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He's Engaged & Starting a New Friendship with an Old Flame. What's Really Going On?

Updated on August 18, 2011

Dear Veronica,

I was reading one of your post and wanted your take on my current situation. I dated a girl in High School and part of the year in college. I was a sr and she was a soph when we started dating. We were def in love. We broke up for no real reasons other than I went 1500 miles away to school. We kept in touch occasionally but that was very few and far between. Fast forward 8 years and now we live in the same city. I am engaged and she has a serious bf who she will be getting engaged with. She reached out to me and we have since met up for dinner 3 weeks in a row. It was really nice to see her, i still care about her but I have no illusions of us getting back together, I think she feels the same way. She even called me to come out and meet her new bf(who lives in another city)
What are your thoughts on this? Is it worth having this friendship with her?


Dear Jason,

This is not going to be the answer you were expecting.

I'm not convinced you should be getting married.

When I offer advice, often there's a lot of broad strokes that I believe in. Things like communication, honesty, and respect are echoed through out all my words. Concepts like frontal lobe development Saturn Returns, and Mid-Life Crisises, cheating, sex, finances, having kids,... some of the basics are build on the same foundations of thought. 

But every person is unique. And every relationship needs to be evaluated individually. Advice, though perhaps founded in my basic codes, still has to be tailored to a specific situation. 

One of the ways I do this, is that I carefully read your email or comment. I look at the words you chose, and the ones you didn't. I think about the things you felt important enough to mention, and the things you assume are given, or unimportant, and are left out. Mostly they are subconscious but they all lend to the underlying turmoil.

Jason there are quite a few "tells" in the way you've framed your email. 

You haven't mentioned your fiance at all. You said you're engaged. That's it. Nothing about her at all. You don't mention if she's jealous of the new friendship with the old flame, if she's the jealous type at all, if you want to preserve this relationship so that's why you're asking about what friendships are appropriate, if you're in love, nothing. 

The ex, however, you clearly review the timeline with her. You say for the record that you "def" were in love with her. This is much more than we've gotten from you about your current girlfriend.

I realize the question is about the ex, so maybe you figured the things about the fiance aren't relevant. But they are. What you didn't say speaks volumes. 

It's almost out of no where you state that you have no illusions about getting back together with the ex. Interesting word, "illusion." It almost conveys hope. It doesn't go to your feelings or wants. It states the negative as ethereal. Basically, what your sentence translates to is, "I don't see how we can get back together because of our lives and commitments, and how hard it would be."

You close with the open ended question, is it worth having a friendship with your ex. Is it worth what? Hurting your fiance? Hoping you will get back together with the ex? The frustration of seeing someone you admitted you were in love with, and you state clearly that nothing ever went wrong with. Distance did that relationship in, not anything unfixable. And, you do make it a point to say there is no more distance. 

All of these little tells add up to this -

You aren't finished with your ex. You really loved her, it was just the wrong time in your life. You don't have closure, and you don't want closure. You want to finish it, to see where it goes. And maybe it is something. You don't know if she feels the same, as she is engaged now to someone else. Your fiance is pretty much the last thing on your mind. You're asking me what you should do? Dealing with the ex is a little painful because you still have feelings. And not knowing if there's a chance, and both of your being involved, yeah - this is going to get messy and someone is going to get hurt one way or another. So, should you just go into denial and trot along in your life, or should you be "friends" with the ex, which may lead to more awakened unresolved feelings.

I'm doing some math here, and I think you're in your Rites of Passage - Saturn Return. 

You're seeing 30, you're feeling older. You understand how rare and beautiful it is to truly connect to someone in a big way - the kind of way that lingers, and defines romantic love.

You don't want to make a mistake. You don't want to hurt anyone. But what would the mistake be? Dealing with the ex even if it means discovering you want her back, and then having to deal with that fall out. Or would the mistake me turning your back on these emotions, denying the friendship and marrying your fiance.

Jason, there's alot of things you have to consider before you can figure that out. For example, does the ex represent being 20? The feelings of love you are rekindling right now, are they all for her? Or is any of it about being 17, 18 years old, having the world ahead of you, having life by the balls, being young and invincible, before taxes and mortgages, before life got complicated and hard. 

It would be very easy to associate being with the ex, with being young. The reality is, if you got back together with her, It's not going to make you 19 again. That's a tough one, isn't it. Many of us confuse missing with remembering.

Another thing you have to consider is cold feet. Are you looking to occupy your thoughts with anything other than your fiance because you're scared? Did life come at you fast? Did she pressure you into the engagement? Is she the person your family would pick, is she the love of your life?

Where do you even start?

I'll give you your first couple of steps.

Number one is that you need to accept that it's not really possible that you really love and ready to marry the fiance, and that you would just like to be friends with the ex. If that was the case, your question would not have been worded or framed the way it was. 

Number two is a little harder. Can you imagine, even for a moment, spending the rest of your life - which could mean 50 or 60 years - without your fiance? Really, the rest of your entire life. Is this woman your soul mate? The love of your life? The One? Jason if you had to think about that, you shouldn't be getting married. 

I don't know if you just need some closure with the ex, or if you want her back. I don't know what she wants. I don't know if your fiance is the right one for you. I don't know if it's all just adding up to your not being ready to get married, to anyone, at this point in your life. I really don't know what's going on, but I know that something is underneath the surface. And I can guarantee you this much - if you get married to the "wrong" one, or you get married when you're not ready to, you will regret it for the rest of your life. 5, 10, 20 years from now you will feel trapped, robbed, and very sorry if you don't handle this moment in your life carefully. You're allowed. 


Submit a Comment

  • Veronica profile image

    Veronica 8 years ago from NY

    Thanks, artrush73!

  • artrush73 profile image

    artrush73 8 years ago

    Very interesting Hub :)

    Great work Veronica :)