Dear Amy: Two years ago, I was casually seeing a man, “Brian,” for about a month’s time. He was married, but intending to leave his wife. Things progressed quickly and we both acknowledged at the time that we were falling in love with each other. He ended up breaking things off with me to work things out with his wife (they have children together). I was crushed, but I understood.
It took me a long time to get over him and the guilt I held for interfering in his marriage. I heard he moved more than 1,000 miles away.
Two years later, I am in a much better place. I have a boyfriend (he’s a great guy). I earned my master’s degree, I have a job, and will be moving into my own place soon.
Last week, out of nowhere, I received a LinkedIn message from this man that he needed to talk to me. He wrote: “I miss you. I’m ready to talk. I hope I’m not too late.”
I ignored the message, and then later that day he appeared at my workplace wanting to talk.
Embarrassed, I told him to leave and not come back.
I left work that day to find a two-page letter from him on my car, stating that walking away was the hardest thing he has ever done.
He said that his heart and soul never healed, and he hoped to talk to me.
Apparently, he took a plane that morning just to speak to me. He flew home that same night. We never spoke.
Now I don’t know what to do. Should I contact him? Do I owe him anything?
Dear Caught: “Brian” has made a Hail Mary pass. In football, this signifies the last-chance effort to do something heroic. This pass is only significant, however, when the receiver catches it and scores a touchdown. Most often, the football falls to the ground, as the spectators head for the exits.
According to you, you only saw this man for about a month. Despite your intimacy, you don’t know him well. His choice to show up at your workplace is one of those gestures that seem heroic only in the movies; in real life, it is intrusive, embarrassing, and even menacing.
He claims that flying to see you was the only way to contact you. But he reached you through LinkedIn, and he also obviously knew where you worked, so he could have easily contacted you without showing up. He appeared because he did not want to be ignored.
The relationship has ended. You owe him nothing. Responding to his contact will only open the door to more contact between you. You seem to know intuitively what this would mean, and so you should continue to follow your instincts regarding him. Your instincts are good.
Dear Amy: I offered to host a baby shower for a friend. She said one of her relatives had also mentioned giving a shower, so could we work together?
I agreed, but have had tremendous difficulty reaching the relative.
We were only able to make a few quick decisions with a promise of later calls or emails. Weeks have passed, and aside from one email, I haven’t heard from her and haven’t gotten responses to texts, emails, phone calls, and voicemails, and finally a letter I sent by U.S. mail.
I really don’t want to stress out the mom-to-be, but I don’t know how to continue plans for this shower except to do it all on my own and hang the consequences when the mom’s relative complains. Ideas?
Dear On Hold: Carry on with your plans. You and the relative had a successful connection via email one time, so send her an email, telling her that you went ahead with the planning. Tell her the time, date, and some details, and ask if she would be willing to supply one aspect of the shower. If you don’t hear back, do all the work, enjoy the process, and host the shower on your own. This is generous of you.
Dear Amy: The letter from “Disappointed Mom” reminded me of myself. She was sad that she initiated all of the contact with her adult children. When I found myself in this situation, I got busy. It was hard work to build a life in retirement. When I didn’t contact my kids for several weeks, they called me. Slowly, the dynamic changed.
Dear Satisfied: We all get entrenched in our relationships. But it is also possible to change.
Email Amy at email@example.com.