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Old Flames

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We all have an old flame or two (or five or seven) who makes us wistful. Sometimes we have actual dreams of them at night, laying there, remembering a touch or a word, a shared vacation or gruesome argument. Sometimes we get to the point in thinking about an old flame that we need to call them or see them. Websites such as Facebook are perfect old flame sighting vehicles, which is why many of us are on them to begin with, and why many of us have to force ourselves not to be.

Unless you are seriously invested in your old flame emotionally, it’s not only all right to think about them or even dream about them from time to time, it’s lovely. After all, old flames not only stand out as intense connections in our lives, they are very often important and wonderful people who we simply didn’t stay involved with through no fault of ours or theirs.

If you once loved someone, some of that love still lingers. You may have had the experience of the pain and negativity, which caused you to separate in the first place, dominating the more recent past.

Letting go of the negative aspects of an old flame relationship and musing on some of the more positive aspects can be a very nurturing and healing process. Old flames are necessary, they remind us of the growing we’ve done in our lives, who we were and who we wanted to be, who we’ve become and how far we’ve still to grow.

Old flames are like soft old jeans. They can fit or not but at least you may have a few pictures of yourself in them and can actually physically remember the way they felt when you slipped them on. You may associate your old flames with certain smells, textures, places or songs, and these associations are good, they are part of your old flame but they are part of you too, and in fact they are part of who you both were as a couple for a period of time.

There were certain artists and albums that I couldn’t listen to at all for years at a time as a result of a very traumatic break up. I can now listen to them fondly, reclaiming that part of myself that I was when I was the girl in the relationship, that part of me that’s still alive and well here in the present moment.

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I have dreams about one of my ex's in particular. Things ended badly with us and we never got the closure we really needed. Until a few months ago when he came over to visit me. Ever since, I've been dreaming about him and it seems like he's always on my mind.

And I don't want that. I'm married. To a man who HATES my ex. Who, if he knew these things were happening, would leave me for emotionally cheating on him. Which I agree that's what's happening. I'm not 100% focused on my relationship with my husband because this vision of my ex keeps floating around in my brain.

I understand that it's healthy to have a sentimental rememberance of what was, but how do we officially move on to what is, without leaving everything else behind? How can we stand to "donate that old pair of jeans"?

May 15, 2011 - 10:58am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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