My high school boyfriend was my whole world. When he moved away for college, I was lost without him. I eventually decided to move on with my life, but breaking up with him was the hardest thing I've ever done. A few years after I graduated from high school, he called me out of the blue and told me he was married. I feigned happiness for him, but when we hung up, I wept for hours. I married my husband a year later. Although he's wonderful and I love him very much, on my wedding day I cried knowing I was marrying my second choice. We now have two beautiful little girls. Five years ago, my first love contacted me again. We started to email, then three years ago, he moved back here with his wife and stepsons. We talk about getting together to "meet each other's families," but we haven't seen each other yet.
I don't want to hurt anyone, but I am still in love with my first love. Sometimes I think about him and my heart beats so hard, I get dizzy. Do I keep my feelings to myself? Do I tell my love? Do I tell my husband? -S.B., 36, Newport News, VA
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Because you asked in such a straightforward manner, I will answer in kind: Yes, you keep your feelings to yourself. Do not confess to the guy, do not mention it to your husband - unless, of course, you want to hurt a bunch of people, including children; risk ruining two marriages; and create an atmosphere in your home that's unbearable.
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If you are serious about preserving your marriage, I would also refrain from having contact with this guy. You talk about him in a manner that's entirely too romantic and pie-in-the-sky. From the sounds of it, you still consider him to be your dream man and are making a possible relationship with him sound like fate. "I don't want to hurt anyone, but..." you say. That's affair talk. It's what everyone who ever gives in to the impulse to get involved with someone else says.
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Please don't think that I'm against divorce or the pursuit of true love. I've been divorced myself. I've followed the siren song of my own heart. But hear this: It's an extremely expensive proposition. Especially for someone who isn't unhappy in her marriage. Your husband is wonderful, and you love him very much. It's possible to love two people at once, and he's the one to whom you're committed.
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It's poignant that you didn't get your first choice, but many people don't get their first choice, or even their second. Many people never experience a great love at all, so in that respect, count yourself lucky.
Karen Karbo is an award-winning writer and author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World's Most Elegant Woman. She's also a mom, a writing teacher, and a horse owner. Check out more advice from Karen.
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