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I'm 37 and married with a 2-year-old daughter.
When I was in high school, I fell in love. We dated through most of high school. It wasn't until I went away for college that we broke up. The breakup wasn't bad – mutual, since we were going separate ways. Although I always felt he would have been much happier to stay together. The day I stepped on the plane was a huge internal emotional meltdown for me, followed by lots of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, insomnia, and bad relationships that first year away. I knew then just how much my emotional happiness was tied into that relationship.
Time went on and we both finished college. We stayed friends. I moved back home after my freshman year, after a big car accident. I ended up going to college not far from home and we saw each other all the time. It was like old friends. But we did take liberties and have sex occasionally. And we tried dating again, but it wasn't the same.
We both had lots of other relationships, some serious, some not. When I met and started dating my current husband, I could tell from numerous different incidents that my ex was jealous and uncomfortable. But I think I just shrugged it off.
When my current husband and I were getting ready to move across the country together, I got a phone call from my ex. He had been dating another girl for a few months and it was getting serious. I was sitting in the back seat of my parents car while he told me that he thought we should stop talking and being friends. He said it was true that he would always be in love with me to some degree, and he didn't want to ruin things in this new relationship.
We didn't talk for almost six years. Then I had a miscarriage. It destroyed me. I had a lot of time to think, and I decided to try texting the number I had for him in my phone. It was still his number. He called me back and we ended up talking. It was so good to reconnect. But in that reconnection I realized we weren't the same people anymore. We had grown apart. Two very different people with very different lives and very different interests.
As I've grown and reflected throughout the years, I've realized that this first relationship shaped me and my expectations in so many ways. It has been very frustrating throughout my dating life trying to find the same kind of connection with someone, or have the same physical response to someone. It has never been so strong. In my marriage, I am often looking to replicate that, even though it was so many years ago.
All that being said, my husband is an incredible man. Did my high school sweetheart ruin me for life?
Your high school boyfriend did not ruin you for anything.
The reason you've long been attached to him is because he represents a pretty great time. Your teen years were probably a lot easier than adult life. When you think of happiness and freedom, you think of being 16 ... with him. More than anything, you long for the simplicity of youth and the excitement of first love. That's my theory, at least.
If you call it what it is – nostalgia for a simpler era – you might be better at tucking those memories away and truly appreciating the incredible man you married. Your husband is the one who's been with you through all of the complications of adulthood.
I wish you'd told us more about him. Maybe you can write a second letter – to yourself – about the ways you and your husband are suited for each other right now.
Another thing to think about is this sentence: "I knew then just how much my emotional happiness was tied into that relationship."
Your happiness was tied to an entire lifestyle – being with him at home, and not having to cope with so much change. Again, do not inflate anyone's importance. You're responsible for your own happiness. I'm sure your ex is is a lovely person, but he wasn't the right partner for you after high school was over. Think about who was and why.
Readers? Is the letter writer longing for a person or a time?