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What to about a long broken heart?

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I've been married for 14 years and have two great daughters. My wife, who I'll call J. and I used to have problems in our marriage, but things have been good for about 9 years and great for about 5 years.


I was contacted about 2 weeks ago by a girlfriend from high school who I will call C.


I thought things in my life were OK, but ever since C started talking to me again, I have felt horrible. I have been obsessed over this past relationship and I have cried many times.


C was the first person I ever loved. Being young and stupid, I messed up the relationship (by going out with someone else one time) and C broke up with me. It was my fault that the relationship broke up, but nevertheless I was really devastated for a long time. We dated in 1988-1989. Once C broke up with me, she quit speaking to me. When I did see her around (because we moved in a similar social circle - i.e. punk rockers in a small midwestern town), she would give me icy glares. It was a case of learning something the hard way. Some mistakes are forever and can't be undone by all the tears in the world.


At the time I remember feeling worthless. I felt like C just thought I was a pathetic loser.


There was also this party once where I was very drunk and saw C in the kitchen. I grabbed her and kissed her. She pushed me away, glared at me, and then walked away. Later that night I saw her go into a bedroom with another guy. That is a very bad memory. When we talked about this, she remembered having sex at the party which she did to get revenge on another girl but didn't remember I had kissed her. This was the only contact I had with C post breakup that was in the 80s aside from the occasional icy glare.


C contacted me in the late 90s by email. I got an email from her on a work account and we sent maybe three messages back and forth, and then we lost contact because of a job change. Things with J were very bad at the time. C told me that some things in her life had gone really bad and that she was in detox. This was the only other contact I had with her until now.


C is one year younger than me. After HS, I left to go to college in another state. During her last year of HS, her mother died and she was abruptly moved to another city. This lead to a lot of problems for her including drug abuse and unplanned pregnancy.


J. asked me if the child could be mine, and no it couldn't.


J. and I had an unplanned pregnancy as well, but it happened when she was 25 and I was 23. I was already almost finished with graduate school. We decided to get married and take care of the child, K. And while things were rocky for a while, it has been a plan that has worked out pretty well. We even decided to have a second child and after trying for a couple of years, we had L.


Here's how I feel about C. I feel guilty that I betrayed her. I feel guilty for not being a better boyfriend. I feel jealous of the guy she had the child with (who she left and he wasn't involved in her life after that). I imagine myself in his situation and what I would have wanted to have done (i.e. I wish I could have married her and taken care of her and the child.)


When C and I were dating, we never had sexual intercourse. We did talk about it once. She wanted to, and I said no. Mostly I said no because I didn't want to have sex in our car and also I was afraid she would become pregnant. After C and I broke up this was one of her complaints. I felt like I shouldn't have rejected her like that. Maybe it was a good decision(?), but probably not articulated well to a 15 year old C.


I feel guilty for emotionally wounding C just before her mom's death. I feel sad for what she went through. I wish I had a relationship with C's son. (This obviously doesn't make sense because they live in a totally different part of the country and what 17 year old boy would want to have a relationship with his mom's ex boyfriend?) I don't have a son. I have a very close relationship with K who is a teen. I also have a close relationship with L. However, L is very little.


I talked with J about this in depth because I would feel like I was being dishonest with her if I didn't. J is often jealous of other women. Afterwards I was glad that I did because J was pretty understanding.


J has a past boyfriend that she lived with for a few years. She was pregnant three times by him. Twice she had abortions and once she carried his child and put it up for adoption. That child is 20 now. J hopes/fears that this child will contact her which is why she keeps in contact with the ex-bf and his mom. K doesn't know she has a half sister. Unless the child contacts J, I think we should not tell her or L until they are adults, if even then. One time J wanted to tell K and I said no because once you tell her you can't un-tell her. J's child may not even know she is adopted.


I see that I have two choices. I could continue to talk to C in the hopes that the feelings will lessen and I can come to some kind of emotional resting place with this, or I could ask C not to contact me again and try to forget about it. Perhaps there are other options I haven't thought of.


I was also contacted about the same time by a gf from college named M. I lived with M for two years and then we broke up and stayed friends. I would have married M if she had been just 10% less crazy. Talking to M doesn't bother me at all because I don't have regrets about M.


These gfs are contacting me now because I got a facebook account so that I could look at some photos from another friend's vacation.


I thought about deleting the facebook account, but then I thought it would be a case of closing the barn door after the horse escaped. There is another ex-gf that was significant, E, but the situation with E is more like the one with M than it is like the one with C. I don't know. It might bother me if I hear from E, but probably not as much as C. If I got a friend request from E, I might decline it.


So, should I keep in contact with C, or de-friend her, or what? I would hate to hurt C even more, but I really can't be crying about it every day.

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So if you are married and everything is going well....you shouldn't be messing around with these past girlfriends. If you talk to the one....you will continue to spin. Plus, your wife is not your therapist.....that can't help a relationship crying over some past fling.


I'd say forget these exes and concentrate on making your marriage work.


No brainer...really.

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This is why I HATE facebook! these websites destroy marriages.


I can't even begin to imagine how much pain i would feel if you were my husband and this was happening behind my back.


I THINK the reason you are so hung up on C is because the relationship never really got a chance to get off the ground. you were children, you didnt have sex and so now you are filled with all these thoughts of 'what if'.


Could you be going through a little mid-life crisis and speaking to C has taken you back in time, to a time in your life when you thought you had all the time in the world to settle down, when you could do as you please? maybe you think that re-kindling something with C would make you feel young again? maybe you think you can turn back time.


You might be thinking, how things could have been different, how would your life be now if it had worked out with C?


I think some of these thoughts are quite natural, but also unhealthy while you are married to someone else.


In my opinion, you should cease contact with ALL exes, block your facebook so they can't contact you (or Block them from contacting you which is easily done!) also concentrate on making your relationship with your wife a little more exciting.


You obviously love her so why risk ruining it for a teenage fantasy that will never live up to your expectations and can't take you back in time.


We can't undo our past mistakes, we can't and accepting it is very hard, but you need to accept that although it may have been a mistake at the time to hurt C you may never have met your wife and had your lovely children if you hadn't.

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Let go of the guilt, man! That is just crazy. It's been 20 years, for God's sake... Get a hobby, or do things with your wife to make your relationship stronger. And ditch your Facebook account. You are just asking for trouble if you pursue this other woman, so act your age and stop living in the past.

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I just wanted to add, that I can understand the feelings that arise when faced with an old ex.


I had a boyfriend when I was a teenager, I was about 18 and he was 21. He was way more serious than I was and although I said "I love you" a lot to him, I realise looking back I didnt really know wht that meant. He was my first 'proper' boyfriend and we had a very good sex life. He treated me like a queen and he didnt deserve it when I dumped him. It broke his heart and I can still remember how sick I felt hearing him cry and beg and ask Why why? when I couldnt offer him any answers.


In years to come i would often think about him and kinda regret finishing with him, wondering if i would meet someone who would love me as much, treat me as good, wishing i could have met him when i was older, more mature, able to realise a good thing when I had it. I often wondered whether he thought of me.


Then I found him on facebook. I didnt contact him, I just nosied at his page. He is married with a child and looks happy. I looked at the pictures and there were pictures of his parent's house which took me back in time and i found i really enjoyed looking at the pictures of the house and remembering times i had been there and it was like going back in time.


Even though I have moved on and am happy and settled down with someone else I remember it feeling quite strange that he is married with children and it was kind of final that we would never be in touch again, if that makes sense.. even though i wouldnt swap the person i am with for anything in the world!


Its nice to reminisce about our past, remember being a teenager and the way we felt about everything, but you can;t go back.

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There is one thing you can do to nip this in the bud before you ruin your life over it...delete your facebook account and let it go.


I am in a wonderful relationship. We are engaged. A guy whom I considered to be a fish that got away contacted me on facebook. I was tempted for about five minutes to consider really talking to him. He showed his true colors very fast and I snapped right back out of that. Thank heavens!!! So I know how tricky it can be, but really, it's time to get rid of facebook, which is a total PITA application anyway!

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We all have fond memories, and regrets in life. Thinking of them is one thing, acting on them is another thing.


You need to think of what you have right now, and what you could lose in the future, if you act on this.


I would think long and hard about this, before your marriage falls apart.


If you feel your marriage can't work, then leave, before you chose to be involved with someone else.


I don't feel you would like the title "Cakeman."

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Let this go.


You're happily married and have two precious little girls. You are so blessed.


The anguish that you think you're feeling about your (appropriately) non-sexual, one-year relationship when you were *16 years old* is SO out of proportion to the reality at hand that it probably has very little to do with what you're actually mourning. What's really going on here? Some ideas: You're very settled down and will never again be so young and free to make life choices; At times in your life you have felt rejected, like a loser, and haven't dealt with that; At times in your life you have been less than self-assured, less than empathetic, less than supportive to people who need help; At times you feel guilty for your success.


Deal with these things on their own merits. Don't let yourself yoke them to an old, old, old childhood relationship and work through them in that guise. It's not real. It's not about C. C is a mirage who is serving as a sinkhole for the weird, random, stray bits that you don't like about yourself and haven't come to terms with.


Wish her well, tell her goodbye, and delete your Facebook account.

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How old are you now? You're about mid-30s right? Why are you so worried about a girl from your highschool? Or even from college? Or even from any other time in your past that was years and years ago? They call it the past for a reason... that time is past. The only time is now. The past doesn't even exist. These are just some hazey memories that are kicking around in your head that, frankly, mean absolutely nothing.


You have a wife and a family. This is your life. These were your choices. You are not going to rewind that and suddenly go back to some woman from high school. If you cheated on her then then there was certainly a reason. You weren't meant to be together. It's done. The person that you're romanticizing right now from H.S. is NOT the same person that you've had brief contact with sense. They aren't even close to the same person. You're not in love with her. You don't even know her. Everything you have going on in your head is pure, speculative fantasy and little else.


Let's say, in a bizarre scenario, you acted on one of these fantasies. Let's say you called up your old H.S. sweetheart, agreed to meet. Let's say that, miraculously, when you looked into each other's eyes, talked, flirted, etc., all those old feelings came rushing back. Then what? Do you really think that they would last? They wouldn't. The immediate rush you'd get by being next to this woman will dissipate and fade. Actually, those are a terrible choice of words. They will disintegrate and explode into nothing almost instantaneously. You'll realize this person to be exactly what she is.... a nice memory, but mostly, a complete and utter stranger. It would be a disaster.

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A couple of people have said "don't act on this". There is no possible chance of acting on it. C mentioned she would like to see me in person, but I think that is a bad idea. I think it would probably not even be a good idea to call her on the phone because then I would be hearing her voice and I think it would be too much to take.


There is no chance I would leave J or have an affair with C. I don't love 35 year old C - I'm sick to death over 15 year old C but she's gone. (I was actually 16 at the time, C is a year younger than me.)


Or maybe I don't understand what you mean by "act on it"?


Also, to eleanorrigby1's point about how she would feel if it were her husband and behind her back. This is precisely why I talked to J about it. Losing C due to infidelity taught me that I don't want any part of that ever again.


I'm not sure how J feels about it. She told me that she trusts me. She told me that she knows I love her. She compared it to her keeping in contact with the father of her other child. Obviously the relationship wasn't as deep as that one because there wasn't a child involved.


OK. So, the theme I'm hearing here is to stop talking to C. Should I really go so far as to block her? Should I at least tell her why I'm blocking her? I don't want to hurt her feelings. Or should I just wind it down?

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And, not to sound rude, but start acting more like a married man, you're no longer in high school.


This hurt my feelings a little bit, which I guess is OK. But in your view how should a married man act? What should I have done in this situation? Not spoken with C in the first place when she contacted me?

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This hurt my feelings a little bit, which I guess is OK. But in your view how should a married man act? What should I have done in this situation? Not spoken with C in the first place when she contacted me?


Everyone has thoughts of another. Everyone. There isn't a person on this earth who has been in a long term relationship and not considered another person romantically. If they claim that that's true then they are just in denial and lying to themselves.


That said, it's all about what you do with that knowledge. It's ok to admit that you daydream about an old partner. It's natural. Don't beat yourself up over it. However, entertaining that fantasy by actually contacting the object of your fantasy is just another level. There is no reason to collect ex-lovers on your Facebook. It's just bad policy all the way around.

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This hurt my feelings a little bit, which I guess is OK. But in your view how should a married man act? What should I have done in this situation? Not spoken with C in the first place when she contacted me?






I apologize, and I agree, that did sound kind of harsh.


It was ok to speak to her, if that was your only intention, and not to bring the old relationship back to life.


"How should a married man act"?

One of the ways is to make it clear, that you're not interested in getting emotionally close to another woman. How they react to that shouldn't be your problem at all.


Just my opinion...Wishing you the best

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Thanks to everyone who replied.


Because I've been in this one relationship with J for 15 years, I've developed a way to deal with emotional stuff which is to embrace how I'm feeling, go with it, talk to the other person about all the little issues of how we both feel, and follow those feelings to a resolution. That has been a successful strategy with J, K, bosses, business partners, relatives, etc. (I'm an entrepreneur and most of work situations I've been in have been highly emotionally charged.)


But It just doesn't work with C. It probably wouldn't work with any past gf except perhaps M. It only worked with M because of the fact that I had no unresolved feelings about M and M didn't try to open up a bunch of past stuff with me. M and I were close friends after our dating relationship ended until the time I moved away from the city where we went to college and whatever problems we might have had were worked out then. We saw each other with other bfs and gfs and interacted fine, etc. (I supposed it is possible that M if she were being really honest would disagree and that seeing pics of me, J, K, and L on facebook is unpleasant for her. If it is, I don't want to know about it.)


For a while I thought that talking with C would be the best way to deal with it. And furthermore, I tried to deal with the toughest parts of it first because that's what I do. Its like taking a small raft onto a pond, then a lake and its OK, but you take the same raft into the ocean and you're going to be overwhelmed.


Before I got your advice, I was thinking I should keep talking to C for maybe another two weeks and then re-evaluate the situation. I was hoping that just the passage of time would cause me to calm down about it. And then I was hoping it would just be no big deal and would be like it is with M.


But it seems like the consensus is that this approach would just make it worse. I think I have to agree that the group is correct.


Again, you have my thanks.

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I think I understand what you are trying to say.


You love your wife and children and told your wife as you did not want to hurt her and wanted everything out in the open. Unfortunately, I suspect even if secretly she feels at least a little threatened so thats a burden in itself.


The problem is you still have some feelings toward the other women. I suspect due to the emotional heartache attached to your story together.


I hope you are able to sort this situation out as your last post indicates.


Look after yourself and cherish your marriage. After that many years it would be a shame to loose all those memories.



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There is no chance I would allow this to destroy my marriage. I love J. I do not love C. The 16 year old me loved the 15 year old C very much, but neither of those people exist anymore.


Even were I single, the 35 year old C would not be right for me and I'm sure I would recognize this very quickly.


It doesn't mean I don't have bad feelings about our breakup in the 80s that I want to put to rest. Just that perhaps it is impossible to do so and risky to even try.


I imagine what it would it would be like if I could travel back in time and inhabit my 16 year old body and replay things with C. My guess is that I would do things very differently and C would break up with me because 15 year old C would not find such a relationship to be interesting for her. The things she liked about me back then are probably incompatible with having a mature attitude or thinking through consequences of actions. Even back then she was more focused on "fun" than I was. I was completely insane and so was she. Thinking about it now brings a smile.


I just wish I had been nicer to her. I'd like to be able to remember the good things without feeling the guilt of the bad things.


Facebook sucks.

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You know...if the issue is the unresolved remorse because of how you treated her in the past, why don't you just make amends for that? Just write out everything you did wrong, go to her and recognize your mistakes, say you're sorry for them and regret them, be sincere, and then know that you've cleaned up your side of the street. That will be far more helpful than anything else you could do.

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Just write out everything you did wrong, go to her and recognize your mistakes, say you're sorry for them and regret them, be sincere


I already did that. What I wanted her to say was that she forgave me. What she actually said was that she had no memory of those bad things because she has limited memory from back then in general due to heavy drug use. I don't know if I believe that because there were a lot of details she did remember. And then she told me all the bad things she has ever done in her life.


She didn't say - you were bad, I forgive you, just think about the good times and don't feel guilty about the bad things and move on with your life. She said: look at how much worse I was.


And somehow that makes me sad because I feel responsible for sending her down a bad road. I was a complete asshat and then a couple of months later her mom dies. Ugh. Obviously I can't be held responsible for things she did when I wasn't around, but still: Ugh.


It makes me sick in the pit of my stomach. It makes me sad for that 15 year old C who I loved. It makes me angry at the 16 year old me. Ugh. It makes me cry.


Just one more thing. It really doesn't matter whether I was responsible for anything she did or not. It really doesn't matter whether she would have had the same actions had I been the best boyfriend in history. It just makes me cry for 15 year old C to hear about what went wrong in her life.

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I just wish I had been nicer to her. I'd like to be able to remember the good things without feeling the guilt of the bad things. And somehow that makes me sad because I feel responsible for sending her down a bad road.


You've both had thousands--millions--of experiences in the last 19 years, and opportunity after opportunity to get your lives on a good path. Your treatment of her when she was 15 is no more responsible for where she ended up than her treatment of you is responsible for where you ended up. You weren't an abusive parent, a cruel mentor, and as far as I can tell you didn't beat her, rape her, kill her family, get her arrested, or personally sit her down and force her to use drugs. You may feel like crap about what you did or didn't do when you were a kid, but you've apologized. That's pretty much all you can do. She's said that she doesn't even remember the bad stuff you did. Try to believe her, because that's pretty much all you can do. She tried to one-up you on bad deeds--that's a pretty good indicator that she doesn't think you're wicked and personally responsible for any misery she's experienced since meeting you.


Honestly, it's fine and perhaps healthy for you to feel guilty and have regrets because we LEARN from those experiences (and you have, so good job!!), but to assume too much responsibility for how your high school girlfriend lived the next two decades of her life just seems unreasonable and perhaps arrogant. You aren't her sun. Give her a little credit for having some autonomy.

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but to assume too much responsibility for how your high school girlfriend lived the next two decades of her life just seems unreasonable and perhaps arrogant. You aren't her sun. Give her a little credit for having some autonomy.


I know. I'm not responsible. I'm not. It is just that when I picture her in my head and remember what I did and think about what happened, I just cry and cry. Not because I miss her or want to be with her, but because the things were just so sad.


No, you are correct - I never beat her or raped her. I just didn't treat her like gold which is what I think she deserved.

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The only time is now. The past doesn't even exist. These are just some hazey memories that are kicking around in your head that, frankly, mean absolutely nothing.


Wouldn't that mean that someday I'm going to be on my deathbed with only "meaningless" thoughts of J, K, and L? I don't think I could adopt that mode of thinking and stay sane.

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