Feelings for my ex ‘came flooding back’

A day off from chat today. We will resume next week.

Hello Meredith and LL Community,

I dated someone named G when I was a teenager, and because of the typical move away to school, we broke up but stayed in each other's lives for the better part of our 20s (we are in our mid/late 30s now). Platonic group vacations with friends, visits to where the other lived, holidays, one-on-one dinners. He had a girlfriend through college and beyond, and we never revisited getting back together despite our friends pushing us to do so. However, we fell out of touch because I got busy with family stuff almost a decade ago.

I have been in a relationship with Z for the last seven years, a person I count as my best friend. We've had ups and downs, family emergencies, moves, job changes, and we are solid. There has not been intimacy for a few years, and that's on both sides, but we are taking steps to work through it. We always shoot straight with each other when we talk. I am still happy to come home every day and spend time with him, and he is amazingly emotionally supportive of me. I'm still in love, and love him very much. So why am I writing?

Well, I went to an event and ran into G. Feelings came flooding back more than I expected, and I got scared and confused. He wants to reconnect as friends, but we both know there are feelings. Looking at both on paper, G is a better fit for me. He is financially stable, responsible, and smart; our families like each other, and they have known me for 20 years. Z has a stable job, but is not well compensated for it. He is not ambitious, has no concrete responsibilities, and while our families don't dislike each other, they aren't warm toward either of us. I have been the primary source of financial support in our household for the six years we've lived together. Z is smart, he is a good fit for me, and we share a sense of humor. I don't want to break up a seven-year relationship for a question mark on my feelings. If G never re-entered the picture, I would have been fine giving him a transient thought every year on his birthday and continuing to plan my life with Z. I'm not sure I can be just friends with G.

I continue to make future plans with Z but I am scared that I am staying with him out of obligation. Is this just bad timing and a sign that G and I are not meant to be? I know I am prone to overthinking, but did I already answer my own question of whether to stay or go? Any advice is appreciated.

– Overthinking


It sounds like you've decided that if you broke up with Z, G would become your life partner. But you don't know that for sure. It's possible that if you were single, you and G would hook up for a few months and then call it quits. Maybe you'd decide that all of the "great on paper" qualities aren't great enough to sustain the relationship. I mean, no relationship is actually on paper.

Sure, it's possible that G is everything you've ever wanted and more, but you can't bank on it. If you leave Z, you need to be ready to be single. You must be open to starting over with nothing. G is not a guarantee.

When a letter writer is quick to want to leave their partner of many years, I have to assume they've been thinking about it for awhile. You say so many nice things about Z, and you made sure to tell us you love him. But you haven't been intimate with him for a few years, and maybe that's why it was so easy for you to fall for G during one event.

My advice is to focus on Z and whether you want a life with him. Work on your issues. At the very least, figure out if you want to make the effort. In the meantime, do not befriend G. Stop yourself scripting a fantasy about what G would be like as your partner. That's just fiction, and for now, you need to focus on what you really know.

– Meredith

Readers? Z? G?