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Ask Athena: A Man From My Past Reached Out to Me…


Published October 25, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated October 25, 2017 at 5:14 p.m.

Dear Athena,

I am married (constantly working on the "happily" part). Recently, out of the blue, a man from my past reached out to me. We have what feels like unfinished business. He expressed regret for ending our (online-only) relationship. Now it has me filled with questions, and I can't stop thinking about it.

It turns out (through online stalking ... oops) that he has a girlfriend to whom he proposed shortly after reaching out to me. Ultimately, this whole reconnection has made me feel more thankful for my husband and realize how much I love him for the man he is. Is it OK not to tell my husband about any of this? Do you think this man from my past was just nervous about proposing and was trying to tie up loose ends first?


Dying to Let This Go

Dear DLTG,

It's 2017. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't stalked an ex's Facebook or Instagram. It used to be that, if you were thinking about an old flame, you might do a casual drive-by of their apartment, hoping to see them — preferably in a heap of distress from longing for you. Now you can check in on anyone with a few simple clicks of your curious little fingers. But you have to be careful not to cross the line between curiosity and straight-up sketchiness.

Marriage is based on a firm commitment to be honest and faithful, always and forever. And that includes sharing the uncomfortable, vulnerable bits. Someone from your past reached out to you — why not tell your husband? Is it because you wanted to explore what could still happen with your ex? If that's the case, he's what you need to let go of. You're married, and you're trying to be happy. Right? Don't let your ex confuse you.

You say this experience has helped you realize how lucky you are to have your husband. Don't you think he'd like to hear that? Personally, I would hate to learn that my life partner was getting romantic professions of love and regret from someone and keeping it from me. So be truthful with him. He may have questions, but talking them through can bring you closer together.

It's OK to explore the parts of yourself that need attention — but you don't need to wander off the path of your partnership to do so. This kind of endeavor need not be secretive, even if it is just for you.