Everything I Need To Know: All My Exes Outside Texas

AdviceTime for another advice question, solved with the power of Lurrrve™ and the wisdom of Ye Olde Romance Novels.

Dear SB Sarah:

I need advice.  I am a 32 year old professional woman.  I have never been married, have no kids, and have had 3-4 seriously significant relationships in my life.  The problem is this – every one of my exes have contacted me this past year.  Starting with the Very First Real Boyfriend and ending with last year’s therapy sessions. In the space of six months every man I have ever told I loved (there have been 3 of them) and every man I have ever almost thought it was possible to love (there have been 4 of them) contacted me.  Most of them wanted to tell me how happy they are with their lives.  How much they loved their wives (5 of them are married) and how perfect things are with them. They all asked about me and how I was and then proceeded to lose their minds.  The one thing they all had in common was their need to tell me what an amazing girl/woman I was and how they wished they had realized what they had when they had it.

Some of these relationships ended badly, some of them not so much.  I was engaged to one, spent 12 years playing cat and mouse with another, and lost my heart at 18 to another.  Without exception though, I enjoyed these relationships.  Some are doctors now, some are still students. Some work with their hands and some with their minds.  They really have nothing in common with each other except me.  So WHY WHY WHY did they all decide to gang up on me this year?  What am I supposed to take from it?  How do you deal with an ex calling you up to tell you how perfect his life is without you, but damn, he wished you were still in it?


Let me guess: you signed up for Facebook? People come out of the woodwork to show off their happiness and joy on Facebook. It’s bizarre. And strangely addictive. Oh, no, you said they called. Well, now. The experience you’ve described must be both flattering and alarming – you definitely sound a bit overwhelmed. Unfortunately for me and my advice column, each of your questions is best answered by you. But that won’t stop me from ruminating for awhile.

Why did they all contact you this year? Couldn’t tell you. Dudes are strange, and often unpredictable. But if a bunch of men who were important to you at various times in your life all, independently of one another, convene to tell you you’re awesome, take that at face value: you’re awesome. Being complimented is always a nice thing.

What are you supposed to take from it? I say two things. First, see above re: compliment. Second: if you have been perhaps doubting the future of your love life, or doubting yourself, this is a strong indication that you have a great deal to offer someone, and people who have had you in their lives recognize the power of your awesome.

But your third question is the kicker: How do you deal with an ex calling you up to tell you how perfect his life is without you, but damn, he wished you were still in it?

That’s a big question. If I’m doing my math correctly, and likely I am not, there are 7 men telling you that you’re an amazing part of their pasts, and five of those men are married. Guess which five I’d ignore in favor of the other two? Infidelity is hardly ever romantic, and I definitely do not recommend it.

If the two who aren’t married are worth keeping in touch with – you mentioned “last year’s therapy sessions” so I don’t want to advise you to open yourself to a world of hurt – then perhaps you might consider being back in their lives in one form or another. If you still like them, or are even inclined to be friends, there’s no reason not to, unless you think or feel it would be a bad idea. There’s not enough detail for me to know which gentleman you may prefer, but I think the point of your letter was “OMGWTFBBQ—What do I do?” and not so much “What do I do now?”

Most romances that feature exes getting back together or former childhood flames reconnecting as adults share a few common traits. One notable feature is an enduring attraction and magnetic draw to that other person, regardless of the hurt feelings and nuclear breakups that may have interfered in the past. Despite some pain and fallout, that person is still hot smokin’ booyah and always has been. Repairing a broken relationship is hard work, even years after the breaking, but most of the time the protagonists have grown up and grown wiser, and have the wherewithal and the what-what to take on the repair and the reviving of an old relationship. Perhaps this is where you and one of the gentleman are. Or perhaps you’re now ready to take a chance on someone else. Either way, your story is the stuff great conflict and potential great happy endings are made.

Bottom line: you should take from this experience that you are, in fact, an amazing person, and people are proud to have had you in their lives. That’s a compliment like no other to feast on in cold moments. Eventually, if this is one of your goals, I hope you find someone about whom you feel that way as well: that your life is amazing with him in it, and vice versa.  You deserve nothing less.


General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    AnneD says:

    Oddly enough, my ex husband got in touch with me this year, too –  to apologise.

    It was very weird.

  2. 2
    Leah says:

    Like she said, leave the married guys alone—send them a Christmas card every year, but I would discourage much more contact than that.  But the other two….

    I met up with my old high school boyfriend some 15 yrs after our last date.  Like you, I was 32 (and, like, 340 days!), and never married.  Within 4 months we were engaged, 9 months married, and within a year we were parents.  We sure looked a lot different (me, fat, him, bald), but the fact that we had shared so many experiences and had a common background made things easy when we reconnected. All those yrs in between had seasoned us and given us a lot more confidence.  After 9 yrs and 3 kids, I still can’t imagine being with anyone else.

    So if you’re at all intrigued by the 2 single guys (and neither of them was abusive or a cheater), then why not renew your acquaintance?  It could be a lot of fun!

    spaminator:  like 17—no, it was much much better than when we were 17….but I still like thinking of him with that thick black hair and that ‘85 Trans Am.  Let the Good Times Roll!

  3. 3
    MB (Leah) says:

    I think men like to contact old girlfriends because there’s something going on, like they are having a hard time with the women they left you for or whatever and they know you, you are comfortable and they know that probably they are safe to bitch with you about their life without a bunch of drama. They are feeling nostalgic.

    Or, like what was the case in every single long term relationship that I had that went south, the sex was still hot when we split up and they are calling for a comfort call.

    I’m good friends with all my exes. I’m still in regular contact with two of them even though I’m very happily married and there is no way in hell I’d go back with them, even if I were single. No lingering, left over feelings there.

    They all have one thing in common, after I left them because they were all starting to have roaming eyes, they all wanted sex with me way after the break up and also told me over and over that I was the perfect woman and how well I took care of them. One still writes me these long letters about how I was so amazing and blah, blah, but when we were together his eyes were all over the place. And he’s been married 3 times since we split up. Asses, all of them. LOL

    So I think men just like to have the comfort and knowledge that an old, comfortable devil you know girlfriend is still around for when their lives get boring or stressed.

    If you go back with any of them, I’d say take it really slow. A lot of times people fall back into the same old patterns even after years of being apart.

    Been there done that.

  4. 4
    Goblin says:

    Another reason to be wary of the married guys is that some men do cheat because they’re missing an emotional closeness with their wives (i.e. they’re lonely even in the relationship) which they have found, often accidentally, with another woman. An affair doesn’t always begin for physical reasons.

    And it sorta sounds like all 7 of these guys are remembering, and reaching out for, an emotional connection with you. That does imply the married ones might have cheating in their future, even if—in their own minds—they’re just trying to make a friend.

  5. 5
    Silver James says:

    Ditto what everyone else has said. Married? Fergetaboutit! Send them a strong message. Like a dead fish wrapped in newspaper. They’re nothing but bad news. I’m guessing they’ve hit that age of early mid-life ruminations about grass/greener/former lover? Do yourself and their wives the favor of disengaging.

    The other two? Are you looking for a serious relationship? Do you have room in your life for a fledgling reconnect that might lead to romance or simply friendship? Did one of them make your heart go pittypat or your girly bits stand up at attention, waving madly and yelling, “MEEEE!” That might be hormones or remembered fun. Either way, what will you lose if you check it out?

  6. 6
    Noelle says:

    Maybe I read it wrong but I didn’t take it as you looking in any way to start a relationship again with any of them but just wondering why this year and what you should take from that.

    Could be it’s the economy and the recent election. What if the past year (economic downturn, the election etc.) that has us all feeling like we are in the middle a significant time is history has them feeling introspective about their lives? (Did I a really just say that? lol )

    Maybe it’s time for you to be looking back at your life in order to go forward and the universe is helping you by forcing you to look at your past relationships.

    Whatever the reason it sounds the perfect set up for a great romance novel. Best of luck to you!

  7. 7
    Venus Vaughn says:


    Three years ago, I went through what you’re going through now.  I was 33.  Men I had long since forgotten were getting in touch with me to tell me how sorry they were for having fucked me over, and how nice I was to them back in the day and how they hoped I’d find someone as awesome in my life as they had found in their wives.  *spit*

    I was surprised to say the least, and I didn’t give any thought to starting back up with a single one of them.  But it did leave me doing a lot of thinking.

    Basically what I decided was this – my instincts in relationships are just fine.  Who I am and how I am with that other person is okay, and I don’t need to second guess myself.  I took it as a reassuring pat on the back.  I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darnit – even 10 years later – people like me.

  8. 8

    Cynical viewpoint alert:  If these men are so happy with their lives, why are they calling old girlfriends?

    “I love my wife and everything’s great!  What to get a hotel room with me?”

    Seems to me like people who are unhappy in their relationships start thinking about the past, moping about the one that got away, wondering what went wrong, etc.

    Be glad you aren’t married to any of them and find someone who appreciates you in the present.  Not as an afterthought.

  9. 9
    Jessa Slade says:

    What would JC do?  JC being Jennifer Cruise, of course.  This sounds like a set-up to one of her stories.  While it’s hard to say whether her heroine would end up with one of the two remaining single fellows (having shot down all the married contenders with blazing one-liners) or find yet another, better guy, the heroine would definitely use this confluence of events to examine what the universe wanted her to know about her life (reluctantly, maybe, but she’d do it), decide what she wanted, and go after it… probably with a wacky dog in tow.

  10. 10
    karmelrio says:

    wacky dog and really gay boots.

  11. 11
    karmelrio says:

    Or was that SEP?  The incognito football star hero rolls into town, encountering the heroine, who’s wearing a costume.  He’s wearing really expensive boots and she tells him he’s wearing the gayest boots she’s ever seen. 

    Of course he’s secure enough in his masculinity to take the hit.

  12. 12
    Suze says:

    RE: why they all called at the same time.

    If you’re at all into new-agey stuff, in numerology, you go through cycles based on your name and birthdate.  It could be that you just went through a cycle that was all about closure, giving you an opportunity to address any unresolved issues you have about relationships, and about those relationships in particular.

    For info on numerology, Triune Being is pretty cool.  Not the most graphically well-done website out there.  You can click on “Understanding Cycles” at the left of the screen.  Or, you know, just click around.

  13. 13
    El says:

    First, at least some of them contacting you is probably because the ease of finding people again on the internet has people checking up on their past a lot—I’ve Googled a ton of people in the past year, though I didn’t try to contact any of them. (Had a blast seeing where some of them ended up, though.)

    Second, I’ve noticed men sometimes showed interest in me (back when I was in my thirties, anyway) when they were about to commit or were hitting a significant life point (this included someone moving in with someone else, someone about to turn forty, and someone about to come out as gay). It seemed like they didn’t want to feel like they were “settling” or “losers” so they checked to see if other choices would have been/were available. (May well be true for women as well, but I haven’t been on the receiving end of that.)

    At the same period, several women made a point of telling me how happily married they were and how wonderfully strong their marriages were. Three at one party. (Huh? I’ve NEVER been a poacher.) It was a very weird time.

    It certainly was nice to know that people considered me worth the interest. Sounds like you’ve stuck in people’s heads in a good way—rock on!

    As for what to do—I’d say count most of it as part of our Web 2.0 social-networking society, decide on a case-by-case basis whether anything else is worth doing, and keep on trucking.

  14. 14
    Sam says:

    I turned 33 last summer and after 5 years of being single and calling myself the town spinster I unexpectedly fell in love again.  That’s when every guy I’ve dated from high school to age 28 tried to call me, e-mail me and even write from prison to ask to give things another go. I thought it must be some kind of test to see if I was really serious about my current relationship. He has been having ex-girlfriends contacting him since we started dating after being invisible during his single years as well. Seems like all of us who are having this happen are about the same age.

  15. 15
    Jocelyn says:

    OMGWTFBBQ indeed.

    It sounds like you’ve got your own personal cast of High Fidelity going on right now.  It’s not a romance, but I do think that book hit the nail on the head – a lot of men have to reconnect with their exes (just to see what might of been, why the commitment didn’t work, etc) before they can give 100% to their future commitments.  Sort of like your life flashing before your eyes before you die, but for marriage.

    From the tone of the letter, I don’t think the caller is looking at hooking back up with anyone, and it sounds like some of the men might have ulterior motives, and some might not, but regardless – I think there’s nothing to do but appreciate the wtfery and move on.

  16. 16
    Peaches says:

    wow.  Did all seven of them get together and watch High Fidelity?

  17. 17
    Grace says:

    All that man stuff happening at once?  Can only mean one thing— you’ve messed with the Feng Shui of it all!  What did you change before it all started?  Move something?  Paint somewhere?  Buy a new doo-dad?  Go thee and get some Feng Shui cures -Grace

  18. 18
    Brenda says:

    I dunno about why all in the same year. Are they all the same age? Maybe they all hit their seven-year-itch at the same time and are prowling around after their old girlfriends.

    A guy who contacts his ex out of the blue with a story about how perfect his life is except for the fact that he didn’t keep you sounds really, really fishy. He’s suffering from a bad case of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”—he married someone, decided it was a bad idea, and has the fallacious idea that if he’d taken the other path things would be perfect. It’s a bit pathetic, really, and you do deserve someone who realises how awesome you are when he’s actually with you.

  19. 19
    Sally says:

    I’m about your age (31) and have heard from an awful lot of people this year (though in my case not exes since I’m either already in touch with or not speaking to those).  I chalk it up to facebook sweeping through our age group.  Even if you haven’t heard from these people via facebook, the fact that a lot of people are looking up old friends there makes it more likely that they will think about other old friends.

  20. 20
    StephanieL says:

    Facebook and the internet has made finding people a lot easier.  They may have contacted you because they were curious about what you have done with your life, maybe they want to be freind, the possibilities are endless really. 

    However, five married guys going on about how much they love their wives BUT then go on to say how much they wish they would have known what a good thing they had is suspect at best.  Call me cynical but what good could possibly come from a statement like that?  Not much.  Life is too short to play “what might have been”.  It didn’t happen, move on.

    Now connecting with the single ones might not be bad (except if one of them is the one who led to therapy) because people do change and it will be a totally different relationship this time around.

  21. 21
    Melissa says:

    Or was that SEP?  The incognito football star hero rolls into town, encountering the heroine, who’s wearing a costume.  He’s wearing really expensive boots and she tells him he’s wearing the gayest boots she’s ever seen.

    Of course he’s secure enough in his masculinity to take the hit.

    That’s “Natural Born Charmer” by SEP.  It was the first book of hers I read, and I still get a big kick out of the first few chapters.  Watching Mr. Studmuffin pretend to be gay just to fool with her head, and her ways of fighting back are very funny.  :)

  22. 22
    Shreela says:

    This is a good lesson for never posting my phone number, thanks.

  23. 23
    Jessica says:

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