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Love Letters

Love Letters: Drinks With An Old Flame

A reminder: When you send letters to meregoldstein at gmail dot com, remember to tell me your hometown. Because I imagine today's letter writer living in Hingham, but I have no idea where she's really from.


Q:

Hi Meredith,

Way back in 2002, I fell madly in a love with a classmate at the university where I had gone back to school to finish my degree. (I was 27 at the time.) He was several years younger, but we struck up a friendship, which quickly morphed into the most insanely passionate feelings I've ever had for another person. 

Think: your long-lost best friend, the person who you're always your funniest/wittiest with, and who you also happen to be wildly attracted to. I don't think I've ever just plain LIKED someone so much. I enjoyed his company immensely and just wanted to be around him all the time. I've had very loving, long-term relationships with other men and was even engaged once, but none of those relationships were like this one. This is the only person I'd ever felt, on a soul level, that I belonged with in some big cosmic way. It was a very scary feeling.

But the friendship never turned into a relationship. He was never my boyfriend. 

We slept together a few times, and it was always the same. There would be a short period when he was very much returning my feelings (which was always pure ecstasy). Then we'd sleep together and I wouldn't hear from him. Months would go by. I would be devastated and confused. Then he'd come back into my life, seem eager to reestablish the connection, and the whole cycle would repeat. The last time it happened was in 2003 and I haven't seen him since. He disappeared from my life. 

Flash forward 11 years. There's been no contact all this time, apart from the occasional Facebook comment. And suddenly, out of the blue, he's wanting back in my life. He's 33 now, no longer the young kid he was way back then. I'm a few months out of a long relationship with the man who was my fiance. 

He's been texting me a lot. He asked me to meet him for a drink this weekend. I've agreed to go, and it's causing me massive anxiety. The last thing I need or want in my life is that old obsession coming back and taking over. This man broke my heart, and it took me years to recover. Years. Part of me thinks I shouldn't see him again, that I should really protect myself from any possibility of getting hurt again. But another part of me wonders ... what if? What if he is finally grown up enough to want an actual relationship? Can people change that much? Am I a complete idiot to go? 

– So Confused

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A: You're allowed to have a drink with this man, but please give yourself a reality check. He was never as amazing as you thought he was. You had a great connection back in the day, but if he had been cosmically yours, you would have been together as a couple.

You say that he's no longer the kid he was back then, but neither are you. You know what you want and have no interest in wasting your time. You understand that infatuation isn't necessarily love.

Isn't it possible that you're romanticizing this guy to take the edge off the broken engagement? Isn't it possible that you're trying to make Mr. 2002 a soul mate so that you don't have to consider what else might be next?

Have the drinks, but don't invent a "we're meant to be" narrative. At this point, he's basically a stranger.

Readers? Should she see him? Is this really about insecurity after the engagement? How can she keep him in perspective?

– Meredith