DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: Several years ago I was dumped after an eight-month romance. While the dumper ended it with respect and compassion, I hadn't seen it coming. Looking back, I recognize that neither of us were emotionally ready to take things further: the timing was off. I've moved on to a rewarding life, but still I think about this person every day. I've seen him in passing, but have kept my distance, believing it wise to respect his space, yet still wishing after all these years that we could have maintained a friendship. I've dumped people, too, and rarely think about them (although when I do, it is with goodwill), so imagine that this is likely where I stand with my "dumper." I seldom hear about dumpers looking up their dumpees in search of their "catch and release" and I know that if this fellow really wanted to see me again, he'd know how to find me. Is it as simple as that? -- Dumpee, Winnipeg
Dear Dumpee: You've been thinking about him daily and forcing yourself to stay away when you see him cross your path, which means he still affects you deeply. Stop doing more of what doesn't work. Look him up and face him down! You'll find out one of three things a) He's not the Mr. Wonderful you have imagined or b) he is still Mr. W., but he still doesn't give damn about you or c) he's available, he's ready and he wishes he hadn't lost you. Take a chance with that glimmer of hope; it's a long shot, but you may win. Or you may get another bucket of ice water over your romantic head. Maybe that's what you need after all these years. Most people's experience is not nearly as dramatic as all this. In the majority of cases, the revered and romanticized person, on second view, has shrunk back to normal person size, or smaller. And then you walk away, saying to yourself, "What was I thinking?"
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