DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I've been more or less happily married for 22 years. A few months ago the former love of my life -- my four-year high-school love -- found me on Facebook and told me his wife had recently died. He didn't ask me to get together or even to start communicating with him, but I just launched into it, surprising even myself. If I wasn't married, I would have suggested we meet in the middle.
He's a good man who is going through intense loneliness and a private hell he doesn't share with his kids. He says they have their own pain to deal with. He tries to help them instead.
What this new window has shown me is how old and cold my relationship has grown over the years with my husband. My high-school sweetheart and I did not part because of problems, but because he went to the U.S. to go to university and was there for years, finally meeting and marrying the woman he had the children with. I pined for him for years after he left. I maintained contact with his folks for a few years here in Winnipeg to hear about him.
We have recently exchanged photos and he says I'm still the beautiful girl he remembers. Except for no hair on top, he's the same handsome guy I remember. This is quickly becoming an emotional obsession and he's flying in on business. He has asked to see me. I am going, out of curiosity. How can I minimize the damage? -- Married Woman, S. Winnipeg
Dear Married: You could take your husband with you to meet him, but you and I both know that's not going to happen, so here's how to do some damage control: Meet in a restaurant, instead of his hotel. You may not find him as compelling when you finally get together in person and fantasies give way to reality. In fact, you may be glad to leave the restaurant after hearing how much he loved his wife and still does.
In the meantime, your best bet is to look into the future. What would it do to your kids to leave your husband to comfort this old flame? Remember, this is the guy who didn't wait for you at university, or come back for you when your heart was breaking. He could have continued phone and letter contact, had you move there, then eventually married you. Winnipeg is his hometown and he probably came back for holidays. He chose not to see you at those times, drifted off, and in the end, married someone else. Now he's sad lonely and coming back to have another look because you launched into this renewed relationship.
Remember, your husband chose you as first prize. Now you're going to meet with a man who has sad eyes and is mourning his first prize.
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