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Can't let go of a recent ex

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  June 21, 2010 07:00 AM

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Interesting read in yesterday's magazine about Emily Dickinson's lover. It reminded me of one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems, which is very Love Letters-ish.

Points to anyone who can find a Dickinson poem that matches the sentiment of this letter.

Q: Hello Meredith

I am a daily reader and a first time writer with a question about moving on. I have been divorced for seven years with teenage children, a great career, and what seems like a good-to-great life.

I am currently seeing a wonderful woman who is smart, caring, attractive, and has it together. We have been seeing each other for about five months. My problem is that back in September I broke off a relationship of a year and a half. The woman I was seeing was divorced with two children.

The relationship began rocky due to her having several personal and professional issues, which caused her above-average stress. But through it all, I was falling in love with her, and she with me. I loved this woman and felt loved like I had never felt in my life. So I stayed, and constantly supported her through a bad business-partnership breakup, repair and sale of a home, and several medical issues. Again, the love was real and pure.

Fast-forward a year-plus later, she began to talk marriage and engagement. I admit, this was not what I wanted at this point, but I agreed to living together. She was adamant about the engagement. I continued to say, “After your life is settled, we can revisit this, but I love you, and would like to be with you everyday and the rest of our lives.” Her children adored me and I treated them as if they were mine. We all spent a month traveling together last summer.

The relationship went down hill after that, with many small disagreements. Once there was a disagreement, she would shut down for days and not want to communicate. Well, after so much of this, I broke it off. My problem is, there was no closure, and I still think about her and in my heart, I truly love her. I know this has an affect on my new relationship. What do I do?

– Need to Move On, Andover


A: I don't believe in closure -- no such thing, NTMO -- but I do believe in reality checks. You need to reach out to your ex before you start turning her into something she wasn't.

When there's a nagging question messing up your life, I always recommend answering it. Seeing your ex (or just talking to her) will make it clear that the love is gone... or maybe you'll both decide that you miss the heck out of each other.

Do you have to tell current partner that you plan to chat with your ex? I'm not sure --because you've given me no indication of how committed you're supposed to be to this new woman. In fact, you really haven't told me anything about her. All you did was give me a vague list of her positive attributes. That's something to consider. You wrote two sentences about your new partner and about four paragraphs that suggest that you believe your break-up with your ex was more about frustration and over-reaction than loss of love.

Know that no matter what happens with the ex, you should consider whether you can rally for this new woman. You seem "good-to-great" – as opposed to excited-to-ecstatic – about her place in your life. If you knew your ex was gone for good, would you be any more excited about this new woman? Five months of thinking about someone else means it's time to consider whether you're wasting her time. Get these questions answered pronto.

Readers? Did he start dating too soon after the ex? Can he be interested in this new woman and stuck on the ex at the same time? How can he move on? Am I wrong to suggest that he should reach out to the ex? What would a reclusive poet in Amherst say about this? Help.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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