Fanning an Old Flame
Dear Ask Shifra -
A few weeks ago, I ran into my old girlfriend.
We've bumped into each other a few times over the years, but for some reason this last encounter made me wonder if she ever thinks about our past. The truth is I do think about her from time to time. We didn't break up on bad terms but drifted apart due to the circumstances of our lives when we were younger.
All these years later I'm happily married with children and thank G-d for giving me so many of life's blessings. She is also happily married to a very nice, good person who treats her very well. But I know I never fully got over her and now ever since we met last have been thinking if I am the only one who you have ever heard from who saves a piece of their heart for an old flame.
I am also really curious if my old girlfriend feels the same way and I have considered asking her.
What do you and your readers think I should do?
Also, do you know if women have these same concerns and would a woman who
found out her old boyfriend has very fond memories of their
relationship be pleased to learn this, especially if she knew her old
boyfriend understands that it is impossible to become a part of her
life again and impossible to pursue those feelings?
Please, call me Shifra. I think there are a lot of people who still have a bit of feeling for an old love tucked in the corner of their heart somewhere but the important thing to realise here is that this love is just a memory and not your current reality. Whoever you were, or she was, or the two you you were together no longer exists. What you are feeling are really just phantom feelings. Attachment to something that is no longer a part of you.
As for discussing your feelings with your ex I can't imagine it would do any good for either of you.
Here are some of the possible outcomes to that conversation and why they would be a wretched mistake.
Outcome #1 - She loves you and always has.
Problem: You are both pretty happily married with kids and debt and all that - but this is LOVE we're talking about! So what will you do?! Leave your families? Have an affair? Torture yourself with thoughts of what could have been? It's headtrip central!
Outcome #2 - She thinks you are insane or reacts to you as if you are. Your question (as benign as you make it sound) totally freaks her out. She tells her husband or your wife. She avoids you forever. This all could happen regardless of her true feelings for you.
Result: Embaressment and general weirdness for all eternity - HEADTRIP!
Outcome #3 - She thinks it's "sweet."
Ok so what does that mean? Is she being patronizing? Does she love you back? Can you ask her more questions? Will that lead to outcome #1 or #2? See Above (hint: headtrip, headtrip!)
Outcome #4 - She doesn't have any feeling for you. You phrase your question just right so that she can answer truthfully with no fear or pressure. But no, there is nothing there, sorry Charlie. Then you feel depressed because you had that little spark in your mind this whole time and it was just imaginary. Why did you need to ask her, now you just feel stupid. Waaaa!
So as you can see, no good can come of this.
Now as for how the woman would feel about knowing her old flame still has feelings for her:
As a married woman who has been in that situation I can honestly tell you that "Some things are better left unsaid." (Quick! Name that song- Elie? Mirty?)
I don't think most women would mind knowing that you still think well of them, or that you fondly remember your relationship, but knowing you are still pining for them on some level could be easily construed as either sad or creepy.
Running into someone from your past can churn up a lot of old feelings but once you settle back into your life and regain your perspective you will realise that this is something that is really that cannot be persued because what you miss is long gone. I'm sorry if that sounds a bit harsh because I know that old feelings run very deep but until they mellow out a bit I'd strongly advise you not to react to them.