The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)

Drowning in my dreams

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DEAR ANNIE » They say it’s normal not to forget your first love. Is reaching out to them crossing a line?

Life for me was like a rom-com movie. I grew up as the girl next door in a gorgeous home. I was in love with the boy next door; let’s call him “Ryan.” We both went to different schools, but we made time to see each other daily. We had a pretend wedding when we were kids and always joked about being married to each other. His mom even saved the picture from our pretend wedding. I loved him very much. We were each other’s first time.

My father’s once-successful business went under, and our house sadly foreclosed. I moved away from Ryan but still lived in the same town. He wrote me a letter on a shoebox when I moved about how he would always be there for me, and for a while, that stood true. We still saw each other but on his terms. He was focused on being scouted for sports teams, so he was busy each season. The romance was on the back burner.

He started having commitment issues, and we both met different people. He went away to college, and we’ve both had a few different loves since then. One summer about 10 years ago, he struck me by surprise and reached out to me on social media, but it was a shorter conversati­on than I would have liked, as I was in a relationsh­ip. Fast forward to today and we are both married to different, lovely people, and he lives a few cities away.

I’m not one for infidelity. The thought of cheating makes me cringe. I always say I wouldn’t cheat on my husband. However, I have always hoped I’d run into Ryan again. He played in a band, and I would try to talk myself into going to the venue he was playing at just to “run into” him again. I think about him every day and try to let it go! The problem is that I dream about him at least once a week, sometimes more. It’s always exciting to dream about him but sad when I wake up. It’s like we didn’t lose touch or we somehow find a way back to each other again in my dreams. I’ve tried to log back into social media a few times to see if he will reach out again, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

I miss him deeply and it’s a constant ache in my soul. Is it too late to reach out and say hello, or should I let it go?

— Focused on First Love

DEAR FOCUSED » Our first love is often one of the most formative and profound relationsh­ips in our lives. That plus the storybook romance you and Ryan had as kids breeds an even more intense nostalgia for what once was.

But rose-colored glasses aside, he has not reciprocat­ed your feelings. With you both in separate marriages and years of zero contact between you two, it seems you’re living in your dreams — entertaini­ng what could’ve been — instead of embracing your reality.

Consult a licensed therapist to work through your feelings for and history with Ryan once and for all. Make peace with where your lives are today, not where they were decades ago. He can hold a special place in your heart without holding you back.

DEAR ANNIE » An acquaintan­ce from my past (1983) contacted me in July 2019 after searching for and finding me on social media. We have been speaking on and off since then, but he now calls me every day (sometimes two times a day) and says he’s making travel plans to come see me.

He lives in Canada, and I live in Massachuse­tts. Back in 1983, he begged me to sleep with him knowing I was dating his best friend who introduced us but was out of town at the time. Shocked and blindsided by his request, I caved under his pressure and acquiesced. I then slept with him on a second occasion. His friend — my boyfriend — was still overseas, and I couldn’t tell if he had intentions to return.

This acquaintan­ce has yet to visit me, and he has ghosted me a number of times over the past three years, about three or four. Should I even entertain the idea of seeing him, let alone thinking there could be anything more? I’m divorced; my children are grown; and I haven’t entertaine­d any male company for the past 14 years. All this time, I’ve just been tending to my family and have just started to return to work, accepting temp assignment­s as they are offered to me.

— Skeptical

DEAR SKEPTICAL » I wouldn’t hold your breath on this guy. People can change, but his flagrant flakiness doesn’t suggest that he’s suddenly sprouted a sense of integrity.

Instead, try to set up an online dating profile to meet men in your area. Now that you’re an empty nester, it’s a good time to get back out there.

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