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Should she be friends with a married ex?

Q. Please help me out with a friends-with-an-ex question. We’re both in our late 30s, married, with little ones. Almost a decade ago, we had one of those intense relationships that seemed like it was going full speed ahead for a little while there. Until he said he was falling in love with me but couldn’t be with me because . . . I was not Jewish. Still, it was a sweet romance, a fun time, and we left it with great mutual appreciation for each other.

At the time, I was too upset to be friends even though he really wanted to be. I was in love with him. I couldn’t snap my fingers and make myself Jewish (converting wasn’t enough).

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We broke up almost 10 years ago and now I want to try to be friends. I have been reflecting on past positive and negative relationships and realize how much I value him.

Full disclosure: When we initially broke up, I consoled myself by thinking we could someday rekindle the flame after heartbreak (divorce, tragedy). Now I realize those happy romances after a sad event usually only happen in the movies. I’m older and more jaded and not expecting that to happen now.

What do you think? Should I take a chance and try to rekindle the friendship? I have to admit I’m not friends with any exes. This is uncharted territory for me.


Somerville

A. I don’t see why you need this man in your life. I’m not opposed to organic friendships with exes, but this one seems forced and potentially harmful. You’re both married with children now. You used to have fantasies about getting a divorce and rekindling your relationship with this man. What are you trying to prove? What good can come of this?

You can value him without talking to him. You can reflect on your experiences without picking up the phone. It’d be one thing if you ran into him in the grocery store and he invited your family to dinner, but that hasn’t happened. This would be a cold call (or Facebook message?) to someone you loved 10 years ago.

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If you’re going to sit around pondering life experiences, please spend some time thinking about why you suddenly want to reach out to this guy. Are you bored? Do you need to expand your community? Are you seeking some sort of imaginary closure? Figure out your own motives and then find safer ways to make yourself happy.

Again, I’m all for being friends with an ex when it happens naturally, but nothing about this seems natural. It just seems like trouble.

READERS RESPOND:

Don’t do it. You still want him.

This is crazy! Why would you want to reach out to someone from your past — especially someone you once loved and clearly have been harboring feelings for? Take a look at your current life and figure out why you are thinking about doing such a dumb and destructive thing. Do not hide behind, “I value him and want to be friends again.” That’s ridiculous. You know it. We all know it. Don’t do it.

One does not “rekindle” friendship. Rekindle = romance. What’s going on in your lovelife right now — or not going on — that makes you want to get back together with someone with a serious ex? Are you on the rebound? Or are you in a dry spell and feeling particularly lonely right now? Work on that.

What are you picturing here, LW? Is it you and your husband and him and his wife getting together for dinner and having family outings with the kids, or just you two getting together to catch up and relive old times? Would your husband know about this? Would you want his wife to know? What are you doing? Be honest with yourself and follow this thread in your mind as to how you think this will end.

Oh yeah, Meredith. Spot on with the advice. Do what she says, LW — and find a hobby.

He rejected you because your religion/ethnicity? Why would you want someone who would put your birth and heritage ahead of who you are? Apparently you were good enough for him to try out but not good enough for him to marry, commit to, and love. It is bigotry in my opinion. Stay away. There are better guys than this. Guys who would feel honored to be with you and love you for who you are.

So he dated you long enough for you to fall in love and then dropped the Jewish card? I’m guessing that was a convenient way for him to dump you without seeming like a jerk. Unfortunately, now you think the only reason you guys didn’t ride off into the sunset was because you’re not Jewish, so you still have him down as the “one who got away.” Don’t humiliate yourself by crawling back to him for some scraps of attention. Get some self-respect.

The answer to this question is very simply another question. Would you tell your husband about it if you did reconnect with the other guy?

So you are bored with your husband, and romanticizing your ex? Go ahead and contact him on Facebook. One of three things will happen: 1) He’ll ignore your contact. 2) He’ll send polite, but brief responses, hoping you’ll get the hint that he doesn’t want to reject you outright, but he’s not really interested in a friendship. 3) He’ll be as excited to hear from you and you’d hope he’d be. Then both your marriages will go down the tubes as you fantasize over each other and ignore your partners. Are any of these good outcomes?

Anytime you’re thinking, “I could be with this man after a divorce/death,” then you need to walk away. You know why? Because you’re thinking about your husband as an obstacle to your future with this guy. And that’s not cool. Your husband is your future. This guy is your past (your long past, even).

And this is reason #5,925 why I am not on Facebook. . .

Column and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.
com
. She chats online on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.

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