Is It Real Interest Or Nostalgia?

Dear Dating Coach,

In recent months, a very significant boyfriend from my past used the internet to find me. He said he had looked periodically over the years (it has been 8 years since we split up.) This is the one man with whom I had actually discussed marriage very seriously with.

We e-mailed back and text-messaged each other frequently for a couple of weeks. He was flirty and sweet, just the way I remembered him. After a few weeks of talking and one brief visit, which I thought went very well (and was under the impression that he did too), he suddenly stopped contacting me. I broached the subject with him once via e-mail, due to my own need for closure, and never got a response.

Then after a few months of not hearing from him, he resurfaced in my life. He has now talked twice about us getting together, but whenever he does, I already have plans that I can't get out of so we agree to meet each other later in the night. As the night goes on, we send a few texts back and forth about getting together but both times, it has ended in him not texting me back. He leads me to believe that he really wants to see me and then this happens . . . I don't understand it. I can't help but wonder if he's excited about the prospect of seeing me, but a little fearful at the same time.

I'm sure this will happen again in the near future, but I'm not sure how to handle it. My gut reaction is to just ignore his calls and texts. My next reaction is to just refuse to try to meet up with him "afterwards" on nights that we have plans and try to get him to pick a night when we can both get together, but it's very difficult because we both have young children who are obviously priority for both of us. Should I waste any more energy on him? Any suggestions? --Reuniting With An Ex

Dear Reuniting With an Ex--

Clearly this guy has fond memories and wanted to look you up and perhaps experience talking to you now, and seeing what the two of you would be like together in your present circumstances and respective lives. However his appearance, subsequent disappearance, and then resurfacing should give you pause. There are several possibilities to explain his behavior. He may have been in a relationship with someone else and they had just separated or perhaps he has been in a struggling relationship all along. Perhaps he has been dissatisfied all along with the women he has been seeing/dating and wondering "what if." Something led him to think of you. The fact that he disappeared with no explanation says that SOMETHING is going on in the background. Until he can give you a solid answer for his behavior, beware.

As you know, when you really like someone, you are consistent in your communication and stay in touch, letting them know you are interested in moving forward. His behavior indicates ambivalence or that there is a current situation/relationship that he is dealing with that he has not disclosed to you. When you speak to him, focus on this and see what he says. Notice if he is upfront and non-defensive or closed and defensive, both in what he says and in what he does.

Your gut will tell you if something isn't right, and when it does you will have your answer.

(from April 2008)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"Roommates With benefits or More"
List of more
"Soul mates or Something else"

"Friends or More?"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008-2015 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

Distribution Rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site.

Reprint permission will be granted, upon request, to student newspapers, universities, and other nonprofit organizations. Advance written permission must be obtained for any reprinting of this material in altered or modified form.