Midlife relationship question
July 17, 2012 10:48 AM Subscribe
I recently met online a former high school boyfriend from 25 years ago. We've seen each other briefly at reunions, but now we are both single and he is over the moon with me before we've even had a chance to meet in person again, which will happen tomorrow. I am confused and overwhelmed by his interest in me, how do I proceed?
posted by waving to Human Relations (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I am a 45 year old single mother. Until the birth of my daughter 5 years ago, I enjoyed a fulfilling career as a researcher and have had the opportunity to travel extensively -- and live in several countries--during the past 20 years. I had an exciting life. Six years ago, I moved back to my city of origin to be closer to my family as well as work at a prestigious university. My daughter’s father and I had a very rough relationship and broke up soon after our daughter was born. We were not married and our relationship lasted less than 18 months total. He was bipolar and went back to drinking and smoking a lot of pot soon after my pregnancy. He’s a loser, will not pay child support but demands to have time with our daughter. I won full custody but he has visitation rights despite being an outspoken pot-smoker (the courts just don’t care). Prior to that, I ended several relationships, including an eight year marriage, due to a lot of insecurity and feelings of abandonment--I had been cheated on a couple of times too. My relationship history has left me feeling little hope of having a stable loving relationship. I have been in therapy for three years, but left about six months ago due to a job change and loss of mental health coverage. I feel I made great strides in therapy, although it catalyzed me to end most of my friendships and family relationships, which were grossly dysfunctional. I have been on a path to make room for healthier, loving people in my life, but I’m finding it pretty overwhelming to figure out if people are “healthy” or not. It’s like I never learned what healthy is, so how can I know if I am making the right decisions. I would say that everyone I meet is unhealthy, as even people who appear normal have abnormal behaviors when you get to know them. When do I move on and when to I accept foibles. I tend to reject most people out of fear they will be dysfunctional and try to pull me into their world. My boundaries are so rigid that I am unable to see the good that is surely to be there with some people I meet. This leads me to my question: I recently encountered a man I had gone to high school with. He’s spectacularly funny and has raised two very high functioning children who are now in college. He’s a manual laborer, very bright and hard working. But here is the problem: we haven’t had a chance to actually get together in person but he’s talking like we are destined to be together, how he is so overjoyed to be in touch with me, that he’s never forgotten about me. I, on the other hand, have been feeling curiosity about catching up and learning about him. See, I believe that I’m the healthy one here and it’s wrong to overdo it with emotions so quickly. But I am also the unhealthy one, historically. I want to meet my life partner but how do I know who he is, as I have been wrong so many times before? How do I proceed if I don’t love him but want to know if I will some day if he is already “in love”?