How to own up to the past and be a good travel companion at the same time?
June 19, 2010 4:50 PM   Subscribe

How to be mellow while traveling together with a friend I used to be very close to in college (but didn't date) and who I haven't seen for a long time?

Attempted nutshell form: We were great friends from the start with similar interests and the same major in college, but because I just didn't have the guts to commit we never became "official". Being with her and making her laugh were the fondest memories I had as an undergrad. She did ask once where I thought our relationship was going, but I was a coward and said what amounted to not being sure. Owing to a night of heavy drinking after everyone had passed senior exams, I think she expected that we would take things to the next level, but I didn't...and instead we slept together side by side that evening, only talking. I admit now that I was scared out of my wits, and things between us after that got pretty awkward, but we had parted on good terms with graduation, both of us leaving the country to pursue further studies and interests. We kept in touch with emails from time to time, but it petered off after a couple of years aside from holiday greetings and her informing me of the passing of one her parents.

I finished my service obligations to my country, worked for a year and am now working on a graduate degree. A couple months ago she contacted me informing me of her plans to visit Europe and whether I would like to meet up and travel together with her for a few days. I agreed with barely any hesitation because I really want to see her again, but also because I want to find some resolution to part of my past (I have moved constantly and tend to leave people behind for good). We live in different countries and we haven't seen each other in years, but in a few days we'll be reunited, we have made plans on where and when to meet, what to do, flight plans, lodgings, etc. I am excited this is actually materializing and also wondering "what should I expect?" and whether or not I should come into this experience with a clear mind and to let go of the past.

While I can't purge the thoughts of what could have been between us and don't want these sentiments to in any way make the trip awkward, I feel that my past fears of intimacy with her would be on the back of my mind. How do I reconcile this possibility but still have a great time, relax and catch up on the lost time? Thanks in advance for wading through...(first post, can anyone tell?)
posted by wallawallasweet to Human Relations (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Don't forget the past, but don't repeat it. Don't go in with expectations. Just go slow, dude.

Meet her, have a good time for a couple days. Feel her out... is she still into you? Is she available? Don't freak yourself out about it, just have a good time and see if there's anything going on.

Then, make a move. See how she responds to it. Proceed accordingly.
posted by Netzapper at 5:12 PM on June 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is probably exciting and a little strange for her, too-- even if it's just a question of seeing a friend for the first time after a hiatus. In her shoes, I would hope to take some time at the beginning, maybe over the first meal you have together, to sound each other out. Something like, "Wow, it's different getting together here; it's been a while; how are you feeling about it?" Nothing too serious and no pressure, just opening the channels to talk before things have a chance to get weird with unspoken assumptions etc.

Good luck, it sounds like it could be a lot of fun.
posted by BibiRose at 5:23 PM on June 19, 2010

Forget about your past mistakes/regrets. You can talk about them with her post-coitally, if things head in that direction. If they don't, still forget about them and concentrate on the time you have with her. Enjoy it either way.
posted by carsonb at 5:27 PM on June 19, 2010

Best answer: I realize on rereading that sounds like sort of facile advice, so what I'm really trying to say is 'live in the moment.' I was involved in a similar situation recently, and if you can keep yourself occupied with all the glory around you (Europe!) it's easy to let bygones be bygones.
posted by carsonb at 5:37 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Focus on the great possibilities that could arise out of this if you do simply remain friends. Catching up with people that you haven't seen in a long while during their time in a foreign country is lovely-- you will have a shared (pleasant, if slightly awkward) past. Also, she has initiated this so I don't think you have to be too concerned about 'owning up' to anything. Most likely you will be able to ascertain a 'vibe' from her quite quickly anyway.
posted by jojobobo at 7:13 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I want to find some resolution to part of my past

Wait, do you want to hook up, apologize, or just solidify that you're friends and nothing more? What does "resolution" look like in your ideal world?
posted by salvia at 10:33 PM on June 19, 2010

Exactly what salvia said. What do you want and I am not sure why you didn't hook up last time.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 11:47 PM on June 19, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for reading and for the suggestions hive mind! After many years, this is the first time I've actually wrote or shared about these events of my life to anyone (even to my own family and closest friends), and in many ways it has helped to think it out and make it into a somewhat coherent question. Your encouragement and perspectives give me a shot in the arm.

Come to think of it, I've been playing this out in my mind on and off for years, if we ever did meet again, and that's the risk both consciously and subconsciously because I'm not really an expert when it comes to hiding any hints of unease. salvia and psycho-alchemy (nice alias), you both mention the bit that I have been struggling with, and that is resolution. Initially I thought meeting up after all these years would be resolution, but it doesn't add up completely so it would seem. I also want to convey how much she did mean to me, something I didn't do well enough before; hooking up: I'm really not sure yet and would be keen on seeing how things are when we meet. My past is so fragmented from moving that I cannot even begin to fathom how I connect myself with the people I care about from places I have left behind with my seemingly permanently transitory existence.
posted by wallawallasweet at 2:27 AM on June 20, 2010

Expect nothing; be open to anything.

Don't forget: she asked you to join her. That's a good sign, if you're looking to reconnect.

Hopefully the older, wiser you will not repeat the mistakes of the past. But don't obsess over the past. Again, it must not have been too bad because she's asking for your company again.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 7:12 AM on June 21, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for helping y'all---I had lots of fun traveling with her, but both of us have since moved on.
posted by wallawallasweet at 4:04 PM on August 23, 2010

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