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August 3, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

Ten years ago I had a very passionate, very wonderful relationship with a man I'll call Rex. We were very much in love, and, being in our mid-20s, were also immature and somewhat foolish. I broke up because of something that, from my perspective, was totally his fault. I kept all his love letters (we lived on different islands) and when I re-read all of them recently, I discovered that our breakup was as much my fault as his.

Last year I found out that Rex was moving to an island near mine. Not coincidentally, I moved to the same island. I began to fantasize about him and the possibilities for a relationship with him -- a more mature and committed relationship.

Well, we saw each other for the first time since the breakup a few months ago, and the meeting was ... electric. The spark was still there. However, what I did not know until then was that Rex is here with a "partner." I later found out that Rex will be asking this woman to marry him.

BG, I am heartbroken. My feelings for this man are strong. I have expressed a little of how I feel in an email, and he wrote back -- with a virtual goodbye hug. We have mutual friends and colleagues, so I know he will never be out of my life completely. Each time I think I have achieved closure, something or someone else reminds me of him and my heart cries out for him. I dream about him and I find it very difficult to stop thinking of him. I want him to be happy, so I won't continue to interfere, but BG, he is one-of-a-kind and my feelings are so strong.

Help me please!

-- Island Girl

Dear Island Girl,

Just for the record, were he not taken, I'd say go for it. Renewing long-gone love is not as pie-in-the-past a proposition as one might think (if you don't believe me, ask Dr. Nancy Kalish).

Making that point was meant to help, not hurt, by way of assuring you that you are/were not out of your mind for considering a real-life reunion. But now the problem is that you're caught in the undertow of your fantasy about What Could Have Been. I understand that he is one-of-a-kind, and/but I'm presuming you don't mean that he's the last man on the island. I wonder, if it was that easy for you to island-hop to him, could you consider hopping back off? Don't expect to forget him completely; such is the delight/curse of bittersweet memory. But you do need to do something to put an ocean -- or at least part of one -- between you.

Breakup Girl



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