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Philippa Courtney



You Can Get Burnt Trying to Reignite an Old Flame


Dear Philippa,

I recently heard from a guy I grew up with. We were sweethearts in high school and I never forgot him. We've both been married---he still is and I'm divorced now and not dating anyone special. His call really stirred things up for both of us. My instinct tells me to stop this before it goes any further but my heart says something else. What should I do?

�Cassie, Baton Rouge, LA


Dear Cassie,

When I get several letters on the same subject, at the same time, and a friend also tells me a similar tale, I know that this is something that a lot of people are dealing with right now. And my heart goes out to each of you.

Memories are such incredibly powerful things. They evoke so much emotion in us. All the good feelings come back�we were more innocent and life was simpler.

But memories can also be like a Pandora's box, where they lure us into believing that they are still real. When we open the box and try to reestablish that old relationship we risk ruining many people's lives and most often for something that is nothing more than a fantasy.

May be if I tell you little about another situation, this one from the man's point of view you'll realize what can happen if you open this box. A man contacted an ex-girlfriend he broke up with over 20 years ago. He tracked her down on the Internet and they corresponded for a while. Then things moved up to phone calls. They now believe that they never stopped loving each other and that they should have been together all these lost years.

If it were not for each of their kids they would be together now and that they'll probably wait it out until the kids are grown and then run into each other's arms. The woman's husband has found out about these communications. But I'm not clear how much he knows. It sounds like the husband is allowing her to maintain correspondence with this guy if he comes clean with his wife.

Is this getting to sound like a Jerry Springer moment? Well, how do you think his poor wife is going to feel, or the wife of your ex-boyfriend for that matter? Once you open the Pandora's box there is no going back. People are going to get hurt and that includes the children.

In a few, very rare cases, they say, "you can go back home again", meaning you can go back and relive the past. But, from all I have read and seen, most of these reignited romances run their course. Once the drama and anticipated romance cools down, you're faced with the reality that this person has changed. And look how you've changed over the past ten or twenty years. So, why ruin your life or someone else's life to pursue a fantasy?

You haven't opened that box yet, have you? I think you would be very wise to stay clear of this situation. It isn't based on reality but a fantasy of what could have been. All you will end up being is an excuse for your former boyfriend to get out of a marriage that he isn't happy with. If someone's relationship isn't working, they should fix it. If they can't, then they should get out. Don't let your ex-boyfriend's inability to deal with his life ruin yours. Tell him to work things out with his wife. And you focus on meeting a great, unattached guy with whom you can make your own memories.




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