Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I recently found out that my very first boyfriend is getting married again, and I cannot quit obsessing over it.
We dated when I was very young – my senior year of high school and freshman year in college. I was sure at the time he was “the one” for me. As it turns out, he wasn’t, and we went our separate ways.
After college, I moved home and we started seeing each other again. Naively, I believed we were on the way to getting back together. It took me seeing him out one night with another girl to realize that I was only a booty call to him, not a serious relationship prospect. The last time I spoke with him was over 20 years ago, when he called to invite me to come over for the evening. I was dating a new guy, who would eventually become my husband, so I turned him down.
He has had a string of failed relationships – at least two divorces that I know of. I, on the other hand, have been married, more or less happily, for nearly 20 years.
The fact of the matter is, it was never going to work with this guy. We came from two different worlds socioeconomically, and we live in different worlds now. Think Lexus Soccer Mom and Tattooed Harley Man. I am in middle management with a 6-figure salary, he has held the same blue collar job since the 1980s. We wanted different things from life. We had little in common 25 years ago beyond teenage hormones and unlimited time together, and we don’t have a thing in common now besides two years of history.
So tell me, if you can, why I even give a damn about this? It wasn’t meant to be 25 years ago, I’ve been happy for 20 years without him, and I cannot understand what is driving me to be so interested in him now after all this time.
Do I need therapy? Is my marriage a sham? Is this standard 40-something behavior for a woman to look back and wonder what might have been? Is it okay that I think his new wife looks like a hooker, and not the pretty kind?
I can’t imagine discussing this with my husband, although I’ve thought about it. Honestly, there isn’t anything I’m missing at home. My husband loves me, respects me, takes great care of me and our kids. We don’t argue much, and while our life isn’t the most exciting, we have a happy home and activities we enjoy. It would kill him to know I’m even thinking of the other guy, much less obsessing over him.
I really would like someone to tell me what I need to do to shut the book on that chapter of my life. Can anyone help?
Make Me Stop
Dear Make Me Stop,
Let me type something that may put this whole thing in perspective. I do not know of one woman in this universe who upon hearing that her ex-boyfriend of whatever vintage is getting married, doesn’t stop whatever she is doing, Google the hell out of everything related to the ex, his new wife, their alma maters, pets and astrological signs.
We, I mean, “they” do this because we are human. We do this because we are sentimental. We do this because sometimes it feels good to remember what we were like at 19. So while I think that your interest is absolutely normal, I am concerned that you are “obsessing” over this situation. You need to be honest with yourself- what do you think is going on? While you described your life now as pretty dreamy, I wonder if you feel that you’re missing some excitement of the Harley variety. You made it clear that you are from different socio-economic worlds and yet I’ve heard tell that people can be attracted and fall in love across income tax brackets. So while you recognize that you and the Ex have different life goals and plans, it does not mean that you did not find him crazy attractive in other ways. I believe the psychological terms for this Madonna-whore phenomenon for women is Joseph-Harley.
It would not hurt to have a few sessions with someone to talk this through. It may be just that you need to acknowledge the teenage attraction and to confirm that it did not feel good to be the booty call and not be treated seriously. And no, I do not think it is a good idea to discuss this with your husband at this point. It would be hurtful to use him as a sounding board and he may not have the tools to help you process what you are going through. And a therapist can help you focus on what is happening now in your own life that is making his apparently third marriage of so much interest to you. (I am assuming from your letter that you did not obsess about the first two.) Are your kids getting ready to leave home? Are they dating themselves?
I hope you get the answers you need soon.