Ran into my first love

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Hi Meredith,

My boyfriend and I have been together for a few years. We live together and I am almost positive we'll be getting engaged within the next six months or so. I really love him and we are such a good match. Friends and family often tell us that we are perfect for each other, and I feel excited when I think about the life we will build.

However, while in my hometown for Thanksgiving, I ran into my ex-boyfriend. Backstory: He was my first love and I was head over heels. We were young and it ended up being long-distance. It fell apart in the same ways most young loves fall apart. He was a senior in college, we started to fight often, and I think he just wanted to enjoy being single. I have never taken anything as hard as that breakup. I still saw him sporadically for about a year in hopes of potentially getting back together, but it was never the same, and it ended with him moving across the country and me finally cutting off all contact.

Now, six years later, we run into each other at the bar and it was like no time had passed. We were laughing and catching up and it was so nice. I don't blame him or hold resentment for the breakup, and I actually think of him fondly. It was nice to see that he felt the same. He told me he considers me his first love, which was actually so sweet to say, but then I felt guilty for talking to him so much. I know I have something so great with my current relationship but I left the bar drunk and hypothetically playing the “what-if" game in my head. Is this normal? A very small part of me wonders if I never fully got over him.

– Why am I like this

It sounds like you'll always have special feelings for your first love. That makes sense.

Also, you just ran into that first love in your hometown over the holidays. It's like a scene out of a romantic movie – something with Reese Witherspoon from the early 2000s. Of course you're feeing nostalgic, grateful, and a little confused.

Please remember, though, that you have not been plagued by doubts about your current relationship. You aren't sitting around wondering, "Am I living with the right partner?" This is post-bar daydreaming. You took some time to think about alternative universes – what might happen if you and your ex met now – because ... why wouldn't you?

Maybe you'll always love your ex and the happiness he once brought to your life. You do love and appreciate the time you shared with him and who you became after the relationship ended. He was important. That doesn’t minimize what you feel for your boyfriend. People have plenty of room to love a bunch of people in different ways.

Let go of the guilt by calling this what it is – a natural response to reconnecting with someone who meant a lot to you. You did get over the biggest romantic feelings back then, which is why this is easy to think about. Let go of the guilt and let the other feelings pass.

– Meredith

Readers? Guilt? How should the LW feel about this?