After 16 years, I still thought she was the one

Chat at 1 p.m.

What's on your mind? Send your own question about your relationship life to [email protected] or fill out this form.

I am retired and very very lonely. My days are filled with going to the bookstore and going on the computer just to kill time and get out of the house. I did have a girlfriend – we broke up 16 years ago. I constantly think about her and feel that she was the person for me.

I recently reached out to her on Facebook, and she did respond to me. We real-time chatted for about 20 minutes before I had to go. She then messaged me two weeks later, and we messaged back and forth a couple of times. The following month I messaged her, she replied and I responded, then I never heard back from her again.

This was five months ago and I can't stop thinking about what I might have done wrong. I thought maybe there might have been a chance to reconnect, and would give anything to be with her. I am not into apps and not interested in dating sites and trying to explain my lack of social life all these years. I feel I will die alone. It seems like all I see are people with people and wonder what happened to me.

– Lonely


I'm sorry about the loneliness. It can be an overwhelming feeling.

I'm also sorry you feel like you lost this woman twice, or that you did something wrong. I'm not sure that's true at all.

It's been 16 years, which means you know very little about this woman's priorities and what might have motivated her to reach out after that first Facebook conversation. Maybe she was bored. It's possible she was lonely. There was no guarantee that she was looking to fall in love all over again.

Her ending the conversation means she's not the person for you – because the person for you would keep corresponding. They'd escalate the conversation to make something happen in person. This woman's lack of response made it clear that she's not going to give you what you want. It might not feel like it, but that's a gift. Now you don’t have to save a special place for her in your brain when you could make room for others.

You say you don't have a social life, so work on that. You go to bookstores. (That, to me, is a social life.) Those stores often have events, clubs, etc. Trust me, there are a lot of single people at Meetup clubs – especially at events with discussions about good stories and art. Most people at these events aren't focusing on what others have done (or not done) for the last 16 years. They're worried about their own insecurities, or they're focused on shared interests.

Love Letters is often populated by people like you who are looking for community, partnership, and ways to find fun with others. That means you're not alone. You don't have to do apps, but you can leave the house to find people who want company.

This woman answered a big question. Now you can really see what's next.

– Meredith

Readers? Pep talk here?