I’m Confused about my Feelings for my “Ex”

Question: Hi, Luise. I have been reading some of your advice to people and they seem to make sense. Maybe you can help me with some solid advice after the conclusion of a nine-year relationship, (3 years married with one child). We are now divorced. Things weren’t working out for a while and I made him leave the house to get some space, so to speak. He had already been seeing somebody and immediately moved in with her and he lives 15 minutes away from me. He still sees my son pretty much on a regular basis but we’ve been apart for a year. It was pretty messy for the first six months or so and now things are a little calmer. Suddenly I start hearing he’s not happy, so he says, with his “woman” and he is saying things to me about coming back that I would have loved to hear a year ago. However, he left me alone for a year to deal with the hurt and pain by myself and basically walked out on the family without saying a word. We’ve been talking about a lot of things and he even went so far as kissed me. I allowed it to see what I felt after all this time. I haven’t been really involved in any serious relationships, just a little dating, in this time. I guess I’m trying to figure out where my heart is; i.e., with him or for future relationships in the event I try to start fresh dating. After I kissed him a couple times and talked and listened to him for a couple days in a way it felt good to talk to him and deal with the anger and hurt and the possibility that he would still want me but at the same time I felt hurt and anger for how he has treated me. So, I don’t know if my heart is upset now from the hurt still or do I still love him? | did tell him that I feel different now that I’ve kissed him. I don’t want to get involved in another affair with him while he’s with another woman and start all over again. I just spent nine years with him and got divorced. I always have to see him because of my son with him. There are things that I fell in love with him for but the hurt that he has caused just was so shocking and painful. I always, always felt he was a selfish man. That was his problem. My life story has been very complicated and I’m really trying to make a new beginning. I have two kids and I long for adult companionship before I get too old to even have one. I’m 37 and have a career and everyone tells me I’m pretty and a nice person. It seems like I keep making bad choices. Why does my “ex” now keep coming back to me or calling me up and saying stuff? What could be in his mind? I don’t mean to ask shallow questions but it’s helpful for an outsider to maybe see it for what it is. If I tell him that I feel different, will he leave me alone and even if I did want him still? I don’t know things would ever be the right way so I push him away anyway. Thanks a lot for your input. M.

Answer: Dear M.: We are all imperfect, unfortunately, so what we get is imperfect partners and imperfect relationships. The goal, for most of us, is to get ourselves together as much as possible and then learn to relate to someone else who has done the same kind of inner work.

Look back. You were probably at a dead end when you asked your husband to leave. His subsequent behavior and instant relationship with someone he’d had on the “back burner” confirmed your worst fears, didn’t it? It also told you that you were on the right track to go solo. You can love someone deeply and not find that person good live-in material and it’s pretty futile to try to figure why he does what he does or what he’s thinking.

Self-absorbed individuals often find someone they don’t live with more appealing than the one they are with on a day-to-day basis. Your “ex” is getting dissatisfied at home, so you are starting to look better and better. The “other woman” now has a live-in who is kissing “another woman”! You! What-goes-around-comes around, doesn’t it? Do you really want that? Look more closely, aren’t your giving the guy mixed messages?

You have a son with this guy. You have memories…some of which are good or you wouldn’t have spent nine years together…but it that enough? He hasn’t changed, has he? What you see is what you get. It sounds like he’s still selfish and immature. And he’s still cheating to some degree…right?

People break up because they lose their rose-colored glasses and then hook up again because life just didn’t turn out that beautifully…after the divorce. Such reunions are often based on the premise that something is better than nothing. Not so…for most of us.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb…being married should be better than being single, or what’s the point? I have read statistics indicating remarriages usually fail to a greater degree than new ones, (and new ones aren’t all that successful, as you undoubtedly know). Age is relative. I was 62 when I found the love of my life and if I’d stayed with the wrong guy, we never would have had a shot at it.

You were both young when you started your relationship. Your email sounds to me like you have grown up in the process and are now a pretty responsible and mature lady. What’s your “ex’s” claim to fame? He’s a good kisser? Come on! It’s time for you to get in touch with your self-esteem. Why not see a counselor and sort this out with someone who is in your corner? Blessings, Luise

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