Q: I’ve known my present wife since high school (1989). We always stayed in touch, and now we’ve been married for six years. (I had been married once before and got divorced because my ex was doing bad things behind my back.) The issue I'm having is that I keep thinking about my first true love from high school (who my wife knows), and it won't go away. She lives nearby and drives past my house, getting me to think that maybe her married life is not good. Why can't I stop thinking about her all the time? The reason we split up was because I had cheated. It’s been over 20 years since we had any involvement, and I can't figure out why this is happening to me. Please help me!—Mentally Lost
Dear Mentally Lost,
When an ex re-appears, of course, you wonder, “What If . . .?” Delicious fantasizing can return you to your care-free, sex-crazed teens. Oh, the heat of youth! But oh, the ice of reality!
Your history is punctuated by secrets: Your ex-wife did “bad things” behind your back, you cheated on your “true love” and now you entertain a lustful illusion to right the wrongs you regret. Since secrets define your zone of familiarity and comfort, beware of unconsciously seeking them out again for solace.
In the earthly world, how’s your marriage? If it’s sluggish, tackle your issues—without secretly escaping elsewhere. Successfully navigating crises with a real partner is the truest test of lasting love. —Dr. Gilda
Q: I dated a guy for over four years. We were both very young and he messed up a lot, hurting and neglecting me.
I broke up with him five months ago. Afterwards, he went through a rough time and seems to have grown up. He’s been trying to return, but I couldn't risk another disappointment. However, he keeps fighting to convince me that he realized I'm the one. He wants to get married and settle down.
Now the hard part: After we broke up, I met another man who is absolutely wonderful and who will do anything to make me happy. I really like him, but I feel a bit distant. I'm not sure whether this is because I'm still in love with my ex, or if he just isn't right for me.
I'm very confused. I feel I’d be stupid to let the new guy get away (There’s no one better than he is), but I still long for my ex. I'm not a cheater, and this is tearing me apart. —Not Happy
Dear Not Happy,
Girl, you may be “Not Happy,” but you’re also “not fair” to your new guy. Hanging onto him because he’s “better” than anyone out there is self-serving. You admit, “I'm still in love with my ex.” Although you deem you’re “not a cheater,” you’re cheating new guy out of your affections.
Be candid with new guy. Then consider this Gilda-Gram™: “People become more attractive when they are more scarce.” Old guy needs time to prove his sudden devotion has nothing to do with your new connection. Besides, you need to be on your own for a while to up your personal happiness—independent of any relationship. —Dr. Gilda
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.