D ear Amy: I’ve struggled with this issue for nearly a decade. I fell in love with my best friend in high school. It was a lost cause because I’m gay and he’s straight. He “experimented” with me but had no interest in a relationship; he went on to have a child with a woman. I moved away to college, dated others, even went to counseling, but I’ve never been able to stop being in love with him. So many things make me think of him, and no feeling since has measured up to my first love.
I now have a serious boyfriend of three years, whom I do love deeply. I’ve been upfront with him about my first love, who has been a great point of contention in our relationship.
My boyfriend wants me to have no contact with this former love, which I really understand, but it is torturous to me. I feel like I can’t talk about it with him because it’s too upsetting.
Now we’re staying in my hometown for two months, and my obsession is in overdrive. I want to see my high school love again; I feel like it could help me move on if I could talk to him because going cold turkey hasn’t worked. I have no reason to believe he could ever love me, and thus I don’t see it as a threat to my current boyfriend.
What I’d like to know is 1) whether I’m justified in wanting to see him; 2) how I should approach talking about this to my current boyfriend; and 3) how I can free myself from this old love obsession.
I feel like I’ve exhausted all options.
What should I do?
Dear Obsessed: Your impulse to see the object of your obsession is understandable (you want to feed your obsession), but it isn’t necessarily a safe choice. You say you don’t have any reason to believe that your first love will ever love you back, and so seeing him is not a threat to your current relationship. But your obsession does not require any stimulation at all to thrive – hence the last 10 years of a one-sided fascination. It is definitely a threat to your current relationship, whether or not you reconnect with the other man. Your obsession is also a threat to the love object’s current relationship and family.
Asking if you are justified in wanting to see the object of your obsession is like asking an addict if he is justified in wanting a fix. The addiction itself provides the “justification” for feeding the addiction.
Given the long-term nature of this and how it has interfered with your life and relationships, you should pursue professional counseling again — on your own and also with your current boyfriend. In my opinion, it is not wise for you to see the object of your obsession because of the likelihood that it will trigger — not ease — the intensity of your emotions. In therapy, you may learn that your obsession isn’t really about the other guy, but rather about you and your connection to your own sexuality and emotions.
Dear Amy: We received a very nice thank-you note from a bride whose wedding we attended — but she thanked us for the wrong gift!
What should we do?
Dear Confused: Email, call or send the bride a message on Facebook. Tell her, “We were so happy to attend your wedding; it was lovely. Today we received your very nice thank-you note for our gift and though we appreciate the gratitude, we worry that there was a mix-up! You thanked us for the coffee maker, but we gave you two champagne flutes from your gift registry. Somehow, the cards must have gotten switched, and we thought you should know.”
Dear Amy: “Wondering,” the bored wife and mother, described her “midlife ennui.”
I liked your recommendations, but she should also see her doctor. I was plunged into early menopause and had very similar feelings. I was able to sort things out with medical intervention and now feel like myself again.
Dear Relieved: Excellent recommendation. Thank you.