Do I respond to this email?

Are you thinking about an ex? Or wondering about someone new?

Submit your question about your relationship/dating/single life here. 

You can also email [email protected].

I'm 23 years old, and this is going to sound so utterly foolish because so many years have gone by. My first relationship was long-distance. I was 15/16 and my ex was 20. He didn't tell me his age at first. Our relationship was beautiful when it started, but we broke up in 2018 because of rocky moments, sometimes caused by our age gap.

Fast forward to 2023 and I emailed him. He responded three days later, but he claimed he didn't know who I was. I know it was a pathetic move to email him after all these years. Technically, I haven't opened the email. I feel embarrassed because of the snippet I could read without opening it.

What should I reply? Or should I just completely delete it? Right now it's in the trash (Gmail). The email I sent to him was lyrics from the song he once dedicated to me.

Thank you in advance.

– Embarassed

Do not open the email, do not respond, delete it and block the address.

I don't know what prompted you to reach out to him, but that's what you should figure out, if you haven't already. You decided to email your ex, not just to say hello, but to send meaningful lyrics. Were you lonely? Bored? In need of validation? If so, there are other ways to get attention.

Your ex might be partnered now. Or maybe he wants nothing to do with his own history, which involves dating a 16-year-old when he was 20. Perhaps he's being mean for sport.

I suppose it's possible he didn't recognize the email address, but ... does it matter? He didn't want to trace it to you. His response is helpful, though, because now you can let him go again. If he had sent back something nicer, you might have spent time wondering what could happen now. He answered that question. That's a gift!

Breathe through the embarrassment. Please know we've all felt it. It goes away and becomes a funny story over time. One time I emailed an ex and compared our breakup to the lyrics of a Backstreet Boys song. I was ... in my 20s, but it made sense at the time!

Figure out how to use that restless, lonely energy on something more fruitful. Reach out to a friend or seek out new relationships. Call someone who likes to talk a lot and just listen. Friends and family who monologue about life can be wonderful distractions.

Also, you can have a nice thought about someone from your past without reaching out to tell them. In the future, it can be just for you.

– Meredith

Readers? Respond? Delete? How does one interpret the response – and cope with embarrassment?