-- Question for John --
I have been divorced for nine years. Last week I received a “you probably don’t remember me” e-mail from a guy that I went to my eighth grade dance with. I responded, shocked that he remembered. He told me that he had tried several times in the past to contact me. It has been nineteen years since I have seen or talked to him. He lives in New York and I am in Texas.
He expresses an interest in seeing each other. He refers to me as his lost soulmate. He is married and has three kids, but states he is not happy. What should I do?
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-- Answer from John --
You do not reveal what you are looking for in love. So we do not exactly know what his email contact brings up in your dreams. We will assume you ultimately want a happy longterm relationship — and that you want to make choices in your love life now that support this goal.
The clean way to do things, if you actually want to have a chance to turn a junior high fantasy into a healthy relationship, would be to see the following conditions are met. First, he gets a divorce, without your help.
Then he gets through post-divorce emotional growth. He sets up good co-parenting arrangements with his ex.
And he has the time to come to clearly see exactly why his marriage failed. He can explain to you in detail his role in that failure.
And he can also demonstrate to you that he has acquired new communication skills and emotional mastery that assures he will not play out the same role again. Because he will just repeat his own part of the marriage failure if he hasn’t learned anything new.
Once he has done all that, then, maybe, you tell him he can come out for a visit.
We do assume you would be interested in a healthy and possibly longterm relationship with this self-designated “soulmate” who is now presenting himself as a victim and a deceiver looking for an easy way out of his marriage with the support of a next woman he can lean on for awhile.
However, if you just want to have an exciting sexual fling with an old junior high flame and help him find a reason to initiate a messy divorce, with entangled complications that will be sure to give added trauma to his kids, and if you don’t really care about the consequences at all — including that you could actually fall for this guy and become a part of his highly articulated emotional mess — then invite him to Texas ASAP.
Just be aware of what you are doing.
Oh, by the way, an authentic soulmate would not subject you to such a narcissistic endeavor in the first place — so be clearly warned. What he means by “soulmate” is some juvenile’s memory-fantasy-hope that you can fulfill what he thinks is missing in his life. To manage this dream-fulfillment, we certainly hope you are absolutely perfect, and that you will never do anything other than make him feel great about himself and totally turned on to you — otherwise guess what will happen? On his ever-expanding path of self-evolution and inner exploration, he might suddenly remember some girl from the sixth grade who talked to him one day.
We feel you deserve the best quality love and relationship. You deserve to share your life with someone who will be equal to the task of having a healthy partnership. This would be someone who faces problems and takes responsibility. He would not, say, email a fantasy from twenty years ago when he wants to emotionally escape what is going on with you. Instead, he would face issues together with you and deal with them.