Why Reconnecting With An Old Flame Is Dangerous
It’s after dinner and I’m online sipping my glass of wine. The day is winding down, but I’m just getting starting; socializing with my virtual friends. Just for fun, I do a search for an old boyfriend on Facebook, and OMG, there he is. I send a friend request and receive his reply immediately. OK, that was way too fast. Was he looking for me, too? And before I know it, we are connected – again.
Thirty-five years ago we were literally connected at the hip (and other places) for two years. A hot and heavy romance that started when I was a junior in high school and were the best two years of my life (or so I thought at the time) My parents loved this guy. He was the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome and full of life. A year older than me, he left for college but came home on weekends and took me to his Homecoming dance and spent the entire summer after my senior year with me. I dreaded going away to school and leaving him. I was convinced we would get married.
Fast forward to four years later, and, to my surprise, one day I was walking back to my apartment off campus, and there he was. Taller and more handsome than ever with his wide toothy grin and arms open. It didn’t take long for us to make our way directly to my bed and spend the next few days rekindling our romance. But, as great as the sex was, we had grown up and had different lives. I was a senior and had already accepted a job in the Midwest and he was going to law school. The relationship ended, with lots of tears and a broken heart (mine.)
Until he friended me on Facebook. We communicated via chat. Small stuff mostly. Catching up, reminiscing about our pasts, telling each other about our spouse and children. Our innocent chats became more personal and way more frequent. Like every night. Suggestive remarks were made, flirtatious goings-on, protected by the miles between us. My second glass of wine led to my third and some nights we got carried away, talking more about our body parts than our teenagers. My addiction to chatting with him was so severe, I even checked on weekends to see if he was online.
One night, I mentioned my daughter was looking at colleges and considering a university in the city in which he lived. He said I should come out and visit the campus and have lunch with him. I was excited beyond reason. I told my daughter I was booking a flight for us. She looked at me and replied, “Why are you more excited to go than I am, Mom?” Wow. Why was I more excited? What did I think would really happen? I’d drop her off for the campus tour and I would rendezvous with my old boyfriend at a hotel, picking up exactly where we left off?
That’s when it hit me. I was the victim of a virtual affair of the mind. I am happily married, would never leave my husband and certainly would not cheat on him. Except I already had cheated. Fantasizing about how wonderful it would be to have sex with this guy who I remember as a young, handsome, horny, single man. Not good. Very bad.
Oh, why was Facebook invented, I thought to myself. Whose idea was it to put a private chat window on, Mark Zuckerberg? To tempt a middle-aged woman into getting hot and heavy with someone I used to sleep with years ago?
I jumped online the next night and told him I wouldn’t be coming to town. I blamed it on my daughter not really wanting to attend college so far from home. We broke up (again) that night. I considered unfriending him, but wasn’t ready to totally disconnect. I still had to check on him via his Facebook page and see what was going on in his life without me in it (even though I hadn’t been in it for 35 years) Did he love his wife? Did he think about me? Was I being a total immature idiot?
Four months passed with no chat activity. I was over him, finally. A few weeks ago I posted something about my mom being very ill. My chat window popped up with this message from him, “thinking about you, give my love to your Mom and take care of yourself.” The freak in me wondered, give your love to my Mom, what about me? I hated Facebook chat at that very minute and unfriended him.
What has the online revolution done to us baby boomers? It used to be that we would only see our ex-boyfriends at class reunions, with our husbands safely in tow.
So, here’s what I learned from this whole experience.
1) Fantasies don’t always play out well. Sometimes leaving those great memories untouched make them more valuable. I am not happy that I gave in to Facebook temptation and actually went searching for a lost love, especially since I am married to one of the greatest guys on earth.
2) Doing something secretly does not make it more exciting. I told one friend about this guy and she immediately advised me to stop; that I was wading into dangerous territory. I should have listened. I never brought it up to her again and continued my communication. It was just too easy. All I had to do was sneak into my office and, to my family, it just looked like I was working late.
3) I will never again search for someone online (and yes, there are more). Initially, after we connected, I felt giddy and silly, my self-esteem was boosted and I went about my business during the day looking forward to a hot date every night. In retrospect, I realize now that I was using my evening muse as a distraction from small issues in my marriage that needed my attention.
4) After it was all over, I viewed Facebook totally different. I focused on my business and developed professional relationships that needed to be nurtured. I took the energy I was clearly wasting on this fantastical situation and transferred it to a few hours of productive work – minus the wine – and noticed a huge payoff in the form of increased referrals.
5) I truly believe this was my mid-life crisis. No one got hurt, nothing was acted upon and I moved through it realizing just how lucky I am to have a man who loves me, two daughters who depend on me, and, most importantly, the good sense to realize I was being tested in some odd way.
I did give his love to my Mom. I shut the door on years that cannot be taken back, decisions that cannot be changed and quietly thank him for telling me to take care of myself. Because that is exactly what I am doing.