Anne, I am still in love with my high school sweetheart. Its been nearly 30 years since we were together. I have been married for 26 years and have three children, but my marriage has been completely dysfunctional for about ten years. About 5 years ago I found through research on the internet that my long lost high school love had become widowed. This prompted me to attempt contact with her which went nowhere. She already has a significant other and two kids from her previous marriage. She and her new other left messages on my phone making it clear they are not interested in talking to me. For years, I have thought of this woman almost constantly, never really loving my wife the whole time we were married. I often have intense dreams about this woman and my obsession with her grows worse every year. I’m not interested in anyone else at all. I simply long for a return to the only real love I’ve ever known. I suspect you will say this is unhealthy and recommend that I work to let go of the past and focus on a healthier relationship, but I cant understand how I can work to end the only love in my life although its totally one-sided.
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You are right in that I think you need to let go of the past. You have made your play with this old flame and she has made it crystal clear that she doesn’t want you in her life. Crystal clear. If you proceed to go after her you are doing nothing more than becoming a stalker. Please don’t become that way. By going with this obsession, you are harming yourself, scaring this old flame, and harming your marriage. You question how you can work to end the ‘only love of your life’. Well, sometimes that is the healthy thing to do. Take the case of battered women for example. Many battered women love their husbands despite the fact that their husbands beat the stuffing out of them on a regular basis. They don’t want to have to stop loving their husbands. They don’t want to have to leave their husbands. But it is in fact the only healthy thing for them to do in many cases. Your situation, while not so black and white, is similar. Really. Some people have obsessional personalities and/or obsessive compulsive disorder or other problems that makes it hard for them to stop thinking about things that are better left not though about. If this is you, know that there are medicines that can help decrease the obsessions, and support groups that can help you to cope with the feeling of not having what you want. Information on medicine and/or support groups can probably be found through local counseling services, or the local community mental health center. Take the energy that you are putting into your fantasy obsessional relationship and focus it on making your marriage better, if that is possible. Ask your wife to go into marriage therapy with you. Make the appointment and go. If your marriage is truly beyond hope, and divorce is an acceptable way of dealing with a failed marriage for you, then look into getting out of this present marriage and finding a new relationship with a woman who is more your speed. But whatever you do, look forward to a new relationship with a real woman who wants you, and not backwards to a fantasy woman who doesn’t want you.