Looking back on January 4, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
It’s that time of year again, when we bow our heads and reflect on the year that’s passed. This is also when we ask ourselves “What the heck just happened?” I’ve been doing that a lot for the last few weeks and I was hoping that your immense intellect and other really cool super powers can help me sort it all out.
I just got out of a really horrible “relationship,” got myself into a really swank bachelor pad, been doing some really swank bachelor things, and all around having a great time. I sometimes get nightmares about my ex, but I try not to let that bother me. I did my share of “closure” with her. When I left, I “closed” the door. My question is this…When I was younger, I was with another gal who I thought was IT. She was the “template” of the woman I wanted in my life. We had great times together, we had bad times together. We broke up after 7 years of this and did not keep in touch for 3 years. That was four years ago. Now, we’ve been hanging out a lot (when I’m in town or vice-versa), talking (mostly via phone or e-mail), laughing, flirting, and getting more comfotable with each other. I have no complaints about that except that I’m finding myself falling in love with her again. What’s the problem you say? I know that she’s not falling for me and I can’t seem to look at anyone else without the spectre of the template popping up. It’s like I’ve put on blinders and narrowed my choices. I’m also starting to second-guess myself. Did I break up with my ex because I know that the template’s there? By the way, the template is still single and currently not seeing anyone. My friends try to set me up on dates and such, but I just don’t find anything in common with these women. I think I’m going crazy, falling for someone who lives halfway across the country, who I know doesn’t have the same feelings for me like I have for her. ARRGGHH!!! It drives me batty!!!! If I think about this logically, I know that I want to continue being friends with her (just friends though) and find another. I know I’m not the same person I was at the beginning of the year, much less in four years ago….but I guess logic truly goes out the door when you fall in love. Anyway all-seeing and all-knowing one, if you can help me sort this out it would really mean a lot to me. I don’t think I can go through another year with these feelings hanging over my head. Thanks.
— Back to the Past
Dear Back to the Past,
First of all, are you SURE that Templatia is not falling for you? Are you SURE you can handle being just visiting phoning laughing flirting friends? Because you do have some options here, though they are not necessarily neat, clean, and logical.
One is to up and tell her how you feel. And find out for sure how she does or doesn’t. I know, yikes! But this — being a yes/no, dare I say binary, question — is actually one of the rare instances in which hard data from the other person IS useful in plotting your next move/mindset.
Another is to not be in as much contact with her. Which you also may want to do if her answer is no. Then again, this one depends. We’ve discussed this around here before: she does not have to be around for you to hoist her up on that pedestal. You make the call: does being in touch feed the fantasy, or keep you down to earth? Decide and proceed.
In any case, this one’s a little easier to deal with than Y2K. Believe it or not — if she’s not interested, or if you decide not to ask — you still don’t have to go back and purge and reprogram every line of the archaic code that’s flipping your heart back 10 years. Yes, the memories are pretty much hard-wired in at this point, but they don’t have to be sitting right up there on your desktop. Though they may be until you meet someone else. See, it’s not necessarily true that you’re not finding anything in common with new women because they don’t match the template. It might just be that you’re not finding anything in common with new women, period. So far. (And quit second-guessing the cause/effect with your ex. Whatever. Not useful.)
So about the feelings, get whatever data you might need to help you guide them, but otherwise, meet them, greet them, and leave ’em alone. Fighting feelings is a contradiction in terms. Once you realize that, it’s possible for them to be around without being in your way. Yes, her presence may mess a little with your travel plans, your phone bills, some of the other amenities and utilities you depend on. But no point in shutting yourself off in some apocalyptic bunker. You’re more prepared than you think.