Carolyn Hax advises a man who wonders if she should contact a girlfriend of five years ago.
DEAR CAROLYN: Several years ago, I was in a long-term relationship that kind of fizzled out.
Before that both of us had talked about getting married, but it always seemed like real-world circumstances got in the way. One of her parents was sick, and she traveled constantly. The other of her parents meddled in her relationships to the point of causing real trouble. I was drowning in grad school. I realize couples make it work when they want to make it work, but I think both of us got exhausted by the circumstances.
Now, five years later, I’m done with school, my finances are in great shape, and I’m ready to make a commitment to her. But I have no idea where she is, whether she’s single or married, or anything. All I have is her old email and phone number.
Is it fair to call and try to rekindle something with someone who may (or may not) be in a relationship now? Should I apologize for my part in this situation, even if I didn’t have any bad intentions? How should I approach someone whom I know I adore but whom I haven’t spoken with in years?
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DEAR R.: Of course it’s fair. You call, you ask, you find out.
If she isn’t receptive to having you back in her life, then you don’t call again.
I strongly recommend, though, that you add a “d” to your careful rationale for getting in touch. You say she’s “someone whom I know I adore,” but in fact she’s someone you know you adored. Note that little “d.” Because you clearly fell far enough out of adoration to let the relationship go, or because each of you is now five years from who you used to be — take your pick.
Either way, your expectations in making this call can be the difference between congenial and creepy, so hold off until you can override, for real, your impulse to project. When you’re ready, tell her she’s been on your mind lately — then see where you both want to take it from there.
DEAR CAROLYN: I have two children, 1 and 3. My husband and I always talked about having two. I am having a hard time coming to terms with not having more children.
I don’t think he would be on board with more — we haven’t discussed it — and I wouldn’t do anything behind his back. But how do I know if I’m done?
– Not Sure
DEAR NOT SURE: This will come out snarky, but its intent is sincere: Please don’t consider having any more children until you’re able to talk to your husband about things like whether to have more children.
I think I can read your intent between the lines, that you anticipate resistance to the idea so you want to have your argument straight before you bring it up. Understandably so.
But when you include the “behind his back” possibility out of the blue, even to rule it out, you give your whole question an antagonistic slant, you vs. spouse. And that’s the exact opposite of the approach I’d suggest in making plans for your family’s future.
Just talk to the guy, please. Finding a way to discuss the children you want will also serve the children you have.