Dear Harlan: I dated a girl in college for three years. The relationship ended when she broke up with me. I’m now in a serious relationship with a new woman. We have talked about moving in together and possibly getting married. I love being with her and can see myself spending our lives together.
A couple of weeks ago, my ex got back in touch with me on Facebook. She wanted me to know that she was thinking of me and realized she made a mistake breaking up with me. She felt the need to tell me this for some reason. I never responded, but I can’t get this out of my head. I was devastated when she broke up with me. I have always hoped for this day. But now that I’m in a new relationship, it’s not what I want.
A part of me wants to see if there is anything else there. I still have feelings for her, but I’m in another relationship. I haven’t responded or shared this my girlfriend. Any advice? — Torn
Dear Torn: She missed the boat. The train has left the station. The plane is in the air. The car has hit the road. The wagon has left the horse stable. You had a wonderful run with this woman. It taught you about yourself and being in a relationship and moving forward. What you have with your new partner is wonderful, loving and valuable.
Past love can play with your mind. It can stir up old feelings. It taps into old emotions that have lay dormant. It floods you with confusion. But what you had isn’t what you’ll have again. It might last a few days or a few weeks. She might get back together with her ex. Instead of letting her distract you, give your ex a small piece of your heart. Save the rest of it for the one you’re with now.
Life is all about timing. She realized you’re the best too late. Take that with you and continue living your life with the woman you’re dating.
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I need the best way to respond to family questions about my love life. I don’t want to share details with my parents or siblings. When I have someone I want to share with them, they’ll know because she will be there. I’m 27 and uninterested in discussing this. What’s a polite way to change the subject without blowing up a landmine. I’ve yet to master this topic.
— No More Questions
Dear No More Questions,
My big question is, Why is this such a difficult question for you to answer? It’s not like they’re asking you who you voted for in the midterms (stay far away from this). It’s a reasonable and natural question for a loving family to ask. It comes after “How is the weather?” and before “How is work?” If there’s a blow-up, it’s more about you than them. Tell them the truth — there isn’t anything to share right now. If they continue to press you, tell them you’ll definitely share when there’s something to share. If they continue, tell them you really, definitely, truly will share when there is something to share. Then ask the person talking to you a question, share a story or start singing a holiday song. Give him or her something else to talk about or to sing along to (it works). The more comfortable you can be with these questions, the less of a problem this will be.