He’s back to tempt me

It's chat day.

And ... I'll be posting some information about a Dec. 15 Love Letters event on Twitter later today, so check in.

Hi Meredith,

Daily reader. Love you and the commenters. Just a little lost at the moment and was hoping you all could point me in a direction ... any direction.

I'm a smart, attractive (at least *I* think so), almost-30-year-old gal who hasn't had the most luck in love. I've been single for the past year and half (healing from an ugly break-up: destroyed my self-esteem, etc.). I tried online dating over the summer and after a string of film-worthy nightmare dates, decided against really trying to find love. I should clarify: I'm in the midst of applying to return to school next fall (nowhere in Mass.), and I felt I should probably focus more on that.

Of late an old boyfriend from half a decade ago (let's call him Ike) has re-surfaced. Ike is 6 years my senior and extremely charming. We shared a brief, volatile few months together years ago. But we're very, very different. He's immature, very wealthy, and has had a lot handed to him. I have always worked really hard for every position I've ever had, and part of our volatility simply came from this fundamental difference.

Anyway, every year or so, back comes Ike. Charming as ever and throwing all sorts of inappropriate comments at me about how he's thought about me so much over the years, how I'm one of the most intelligent, opinionated, strong people he's ever met, and how he wants to be "in my life in some way." Yet he often flakes if we make plans, typically initiated by me in the first place. He's evasive and resistant to any real connection. Each time he's done this I’ve told him (diplomatically, of course) to [expletive] off. I've explained that I don't like, nor do I wish to engage in superficial relationships with anyone, much less an ex I have such a strange history with. The most recent occurrence of this was just a few months ago over the summer. Usually after I tell him to leave me alone, he does so. For awhile at least. Yet he just popped back up last week and acted completely surprised by my wariness. And in that conversation it also came up that he'd ended a relationship over the summer -- a relationship he never bothered to mention when he reappeared in June (Shocking. No wonder you contacted me ...).

Meredith, help. I'm in this strange limbo where I'm just really frustrated and lonely and trying to be satisfied with a future that still seems so far away. So I can feel myself drawn to the attention from Ike. But I know at the end of the day, I can't and shouldn't trust this person's intentions (whatever they might be). Any suggestions what to do?

– Lost!, Somerville

You're moving. You're about to start a whole new life at a new school. You're experiencing a lull. You need a boost.

So use Ike. I mean, you know he's not for you, right? Take the compliments if you feel like hearing them. Redefine him as the guy you use for some attention when you need it. Accept him for what he is -- an exciting distraction.

It's a challenge to keep these non-relationships in perspective when you're in a rut, but you're on your way out. You have so much to look forward to. Right now, Ike is a reminder that you're the object of somebody's affection. He just can't seem to let you go.

You know what's going to happen. He's going to swoop in and then disappear. Instead of trying to get yourself to ignore him -- something you know you don't want to do right now -- call it what it is and enjoy. Don't get angry. Have a scandalous phone call or dinner and let him tell you how awesome you are. Giggle and roll your eyes.

And while you're Ike-ing it up, start fantasizing about 2012 and all it has to offer. Because it's coming sooner than you think, I promise.

Readers? Can she enjoy Ike without getting confused? What should she do? Help.

– Meredith