What Could Have Been

QUESTION: I was dating this man for almost a year and we stopped seeing each other for mutual reasons. He started dating this other woman five months after we stopped seeing each other and they were married three months later. They have been married for two years now and have a set of twin daughters. He seems very happy. When we were dating he always said he didn't want kids, neither did I. But seeing him now, as a father, I'm wondering if I made a mistake in letting him go. Maybe we could have had kids together, maybe it would have worked. I've wanted to talk to him, just to say hello, but he doesn't return my calls or E-Mails. Tell me why he won't speak to me. Why does he act like I don't exist anymore? He used to love me.

GARLAND: Thank you for your question. I hope my answer helps.

You say, "he used to love me..." There, you may have answered your own question.

This man probably did love you, and you may still hold a small, but special part of his heart. However, the larger portion of his heart may [and should] belong to his wife and little girls. That's most likely the reason he doesn't talk to you anymore. God knows I hate to use cliches on people, especially movie cliches, but I think one of my favorites is appropriate here: In the movie "Magnum Force" Clint Eastwod says, "A man has got to know his limitations." And this is true with your ex too. He has to know his limitations, and he probably does. You, and his old feelings for you are probably outside of his limitations, and he doesn't want to push his luck. Calling you and talking to you may just be a temptation he's not willing to face. He may be afraid that old desires might creep up and jeopardize the stability he has with his wife and kids.

You also say something that I have to pull you on: You admit that you're having a slight case of the "would'a, should'a, could'a's" but you claim to only call him up wanting to say, "Hello." Is this REALLY the case? I mean, are you JUST wanting to say "Hi?" I think it may be best for both of you to stay out of touch right now, especially because he's probably trying to do right by his wife and girls. Don't take his non-responsiveness as an insult or a rebuff. I think you should just look at him as a guy that took the line in his wedding vows, "forsaking ALL others" seriously.

Take his silence as his respect for his wife AND you. Some low-down guys would call you back to see if they could get some "for old times sake" lovin' from you, behind the wife's back - disrespecting YOU and her!

CHUCK: Is there any one of us who hasn't experienced the slightest twinge of wistfulness over an old flame? Even if it's just to imagine how our lives would have been different if we had stayed with a certain person. But I think that it's best to keep these kinds of thoughts in our imaginations, and not allow them to take hold in the real world.

Based on your own account, the reasons for your breakup were mutual. The time wasn't right for either of you then. Apparently, your ex found someone who he was ready to make a commitment to, in terms of marriage and fatherhood. Good for him. Some guys take forever to get around to doing that.

As charitably as I can say it, the reason that your ex-boyfriend acts like you "don't exist anymore," is because, for him, you can't. As a general rule, married women do not care for their husbands to continue their acquaintances with ex-girlfriends. At least that's my experience. Even a woman who trusts her husband explicitly would prefer him not to be around someone who might tempt him to stray. And any committed husband is not going to intentionally put himself in situations that would make his wife uncomfortable.

Actually, I think it's probably not healthy for you to dwell too much on what you had, and could have had with this man. In keeping with our usage of cliches this post, "that ship has sailed." The same way he found someone to change his views and make him happy, you're gonna find the same thing. Trust me.

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