Still Dreaming of her Ex

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Female
I can't stop thinking about an ex. We dated for 3 years, and split up mostly due to problems caused by our family members. I believe that we truly loved one another, we had talked about getting married, and of family. After the breakup, we almost got back together but a family member once again caused us problems. I decided then to go off to college. While I was away, I had a long distance relationship with a guy in the Army. I was told the best way to get over my ex was to go out with someone else. After talking with the other guy for several months, I went and met him, then decided to move out of state to be with him. I think my decision was based on the fact that I had heard that my ex was about to get married or had gotten married. So, I jumped feet first into this new relationship with a guy i hardly knew, and got married within a month.

We have now been married for 4 years, and I still can't stop thinking about my ex. My husband and I were separated for a time, and I talked to my ex a few times, never saw him though (we lived in different cities). I found out that he'd almost gotten married, but didn't. I asked him if he'd ever been in love, he said "I plead the fifth"...what does that mean? We would always talk like best friends, and now my husband and I are back together, I did it because I wanted to try to make it work for my child's sake, but no matter how hard I try,I can't get the ex out of my head. I found out that my ex also moved back to our hometown. I'm no where near home anymore, so I know I'll probably never see him again. But, I think of him constantly, dream of him almost every night, and almost everyday, something reminds me of him or of things we used to do. I ache inside everytime I think of him. What should I do? Advice
It's funny that you wrote in with this today, just the past few nights I've been dreaming about an ex that's long gone, but who was very much a gentle, good friend. I've been in a happy relationship for 8 years now but still occasionally I dream of the other guy.

It sounds like you have a good handle on a lot of what's gone on in your life. We make all sorts of decisions for all sorts of reasons, not all of them perhaps wise, but we get through life and life and learn and make the best of it. I'm sure you love your child very much and wouldn't have wanted to not have him or her. So maybe things all worked out so you'd have this wonderful child in your life. And you have learned a lot of things by going through this that you wouldn't know otherwise.

So now, what to do. Right now your ex serves as a reminder that you're still cared for, regardless of things working or not working with your husband. He probably reminds you of when you were young and free and things were less difficult. When you dream of your time together, it's free from all the chores and morning grumpiness and other stuff that your real relationship has. I'm not saying he *wouldn't* be better in general - it sounds like he was more suited to you - but you still tend to idealize the guy in this situation and make him into a dream lover of sorts.

But back to reality. You need to take your decisions one step at a time. Your first step is the guy you're with. Yes, he's not perfect and you got together under less than ideal conditions. But that relationship is still quite workable even though he's not as 'well fitted' as the ex seems to be. So you need to focus on your husband right now. Will this work? Will it not work?

You need to determine that with a really fair shot at it. You can't "try" but be dreaming of this other guy all the time. That's not really a try. You can talk to the ex as a friend, but think of him firmly as a friend. Really find out for yourself if you and your husband *can* work as a team. You could be very happy, perhaps, if you work together. But on the other hand, maybe you're just really not meant for each other, and if even your very best efforts don't make you happy, you know at least that you really did try.

In the end your child wants to be raised in a happy environment, and if the choice is you two married and unhappy, or separate and happy, happy is good for the kids. You may think you're hiding your unhappiness, but believe me, kids are VERY smart about things like this and they know. And it then effects then entire way THEY have relationships, because they try to model their relationships on what they know - i.e. how you act in yours.

OK, so focussing on your husband, you either finally decide it works or it doesn't. If it works, you're happy, and you have your ex as a friend, and that's a really nice world to be in. If it doesn't work, you separate from your husband and maybe return 'home' to be near family or whoever is there. And you have your ex as a great friend, and maybe you two move into more. But take it slow, you have both changed a lot since you were last together and need to ease into what you both are now. It could work really well, or you both could have changed in such a way that you can be great friends, but you really can't get along well in a relationship. That definitely happens.

So take it one step at a time and give each step a lot of attention and focus. When that step resolves itself, you can move on to the next one. By doing it that way, you'll always know you evaluated your options and chose the one that seemed best, and not look back on the decision with regret and uncertainty, as you are your marriage decision. You want to be able to look at what you've done and say yes, you did the best you could there, for both you and your new child.

Best of luck, it's never easy to choose like that, between an 'ok' current person and a 'dream' other person. But dreams aren't necessarily reality, so deal with the reality first, and then see how things work from there.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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