Friendships have always ranked as a high priority in my life. I enjoy spending time with current friends, and I nostalgically look forward to every opportunity to reconnect with old chums. Every five years my college and high school reunions prove to be a hoot.
It’s always fun to see how people change as they age. Even some old girlfriends who played fond roles in my romantic memories aren’t quite as attractive as I remember. Leaving the reunions, I’m thankful I married Melissa and not any of those “other” girls.
But that’s not necessarily true for everyone. With the wonders of the Internet, it’s easier to make individual private contact with old friends – which can be a dangerous venture. In my counseling practice, I’ve seen growing numbers of men and women who’ve opened Pandora’s Box by simply “clicking here” to locate a former sweetheart. Before you click, consider these dangers.
Connecting with an old flame just out of curiosity may have an unexpected emotional impact. Time and distance often cause you to idealize old romantic ties. The negative aspects of the relationship can be swept away in the rush of excitement of hearing that voice again or reading an intimate e-mail. “I’ve thought about you often and really miss you” are powerful words – particularly if you struggle with feelings of loneliness and disappointment in your marriage
On bleak day when Jane was angry with her husband, she went online and found an old boyfriend’s address. Her first e-mail was pretty casual and innocent. “Hi, how are you? I just saw your address on our class Website and thought I’d day ‘Hello’”. To her surprise, Joe responded quickly. Before long they were meeting regularly in a chat room. Their messages became increasingly intimate and the smoldering embers of Jane’s adolescent infatuation turned into flames. She never would have thought herself capable of adultery, but there she was with Joe in a hotel room halfway between their homes and miles from her moral standards.
Another danger in exploring lost friends is opening the door to sexual predators. Andrew sent an innocent inquiry to a long list of classmates he’d located on the Internet, just to see if he’d get any responses. He was astounded at the number he received.
One of the girls from his college days responded with more than a simple answer to his query. She wrote him frequently and flirtatiously. He was enticed by her seductive language but terrified by her obvious lack of boundaries. He didn’t know how to shake her or what to do about the notes. He began to get blackmail threats when he tried to break off contact.
Wisely, Andrew told his wife what was happening; together they fought off the attacks. Narrow escape!
One other consequence: the erosion of trust that follows when one mate gets involved with a former sweetheart. Even when nothing romantic or sexual develops, the question, “Why did you want to do that?” remains. Depending on the strength of the marriage, the concern may be eventually dispelled, but it could form a seed of doubt that’s hard to dig out.
Watch your step!
Be cautious of the following in relation to the opposite sex:
- keeping an old sweetheart an active fantasy in your mind
- entertaining an ongoing curiosity about sexual promiscuity
- harboring discontent against your spouse
- going through a midlife transition with doubts about self, fears of mortality and awareness of emotional isolation
- experiencing grief and loss (parents’ deaths, empty nest, termination of employment, etc.)
Any of these circumstances increases your vulnerability to seek other sources of comfort and affection. If you want to get back in touch with old friends, do so with your spouse by your side – and, even then, don’t get too “chummy”. Save that for your spouse.
The Old Fashioned Way: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Romance
By Ginger Kolbaba
Get your copy now for RM 37.90!
Contrary to popular opinion, being “old fashioned” doesn’t mean you’re dull or unromantic. In fact, a true old-fashioned relationship can be more exciting and romantic than anything you’ve ever experienced! So what does it mean to do thing The Old Fashioned Way?
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