Three months ago I met a man who is kind, smart, stable, and gorgeous. Let's call him Luke. I was thrilled to have found someone -- finally -- with whom I could laugh, be myself, and discuss issues that we are both passionate about. Also, we are incredibly attracted to each other. We have been taking it relatively slow, though we have agreed to see each other exclusively.
Late last month I went on a previously planned vacation to a foreign city where I lived during graduate school in my early 20s. I had organized to see an ex-boyfriend (let's call him James), with whom I had remained good friends. (Luke was aware of this and was comfortable with my meeting up with him.)
Despite having not seen James in years, we found ourselves feeling as though no time had passed, and nothing had changed between us. The connection was unreal -- we were both surprised, considering the time and distance between us. We saw each other several more times during my visit, and I felt like I had rediscovered my best friend. I feel it is important to note that I did not cheat on Luke (although some may maintain that some emotional betrayal was clearly present), and I shared with him my somewhat confusing discovery of feelings for James.
When I left, James and I both were wondering if we could possibly ever make the relationship work again. However, he lives in another country. I feel like it was a miracle that we reconnected, but overcoming our geographical differences seems both scary and nearly impossible.
Also, I'm crazy about Luke. He makes me laugh, he's incredibly thoughtful and kind, and our physical connection is impressive.
Clearly, I do not want to stay in a situation where either man, or I, could get hurt (more than may already happen). Does it seem ridiculous to see where the old flame goes? Or should I stick it out with the new man who has so much potential?
– Lucky but Lost, Boston
A: Stay with Luke, LBL. James sounds great, but I'm pretty sure that you only fell for him this time around because you were on a big, awesome, foreign vacation. You returned to the place where you attended grad school and you regressed.
Something tells me that if you lived in the same city as James and had to balance your relationship with everyday stresses, you'd begin to long for someone like Luke, and James would become your ex all over again.
You're crazy about Luke and you used the word "impressive" to describe your physical relationship. He's your real-world guy, the man who found his way into the life you've chosen for yourself.
Old flames don't always go out. Sometimes they flicker forever and we're forced to wonder about the what-ifs. But please don't let your what-ifs distract you from the present and all that Luke has done to earn his place in your world. I'm not saying he'll turn out to be your life partner, but he deserves a real shot.
My guess is that in a few more weeks, the James angst will fade away like summer vacation. Refrain from talking to him (you're in an exclusive relationship, right?) and focus on the now.
Readers? Should she let Luke go? Are her feelings for James legit? Do they mean that she's not as into Luke as she says she is? If she stays with Luke, can she talk to James? Should she drop them both? Help.
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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.