I want the one that got away

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I dated a guy – the one that got away – more than five years ago. We had only been dating a month or so when I found out I was pregnant by my ex before him. Obviously, we ended things. I was so in love with him already, but we couldn't stay together.

Then, almost four years ago, one of my parents died. The night of the funeral, I ended up hanging out with the one that got away, and he was so awesome through it. We dated again for a bit, but this time he wasn't really invested. We ended up calling it quits again.

Fast forward three years and I've been in a relationship for three years and have a second child. My relationship was great in the beginning, but definitely has had its ups and downs. We're on the brink of breaking up. He has been abusive, and one specific threatening incident put me over the edge. He has begged for me to make it work but I'm not 100 percent in – partly because of the one that got away.

"The one" has always randomly messaged to check on me. He had a girlfriend for a couple of years but still managed to reach out during that time. He told me they had broken up, but I was still happy enough in my relationship at the time. Now that my current boyfriend and I have come to where we are now, this other guy and I have had constant contact. I had even seen him and hung out a couple of times. He confessed his love for me and how he doesn't care that have two kids. He said he has always loved me, and tells me about his hopes and dreams for us.

My current boyfriend knows I started talking to someone else, but says we should work this out for our family. He has helped raise my first child, as well as the one we share. It's hard because he isn't a bad guy. He can be great. But the relationship isn't good for me, and I can't stop thinking about the one who got away. It's not fair to my current boyfriend. The other guy is in my heart and head. I would never want to leave one person for another though. What do I do?

– The One

You should not leave your boyfriend for "the one that got away." You can end your current relationship because it's no longer healthy. That's enough of a reason to begin a new phase of life on your own, if that's what you want.

Your boyfriend is right, though; you do need to work on the terms of your relationship – even if the romance is over – because you co-parent your children, which means you're still partners in some way. No matter what happens, you need to learn how to deal with your family. Please see a counselor together to help you plan your next steps as a team.

Do not assume that your relationship with "the one" will resume – or be any good – once you're free to date him. You'd only been with him for about a month when you decided you were in love. The second time you both tried, he bailed. He checks in when monumental things happen because he cares, but that doesn't mean you're compatible. Frankly, his declarations of love are a concern. It's great that he wants to try to make this work, but it's OK to say, "I want to give this my all. Let's see what happens." He shouldn't be making bigger promises.

As you figure this out, learn to call on real friends – the kind of people who can stick by you no matter who you're dating. The one that got away should not be the person who helps you out of your current relationship. He's not supposed to save you – or even be your primary sounding board. You need to find others to help you through the tough stuff that's coming.

– Meredith

Readers? Leaving one for the other? The one that got away?