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What I Wanted To Say When My Ex Reached Out To Me

I didn’t want to reconnect with him, but I didn’t want to be rude, either.  

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The other day I was scrolling through my emails when I saw a name I hadn’t seen in over 22 years. It was my ex. His random appearance stunned me, and I wondered why on earth — after all this time — he would reach out to me now. I wasn’t sure if I should open it or just delete it, but my curiosity led me to click on it and see what he had to say. It turned out to be an announcement of a big accomplishment in his career.

Good for him, but why notify me? I looked closely at his picture, eyeing all the ways he has aged, narrowing my gaze on his gorgeous smile that used to catch my heart on fire. I sat in shock, trying to process the sudden surge of memories that surfaced from way back then. It was all just so strange. Then I wondered if I should respond. I didn’t want to reconnect with him, but I didn’t want to be rude, either.  

We fell madly in love the minute we met. And as time went on, I thought for sure HE was “the one.” I anxiously waited for that engagement ring, hoping it would come sooner than later because I was 30 and he was 10 years older. If we were going to start a family, time was of the essence.  

With each passing holiday or possible opportunity, I envisioned him creating a romantic scene, getting down on one knee and offering me the ring. But there were no anticipated surprises, the ring was never offered and his proposal never came. I grew more disappointed and frustrated, and he grew more distant and dismissive — clearly uncomfortable with the idea of a lifelong commitment.  

After months of painful waiting, I decided I needed to end things if he wasn’t willing to move forward with our relationship. Letting him go wrecked me. But I secretly hoped this last-ditch ultimatum would push him over the barrier he built between us and that he would realize our marriage was meant to be.   

Instead, I found out just a few weeks after our breakup that he was dating again. I was outraged, blindsided and completely crushed. I thought for sure we were destined to spend our life together. It was devastating. I cried — a lot. It took a long time to recover from this terrible loss, and for a while I thought I never would.  

Then something unpredictable and beautiful happened. I met my forever man. Two years later, we got married. And for the last 20 years of our amazing life together, I have learned what true and lasting love really is. It was not what my ex and I had.  

Ours was impulsive and confusing, erratic and unpredictable. It vacillated under pressure and never really developed the strong foundation needed to withstand a lifelong journey together. It was passionate and thrilling, but always left me questioning with uncertainty because it lacked clear communication and honesty.

Those are two of the most important aspects for any successful relationship. The dysfunctional dynamic of how he avoided talking about deeply personal issues and raw and real feelings always left an empty pit right in the middle of our bond. I would constantly fight to fill it, but he resisted time and time again, creating an expanding void between us, ultimately dividing us in two.  Looking back, I can’t imagine how life would have turned out with my ex, but I know it would have been a miserable mess. During that terrible time when I believed I lost the man I desperately wanted to marry, I had no idea that this dramatic change would be the best thing that ever happened to me.  

Maybe my ex knew it wouldn’t work, maybe he didn’t love me after all, or maybe he really was afraid to commit. I’ll never know. But one thing I’m sure of is that I’m SO GLAD I didn’t marry him. It truly wasn’t meant to be. I see that now, so clearly. Perhaps I could have responded to his big announcement, but I would have honestly said: “Congratulations! By the way, I’m SO GLAD I didn’t marry you. Whew! Hope you are well, Me.” And yet, I’m guessing that would be received the wrong way! But I sincerely mean every word. I’m truly happy for him.

And I do hope he’s well. I don’t believe he ever meant to hurt me; he really was a good man. But I’m so grateful we didn’t get married. So, if you are heartbroken from a breakup, too, I hope this story encourages you. The one who left you or the one you left, just wasn’t THE ONE for you. I know it’s hard to see that now. I couldn’t see it, either.

When we are madly in love, we can make every excuse and justify anything, because we desperately want to make it work. But as time goes on, you will gain clarity and be thankful it ended. There is a much better plan ahead for your life. And at the right time, you will find someone who will show you what true and lasting love really means.

It’s something you can’t possibly understand right now while you’re in the throes of sadness and heartache, but have hope that this terrible ending might actually be the beginning of something unpredictable and beautiful, too.