Q: Dear Meredith,
Here are the facts: I am in love with my ex-boyfriend and he is in love with me. We are both divorced from marriages that lacked affection, communication, etc. -- things we both need in a relationship. We have been in each other's lives for the better part of 17 years.
Ten years ago, I made a big move to be with him, and he decided 10 days later to disappear. It was agony and instant devastation for me. Although we were in our early 20s, I truly had no doubts about being with this man (obviously he had doubts about me). In hindsight, I may have dramatized the break-up because I was incredibly hurt. I even moved out of the country to try and find a retreat to heal, and five years later I was still seeking answers. I finally worked up the courage to contact him and ask him outright. He said he had tried to contact me and even knew my previous addresses. I had been blaming myself for years when in reality, it was his issues.
The thing is, we rushed in, and because I was so devastated, everyone around me now hates him for leaving me somewhat stranded the way he did. My mother thinks he was a complete coward. He and I keep in touch regularly and we truly believe that maybe now that we are older and surer of ourselves and each other -- that we could have 'our time' and be truly happy. I would like to at least try because I have no desire to move on until I've given it one more chance.
Recently, I have tried to work his name into the conversations with my mother and she told me that if I ever try to contact him again, she would walk out of my life because it would put her in her grave. (Talk about drama!) This is a man who really screwed up, but it’s not unforgivable in my mind -- because I have never stopped being in love with him. Don't get me wrong, he will have to move mountains to prove himself.
I just don't know how we can try this when my mother is placing such a huge ultimatum on me. He and I are willing to fight this fight together but hurting her (and I truly believe it would affect her health) is scary. How can we help her be more comfortable to let us try this again? I was thinking that seeing a therapist, maybe all together might give her a chance to really get to know him better, as well as get some concerns on the table for discussion. Plus it would show a real effort on our parts that I hope she can recognize we are doing for ourselves but also because we care so much about her. We want her in our lives and being apart makes us so unhappy..
– A Mum-timatum, Boston
A: AM, I'd hate for you to start this relationship in a therapist's office with your mom. Talk about a not-so-sexy way to reunite with your ex.
This is between you and your mom, not your ex and your mom. People ditch one another all the time in their 20s. Assuming you're telling us everything (and this guy isn't some sort of criminal), your mother's fears are about your reaction to the break-up. It's up to you to assure her that this time around, you're not going to move out of the country if you get hurt.
All you can do is say to Mom, "Listen, this guy and I dated when we were both young and dumb. And I realize he was a total idiot. But I'd like to give him one more chance -- because frankly, I was a bit too invested back then, and I'd like to see what we’re capable of now that he's less cowardly and I'm more independent and self-confident." And you are, right?
Then you tell her what you told us: "Don't get me wrong, he will have to move mountains to prove himself."
Also consider that parents and friends are a good barometer of happiness. If you move forward with this relationship, watch your mom. If she sees you happy, she'll be happy. If she sees you agitated or fearful, she will be, too. So pay attention. If she begins to relax, you'll know you’re in good shape, and if not, well, consider why. Meanwhile, tell the ex that if he wants to win mom's love, he has to keep showing up. That's all it takes --showing up over time with a smile on his face.
Readers? Is her mom right to put such pressure on her not to date this guy? Should the letter writer be giving her ex a second chance? Ever left the country after a break-up? Discuss.
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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.