Looking up old boyfriends

The holidays are a time of reflection and connection. But it’s also a time, for some of us, of poignant romantic regrets — the email or text ignored, the phone call or letter you never returned, the first date disaster or months of loneliness.

It’s the time many people look into the new year, only a week hence, and think...hmmmm. Some will wonder, still, about the one who got away.

Thanks to social media, it’s far too easy now to find former beaux (and belles.)

But should you?

Choosing: painting by first husband, George Fr...

I recently thought I’d try again to reach out to Big Name Architect — and found him on LinkedIn — a guy I first met when I was 22 and he was 44. Unbenownst to us that day, (both of us then living with others), we both came away smitten. I wrote a story about him and wandered off into the rest of my life. But he had set up an office near my New York home and, once or twice a year when visiting from Canada, would take me out for dinner.

After my husband walked out in 1994, BNA and I, then both single, flung ourselves into a heady affair, the age difference a little daunting, but perhaps worth a shot.

It got messy very quickly as he proposed marriage within only a few months and I was in that particular form of madness of the about-to-be-divorced,

His proposal was flattering, of course, although I was actually still married, barely separated from my husband after seven years. Rebound city.

It got so intense and overwhelming that I turned to my Dad — the same age as BNA — for advice. He agreed that this was not, despite all the surface glamour, a good fit for me. I do poorly with bossy men. He was, (albeit talented and charismatic), quite bossy.

So BNA promptly found and married someone else. When he replied to my recent email, after years of silence when I wrote emails he wouldn’t reply to, he told me triumphantly (?) he’s still married. Our messy ending still rankles him.

Another sweetie re-found me, or vice versa, on Facebook. Then a gorgeous, muscle-bound would-be Olympic rower at UNC Chapel Hill, we met on a student exchange. He wooed me in ways no one ever had — a huge bouquet of red roses delivered to my door, even giving me a lovely antique gold ring with three tiny diamonds. Losing it felt like losing a piece of my heart. He is remarried, as am I. I always wished the best for him and am so glad he is well and happy.

The man I lived with in my 20s reached out to me about a decade ago, apologizing — AA-style — for his transgressions against me. There actually hadn’t been any. They had been mine. But there he was. We broke up when he wanted, more than anything, to get married, to buy a cashmere overcoat and Make Money. All of which, when I was only 25 and desperate for adventure, seemed really boring.

His later life, and divorce, proved far bumpier and challenging than I’d ever imagined. He’s now working as a PI, which is pretty cool. We caught up last year for a long lunch and it was comforting to touch base with someone I liked very much, and loved, but felt fortunate not to have married.

Then, finally, I re-found my first true love on Facebook, whom I met at University of Toronto, when he was editor of the weekly school newspaper and I the eager young journo five years his junior. I’d sought him in vain for years using social media which he wasn’t using.

We, too, had reconnected right after my divorce, as he was coming out of his own first marriage. Neither of us had kids, but both of us were then still too bitter and angry about our spouses’ betrayals to be much use for one another than a fellow bruised survivor to commiserate with. Not terribly sexy, that.

Nor were we any better suited as long term partners than we had been in our college years.

But he’s still a sweetheart, a talented, interesting and creative person, and I look forward to seeing him again soon in Canada, and introducing him to my second husband. His second wife is an academic superstar and he’s now a late-life Dad. Cool!

Here’s a Canadian blogger’s memories of two ex-boyfriends:

I think of him every once in a blue moon, usually when Iā€™m looking at a calendar. JASON. July, August, September, October, November.

Have you re-connected, successfully or otherwise, with a former love?

How did that work out?

32 thoughts on “Looking up old boyfriends

  1. You are either friends underneath the romance, I think, or you are not. And if there is no friendship there–if you are just lovers–then it’s probably not either possible or desirable to create a friendship later. Some ex-partners have remained in my life, and some haven’t. The ones who haven’t I see no need to dig up again. They had their place once. The past remains the past.

    1. **GREAT answer! Actually I’ve got to piggy-back on yours as its closest to what I feel @ this topic. Good conversation starter isn’t it? Lol! I’ve never been one to reach back into the past to contact..anyone. Why? I figure if we’ve not been IN touch for years and years; then they don’t know me nor I them anymore. For though we build from the core person we are from birth…also as we mature, age, evolve over the years we become even moreso of the people we are 2day. Personally? I don’t feel like taking the energy to re-wind the tape to play catch up with folks that haven’t cared about me(nor obviously I them..) to have maintained contact over the years. Having said all of that I don’t have any ex that is still not in contact with me..real talk! I’m very good friends with my exhusband. Though cross country we’ve known each other almost 30 yrs/co-raised 3 sons even after divorce/and were friends from the onset..and true/friendship never ends…My last ex refused to let me lose contact with him! Outstanding person that felt I was pretty outstanding also. We’re very good friends/confidants and I trust his opinion to the highest degree. Even my very first love over the years(even when I was married…) would reach out from time to time and contact me. Guess my final answer to the question is I don’t have an ex that I don’t have some form of contact with Lol!

      1. If someone was a real shit (ex-husband comes to mind), I wouldn’t be wild about contact unless it was to apologize or explain. But I’m often quite curious how people’s lives turned out. Maybe it’s the journalist in me?

        Many of my exes were smart, charming and interesting guys and it was often me who wanted to keep moving, as work was always my priority and I never wanted kids so I never had any pressure to “settle down.”

  2. I’ve never had much luck with girls…not that I actively pursue them. But reading this seems like a sign, because I just found a guy who bullied me in 3rd grade. I’m going to email him and forgive him for the crap he put me through. I don’t know what he’s up to, I could really care less. In the end the crap he put me through made me a better writer and better at scaring people, so I’m happy that I came out stronger and with a more honed talent from the experience.

      1. probably. thing is, i usually don’t put the energy into it. maybe it takes a certain kind of girl. it might take an act of God though to find that kind of girl.
        Oh well, the future’s open. Let’s see what happens.

  3. Your list of beaux (or lovers? Can we call them your lovers? Luh-vahs?) is fantastic! My boyfriends were all the usual university types and most of them pretty nice, but I’ve never felt the need to check in on any of them. It’s not always admirable, but once I choose to remove someone from my life (or vice versa) I don’t really feel the need to keep up with them. The ones I remained friends with I’m still friends with, the ones I wanted nothing more to do with I don’t ever really even think of. The unexpected perk of sensation emotional control – until J. showed up, at least. I saw a lot of friends obsessing over exes though, some of them for months and years, and I early thought, “That doesn’t seem like a lot of fun, or productive. I think I won’t.” So I never did.

    Clearly I’m missing out on some great stories!

  4. And that’s a very tightly edited list, my dear. šŸ™‚

    I admit, it’s flattering to have old beaux get back in touch, (when I was single anyway) and this romantic recycling has worked, albeit briefly, a few times. I admit, I wonder a great deal about a select few of them, but reaching out to on, (the blue-eyed engineer from Khartoum), was a big disappointment when he didn’t reply — but instead connected me (wtf?) with a pile of other engineers on LinkedIn. Dude?! I had no fantasy at all about re-connecting romantically, but my email must have spooked him somehow.

    I think we do tend to change and grow over the decades and it’s been interesting to pick up the same book, so to speak, at a later chapter. A few of these guys wanted to marry me, (OK, 3 of them) and it’s been odd to wonder what my life would have become had I made those choices instead of the ones I did. It was actually a relief to see that my earlier and younger decision to say no had been the wise one, after all.

  5. Nope. With the exception of once, about 5 years ago, and it wasn’t a “hey, let’s catch up” kind of thing. It was a “hey, saw your photo in the paper with that super cool energy-efficient house you built and I wanted to find out more about it and oh, how are you doing?” Never heard back, so figured that was that. Heard from someone I dated about 25 years ago, but didn’t respond and about 4 years ago, heard from an ex that I did respond to, but that didn’t go anywhere past a few emails.So I guess that’s a sign. Past stays past. šŸ™‚

    1. Some people are very much meant to stay in our past. There are some people I wouldn’t want to hear from, but only because we didn’t have much in common, not anything dramatic. The ex-husband covered that territory.

  6. SnowfoxBandit

    I’m ashamed to say I cannot even remember the last name of my first kiss, who I haven’t seen since – poor guy. My first-ever boyfriend still attempts to contact me from time to time, though (sigh!). I made plenty of mistakes in that relationship (what else are first relationships for?), but we are still not on the same “page” in life, and I’m not interested in reconnecting.

    (Also, I, too, have a “gorgeous and muscle-y” college flame in my past – also from NC! How about that?)

    Overall, though, I’m here to represent the age-disparate relationships that DO work out! Though only time knows for certain, of course, it’s been wildly successful for over three years, and he’s the only love I care to stay connected with. šŸ™‚

  7. RE-connecting? no,because there were never very many connections in my past. however, after divorcing 12 years ago, i’ve done a lot of first-time “connecting” with women who i had known in the past. in a way it’s a reconnection, but for the romance end of it, that was new.

  8. I loved reading your stories–the ins, the outs, and back-in-agains. I understand how BNA may have felt rankled by your relationship’s messy dissolve; endings suck. On the other hand, as someone who’s experienced that “particular form of madness of the about-to-be-divorced,” I know that dead-end relationships suck even worse. Thanks for the thought-provoking post. All the best for a wonderful, happy New Year!

  9. A while ago I communicated with an ex. The exchange was mostly apologizing for how young, dumb, and cruel we were to eachother. Mostly I like to let past be past, thinking I guess that I’m not with or around that person for a reason.

  10. Young, dumb and cruel sounds about right. That may be why I have been happy to talk to old beaux, as I owed some apologies as well. I agree about the past, but one spectacular exception to that rule made me realize it’s not hard-and-fast.

  11. I’m in the “months of loneliness” phase. After getting flat out ignored by neighbour and co-worker that I connected with for a very short time. But it was time enough to get really excited about it. I thought it was a for sure thing. I’d love to forget about her but her parking spot is right outside my door and I see her at work from time to time. I would love so much to make her part of my past but my passport is expired…..

    1. Ouch. Sorry to hear this. The cashmere-overcoat guy I lived with in my 20s also (ugh) not only worked in the same building, so I saw him all the time (even though I initiated the break-up it wasn’t easy) but quickly dated and then married a woman he worked beside — who delighted in planning her wedding loudly in the cafeteria when I was nearby. Horrid.

      I wish you a lovely Christmas, anyway…

  12. I did it with my high school sweetheart. We were never an item, but I was secretly in love with him back then. He found me on Facebook four years ago and I often go visit him in London now. We’re just friends.

    1. Neat! I looked up my HUGE crush from high school, and we’re both happily married and both journalists. We went out for dinner and it was so great to enjoy all the qualities we’d liked in one another then, as now.

  13. thebrokegirl

    Merry Christmas! I got a couple of pingback notifications from you and wanted to say thank you so much for your support and kind words- totally unnecessary, but much appreciated (especially coming from someone with your experience). I wasn’t able to find the post, though. Any chance you could point me in the right direction? šŸ™‚

  14. madiebeartri

    I have been married for 27 years to my husband. We have 5 children and two grandbabies. I looked up my first husband last year out of curiosity. We hadnt spoken since our divorce 30 years ago. He was dead. I was good with that ’cause honestly from what i remember from my teenage years he was not a nice guy. šŸ™‚

  15. Pingback: Life of Pi, the movie | Broken Penguins

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