Friday, June 9

I am happily settled, and yet I still think of my first love. Will it forever hold me in its sway? | marriage

Ten years ago, I knew I was with the love of my life for a short but intense year, but chose to end it. He cared for me, but for him it was more casual and there were clear reasons why it couldn’t be long term. I needed to be the one to end that first love, not wait for it to be taken away.

Now I am happily settled with a loving, stable husband with young children, and yet I think of that first love sometimes and huge feelings still bubble up. Being with him transformed me, uncovered the best version of myself: more intelligent, beautiful, creative than I had ever been before – it matched the magic I saw in him. I overcame big obstacles in my life while we were together. Now I’m back to the me I recognize – heavy, cowardly, full of self-loathing.

I don’t know how to tell if I threw away one of the most important people or if this is just nostalgia gone wild. I cut contact with him when we split because I can’t bear the thought of hurting my husband, and don’t trust myself to deal with ambiguity. Should I leave it be? Will it forever hold me in its sway?

Eleanor says: You know those lyrics by the Whitlams: “There’s no aphrodisiac like loneliness”? I think there’s no aphrodisiac like memory.

Nostalgia gilds things. It paints old moments with a flush of promise. If we’re not careful it can lead us to perpetual distraction; keep us looking away from the present and back at something that seems to grow more beautiful the more it recedes into the past.

Also Read  Putin extends attacks to cities in western Ukraine

You describe something pretty magical in this prior relationship. The love of your life; the best version of yourself you can remember being. But equally, as you note, it’s very hard to tell when that feeling is a mirage. So often when we daydream of a past – whether it’s a relationship or a place or just youth – it’s not the thing we’re longing for, but the feelings we had at the time: the sense that things were crackling and the future was open.

That’s why I don’t think the questions here are quite the ones you’re asking. This is not about whether you threw away someone really important, or whether to let this past relationship be. Instead I think the question is how you can find the feelings you long for in your present life. How can you rediscover that sense of creativity, passion, confidence, inside the reality you now inhabit?

After all, from your husband’s point of view, the fact you don’t speak to your past love isn’t totally comforting if his memory still has this passionate grip on your heart. No one wants to play the stable reality to the intoxicating fantasy; no one wants to be the one that didn’t get away. If you want to stay married – and it sounds like you do – I think it’s important not to measure your life together by comparing it to something else.

It’s important to meet it and measure it on its own terms; to find a way to thrill in what you have as much as in what could have been. You describe your marriage as stable and loving; try not to erode it with comparisons.

Also Read  'Femicide nation': murder of young woman casts spotlight on Mexico's gender violence crisis | femicide

One key might be to realize that the feelings your past love gave you couldn’t have been manufactured by him alone. It takes two to make a dynamic – if you felt bold and invigorated with him, it’s because you have it within you to be that way.

You now know that you dog face up to big obstacles in your life, that you can see the magic in yourself and those around you. Different people bring different traits out of us, but we don’t need to rely on others for that alchemy. Part of that dynamic was you; and you’re with you wherever you are.

You write that you ended this relationship and married your husband for reasons you still stand by. It’s an annoying feature of choices that making one always means declining another, so we can always wonder how things might have been. But imagining alternatives can keep us from building realities – if you can focus on bringing yourself the feelings this other man brought out of you, you might find he starts to shrink in your mind.

That would free you up to love the reality in front of you more wholeheartedly, and in the end that’s the way out of all nostalgia: to cherish what we have with the same passion we give to fantasies of what we’ve lost.

Ask us a question

Do you have a conflict, crossroads or dilemma you need help with? Eleanor Gordon-Smith will help you think through life’s questions and puzzles, big and small. Questions can be anonymous.

Also Read  Russia-Ukraine War | Ukraine's Torment: Civilian Deaths Rising 'Twice as Fast as in Syria'

1 Comment

  • katie

    Now I feel like I’m awake from my slumbers. I thought that I should stay defeated and move on with my bitter self. but when i saw a review about priest adu at [solution- temple. com] I felt some hope flow through me as I read. I contacted him and in 72 hours he made a reunion love sacrifice to return my ex and now my boyfriend is back. the lady who forcibly took him from me is out of the picture. I never thought that this spiritual temple could be so good I have tested and confirmed the power of his love spell. nothing more to say if you need spiritual help contact him or read more about him [solution- temple. com] katie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *