Wedding Woes

You can't force lightning to strike twice.

Dear Prudence,

I am a 24-year-old who was in a three-year relationship with someone I loved very much. When I was with her, I felt loved, seen, and connected. There was a breeze behind me year-round, and wonderful, life-affirming moments abounded. However, two years ago, that relationship ended as a result of miscommunication, mutual recrimination, and unhealthy codependency. I haven’t talked to my ex in a year and don’t want to get back together; we’ve both moved on and are different people now.

However, the amazing feeling of being in that relationship still haunts me. Whenever I go on dates with new people, I haven’t been able to connect with them the way I did with her. We clicked right away and very quickly developed strong feelings for one another. After we broke up, my ex said our relationship wasn’t special and discounted its intensity as a simple rush of young love. I don’t think that’s right, but am I in the wrong here? Should I try to forget the emotional connection and freedom that I felt with her (because, as she implied, it’s not something I’ll feel again)? And if not, how do I successfully put that past feeling aside and not immediately discount the possible connections with new people because those first interactions don’t feel the same way? I’ve been to therapy before and am going back soon, but is there anything else you would recommend?

—Trying to Move On

Re: You can't force lightning to strike twice.

  • I agree @baconsmom.  

    I think he needs to learn to put the previous relationship to the side and take the lessons he's learned from it and move on.  

    My take from the letter is that he can't move on because he's still caught up in the fact that the previous relationship meant more to him than her and now he's trying to seek out a recreation of that (well, the feelings) to prove it was a meaningful relationship.  What he doesn't realize is that he's not going to feel the exact same way he felt about her with anyone else.  
  • Wondering if s/he's idealizing this past relationship a little? Like comparing everyone to that perfect ideal is always going to set up that new person to never be enough. I'm not saying it's good to dwell on bad things in the past, but maybe remembering when things weren't so magical will help. 
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    I have a friend like this. Her ex treated her like crap but she always focuses on the "connection" they had. She thinks he was her soul mate, and she'll never meet someone with that same connection again. Just thinking that way has cost her potentially heathy and happy relationships. She always wants that feeling immediately and never lets it grow naturally. 

  • He's putting this relationship on a pedestal and sabotaging new relationships by comparing everything to it. I've been in love multiple times and got something special - and different - out of each of those relationships. 

    He is young. He is inexperienced. Hopefully his therapist is coaching him to stop comparing and discounting potential relationships because of something that didn't work out. 

  • eileenrob said:
    I usually hate to poo-poo young love, but LW has to give other women a shot.  And more than giving up after a few dates if the intensity and magic of the first relationship aren't there.  If he/she were 44, I'd say fine, you've been around the block a few times, no one compares to your first gf.  But 24 is too young to have that outlook. 
    I was in my first real, serious relationship from age 19-21.  We were like a rom-com couple- we fought with intensity (since smaller things used to be a bigger deal at that age) and romped around the city breezily and carelessly (since we didn't have huge responsibilities).  It was just a different time in my life. LW him/herself admits to recrimination and codependency, so I'm blaming the glorification on his/her age.
    Yes!  I dated a guy on and off from 18 to 21 and we were the same way.  We had mad chemistry, but we were like oil and water out of bed.  It was definitely not sustainable and we had no future.  But that didn't stop me from thinking we did and mistaking our fights and discord for 'passion'.   
  • I think he needs to continue with counselling, focus on building himself up and getting to know who he really is and what he really wants. Find lots of activities to do and look for friendship first. He may find that 'lightening strike' during the process but if not, he might build an amazing foundation that could support a solid relationship.
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