Should I try to be friends with an ex I still have feelings for? After 17 years?

The history:

We were extremely close for about 5 years and a really great friendship turned into something more. I couldn't handle it back then and broke off the physical part of our relationship. Very soon after he ended up meeting someone.

After 5 years of talking and seeing each other almost every day, poof he was gone. No explanation no nothing. I was crushed. He eventually married her and had two kids. I didn't hear from him for 17 years.

The now:

17 years later he contacted me to apologize. We gradually started talking and it turned into an every day thing for a month. We talked about how even though we really care about each other, we can't do anything now because he is in a huge custody battle and I just broke off an engagement/six year relationship.

We finally met up this past weekend. We had a great time - talked all night, slept together (no sex). After he left I just lost it. I was crying and so pissed at myself for still having feelings for him. I think he could tell I was upset because he called me shortly after he left. I told him I was just torn up and didn't know if I could talk to him anymore.

We've exchanged a few emails this week. Nothing like how much we talked before. I don't know what to do. We agreed throughout all of our talks that we would always stay friends in the future.

Should I just cut off all contact if I still have feelings for him? We get along so well and have so much fun together that doing that seems like a waste, but I don't want to be hurt. Should I try to talk to him about it?

Test. I just typed a long answer and lost it.
Thank you for answering my question!

He has already been dating for about a year, he just hasn't met anyone he likes. So I think he is ready to date, but I am sure this is hugely draining for him.

I just don't know that he would want to date me. He may not feel anything for me anymore. Which is what I am assuming so I am trying to figure out whether or not I can be friends with him.


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What Guys Said 1

  • How long will the custody battle likely take? Do you think he will be emotionally available afterward or will he need time to recover? You needed to get past your feelings for him when you made the relationship into a friendship and especially when he started a relationship. If you still have those feelings, they are not likely to go away soon. I see the question of whether there is enough potential for a future between you later to wait as long as it takes or should you make a clean break and look elsewhere. These are not easy choices.

    • I think I typed my answer in the wrong box.

    • It's very hard to manage friendship when you're strongly attracted to that person. If he does meet someone else he really likes, you probably will have a repeat of his disappearance. A girlfriend would not care for a woman friend who has a thing for him. Realistically, your long term options are a relationship with him yourself or not much else.

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