Time 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.