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- This topic has 19 replies, 6 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Copa.
When I was seventeen I met my first boyfriend. We were madly in love with each other but did fight a lot because of our immaturity. We were together for years and when I was 23 he asked me to marry him. He was in the navy at this point and wanted me to move to another state, but I felt obligated to stay home and take care of my sick mother so I said no. For a long time I felt this was the right decision but recently I’ve come to regret it more than any mistake I have made.
I am now 30 and have the opportunity to be with him again. I contacted him and some how he has forgiven me for breaking his heart so long ago. On one hand I feel like this is good timing because we’re both more mature and might not repeat old mistakes. But I can’t stop thinking about the time I wasted apart from him. Like we wasted the best years of our lives and now that we’re 30 it’s all downhill from here. I’m afraid we won’t be able to be happy together for constant regret of what might have been. Should I try to make up for lost time? Or bury my feelings in the past?peggyGuest
Hi Kari. Your letter has as many or more doubts and misgivings as it does desire for him and a relationship with him. My observations are: You loved each other but you were young and YOU FOUGHT ALOT. You could have married him but you chose not to. I understand your mom was sick. However, maybe he would have moved to your area or your mother could have moved with you. Or you could have said yes but opted for a long engagement or long distance relationship until your mother had recovered. You said no.
Now you have contacted him ( interesting he did not reach out first ) and you say he forgave you. You mention getting back together but it is not clear if he asked for that/wants that, or you asked for it or are just “thinking”. Just because he has let go of the past, does not mean he sees a future of wants to try again.
And as you contemplate going forward into a relationship, you appear again to be focused on the negative/reasons, excuses to not do this. If I had a lost “love of my life ” and had a chance to re-ignite our relationship, I can’t imagine wasting time worrying about “wasting the best years of our lives and it is all down hill from here.
My opinion is that you are still “young and immature”. I think perhaps you feel guilt too. That you are uncertain, either in general, or specific to him, shows you may have commitment issues.
If indeed he does still want you, I worry that you would break his heart again. If you are not all in, and so happy and grateful to be with him again and build a future, then I say leave him alone. Be glad he “forgave” and move on. I don’t feel he is really what you want.KariGuest
Some additional context: he did reach out to me a few times, but was only interested in a fling. I didn’t agree because I did not want to get my heart broken. And when I say he has forgiven me, I mean that I was amazed he was willing to even speak to me. We’re still in the beginning phases of reconciliation and I don’t know if it will even work.
As far as my focusing on the negatives, I do have severe OCD and anxiety disorder. Not an excuse, just fact I was diagnosed when I was 21. I guess I am just wondering if these doubts are rational or my OCD steering away from my normal fear of contamination and steering towards fear of wasted time.CopaParticipant
People really need to stop saying/thinking that your 20s are the best years of your life. For many people, they’re simply not — they’re often filled with uncertainty and trying to find your path. Thirty is not that old and your life after 30 is only “all downhill” if you choose for it to be.
Why do you only now regret this relationship ending? I’d think long and hard about why you suddenly started feeling like you made the wrong call after so many years of not having regrets. If I had to guess, it’s because you’re now 30 and feel like you’re not where you are “supposed” to be yet, which is not a good reason to rekindle an old romance.
I do know a few couples who dated when they were very young (HS and into college) who did end up getting back together and happily marrying as adults. To my knowledge, none of them felt the way you describe — they have all pretty much said that they were grateful for the time they had apart to figure out who they are as individuals before settling down.
If you need help sorting out your emotions, therapy is a good place to start.PassingByGuest
It is NOT all downhill from 30.
30-40 for me has definitely been better than 20-30.
How was that time “wasted” anyway?peggyGuest
Kari, Regarding more info: I would be concerned too, if he had only/is only offering a “fling”. Maybe he wanted/wants more but is afraid to trust you right away with his heart again.
I think therapy is a good idea. Not to keep speculating on the past and why you acted as you did, but to help you stride forward in life. You need to figure out what you really want and need and how to go about getting that. I am talking about you, not in context with him. You need to sort yourself first, it seems, and be confident in your direction and choices. Therapy can help you with the anxiety etc. Maybe medication would help as well. All things to explore. Don’t jump into anything with him or anyone else, until you are more settled with-in yourself.TuiParticipant
If you had married him and moved states at 23, you may well have had an unhappy marriage and be single anyway by now. I wouldn’t think of your 20s as being a waste of time even if you’re not where you want to be. My 30s were so much better than my 20s, which were just years of not much money, lots of study and feeling insecure.
Get to know him again slowly if he’s interested. You’ve been apart a long time and you seem to have a romanticised view of him which may not match the reality.Guy FridayParticipant
30-40 for me has definitely been better than 20-30.
Good Lord, SO MUCH this. I mean, I’m 37 now. I got married at almost 28. It’s not like my 20s were objectively BAD or anything, but every single aspect of my life — my health, my finances, my marriage, my career, the things I own, the friendships I have, my overall happiness, etc. — is just light years better. It’s not even close. I can’t say for certain future decades will or won’t be better, but I can definitely say my 30s set a very high bar already to beat.anonymousseParticipant
Wow, you’ve totally bought the idea media has sold you that it’s all downhill after 30. It’s not, but your mindset about it might be everything.
Do you really think you have wasted time or ruined your lives somehow by not getting married to him at 23?
Have you seen this guy in person recently? If you haven’t, and this is all fantasy- please stop reaching out to someone from so long ago. Why would you go backwards to find someone? Are you bored and lonely? Is he even local to you?
I can tell you personally I am so happy I didn’t end up with any guy I liked or dated from my teenage years or even my twenties. So glad. And so glad I did not meet my husband then, but you know, I’m old and my life is all but over at 38. I’m a husk of a woman. Shriveled.
And who cares if you “wasted time?” You’ve realized it (or at least you think so) and that is progress. Next step, stop wasting it? Stop framing things so negatively in your mind.
He wasn’t right then and I doubt he is now. Go forward.DaisyGuest
You can’t get the past back, ever. If you gave up on this guy and dated someone else, you’d still miss out on spending your 20s with him. So…I’m not sure what on earth you actually have to lose by giving this a try!
Also, I got into a really bad marriage in my 20s. I stayed for 20 years because we had kids and I didn’t want to tear up their home. I finally left, got my life back together, and started dating an AMAZING person when I was 49. Sometimes, yes, I feel sad that we didn’t have the kind of relationship my parents had — kind of “growing up” together, raising kids together, experiencing all of our life stages together. And I’m devastated that his parents died before I could meet them, and mine also died before he met them (beyond a quick Zoom meeting — we started dating right before the pandemic). I feel so sad about that, but it NEVER makes me question whether I want to be with him! The only thing I can control is the future, and I know I want him in it for as much time as I have left. If that’s truly what you want with this guy, then stop wasting more time and go for it.DaisyGuest
On top of what I said, I would echo what others have said…take things slowly and see if you really regret ending this relationship or if it’s just wishful thinking. But don’t let, “It’s all downhill from here” be the reason you choose not to pursue it. Let his character and your compatibility, today, be the deciding factors.The OtherOther MeGuest
Yeah, jumping on the bandwagon that over 30 is NOT over the hill. Neither is 40. Or 50, or any age. You can live your best life at any age, despite our culture constantly pushing the idea that “youth is best.” I got married (again) after 40, and it is MUCH better than my first marriage. I have more confidence now at age 52, more career success, a better house, and frankly, I think I look better than ever, even though society might disagree (because I’m not so fresh and tight anymore)! Also, there can be more than one love of your life. I have had four in my life. So the question to ask yourself is, do you want this guy because you think you are truly a good match and just had bad timing when you were younger, or are you just lonely, wistful for old times and feeling “over the hill”? If it’s the latter, that’s not a good enough reason to get back together. You also don’t say if he WANTS to get back together, just that you “have the opportunity.” Have you two actually discussed it? Have you started dating again? Honestly, since so much time has passed since you were last together, you can’t just pick up where you left off. You are different people now, so you have to start over. And the past doesn’t have to be a source of regret if you do get back together. You can forge a new path, make new memories, and refuse to live in the past.