Elaine in Fort Lauderdale writes:
I lost my first husband 28 years ago. After he died I connected with his best friend and lived together for a number of years. He finally convinced me to marry him and make it legal, so I married him in 1996. We had been extremely happy for all those years. Then he had a heart attack 2 years later. He was not the same person when he got out of the hospital. I found out later that he met someone in a chat room who lived in another state and had been having a computer and phone affair with her for 2 years. At the time he was in his late 50’s and she in her early 40’s. She was married with 5 children… when she came to our city to care for an ailing mother he met her and slept with her. I found obscene letters that she wrote him on the computer. She was pushing his buttons, he was also sending her gifts and jewelry.When I found out and asked why his reply was I got pulled in.
We had a terrible fight and both hurt each other physically. He said it was over and we were trying but I caught him talking to her again on the computer. To make a long story short, he walked out and we had a bitter divorce. That was 8 years ago. I bumped into him about a year ago and he backed off when he saw me but managed to have a little conversation. Since then as time passed we bump into one another at least every 2 weeks and he talks for hours at a time. He lives alone and doesn’t have many friends. I never see him with anyone. He is 66 and I am 73. I still look much younger than him. The other woman dumped him like a hot potato while we were getting divorced but I know that he is wearing a piece of jewelry on his neckchain that he sent her and she sent back to him — a heart and a key. My problem is that I will always love him but he has hurt me so very much. I think he is being extremely friendly now and I don’t want to make a fool of myself. I don’t care what my friends or family say but I don’t know how to handle the situation. He happens to be a very possessive individual. Never liked it when he didn’t have all my attention. I’m sure he is not a very happy camper. I just want to know if you see us getting back together or not. He has told me that as soon as he retires he will probably move but I don’t believe him.
All of the history between you and your ex, both the good and the bad, has created a strong bond and sense of understanding between the two of you. But, when it comes to love and relationships, some of that bad history is what you should pay more attention to.
Currently, each of you provides the other with a sense of companionship, even a bit of hopefulness – but things have changed too drastically for a true reunion to ever take place. There is no harm in staying in touch, as long as you recognize the boundaries that are, and need to be, in place.
Your ex is no longer capable of being the man you want or need, and he does recognize this. That doesn’t mean he will always gear his words or actions in a manner that are in your best interest, though. So, you need to be careful. While he wants to be in your life, and he certainly has some melancholy and lonely times, he really isn’t thinking about a long-term future with any seriousness. That is something you should keep in mind, or you could find yourself being hurt once again.
I don’t see your ex happily settling into a loving relationship with anyone, and he does still pine for his mistress who got away. In some ways, he is comfortable in his loneliness and despair. With your vibrant energy and zest for life, you can find someone who is more your equal as long as you stay available and willing to put yourself “out there.” You haven’t seen the last of love in this life, it just isn’t with your ex. Continue to live fully and be open to happiness, and you won’t have to settle for anything less.