Sticky Bonds

Lost Loves, Romances, and Families in the 21st Century.

A Therapist Suggests "Getting Closure"

A married man wanted "closure" from his lost love obsessions and went to a therapist for help. He was not interested in renewing a relationship, just in trying to get over it. Was his therapist right to tell him to contact her? Read More

I thank you for this post. I

I thank you for this post. I have been thinking of a "lost love" ever since he broke my heart nearly two years ago. Today I'm in a great relationship of about a year. This confirms what I have been contemplating ever since the "lost love" phenom occurred to me.. that we never do completely get over relationships of the past. Every relationship has changed and touched us forever.

Knowing this, I accept that I will always have fond memories of my ex love. But I have made the choice not to ruin my current relationship by "re-awakening" old feelings. I'm going to keep my distance and enjoy my present relationship. I think I might feel just as damaged if I leave my present relationship and return in search of the old one. Also, my life circumstances such as where I am going to school now, the people tied into my relationship are in favor of my present relationship.

So really you have to weigh the odds to see what path in love you should choose. Anyway thanks again for the great article! Helped me decide not to contact an old flame in hopes to gain closure/rekindle old romance.

collegegirl

I am glad my article was helpful to you. But keep in mind that I was talking about married people who have good marriages and want to stay married.

If you still long for your ex in a few years, before you commit to anyone else, you might want to contact him. If the married men and women had contacted their lost loves before they married, they could have avoided the messiness of affiars and divorces.

Yes, you will always have feelings for him. But if they stay strong and interfere with your ability to commit to someone new, then I do suggest you seek closure. But not now. :)

Misguided therapists

Therapists who do not understand lost love and suggest "contact for closure" are actually the catalysts for damage to not just their client's life, but the lives of their client's spouse and other family, and the life of the former lost love that was contacted, and that lost love's spouse and family. That misguided contact creates calamity, not closure.

Possible counterweight

Get ready for posts from folks who married, divorced, and then remarried their former spouses at some point later in their lives. Or people who had a lost love, recontacted them, and then remarried happily later on.

As for the "closure" thing -- if the marriage was so great? The person wouldn't need to contact the former love to seek "closure." The client is snowing the therapist, or talking in code. It's up to the therapist to see that the client has unexpressed misgivings about their current relationship.

great article! I just

great article! I just recently got out of a very intense(in a good way) relationship and find myself thinking of tge what if's about me contacting my ex. I have fond memories but do not want my ex back, I just find myself missing my ex and feel like I will feel better (have closure if I tell him) but I know thats not real and like you I agree there is,no such thing as closure! contrary to yout article though I do agree with the last person who comented on this blog..i feel like if you are having more then the occasional random memory of an old love(usually because of a similarity in your current spouse or just avfamiliar event) there should b noooo reason why those memories are cripling and need closure.... either way thanks for the article you are great!!

Healing from within

Dr Kalish, your articles are very helpful and I've also been looking at your website. I've seen a few different places where you talk about healing from within, but do you have any steps / recommendations for doing so? I wish I could set up a consultation or gain access to the member sections of your message boards, however, my husband would question what the payment was for. I don't want to contact my LL anymore because I want to put my marriage first and stop hurting, but having such a hard time healing.

And for the person who says if the marriage was so great, the person wouldn't need to contact the former love, that is not always true. I had no idea several years ago that an innocent reconnection to say hi (not even for closure) would reignite old feelings, quickly and intensely. It's a slippery slope when that happens. My marriage has been wonderful but that doesn't make it an easy thing to now eliminate contact with LL.

Obsession

DO NOT CONTACT your first love.I have been looking all of my life for a copy of her,but that does not work.Do not make contact,you will get obsessed and so will your first love.Your first love is stronger than cocaine and very addictive.Raging teenage hormones.You will have to learn to live with these feelings.Closure is NOT a option.

Closure?

I have a problem with my first love. It seems neither of us can let go. We have been in contact for 3 years now. Our relationship floats back and forth between good and sweet to mean and mad. I dont understand this at all. The only thing I can think of is that we both love each other and feel pain that we are not to be together so there are two choices. Friends or cease contact. Both hurt. Time does not really heal these feelings and I hate saying goodbye on a bad note. My first love is special, why does it have to be this way. If it were anyone else it wouldve been overwith a very long time ago. Before he made contact with me I was a very happy woman. Now there is a hole in my heart.

Closure?

I don't have any answers for you but just wanted to say I understand. I would also describe my experience in the same way, fluctuating between good & sweet to mean & mad and that is very hard to experience with someone who is supposed to be so special. I agree too that I was very happy and now every day is a struggle. I sometimes wonder if things would be hard if we really were together but I always hope that it's just because of the circumstances that we keep hurting each other. Saying goodbye on a bad note sucks...we have done that repeatedly. It's a cycle I feel may never end.

My first love contacted me

My first love contacted me several years ago. We corresponded via email and finally met face to face for an hour or so. He appeared to be stressed out. We cleared the air but he has been weird ever since. I was hoping we could be friends but he is inconsistent and disjointed although he does however ask to meet face to face periodically which I have not done. I dont understand his behavior. If we cant be friends, then I dont see the need to meet. Any thoughts?

Inconsistent

Have you ever asked him why his behavior is so inconsistent? Is he currently in a relationship? Is he not sure about his feelings for you?

I reached out to my LL in February and have come to the realization that now is not the time to pursue anything. I don't regret my decision to reach out (I needed that), but it did confuse my situation even more. It appears that I am the only one that is "caught up" in the fantasy of it all. My feelings are strong, but I still feel foolish. He's not married, but I am. I plan to get a divorce, but we still live together. My LL doesn't know what to think about me and what I'm trying to do...he thinks I'm confused (and he's probably right). He feels like I'm on the rebound and not serious about pursing a relationship. Sigh

Some More Thoughts and Questions

I found this site seeking help for all the same reasons. It has been 29 years and I just can't get over this love. I've dated others and loved others, but the one I can't get over was different. After a terrible night of sleep, and ready to send him some flowers to tell him I still think of him after all these years, I ended up at your site. I was relieved after I read all the posts, had calmed down and told myself how ridiculous it all is. What a fantasy and I surely don't want to go ruining his life. I am at the end of a marriage with a guy who has chosen to be unemployed for 10 years and acts like one of my kids. Still, this is not by far the first time I've pined for my former love. So here are my questions. Life is short, are you not to follow your heart? My head can make smart decisions all day long but am I happy at the end of the day? If it is such a bad idea to contact someone you cared for deeply after a long time, maybe it's a bad idea to see anyone from your past - good or bad? Why suppress all these feelings of love and yearning? Yes, I realize everybody is older and things have changed and yada yada. But I don't want to die with him not knowing that I never stopped loving him. Isn't it ok to say that? I realize, yes, there is more below the surface than that and I can't be 18 again and neither can he. This is why I struggle with it. Should I or shouldn't I? If everyone is so mature than yes, people can deal with the consequences and handle the message however they like. I guess I feel like my love is unconditional at this point. He's already married someone else and I get it. So I'm not expecting him to reciprocate. I just want him to know I said I'd always love him and I still do.

Understand

I just want you to know that I truly feel your pain and situation. I had recently come to the realization that my marriage was ending and that I never really loved my husband and that I was only in love with the fact that he was so in love with me. After I determined that we were going to have to end our marriage (he doesn't agree with my decision), I decided to reach out to my old love because I had began having extremely emotional dreams that I would awake and begin crying. My love and I were actually childhood crushes (my first kiss), but we did not get into a real relationship (reconnected) until I was 19 (my first lover). We broke up because I went away to college and then later found out he had gotten a girl pregnant. It was very traumatic. I met my husband while in college and he helped lift my spirits and get me out of my depression over my breakup. He was my prince charming and made me feel special. I quickly became pregnant and we wed. I reached out 12 years later (currently) only to find out that the feelings were mutual and I was "the one that got away" to him. He's not married, but in a longterm relationship with the woman he got pregnant while I was away in college. I'm so conflicted over all of this, because my husband and I have not divorced and he's really wanting to work things out with me, but I keep comparing my love w/the ex to my love for my husband and my love for my ex is soooo much stronger which makes me not want to consider working things out with my hubby....ugh

Be honest- there is a part of

Be honest- there is a part of you that wants him to come running back to you. If you contact him, you sound as if you would have an affair with him. However that doesnt mean he would leave his family for you. Even if he did he would be torn. My best friend lived thru this. Its not worth it. Find someone who wants you and is willing to commit to you. You deserve better than this.

I dont recommend doing this.

I dont recommend doing this. What do you expect him to say? All this will do is make the situation more uncomfortable. Keep your feelings private.

More Thoughts

And a few more thoughts on that. These are just words I want to say. Do I imagine him running into my arms, the embrace, the kiss, the words exchanged? Yes. I've dreamed it on many occasions. I've also dreamed the other outcome...he blows me off, he walks past me. I feel disappointed. I drag through the next day. I feel tortured on a regular basis, in a prison I've constructed. I would feel so much better if I could just say those three words to him. Yet, I know I might be fooling myself into taking that first step to see what the next step would be. Why do I feel this agony and how can I rid myself of it? I'm not trying to hurt anybody. I simply want to express love. If he is in a solid marriage they will handle it fine. If they do not have a solid marriage, then anything could have rocked it. I won't feel responsible for what someone referred to as "reckless" behavior. I'm not defaming anyone, or saying I hate anyone or anything nasty like that. What really is so terrible about telling someone you always loved them. Isn't that what love stories are made of and what makes life a little bit sweeter?

To "More Thoughts"

Half of the extramarital affairs in my research were people who had happy marriages beforehand. Shirley Glass, PhD (Not Just Friends) also found that people in happy marriages do cheat on occasion and ruin their happy marriages. Half of the responsibility for a bad outcome would be yours.

"What is really so terrible" is the high potential, whether he is happy to hear from you or not, to destabilize his life - that is not loving him as he is today. It is your choice to destabilize your present life, but he would be blindsided and you will call it loving him.

Please read my books and website. You will see what you can do to a "solid marriage." Plus, you would feel better for a little while, after you release the obsession, then he will feel terrible and so will you. In fact, most people wind up really hating each other after a few years of this turmoil. If he loves you, starts an affair, then leaves you in a mean way to stay married, you will be crushed and blame him. But it all starts from the first contact.

"Dragging through the next day" is is very unlikely. Your torture will continue long after you contact him and intrude into his life. Saying something to him is not your answer. After that, when you feel brief release and that feels good, you will want more, then more. Telling him your feelings will not free you. Really! It's like listening to an hallucination in your head and acting on it. It seems like the answer but it isn't. You can learn techniques to ignore this obsession until it leaves you.

If you leave him alone now, maybe later if you are both single it can work out.

What do you suggest?

I have been back and forth with my lost love for 5 years this June. When I say back and forth, I don't mean on and off, but more as going back to each other then ending it once again. It became a cycle after a while. It would go both ways, either him or I leaving one another again, but it would always be him coming back 'trying to work things out.' Every time I came to him, he would talk to other girls behind my back. He took me for granted thinking I would always be coming back to him and taking him back after what he always did to me behind my back. This July, I completely ended that cycle and really ended things between us. He didn't take the break up seriously until he later learned that I was talking to a new guy, and it seemed to be pretty serious. I felt really strong with this new guy. He knows about him and the love I still have for him and all, and is still willing to work through it with me. Continuing, I decided to give it another try with my ex. Though, the past still hurt me so much. He verbally abused me and never cared about my feelings. Now he claimed he changed, but I was afraid he didn't so he suggested couples counseling. Something he never wanted to do before when I suggested it. This made me feel that maybe he was, since he was willing to do anything to make us work out. Though, I kept feeling he was forcing this and a part of him still wanted to be single. He also makes me feel this way because before when he wanted to be single and have me there, he did not like texting me every day. He liked his 'space' so it continued to be like this now knowing that I need his attention since I have not received it from him like he has with mine for all those years even with the circumstances that he put me through. We got into an argument after 3 days in really working things out because he did not text me and he made me feel as if he thought everything was okay now. I was taking aback to all this. One week in and few days in really working things out, he really thought I would feel comfortable in being able to trust him with my heart. For this, he used as his advantage to feel 'played' because I told him maybe this wasn't a good idea and that we both should move on. That I felt we werent meant for each other. He questioned in wanting to work things out or not, telling me that I no longer have the ball in my court as if he has the power/control to act however he wanted with me. I was hoping this did not escalate like it did before, and I warned him that he better not try to use this as an excuse to try and have more power when he doesnt when he has made me the victim for so many years. But he did, 2 days ago I was taking him to my friends party (our first party after highschool) while driving down I asked him if he did not want to go we can stay home...he stood quiet and his reply was "w.e your already driving" with attitude, so I asked him 2 more times but he stood quiet and later told me to shut up because I was being annoying. I told him it was a simple question that he could have answered honestly and I would not have a problem staying home with him hanging out and all. Again, he says Im being annoying. We then finally arrived at the party, it felt awkward since it was our first time together now being in college and all. But once we left, he asked for my phone so that he can look through it and see if I was still talking to that guy. I let him go through it, but when he reached the guys facebook I took it back and the night from there was a disaster. He over reacted pretty bad like never before. It was just bad! My reason to why I took it away was because the first night him and I hung out, I asked for his phone to see if he was not lying to me about anything since he always did that to me for so many years, but he took it away from me and did not let me see more but some. I didnt see all his convo messages as he did with mine, nor did I log on his facebook. I agreed that same night that I would be fair and we both would trade phones and go through, he did not want to. Therefore, 2 days ago when he wanted to go through it all, I did not let him for he did not let me. I was being fair and equal to each other. He blames me for this, saying I was hiding stuff not understanding that he was not fair with me. It only assures me that he was hiding things from me that night since he is thinking that of me. If I would have let him, I knew that he would be that control freak again trying to have the power in the relationship. When to me, there should never be power on either ends but 50/50 on both ends. What should I do? Were both still single, but idk even if a closure would work for us both knowing we still want each other but can't be together due to his bad attitude and selfish ways. Should I try to pursue anything with him since the love is still alive? I felt like it was fading when I wasnt seeing him and talking to him but this new guy. It opened up old wounds and the love again. What makes it even harder is that this new guy that I am talking to is a Marine and its a long distance thing right now. Nothing official yet.

What do you suggest? (me again)

To add, when my ex and I agreed to working this out. I stopped talking to the guy and he understood. Now after everything that happened, the Marine took me back understanding me and not holding anything against me. And another thing, my ex is part of a frat. That was one another thing he hid from me and did not tell me he joined one knowing I never had a problem with it. This was the reason why I finally ended things back in July. He made me feel that he wanted to mess around my back with more girls. And I also thought to myself, that if he was able to hide this from me what other stuff would he be lying to me about later in the long run and not being open with me as I am to him. I always told him I wanted a best friend not just a boyfriend. There should never be a problem sharing our lives together and being open about everything with one another. He claims now that he doesn't like being open with me but is 'doing it'. My question is, why should you have a 'private life' from your partner that you want to marry and all? This only tells me he is still taking me for granted, but I can be wrong. I wanted for us to do couples therapy but he isn't even willing to pay and leaves it to me. I haven't spoken to him today. After that night, he tried reaching out to me the next day wanting to talk and working things out still. I couldnt do it anymore for he verbally abused me again and did so much that night. He acted very immature. I hope someone can give me good advice on what to do here. I want to be with him, but not like this. I want to have openness. I feel like I have it all with this new guy, only difference is that I feel comfortable with my ex and knows more of me (flaws and all) than this new guy. I don't want to make that a reason why I want him still, but I am and its just so hard not to.

my husband and i are married

my husband and i are married for 10 yrs. we were going thru our issues when my ex fiance came back into my life.
we had a 6 month affair. i became pregnant but had an abortion. we always were uncomfortable what we were doing but we just didnt want to end it. now with the abortion, he took as a sign for us to stop.
he texted me once to see if i was ok and then never heard from him since. i feel like i need closure. should i or leave it alone?

Leave it alone

There is no such thing as closure. It's a media term, not a psychologist's term. Each contavct will leave you with more "questions" and you will need more "closure." Do not contact him. You will be right back where you were.

Totally Confused

I have been married for 6 years and have not spoke to my "Lost Love" in 9 years. He fathered my only 2 children that my husband has since adopted. He left when the youngest was 1 and the oldest was 6 and never looked back, he left me with the explination of abandonment. I guess you could say he is my first love not lost love. I was with him on and off from the age 14 to 23. He became an abusive, controlling, cheating, lying piece of crap and I have absolutly no desire to be with him or around him but something is making gravitate to go surprise him, as he sits in jail because his past has finally caught up to him. In the early years he filled huge voids I have with both of my parents and sibilings. Everything my family should have been at he was the only one there. When I should have had guidence and direction he gave it to me the best way he knew how. He difinatly has alot to do with who I am today. He ended growing a victim of his circumstances and not desiring anything better in his life and I decided nothing was going to stop me from having the good life that I deserve. This meeting has nothing to do with the children. My husband is their father and the first love has no right to them unless they contact him after they turn 18, that is a whole other issue I will have to deal with when it comes up. It is more that I know I will see him again and I do not know how I am going to react, I want the next time we meet to be on my terms, I want control. I don't even know what I will say to him or that I even have anything to say at all. I don't want to boast his ego with acknowledgement of his impact in my life, but I truely loved him. I can't stop dreaming about him. I dream I cheat on my husband but the whole time I know it is wrong and that there is no life or future with the first love there is nothing now that he can offer me and I am not willing to break up anything I have for him. I know I answer my own question but I feel it is deeper then I can explain and on the otherhand my marriage is worth way more then this meeting. But here is the kicker... I want to love my husband as deep as I loved the first love, I want the desire I had for the first love with my husband. Maybe the meeting is to show me I already have that and put a picture with the faliure he has become and that my perception of the past is exactly that, a perception.

Leave it alone

You can never love your husband the same as you loved a first love. Keep reading my blog posts and you will see why. It's not that one is "better" than the other; it has to do with your age at the time of meeting each man. Don't risk your marriage over a dream; it's just an irrational thought that you have when your rational brain is shut down and sleeping. It means nothing.

Read my blog post again. A meeting will not show you anything that is real. Just consider yourself lucky that you are out of that relationship.

I Know

I know the right thing to do and thank you for your time and response. I looked up your books and fortunatly I'm in need of soemthing new to read. It seems very fitting in my situation even though he isn't an ideal man or person, he was very crutial to me at that time and really just feel sorry for him not being able to have the right family and upbringing to develope what he had deep inside. My husband is and will be my focus so I can teach my girls what healthy loving relationships are all about. Thanks again and look forward to the read.

I still have very strong

I still have very strong feelings for my FL. The relationship ended badly when I was hospitalised with anorexia, which I was and still am incredibly embarrassed about. I now have a long standing partner and two gorgeous children (every reason to be content which I think I am
) but over the last few years I have had an increasingly powerful urge to contact my FL. I can't talk to anyone about this for fear that they'd think that I was mad. What can I do to stop them?

confused

We been married for almost 20 years. We have two beautiful children, successful carriers and good home. Nil financial difficulties, nil any other obvious issues. 2 yrs ago my husband contacted the girl he had crush on her when he was single. They never had any physical relationship but only my husband use to like her very much. My husband told me he has no feelings for her and just want to show her his family and also want to know how is her family. I don't know why I felt so angry and upset about it. He didn't hide that he contacted her. But I think he never loved me but cares about me only because as a responsibility. I am very confused and can't let go this incident from my heart.

Hey, honestly I would not

Hey, honestly I would not like that myself. I like that he was honest but his interest in her should not be there what so ever unless they were really really good friends. Although that excuse is out the window because it started off as a crush thing and feelings can always be easily brought back up. He should respect your feelings if this is bothering you. He would not like it if you showed any interest in wanting to keep in contact with anyone from your past that was left off as a crush and nothing else. I would have a watchful eye on him and speak to him heart to heart about all this. You guys are married and with kids he needs to be more serious about this kind of stuff. I know I would not like my husband or boyfriend texting a girl even if they just became friends once i am in the picture in his life. If they were friends already before I came in and they continued it nothing but that then it makes it easier. I hope everything works out for you both and for him to respect your feelings. I am sure he really loves you but I hope he loves you enough to respect the pain and doubtfulness this is causing you. I know the feeling. Best of luck! Hope I helped.

thanks

I really appreciated your comment. It just gave me the insight that I wasn't mad to think like that, I really want our marriage to work. Thanks so much for your help.

No problem. Keep me posted (:

No problem. Keep me posted (: I hope everything worked out.

Looking for suggestions

It has been 30years since I saw or communicated with my FL. I am happily married with children and a very successful career. My FL was in her late teens and I was in my early 20's. We dated for a little over a year. She had an abortion and we broke up shortly after. It was not a good break up. We were both young and self centered. I have not thought much about this until recently. A series of personal events with family brought this period back to mind. My FL never married, and has no children. I feel an obligation to apologize for the bad break up and for not stepping up in a responsible fashion during the abortion decision. I do not want to reconnect, but want to fulfill an obligation and provide both of us an opportunity to look back on our relationship with fondness.

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Nancy Kalish, Ph.D., is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the California State University, Sacramento. She is the author of Lost & Found Lovers.

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