opportunities to meet men who CAN give you what you want.
He’s not ready for a serious relationship. Maybe he will be ready next year or the year after. Maybe you two will circle back round to one another with time. But right now, you need to listen to what he is telling you, and accept it. If you stay in this relationship after he’s told you that he’s not capable of giving you what you want, it will eat away at you, and things will deterioate.
mylaray May 24, 2013, 9:37 am
LW3: The fact that your boyfriend’s ex sent the picture to you sounds fishy to me. I mean, anyone can easily find a picture of a positive pregnancy test..not saying she is lying, but it all strikes me as odd that she wanted to tell you these things…which is even more reason to run for the hills!
Lindsay May 24, 2013, 10:01 am
She could just want to break them up or make sure he doesn’t lie about the pregnancy. It’s a crazy-person move, for sure, and she could be lying, but I don’t find it that odd that she’d do it.
mylaray May 24, 2013, 10:09 am
Oh I agree.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 10:14 am
She could be lying, sure, but he still admitted to having unprotected sex with her a month ago.
othy May 24, 2013, 10:38 am
It is a crazy person move for sure, but the boyfriend also admitted to having unprotected sex (but he didn’t ejaculate, so she totally can’t get pregnant) with his ex. Sounds like the perfect time to get the hell out.
katie May 24, 2013, 10:03 am
seriously- what man freaking texts a picture of a pregnancy test from his other woman to his current girlfriend? who?? i am so glad i dont know any of those people.
courtney May 24, 2013, 11:12 am
the exgf did, not the boyfriend, right?
katie May 24, 2013, 11:13 am
that makes it even worse.
i like my version better. lol
kerrycontrary May 24, 2013, 10:04 am
why does the ex have the LW’s number in the first place? Weird.
Kate B. May 24, 2013, 10:54 am
I always wonder about that. We see lots of letters from people saying, “The ex-girlfriend texted me out of the blue” or something like that. Where are they getting these numbers from? They’re obviously going to some effort to find them. That would freak me out. My first question would be how they got my number.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 11:01 am
I’d guess they found it in the boyfriend’s phone.
AKchic_ May 24, 2013, 1:28 pm
Facebook. A lot of people really need to adjust their privacy settings and NOT list their cell numbers. Same goes for all other social media sites.
Lindsay May 24, 2013, 9:50 am
LW1: I definitely think that forcing someone to have an abortion is wrong, and it sounds like you’ve been through so much. But I think that you’re trying to justify your temptations with what happened to you in the past, and it’s not OK. If you choose to jeopardize your marriage, it’s on you, not on your mother or your stepfather. I know you probably feel like you have unfinished business with this guy, but that was finished when you chose to get married and start a new family. Don’t risk it just because you want to feel what you felt in high school with this guy.
L2: Doesn’t matter why, he just is. It’s one thing if someone lies to you, but he’s told you straight out he doesn’t want to commit, so what are you still doing with him? Find someone who wants what you do.
katie May 24, 2013, 10:01 am
LW1, definitely tell your husband what is going on, and definitely get into therapy. seeing someone from your past should hurt and cause so much drama in a week.
LW2, wow, men are really screwed either way, arent they?
LW3, yea, start running, like yesterday.. also, grow up and find some self respect and self worth.
theattack May 24, 2013, 10:09 am
It’s definitely normal to cause drama when it’s an ex who you had an abortion with. You just have to avoid those people 100%. There’s no other way.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 10:16 am
Yea, I’m with you TA. The few times I’ve seen the guy I made a baby with, I literally start shaking. Its brings back a wealth of emotions. I don’t think that’s strange at all. (guessing katie meant “shouldn’t” hurt and cause drama)
katie May 24, 2013, 10:27 am
yes, i did mean “shouldnt”- and i still think that.
its a very unhealthy way to live your life to carry that with you forever… i think this LW should get into therapy to deal with everything that happened -its obvious she hasnt dealt with it yet- so that she can get past her “longing” for this guy.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 10:30 am
It is terrible, and I agree also unhealthy, but I just wouldn’t say its abnormal (not that you did). Especially if this was the first time she’s seen him! I can’t imagine what emotions would come with that. Anyway, awesome she is dealing with this so soon. Hopefully the reality check of sorts that Wendy provided will push her back into healthy territory.
theattack May 24, 2013, 10:33 am
I definitely agree that she needs to get into therapy, but her feelings are typical. She might never completely move past them, and that’s okay. I hope that she can get to a place where she’s more at peace and has some support, but she also needs to accept that being in contact with him is unhealthy for her, and she needs to shut that down.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 10:33 am
One more thing, assuming she takes this advice and avoids him, but when she runs into him again, she still has strong emotions about it, wouldn’t you say that’s ok. Like, its ok to have the emotions, just don’t do anything about them. I don’t think about the guy in my story much, he doesn’t affect my day to day life by any means, but when I do see him, the emotions are still there. Do you think that’s super unhealthy?
theattack May 24, 2013, 10:38 am
You didn’t ask me, but I think that’s the healthiest solution you can realistically arrive at. Therapy doesn’t completely remove your emotions (usually). It teaches you how to cope with your emotions, how to live a healthy life, and in a case like this, how to find support outside of your ex. Even when she does get help, it’s likely she’ll still have unresolved feelings for him, but I suspect the nature of those feelings will change, and she’ll be able to handle them better.
katie May 24, 2013, 11:15 am
yea, i agree with this.
also, i think therapy should teach what emotions are valid and what emotions arent. just because you feel something doesnt make it right, so like sampson said, this LW thinks she still loves this guy, but that emotion is not valid. its a different emotion stemming from something else that she needs to deal with. and then in time, hopefully, when she feels that love (if she can never get over it), she will be able to recognize that is not a valid or healthy emotion to feel, and be able to deal with it accordingly.
Lindsay May 24, 2013, 1:41 pm
I think it’s a good point to say that the “nature of those feelings will change.” There are a lot of variations of different feelings. It’s like comparing the grief someone feels immediately after a loved one dies to what they usually feel a few years later. They’re still sad, but it’s a different sad. Or might be disappointed if you get dumped, but a person who has low self-esteem feels different disappointment than someone who has healthier self-esteem.
I think the goal should be to feel your feelings in the way that’s healthiest for you and allows you to function in your normal life.
katie May 24, 2013, 1:56 pm
“feel your feelings in the way that’s healthiest for you and allows you to function in your normal life”
i love that, and i am adopting it.
iwannatalktosampson May 24, 2013, 10:31 am
Yeah I’m not surprised this is causing her so much anxiety. Although I think if she cooled her jets and went to counseling she would realize her anxiety is not pent up love for this guy (she doesn’t even know who he is anymore without seeing him for 15 years!) but pent up unresolved feelings. I can’t imagine being 17 and being forced to have an abortion with a guy I loved. I mean how do you get over that? And to see him had to be such a terrible reminder.
But LW – you have too much to lose! Do not mistake what you’re feeling as burning passionate love. Get closure from this situation through therapy – not by bonding with this guy.
theattack May 24, 2013, 10:08 am
L1: It’s natural to have unresolved feelings about the person you had an abortion with under normal circumstances. I can’t even imagine how intensely you must be feeling that after your experience. Abortions feel alienating because not many people understand (or will admit to understanding) what you’re going through. When you feel so alone, it makes sense to reach out to the one person who you know has been through it to: your ex. It can feel nice to just have contact with another person who’s been there, but the risks are very high. In my experience, talking to my ex makes my head spiral into a crazy and unhealthy place, even after I was happily committed to my husband! It makes me question everything and wonder What Ifs that don’t help anything. The truth is that you and your ex have grown apart. You two are not the same people you were in high school, and you probably didn’t process the abortion the same way. In fact, you didn’t even experience the abortion the same way. He can’t be your support system because you’ve been pushed by trauma into different paths. If your husband doesn’t know about your abortion, you need to tell him your whole experience and request that he end his friendship with your ex. At the very least, you need to cut off contact with your ex and don’t ever see him again. Look for a support group or an online forum, and find a therapist. Work on strengthening your relationship with your husband and fall back in love with him. Let him be your rock, and do something special for him. Good luck!
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 10:17 am
husband!!! (sorry, awful timing, but the first I’ve noticed you referring to him as that)
theattack May 24, 2013, 10:22 am
haha! It’s odd because I keep typing out “fiancé” and have to go back and fix it. Now I just feel pretentious saying “husband” like I used to feel pretentious saying “fiancé.”
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 10:24 am
SpaceySteph May 24, 2013, 10:52 am
I hated “fiancé,” but I love saying “husband,” and writing husband, and having a husband!
Is it just because it’s French? Or it it the stupid é which on my laptop I have to do Alt+FN+0233 to make show up. Stupid é!
I kind of miss getting to call him Beyoncé though.
theattack May 24, 2013, 10:24 am
Oh, and if you can’t find an abortion support group, look into miscarriage support groups. It won’t be the same exact thing of course, but it might help some.
Also, *too, not to.
bethany May 24, 2013, 10:54 am
Thank you for saying this. I went through something similar and really needed to read it.
landygirl May 24, 2013, 10:30 am
Facepalm Friday never disappoints.
Kelly May 24, 2013, 11:06 am
LW#1 Please listen to Wendy, she gave good advice. I know it’s tempting to think you’re getting some kind of closure, but no good can come from continued contact with your former boyfriend. What was done to you was wrong, but don’t turn around and shaft your current family. You have a responsibility to them first and foremost.
LW#2 More good advice. He has set the terms for your relationship, either accept it or move on if you can’t.
LW#3 Really?? You need advice for this? Your choices were either run for the hills, or what? I’m curious as to what falls under the ‘or what’ choice. You stay and wait for him to leave you? Wait for the dna test to come back? Wait for him to do some more cheating? Wait until you get pregnant so you can have a memento from this relationship?
findingtheearth May 24, 2013, 11:17 am
WWS for all 3.
LW1- I cannot fathom what you went through and I will simply just agree with everyone else that says “therapy.” Don’t throw your marriage away from someone you dated when you were 17. Work through those feelings, talk to your spouse, look at your kids.
LW2- He is being honest. You need to be honest with yourself and him and if this is not what you want- head on out.
LW3- He cheated. End. of. Story. You are not the pregnant one, and do you really want to deal with a preggo ex?
SpaceySteph May 24, 2013, 10:43 am
Oh my god. I only read the first sentence but… what the fuck is “fell pregnant.” Like you slipped on a banana peel and when you got up you were inseminated. That’s not how it works.
You fall ill. You fall on your ass (I know I do!). You do not fall pregnant. You get pregnant by doing a very specific act.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 10:44 am
If you do it with a manslag, that’s the only way to fall pregnant. Come on, Steph! Everyone knows this!
SpaceySteph May 24, 2013, 10:48 am
God I must be stupid. Whats a manslag? I’m scared to google.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2013, 10:52 am
There was an LW who said she feel pregnant by a manslag. Apparently in the UK, people use the phrase ‘fell pregnant’ and manslag means a lousy/cheating partner or something.
SpaceySteph May 24, 2013, 10:54 am
Huh must have missed that one. Fell pregnant, cricket… aw damn, now I’m just a dumb American picking on some poor British lady for totally reasonable British sayings.
SpaceySteph May 24, 2013, 10:47 am
Ok I went back and read. I do feel kind of badly for LW1. I think it would throw me for a loop running into my old high school flame too, and we don’t have nearly the history the LW and her old bf do.
But Wendy is right, prioritize your marriage and stop talking to this guy on the phone. It’s not worth it jeopardizing your family like this.
Bittergaymark May 24, 2013, 12:26 pm
Blanket advice for all three? GET SINGLE, STAY SINGLE. The emotional maturity necessary for relationships — you have not.
TECH May 24, 2013, 1:01 pm
Some people have suggested that LW1 tell her husband her abortion story (if she hasn’t already.) In an ideal world, our partners are non judgmental and supportive of the decisions we’ve made in our lives. In the real world that doesn’t always happen. Since we know nothing about the LW’s husband and the kind of person he is, I would be afraid that revealing the abortion to him might create even more problems in her life. It’s a decision that is best sorted out with a therapist.
But obviously, she needs to quit talking to the ex, and focus on the family she has now.
fast eddie May 25, 2013, 9:10 pm
To all 3 LWs (and a lot more): Life would be so much easier if those people you care about acted/felt/behaved/believe the way YOU want them to. The only person in the entire world that you have complete CONTROL over is yourself. You may be able to influence someone else IF they allow it. All the relationships in the world are a compromise at best and the blue bird of happiness can ONLY come from within yourself. The sooner you accept that fact the happier you’ll be.
Yes this is blunt, I’m a feeling a little cranky today for no particular reason. Perhaps it was that “Not to great” latte this morning. The bagel wasn’t bad but she microwaved the cream cheese. It take so little to get me going…