My true love wasn’t my husband

Feeling weird about friends as they couple up? Need new ideas for dating? What’s on your mind about your relationship status as we go into the holidays? Send your anonymous question here. You can also email [email protected] or use this anonymous form.


I am a 69-year-old woman who has struggled for the last 40 years to get over my one and only true love. I obsess about him, dream about him. He had asked me to marry him, and within the year, he broke up with me. Although I eventually did marry someone and had a child, I never stopped loving him.

How can I find a way to turn this page forever? I did find and chat with him on social media at some point – and we had phone calls. At that point, he was a widower. We had plans to meet in Florida, where he lives. He met someone else in the interim and remarried.

I divorced my husband years ago, due to his gambling addiction. He has since died. Now I’m retired with many memories of this other man and I don’t know how to let go.

– Meredith


Counseling could help here. This is a pattern of thinking, and you need help to undo it.

If you’re not already in therapy, ask your doctor about opportunities for mental health. Maybe see about a professional who deals with grief. That’s some of what you’re experiencing here.

Learning to stop these thoughts might make it possible to start a whole new story for yourself. Maybe true love hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps if you were open, you could meet someone new.

You can romanticize this other man all you want, but evidence points to him not being the person for you. First, he broke it off years ago. Second, he didn’t follow through with Florida.

I assume you want a love you don’t have to chase – that you’d be happy with someone who shows up because he wants to. That’s what real love looks like, if you ask me. Both people are there for each other by choice, and no one has to be googled, begged, or convinced to get there. 

The longing you describe is about unfulfilled desire, I think. Maybe it’s about whatever fiction you’ve told yourself about how it would feel to be near him again. Perhaps the first stage of your relationship was so blissful you want to live in that moment. But that’s not reality.

You can turn the page. Find out who can be on your team for that.

As you figure out the best next steps, be the boss of yourself. When you find yourself ruminating about the past, start listening to something that distracts you (music, TV, etc.). Then call a friend or someone who shows up for you all the time.

– Meredith 

Readers? How do you get over a long-ago relationship that’s easy to romanticize? How do you stop thinking about an ex from long ago?

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