Dear Neil: 12 years ago, I met a man who I fell in love with, but the relationship never went any further than a friendship. Ever since then, I regret not having made my feelings clear to him. I am now in a long-term committed relationship with a man I love. But I periodically think of this man from my past, and even run into him occasionally because we live in the same city. Each time I have the same feelings I had for him before.

He is also in a long-term committed relationship, and we both have children. I have no wish to be unfaithful to my partner, but I can’t seem to shake this feeling that maybe we were meant to be together. I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize either of our relationships, but as time goes by I feel more and more that life is so short that you have to tell people when you feel this way about them.

I want to be able to move on from this so I feel completely invested in my own life, and to not fear that when things get hard that I will feel I made a mistake. Should I tell this guy how I feel? I just need some closure.

Is the Past Really Dead?

Dear Past: The most likely outcome of you acting on your long-held fantasy is that you will be inviting one of two responses. The first is that he will not share the erotic fantasies you have for him, and you will feel rejected. The second is that he will respond to your overtures, in which case you are likely to be flooded with desire, temptation and enormous inner turbulence—and you will risk the stability of the family and the relationship you already have, not to mention his family and his relationship.

The wisest thing for you to do is to do nothing, and let your fantasy remain a fantasy. You no-doubt know that the chances of the two of you breaking up your families and attempting to create a blended family by throwing strange children together is quite formidable. Add in there a spattering of guilt, along with a couple of ex’s who just possibly might do everything they can to undermine your new living arrangements, and you will be inviting an enormous headache and a profound heartache for everyone involved, including your children who will be right in the middle of all those potentially angry and tumultuous emotions.

And who knows that the two of you would make good partners, good friends or good parents together? Who knows that the two of you are actually compatible, or that you have similar interests and goals? Who knows that the two of you want the same things in life, that your families would accept each other or that you would even like each other after the lustful feelings faded?

Keep your fantasy a fantasy, and make your life, your current relationship and your family the happiest it can be. Sometimes fantasies are better as dreams than they are in reality.

Has your relationship turned cold and distant? Neil’s book Love, Sex, and Staying Warm can help you rekindle your passion.

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