Help me deal with my past.
February 7, 2012 11:25 AM   Subscribe

How do I deal with an out of the blue tweet from my most significant ex (girlfriend/fiancee) without upsetting my wife, her and to some extent me.

So, further details. I am a entirely happily married man. Many years ago I was completely and totally in love with this girl. I truly envisaged we would be together for ever. Eventually the strain of a long distance relationship broke us up, entirely mutually, but it hurt a lot.

It took me years to stop thinking about her, dreaming about her. We stopped talking, because it was too difficult for us both, too much blame on both sides.
This breakup blew a hole in my entire life.

Eventually... a long time later, I moved on, I got married and I tried to forget her. The occasional relapse and desperate desire to find her was stymied by her ungooglable name.

This morning, out of nowhere, she tweeted at me. Completely innocuous, a breezy "oh I think I saw you on the train" tweet.
I think what I need to do is some how email her, explain that I'm not sure that I can cope with her being in my life even as a friend, but I don't want to hurt her, I don't want to be rude or anything.

Another fairly large part of me REALLY REALLY REALLY wants to see her again.

Here is a crappy throwaway email address in case it is necessary:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (60 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Ignore it. You moved on once before, you will move on from this tweet.
posted by banannafish at 11:26 AM on February 7, 2012 [28 favorites]

Ignore the tweet, block that user, and think not on it again. Seriously, once you open that box, you're going to regret it.
posted by xingcat at 11:26 AM on February 7, 2012 [90 favorites]

Ignore it. You never saw it. Block her.

Why invite drama into your life?
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on February 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

Block her Twitter account. Pretend you never saw this. Have a drink, have good sex with your wife, and never think about this again. Nothing good can come of it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:28 AM on February 7, 2012 [32 favorites]

Is there any indication that she wants to come back into your life, even as a friend? Seeing someone on the train and Tweeting about it does not equal "I want to be friends" or even "I want to be in contact". All it means is "I think I saw you on the train". Don't assume subtext.

It's not being rude. Just let it go.
posted by Kpele at 11:28 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm with everyone else on this. Stay away!
posted by bebrave! at 11:30 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

um, if you are "an entirely happily married man" why is there even a question about what you should do?

ignore her. block her twitter account. block whatever other way there is for her to communicate with you.

end of story.
posted by violetk at 11:30 AM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

You need to ignore her and block her. And it is okay that it hurts a little bit to do it.
posted by jph at 11:33 AM on February 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

My first instinct was to say, "ignore it," and I think that's good advice.

HOWEVER, you say in your question that you have occasional times where you have a desperate desire to find her. Now that you know her Twitter name, this could be trouble. You might want to write a short, informational email to her letting her know that you think it's a really bad idea to get in contact again because of the possibility it would topple your life. Then block her on Twitter and ignore her. When you have one of those desperate moments where you contact her, at least she's already had your level-headed, sane email pointing out what a bad idea this is.
posted by Betelgeuse at 11:34 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think trying to bury this thing will only make you crazier. Why not bring it into the light? Tell your wife an old friend/girlfriend popped up on Twitter. Tweet her back, oh hey, do you live here now? I'm here, married, doing X, Y, Z, blah blah blah. Find out what's up with her- maybe she's married, boring, crazy. If she wants to get together, take her out to dinner with your wife.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2012 [12 favorites]

No good can come from this. It's a respect thing, if you love and expect your wife, then you have a higher expectation of behavior on you. If you want to go meet an old friend acknowledge your feelings and tell your wife, have at least that level of respect for her, but don't lie to her and don't hide from her if you choose to follow this up.
posted by iamabot at 11:37 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think what I need to do is some how email her, explain that I'm not sure that I can cope with her being in my life even as a friend

No, this is not what you need to do. This is a completely out of proportion response.

A tweet that she thinks she saw you on the train does not constitute being a part of your life, or even being a friend. At the most, you're on friendly terms. This is fine. If she wanted to be a part of your life then that information would come in a much more obvious form.

What this basically amounts to is that she's out there somewhere and she doesn't hate you. This is fine.

Don't respond, and holy hell, do not see her. I've been in situations like that before and even if you have the best intentions, it's a lot like an alcoholic going out for just one drink - it won't work out that way. Never does.

Honestly, it might not be a terrible idea to tell your wife, though in much less dramatic terms than those laid out here. Something like, "Hey, my ex tweeted at me and it kind of bummed me out a little, for some reason. It was completely innocuous, she basically said she thinks she saw me on a train, and I'm not going to respond, but anyway I could use a hug."

Playing above board might help keep you honest, if at any point you feel you need help with that.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:39 AM on February 7, 2012 [57 favorites]

Were you actually on a train upon which she might've seen you, or did she manufacture this idea?

In any case I agree, transparency with your wife, and stay the hell away before everyone gets hurt.
posted by thrasher at 11:40 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tell your wife you got the tweet. Tell her the truth about your curiosity, without crossing the line into something that will hurt her or make her worry. State clearly that you're not going it communicate with the ex.

Don't keep it secret. Take the intrigue out of it by talking about it.
posted by wryly at 11:40 AM on February 7, 2012 [37 favorites]

Keep in mind, too, that twitter is a public forum and it doesn't imply a desire for intimacy - or even any real level of contact - that she mentioned you in a tweet. I mention random people all the time in my tweets, as appropriate*. Also, if your twitter handle is your name or an obvious variation thereof, it's easy for people to just type in @yourname on the off chance that you are even on twitter at all. You might be overestimating the implications of what happened.

*And unless this woman has a history of stalking you, I don't consider this inappropriate.
posted by Sara C. at 11:43 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would respond, just to be nice, but more importantly, to prove to yourself that this is no big deal, that she's not still someone with this power to threaten relapse.

I wouldn't get into a huge explanation of why communicating with her isn't a good idea. Just keep it simple, with a firm but polite brush-off at the end. "Yes, that was me. I'm doing very well, and I trust you are as well. Regards, X".

This is only going to be as big as you allow it to be.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:46 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who's been married for 20-odd years who, a year or so ago, was contacted by an old girlfriend who is also now married. It had been a passionate, destructive relationship with lots of emotional damage on both sides and he knew he shouldn't have responded but she told him he was the love of her life, that she'd never felt like that about anyone else, yadda, yadda, yadda ... Against his better judgment, he responded and they embarked on an affair.

When he realised how much he was risking he tried to break it off, only to be threatened with suicide and a heap of emotional blackmail. On his side, he couldn't let it go. He's now ending his marriage, at great expense (both financially and in personal terms), and he's on a roller-coaster of emotional turmoil. He looks like shit. My friend's battled with drug and alcohol addiction and he's been clean and sober for a number of years but he's as addicted to this woman and the drama of this relationship as much as he was to the booze and drugs.

He's said to me many times "I really wish I'd just deleted that email".

Don't go there. Delete the tweet.
posted by essexjan at 11:54 AM on February 7, 2012 [27 favorites]

It's far better to stop treating her as this thing that can change your life and more as person.

She Tweeted you. Say hello. Talk about stuff, shoot the breeze, see how it goes. If the feelings are too powerful, then wish her well. Otherwise see if ya'll be friends or not. It's ok either way. But at least you'll know and won't be left wondering 'What if' because you never replied to her.

Naturally, mention all of this to your wife and talk about it with her. Be honest and open, it really is the best policy.

Your ex can't destroy or change your marriage. Only you can do that.

Your life is collection of story arcs and the arc with your ex has ended. But for me, in a similar situation, it was personally very satisfying to know that she was happy in her story arc and that she lived happily ever after.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:54 AM on February 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

Nthing everyone who says move on. essexjan's post is hard to add on to, but I'll add that if you need something to say that sums it up, say "I guess I'll see you next lifetime".

"Now what am I supposed to do when I want you in my world? How can I want you for myself when I'm already someone (else's)?....I guess I'll see you next lifetime".

posted by cashman at 12:00 PM on February 7, 2012

There are some very thoughtful responses here that you can consider. But in my opinion, nothing good can come out of contact with her.
posted by Silvertree at 12:03 PM on February 7, 2012

Forget about the tweet, forget about your ex and instead take your wife out to a great dinner.
posted by shino-boy at 12:08 PM on February 7, 2012

This is A THING that is very much on your mind, and understandably so. You should absolutely not try to keep this a secret from your wife. Show her the tweet, tell her about what happened, tell her how it made you feel. Get all that out in the open. That way the two of you together work through this, not you suffering in silence (and trying to keep a secret, too, which itself can do terrible things to a relationship).
posted by jbickers at 12:12 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Based on your being so freaked about this, block her and drop it. And don't tell your wife unless you are so unhinged that not telling her would be a lie.

I'm sure you do things here and there - act like a jerk in traffic, way overeat - that make you feel crazy and remorseful and sometimes you tell your wife and sometimes it just doesn't come up. Letting her know that another woman has his much contol over your emotions would not be helpful to anyone. (if you think she doesn't have days when the barrista or her ex from senior year doesn't look damn good, well, we all have inner lives.)

This is an unsettling blip and your very happy married life. Ignore it and go on.

Let this go. Maybe she'll contact you again in a couple of years and it won't be such a huge emotional deal.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:15 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you email her--and I'm not sure that you should--be 100% CLEAR that you do not wish to talk to her. If you wobble and talk in circles because you don't want to be rude you just open the door for her to argue, get the wrong idea...any email contact to her should probably be as short and sweet as possible, like this:


I saw your tweet. No hard feelings or anything, but please do not contact me again. Thank you.

posted by the young rope-rider at 12:20 PM on February 7, 2012 [10 favorites]

hmmmm... I am voting for you to tell your wife and then ignore (or send a thanks and good bye message) I'm 30...a bit of a "soft y" and I don't believe that all of this social networking is a good thing. Its come along with this tag of "everyone else is doing it, dont be so sensitive blah blah..." but that means different things to different people... the guy you had a crush on at 12 can suddenly appear in your inbox, you keep talking to some fwb from 3 years ago just because she's online and said "hey"- even though you're in a relationship... you talk to contemporaries with a false sense of intimacy because you're sitting in your pants and goonies is on telly...

none of these people wouldn't cross your mind if it weren't for twitter or facebook... F-that

(bitterly- I don't think that people should be so annoying as to pull in people they know have moved on several years ago)
posted by misspony at 12:32 PM on February 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

meant that "none of these people would" !!!
posted by misspony at 12:33 PM on February 7, 2012

Letting [your wife] know that another woman has his much contol over your emotions would not be helpful to anyone.

this. if i was your wife and you told me your whole backstory on your relationship with this woman and that you REALLY REALLY REALLY wants to see her again, i wouldn't be happy about this. why would i want to know this?

just drop it.
posted by violetk at 12:34 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Don't tell your wife.
posted by timsneezed at 12:41 PM on February 7, 2012

Here's what to do:

1. Ignore the tweet, and block her,
2. Don't tell your wife as it will only be hurtful and shift the responsibility for dealing with the way you feel to your wife,
3. Live in regret for a little bit, and
4. Eventually it will fade.

Your ex seems to have been able to find you easily enough, why would she send this very casual tweet after so many years? Because she is testing the waters. She has an ulterior motive, she has had you on her mind, she is going through a mid-life crisis and needs to know she is still attractive to someone. You are that someone, she wants the validation you can provide. Don't go there.
posted by Dragonness at 12:43 PM on February 7, 2012 [12 favorites]

If I were your wife, I'd rather not know. I am probably in the minority, though.

Also, things may have changed over the years and you may not be compatible with her anymore. You're hanging on to something that happened years ago which is not today's reality.
posted by KogeLiz at 12:43 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another fairly large part of me REALLY REALLY REALLY wants to see her again.

But she does not want to see you since she could have come up to you on the train. Her tweeting you instead seems, well, odd. Stop daydreaming and realize that even cracking this door will screw with your head and your happy life. Delete.
posted by murrey at 12:52 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh for God's sake, no. If you had such a level of limerance with this woman that It took me years to stop thinking about her, dreaming about her and I tried to forget her. The occasional relapse and desperate desire to find her was stymied by her ungooglable name then getting in touch with her would be like a recovering heroin addict shooting up "just to see" if it's as good as he remembered. Your brain wants those exciting but dangerous limerance-chemicals as bad as any addict craving a fix.

Anything other than deleting this immediately and blocking her without contacting her in any way, shape or form is playing with fire and I think you know it.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:58 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

You are startled, and that's why you don't know what to do. As long as you don't escalate - which means don't respond - the startle will pass and you'll be able to think about this rationally.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

She has an ulterior motive, she has had you on her mind

I don't know that this can be assumed, and if you consider yourself a charitable person it's probably best not assumed.

Just last night I was schlepping laundry down the street and thought I saw an ex of mine from many years ago. It turned out not to be him, but for a moment I thought about reaching out on facebook just to say hi. By the time I got home with the laundry, put it away, fed the cat, used the bathroom, opened a bottle of wine, etc. I had pretty much forgotten about it. But on the off chance that I hadn't, it wouldn't have been because I had an ulterior motive. It would be because I'm a human who sometimes thinks about people she used to know. Jeez...
posted by Sara C. at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do not tell your wife. Do not respond to the tweet. If you are as happy in your marriage as you say you are then you need to let this pass. Why would you need this other woman in your life if you have your wife?
posted by OsoMeaty at 1:10 PM on February 7, 2012

If you care about your marriage, the first thing you should do is tell your wife. Show her the tweet. Tell her how much this woman meant to you, but that she is a part of your past. Tell your wife you care about her, and that you don't want this ex, or anyone, to wreck your marriage.

Personally, I don't think you should talk to your ex. I think you should block her and never contact her again.

But if you don't think you can resist, tell your wife you want to contact this woman. Be completely transparent with your wife about all communication you have with your ex.
posted by cleverevans at 1:18 PM on February 7, 2012

90% of me says just ignore it.

10% of me says, your great lost love has been getting old and fat and cranky at the same rate as you, and often when you re-meet someone you used to be crazy about and have been idealizing for all this time, you quickly realize that the ideal you are in love with has nothing to do with the reality. She is no longer a 17-year-old stunner, or a 27-year-old stunner, or a 67-year-old stunner, or whatever, but is saggier and wrinklier and softer around the edges, with a decade of life you weren't a part of, that has changed her out of recognition if you didn't know her all along, and you'll have a coffee with her AND YOUR WIFE and be like, "Whoa, was she always this crazypants about politics and I didn't notice because I was in love, or is that a new thing?" or "Has she always been this rotten to waiters?" or "Why does she keep showing off her credentials?" or "When did she get boring?"

But no 10% meeting without your wife along.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:20 PM on February 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you're not sure you can cope with her in your life at all, then the answer is, of course, don't let her into your life at all. Don't reply to her, even to say you can't say anything more to her. Just leave it be. If she tweets at you again, block her account.

You have a marriage you seem to cherish. If that's so, you need to protect it, even if that means protecting it from your own personal weaknesses. Remind yourself that this ex of yours really isn't as perfect and incredible as your memory makes her out to be, and that what you have now is too important to bet on your ability to restrain yourself -- especially when you're clearly unsure of that ability.
posted by cerebus19 at 1:27 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you care about your marriage, the first thing you should do is tell your wife. Show her the tweet. Tell her how much this woman meant to you, but that she is a part of your past. Tell your wife you care about her, and that you don't want this ex, or anyone, to wreck your marriage.

Yep, tell your wife things are such that another woman can wreck your marriage. The bonus to this is, once you say it out loud, it's true. It's probably not true now. You're just playing with playing with fire by asking this question and thinking OMG whatif???!!! Actually engaging in this drama would indeed be playing with fire - and if you didn't know that before, the SE Dork has told you.

Put the tweet down, back away slowly, and then turn and run (back to your wife and happy life)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2012

I'm solidly in the "tell your wife" camp. Not in an overly dramatic way, just mention that it happened and that you are feeling thrown off-kilter by the contact, since this person represents a very emotional [but now finished] era of your life. The connection with the ex is between the ex and Past You. Talking about it with your wife will help remind you that Past You is gone and Present Married You is the one dealing with this situation. Sort of helps take the youthful-love frisson out of it, I think. Also, of course, the fact that your wife knows about it will also help keep you honest if you are tempted to contact the ex in the future.

As to how to respond, I think it's up to you. Ignoring it and blocking her account would be a great and safe route, but I think a very brief "Hi, yes, I'm doing well, thanks" response would be okay too, if you'd rather do that. Don't send a long or dramatic response. Agreed with commenters above that seeing her in person, if further contact leads in that direction, might be helpful, but absolutely only see her with your wife also there.
posted by aka burlap at 1:36 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

You people want this guy to go out of his way to be rude to someone he was engaged to and didn't do anything to hurt him? Because she told him that she thought she saw him on a train? Seriously?

"You could have, I didn't see you there. Hope all is well. - Ex."
Sometimes you have to set aside your own issues and just pretend to be normal.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:47 PM on February 7, 2012 [11 favorites]

I am a entirely happily married man.

Go with that.
posted by mleigh at 1:48 PM on February 7, 2012

I am firmly in the don't tell your wife camp, but that is a far less important than the biggest thing - calm down.

There are some helpful posts upthread about getting over the sucker-punch aspects first, and being rational and adult about all this. The tone of your post makes me want to take you on a long walk and then maybe a not-to-racy chick flick - except that you are an adult married man and not my neighbors 13-year old daughter.

This is a lot to process and that will be some work, but I believe you value the life you have now and do not want to act emotionally and hastily and mess things up.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:50 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Destroy and forget.
posted by willbaude at 1:56 PM on February 7, 2012

You've got one foot on the slope to blowing up another huge hole in your life.
posted by mrs. taters at 2:11 PM on February 7, 2012

Just recognize that what you're really asking us is "Do you think it's worth it to cheat on my wife?" And based on the info you've given us (that you're happy and in love) the answer is 'no'.

If you've given us inaccurate information, and your marriage is unhappy, tell your wife that you want a trial separation and then go get in touch with that ex.

But really that doesn't sound like what you want. And what you want is to either (a)see this girl and realize you're not in love with her anymore, or (b)have an affair with her and keep your happy marriage on the side. Those both sound like very risky strategies, and unless you're willing to sacrifice you're marriage, don't do it. If you are willing to sacrifice your marriage, then do it!
posted by Kololo at 2:18 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unless you want to go through the angst again, block and ignore.
posted by odeon at 2:18 PM on February 7, 2012

Oh yeah, and don't tell your wife unless of course you want to cause problems in your marriage and upset her. What's the point? So that she can know that you still have such strong feelings for this other woman? So that she can feel insecure, despite you not doing anything to pursue the woman? Honesty isn't always the best policy, if the information isn't useful and could be harmful.
posted by Kololo at 2:21 PM on February 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

To me, a stranger across the internet, it sounds like you're still a little bit interested in this woman. I don't wanted to say that you're still in love with her, but you're still in
*something* with her.

It'd be one thing if an old-flame that you have totally gotten over tweeted you, but this woman sounds like she still occupies space in your head. If you tell your wife, it's not going to be "Hey, I got this tweet from an old flame that I haven't thought about in forever. Weird, huh?" It's going to be "I got a tweet from an old flame who I used to be totally into, even long after our breakup. While most people would be able to just brush it off, this one-sentence tweet has got be all worked up, and part of me REALLY REALLY REALLY wants to see her."

Don't tell your wife. Just ignore the tweet.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:29 PM on February 7, 2012

If I were your wife, and you decided to tell me about this, I would be very, very sad to see how excited/anxious you are about wanting to re-engage with this woman. If you're happily married, you wouldn't be doing this. Let it go.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:34 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised at all the people saying "don't tell your wife." Does your wife know anything about your past with this woman? I'd hope so, given that she's your wife and your confidant and presumably a very good friend (best friend?) of yours.

Tell your wife. She should be able to help you get through this. I understand that people are saying that it's going to cause problems in your marriage and make her insecure, but keeping secrets can be much more insidious.

If my hypothetical husband was in this situation I would want him to tell me about it. Not because I am trying to police his actions, but because he's hurting and needs a friend.

Of course, you shouldn't tell your wife that you think it could ruin your marriage or anything. I don't get that feeling from your question, though -- you just seem a little thrown off and unhappy about this whole thing, which is very different.

If you have a therapist you could talk to him/her as well.

And don't respond to the ex. It's only going to hurt you and possibly hurt your marriage. Even if your wife is super supportive and is OK with you getting in touch with this woman, it could make things harder in the marriage for you. Block her username and move on. Don't get in touch. The possibility of rudeness is not even an issue here. If you don't get in touch, she'll know why. Don't worry about her feelings in this situation: worry about your own.
posted by k8lin at 2:40 PM on February 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Keep in mind you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to feel guilty for. Yet.

If it were me, I'd write her back to say, "Nice to hear from you but we shouldn't talk." This would make me feel better if I were in your shoes. Otherwise, as long as you let her contact with you just hang there unacknowledged, the door is left open. It may nag at you. Close it.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:00 PM on February 7, 2012

Imagine it's May, 1908. You're sitting in the velvet grass on the side of a hill in the park, your wife's head in your lap, and you see a cloud float by that looks like your ex's silhouette. You're momentarily startled, and then nostalgic, then briefly horny, then frightened, and then, for some reason, you lose the thread of your conversation.

Do you ruin your picnic by chasing your imaginary dalliance? No, because there is nothing there.
posted by Sallyfur at 3:32 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

"It's just a tweet."
"It's just an email."
"It's just a phone call."
"It's just coffee."
"It's just drinks. Maybe dinner."
"It's just this one time."
"It's bigger than both of us, we can't fight it, it's meant to be."

See how easy it is to create fate?
Calm down.
Tell - or rather mention occurance to your wife once you have, leaving out the hysteria.
Polite tweet back w/o major content: "Coulda been! Wish you well!" or NO tweet back. Delete and block.
Live your married life.
posted by likeso at 3:32 PM on February 7, 2012 [9 favorites]

Ask your wife what she thinks you should do.

Seriously, you're asking this anonymously. You've already crossed a line. You know damn well that emailing her to say "you can't be in my life" is inviting her into your life.

Tell your wife "hey, ExGF tweeted me today! I'm going to ignore it because that's all water under the bridge but I wanted you to know anyway." And then take her in your arms, tell her you love her, smell her hair, feel her skin, and be grateful.

Or, if you really, really must have this woman in your life, then have enough respect for your wife, and enough character, to say "hey, ExGF tweeted me today! I thought I was over her but I'm not, so I want a divorce."
posted by headnsouth at 4:27 PM on February 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think headnsouth raises an interesting point: "I can't cope with you being in my life, even as a friend, but I don't want to hurt you" is most certainly an invitation to bring her into your life.

It sounds like you're very much not over her. The worst worst worst thing you can do is tell her the emotional burden of being friends would be too much for you, especially apologetically, because after all, you don't want to hurt her because you care about her so much.

If you want permission to cheat, you won't get it from me. If you don't, then don't write back, and especially don't write something heartfelt and confessionary.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:29 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do not do not do not respond. Do not even bother to tell your wife. Just delete it and close that chapter of your life for good. You are not that person anymore. You are a happily married man.

This is not Dr. Zhivago, or The Age of Innocence, or The English Patient, or Love in the Time of Cholera, or some other melodramatic tale of star-crossed lovers separated by cruel circumstance and reunited across the ages.

Hell, it's not even The Parent Trap.

All it was was a love affair that did not work out. Neither you nor she took pains to envision, let alone make a future together--LIKE THE ONE YOU MADE WITH YOUR WIFE. If you're happily married, you have a companion, happiness, stability, passion. And don't go second-guessing my assumption, because yes, you are and you do. (Sorry for the shouting. Like 99.9% of the other people on this thread, I don't want you to make a terrible, stupid, and completely avoidable mistake.)

And don't respond, even to tell her not to contact you again, because any sort of response on your part will simply encourage and invite more interaction. At the most, she might contact you one more time via some other channel. Your continued silence will send a clear signal. And if for whatever reason your wife finds out she's contacted you, just tell her that you weren't interested and didn't feel that reviving the contact was appropriate, which will reassure her that you're a keeper.
posted by tully_monster at 7:25 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Ignore it. Don't worry about being rude or hurting her feelings - she'll get over it, and your marriage is more important.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:19 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also want to point out something else that annoys me about this that I didn't say in my "I hate social networking" themed answer above. This way of communicating with people is so new and in your case has given her the opportunity to communicate with you without an established etiquette.

I mean what the fuck is a "tweet" anyway?

If it was an email, or a letter, or a phone call- she would have to say what it is that she "£$(£'ing wanted and indicate what type of answer to give.

Like for example: if she had emailed you "hey saw you on the train, hope you're well" then you could reply that yes you are...... But a "tweet"????

She knows exactly what you guys had and when she did try "to get in touch" with you she chose to say exactly nothing in 9 words where anyone in the world could read it if they wanted to.

That doesn't sound in anyway special to me. Just because you can say anything to everyone in 100 words or less doesn't mean its cool to do so. She chose to say something that meant nothing, in front of everyone, but to you in paticular- and what that means about her? Who knows.
posted by misspony at 4:45 PM on February 9, 2012

I realize I'm responding late here, and the OP may not even still be reading this.

But for anyone else who may read this again:

This is not the end of the world. This does not have to be the end of the world.

Once I had someone who rocked my world, who, when we broke up over distance reasons, I screamed and thought things were the worst ever. I always wanted him. After we broke up and weren't talking, I wanted him all the time.

He called me out of the blue once, and we started talking, and are now fantastic friends. He is not dumpy or balding or ugly. He's still smart and charming. I still really enjoy his company. We've joked about how he's utterly welcome at my wedding, whenever that is.

I am in a happy, long term relationship, that is not with him, and it's okay.

By not having contact, you allow this to blow up to a "it will wreck my marriage", but it is entirely possible that it will not.

And honestly, if your marriage is so fragile that just seeing someone else would wreck it, it is not much of a "happy marriage", really.

Tell your wife, by all means. Don't keep secrets. But don't think this is going to somehow lead to Doom.
posted by corb at 11:07 AM on February 15, 2012

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