Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,
I’m 34 and married for 3 years. I have no issues with my husband since we get along just well. Although at times we have petty arguments that cannot be avoided but we still manage to resolve it.
Here’s my dilemma: I felt a pang of jealousy towards my first boyfriend when I secretly viewed his account on Facebook recently and saw that he got back with his girl (after his relationship with me) and their baby. I know that I don’t have the right to go ballistic since it’s been ages since we broke up. As to why I ended our short-lived relationship, it was because I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. But deep in my heart I know that we still have feelings for each other.
Back in 2010, I can vividly recall that he went to Davao to visit his distant relatives and decided to swing by my place (he was already based in Manila) and he knew I was in a relationship that time. I sensed his non-verbal communication as he brush my hair, hold my hand and maintain eye contact while talking. That made me felt uneasy but I wouldn’t want to assume that he is still interested in me and I only took it as a friendly gesture.
We were still friends on Facebook at that time and when he knew that I was going to tie the knot he unfriended me. Apart from this, he followed me on Instagram 2 weeks ago and it suddenly came to mind these questions: why he would follow me? What for? I felt so clueless and needed some answers.
At present, I felt disturbed and unable to sleep because of what I’ve found out. I am trying not to sulk on this issue because I know that we both have different lives. By the way, my husband doesn’t know about this. Would you consider this as cheating? What are the steps that I need to do in order for me to completely move on with my life?
Thank you for your email.
Let’s look at this from your perspective. You dumped your ex-boyfriend (let’s call him Jaime) years ago because you were not sure what you were getting into – whatever that may mean – yet you believe you still have feelings for him. You have vivid recollections of his visit in 2010 yet you took his behavior then as merely a friendly gesture. He unfriended you when you got married 3 years ago yet now he is following you on Instagram you are anxious and can’t sleep.
Perhaps you need to look more closely at your interpretation of and reaction to Jaime’s behavior. You dumped him, he got back together with his ex and then you felt jealous (though at least you recognized that you were being unreasonable). He was your first boyfriend so it is only natural that you might still have feelings for him but there is a world of difference between happy memories of a past love affair and being soul mates yearning to reunite. Following you on Instagram two weeks ago after unfriending you on FB 5 years ago does not have to mean Jaime is stalking you or pining for you both to be together again. It may just be a simple passing curiosity.
Maybe all this angst over so little substance reveals more about you and your current relationship. Are you altogether happy in your marriage? Is it in a bit of a rut, needing a little spicing up with some fantasies over Jaime? If so, it would be better to spend your time resolving these issues.
As for moving on, cut all social media ties with Jaime, put the past behind you and concentrate on the present with your husband.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. Many women – and men – can so relate to your dilemma right now. Yes, it is a dilemma simply because you have made it so – neither man you are angsting about, that is, your husband or Jaime, seem the slightest bit aware of what you are going through. The good news is that you can continue this way without upsetting life as you know it – at least, not superficially.
But the longer you encourage these thoughts, the more you difficult you will find it to be genuinely content with your husband. Right now, your husband (let’s call him Luis) is no longer a mystery, no longer a challenge, and thus has little possibility of giving you that extra frisson of excitement that Jaime can.
However, instead of saying goodbye to the exclusivity you have enjoyed (and I daresay, Luis has enjoyed) with your spouse by chasing Jaime (if only in your dreams) it might be a good idea to bring back some spice into your marriage. This, I feel, is one reason Jaime is so much on your mind right now.
I know, I know, easier said than done. Much, much, easier said than done.
Happily, you have Esther Perel, a sex and family therapist, who wrote Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence (2007) and has also done a couple of Ted talks. In my opinion, what you may feel relates to you most is this:
One of Dr Perel’s most important messages is:
“At the heart of sustaining desire in a committed relationship is the reconciliation of two fundamental human needs. On the one hand, our need for security, for predictability, for safety, for dependability, for reliability, for permanence. All these anchoring, grounding experiences of our lives that we call home.
“But we also have an equally strong need – men and women – for adventure, for novelty, for mystery, for risk, for danger, for the unknown, for the unexpected, surprise – you get the gist. For journey, for travel.
“Reconciling our need for security and our need for adventure into one relationship, or what we today like to call a passionate marriage, used to be a contradiction in terms. Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life in terms of children and social status and succession and companionship. But now we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot, and we live twice as long.”
Please write to us again, Tara, if any of this resonates with you. Together, perhaps we can find ways to do exactly what Dr Perel suggests.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email email@example.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED.Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.
When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Two Pronged asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments which appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.
There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.