Lingering Desire For An Old Flame

This may be a naïve question, but others will definitely have a different take on this than me, so, what does it mean if your partner cannot seem to break off communication with an ex-lover? Especially if your partner says he or she has broken off the contact, but you find out that they are still communicating without your knowledge? Also, how do you deal with it?

My take

I believe there is such a thing as the “love of someone’s life.” In other words, there is someone that you love (or have loved) more than anyone else in your life. Hopefully, you are with that person now. However, for whatever reason, you and that person may have broken up, and there are still lingering feelings—and a history. These feelings may or may not be evident to you until you come into contact with that person (whether in person or other means (e.g., telephone, email, etc.). The unfortunate part of this is that these feelings are natural, and it is complicated to deal with natural romantic feelings toward someone you are no longer involved with—especially when you are in a new relationship. These are some of the situational outcomes I have known: (1) The two persons carry on an affair for years (secret lovers) until they either get caught, or the circumstances just make the relationship fade away (e.g., geographical separation). (2) One person leaves the current relationship to be with the old flame (remember the Notebook movie). (3) One person denies his or her feelings for the other person and settles for the security of the person he or she is with (like the mother in the Notebook movie). Now, depending on your stage and circumstances in life, this may be the viable option for you. You may not be completely happy in your current relationship, but you can trade off the lack of complete happiness for contentment, peace of mind, and a good life (there isn’t anything wrong with that unless you think so). (4) One partner cannot accept the old flame still being in his or her partner’s life, so he or she leaves the relationship. I am sure you may know of other possible outcomes. Please share.

The bottom line is this: the heart wants what the heart wants, and life is too short to not be with the one you love. Too many people go through life settling for unfulfilling relationships because of financial dependency, fear of being alone, fear of not getting anybody better, need for a father figure or the perception of a “good man,” etc. In the long run, this is not fair to you or the one you are with. The person you are with will not get the best of you—even if he or she is giving you the best of themselves. I mentioned this before in another post that you are who you are to an extent based on who you are with. Therefore, you are your best self when you are with the one you truly love. You are most thoughtful, most caring, most loving, most giving, most understanding…you get what I mean. That person will not need to feel insecure or jealous or unloved, because you will be giving that person the very best of you—naturally.

That word—naturally—is why you cannot demand that your partner cut off communication with the old flame. If you discussed it with your partner and he or she does not want to willingly break off the connection (or he or she continues to maintain contact after telling you it would end), then your partner naturally wants to keep contact with the old flame, even to your chagrin and stated objection. That is hard to deal with and accept because you would prefer if he or she wanted to naturally consider your feelings and—naturally—have no problem breaking it off with the old flame. So, what are your options? (1) Accept that this person will forever be a part you and your partner’s life (however small), that nothing will ever happen between them, and drop the subject forever. (2) Accept that this person will forever be a part you and your partner’s life (however small), think that something will happen anytime the opportunity arises, and accept that and drop the subject or walk away from the relationship (hard to do, especially if your partner is the love of your life). (3) Hope that your partner will one day—naturally—break contact with this old flame and the issue would go away. In other words, turn on the charm and become the new love of your partner’s life. That may be easier said than done, especially if you had already been giving it your all.

Now, don’t get me wrong, all things being equal, there should be no reason why you shouldn’t be able to have contact with your exes. However, when it is obvious that the ex is still harboring and confessing feelings for you and you are not shutting it down—then there is a problem—especially if you are resisting requests from your partner to shut it down. The continued contact will inevitably re-kindle and set ablaze old feelings. The reasons you fell in love with the person in the first place may still be there. Why then would you not think you could fall in love with that person again, especially when the person is still pursing you and you still may be carrying a small torch for the person. That minimal, sustained contact can unexpectedly lead to infidelity as soon as the situation presents itself. In my mind, your refusal to break the contact is indirectly leaving the door open for any future possible link up. I also believe there should be no exes so important to me that I would jeopardize my current relationship to maintain contact with that person. While the past may be necessary for creating and cementing a bond with someone; that bond cannot be more important to me than my current bond that I am building for the future. If this is not the case, then I need to be in the past (with my old flame). There is also a significant problem if I am more considerate of my old flame’s feelings than my current partner. At least, that is my take. What do you think?

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