California is great. Lots of avocados. Here's one from a young person with a great ex.
Let me first say that I'm 25 and that I've been pretty lucky in love. I've had great relationships with men who have treated me well, usually lasting around one to two years, and I've lived with the last two. For the most part, my relationships have ended because I've moved to a new state or country. I'm currently in a new relationship and have been for about two months.
My problem is that about four years ago I was in the most amazing relationship with a man when I lived abroad. We were together for two years, we lived together for most of it, and we had a dog. Life was great, I woke up every day happy and thrilled to be with him and we just had chemistry in every sense of the word. We separated because I moved back to the US and because of visa issues our only option was to get married (neither of us believes in long-distance relationships). At the time I was 22 and I didn’t feel ready to marry. It ended badly as we were both really hurt and, although we tried staying in touch, it was too difficult. Also, getting back together at this point is not an option; we've both been very hurt by this and despite how wonderful our relationship was, I do think that in light of other factors such as careers and language issues, our not getting married was for the best.
Since then I have dated, been in a year-long relationship, and now I'm in this new relationship. The problem is I can't stop comparing what I felt and what I had with my ex. It seems like no man measures up to him because he gave me everything I wanted. I also want to feel that love and excitement and happiness that I felt with him and I just can't seem to find that with everyone else. I'm scared that I will never feel that way again and I can't seem to help but bring that stress into every relationship since. Also, although I'm "young," I don’t feel that young, and I would like to get married and start a family within the next five years.
Am I holding out for some fairy tale that is never going to happen again?
– Looking For a Fairy Tale?, Boston
A: Um, sure you are, LFAFT. But that's cool. You had an awesome relationship with a great guy in an exotic place when you were in your early 20s. It's difficult to find that twice. It doesn't mean that you won't find someone else who wows you. You're 25. You're young. You want to meet someone within the next five years or so. You have time.
It seems to me that you've spent much of your life moving from relationship to relationship, choosing partnership over single life even when your partners didn't offer enough. I'm not going to tell you that you have to be single in order to find the right boyfriend, but I am going to tell you that some alone time might help cleanse your dating palate. It might also help you yearn for someone who can love you in the present -- and in the right zip code.
Consider taking some time off to clear your head.
Readers? Am I oversimplifying this? How do you learn to stop romanticizing an ex? Is she longing for the ex or life in her early 20s? Would being single for a while help? 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.