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Many years ago, I had to make a very painful decision of choosing between two women.
I made my decision and have been second guessing myself ever since.

The woman I did not choose is Brenda. Every year on Brenda’s birthday, I think about her for weeks, and what may have been.
As time goes by, it just gets worse.

Since I went with the other choice, the marriage broke up four years later, divorced, and for good reason. Done, and finished with. However I cannot stop thinking about Brenda and It’s been driving me crazy recently.

I know I hurt her quite badly and was very hard on myself for that. I had very strong feelings for her as well.
I had to make a decision and I feel I may have made the wrong one.

I am in another relationship now, and it’s been 23 years. Common law, technically not married and just so-so.
However this thing is haunting me. It’s very confusing.

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You are imagining a Brenda like the one you knew 23 years ago. Trust me when I say she doesn't exist. Time changes people. If your lucky, wise, or stuburn you might travel life together and stay close, even get closer. You didn't do that with Brenda. If you met her today, you would be meeting a stranger and you'd have very little common history. You are causing yourself problems with this obsession when you should be working on what you have.

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What you've said is true and logical. Logically I know this, but emotions have nothing to do with logic.

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You are wrong. You can change your emotions logically. Start concentration on making your so-so relationship better. Most women are followers sexually and emotionally. They get turned on when you turn them on. They feel confident when you make them confident. They feel safe when you make them feel safe. And a woman that feels safe and confident will do a lot for you that she wouldn't normally consider. Use those ideas to make things better and Brenda will fade away.

Note: Sometimes a woman gets it in her head that her SO will tell her she is beautiful, sexy, smart, and such out of duty. You lose some influence there. But encourage some male friends to compliment her, short of hitting on her, and she'll start to believe and to hear you more.

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I appreciate your time and advice. You sound like a professional. I still have a lot quilt for doing what I did to her. When I did the nasty, it was a very emotional time for both of us. I told her exactly what I was going to do. I felt so very bad for her and still do. I hated myself for doing it and not sure how to get over this.

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I'm no professional. I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express ;-D

Really, I'm an older guy that has made a study of human relations.

You make no reference to actually knowing about Brenda now. You assume she was permanently damaged by you but you don't know that. Maybe she found great happiness and is glad you broke it off. You can just as easily assume that you did her a favor.

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Yes, that is correct. I have had no contact. I was doing much traveling at the time, and stationed in her home town. Which was in a different province than my own. When I told her, face to face as I had the respect for her to do this, I was settling down in another province. I sincerely hope she did find happiness. As I am sure she did. I really don't know why this has all come to surface now, obviously feelings I've kept down deep inside that I've never dealt with.
Once again this is helping me so much as I feel I cannot speak to anyone about this.

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(Just a quick aside...

"Most women are followers sexually and emotionally. They get turned on when you turn them on. They feel confident when you make them confident. They feel safe when you make them feel safe. And a woman that feels safe and confident will do a lot for you that she wouldn't normally consider."

Gold medal, OTR!!! If only all men knew that, we wouldn't have so many women - *and* clueless men - on here reporting problems in their relationship!)

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Good luck with this. Now forget Brenda. She's moved on and adjusted. Realize that this is all about you and your feelings. Think about your current relationship. Make it better.

Note: Thanks Soulmate.

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it is never too late to apologize to someone you may have hurt in the past if you know they were hurt by what you said or did.

if you have Brenda's details why not write to her or email her etc. if she choses to write back you may feel relief too, especially if she writes to say that she is glad she understands things better now and she is happy In her life. if she doesn't write back then maybe she will be relieved anyway in knowing that you were able to acknowledge the bad way you felt you treated her.

if you can explain things to her it may be a new start for you both mentally to clear things up.

i suspect it was probably easy for you to treat Brenda badly because you had what you wanted In life or love (or you had what you thought you wanted), it takes a lot of courage to admit you were wrong in your actions and words to put things right by telling someone you got it wrong and why.

we live in a pretty self-obsessed world at times and social media, celebrity gossip and constant social ideals and pressures on how to live just feed the shallow sides of our ego's and each day you can find more an more online advice where people are urging others to block people or just forget them, or to cut others off without a thought for how awful they may have felt/are still feeling.

emotions are not like faceless e-mails, sometimes the smallest things that have hurt others can be with them for years, some people never get over small hurts just because it knocks their confidence and they are sensitive to their feelings or maybe have no one to talk to or trust who really understands why they still feel the way they do.

but if you ARE sorry? then maybe the right thing to try to do is to amend things as quickly as you can.

do you know how to get in touch with Brenda?

one thing is that you are thinking about Brenda still, so this might be guilt or something in you that actually wants to be with her again not your current partner possibly or at least get in touch with her but you are frightened and ashamed of what you did and so it could be acting like a barrier for you.

but il bet Brenda would probably like to have an apology that was sincere, rather than someone who says nothing and is guessing that things are ok to avoid actually dealing with things!

you are probably still feeling bad because you know that Brenda was actually a good person who you treated badly because you acted in a way that wasn't fair or maybe emotionally honest with her.

you are in a new relationship that you say is so-so. is it a relationship that you feel you are loved and love someone in an equal and exciting way? I wonder whether you are actually a bit bored in your new relationship and in a habit of being with this person, and that is why Brenda is on your mind. there is something in Brenda that sounds like unfinished business. even if it is talking with her and getting forgiveness/closure.

if you were in love with this new person I'm not sure you would say it was so-so.

but that is my little bit to you. but why not take the step to write to Brenda. no one likes to be treated badly without at least understanding what when wrong, so they can judge if how they were treated was fair. Brenda knows you were wrong, so why not admit that and show her you are sorry.

I also wonder whether you actually feel bad because you got a taste of being treated badly yourself or having love not work for you (like Brenda), you are feeling bad maybe because you have expeineced a bit of what Brenda may have gone through wanting to be with you and you rejected her.

good luck. I hope you get the chance to talk with Brenda. I think it will make you both feel better one way or another.

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"if you have [your ex girlfriend's] details why not write to her or email her etc"

Good question.

Here, surely, is an even better answer: "I am in another relationship now, and it’s been 23 years."

It's called Cheating On. It's not acceptable - ever - to contact an ex love when - knot tied officially or not - you're effectively married. That's "why not".

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And by the way ("aaand another thing!" LOL), SecondGuessing - because I'm not about telling you what *not* to do without telling you what *to* do, that'd be half-a*sed thus futile... You have to face up to your own evidence, here. If a relationship is right thus meant to be (or vice-versa) you *don't* make the wrong decision. Or if you do, you find yourself unable to let a break-up stand until the point the Fat Lady's gone and sung, and, rather, begin busting a gut to chase the love of your life back. It's not a conscious choice, it's just something that takes you over and makes you do its bidding whether you like it or not.

A month after, what, DUMPING Brenda (even merely behaviourally whereby she just made it official in the open)?: no re-chase, no "aaagh!, whaaah!, can't live without her, can't even FUNCTION without her, life is POINTLESS now!". Not a sausage.
Two months: no re-chase...
Year later: still no attempt...
Decade later: nope...
Another: still nope...

What, you loved and still love Brenda SOOOOOOOOOOOOO INCREDIBLY MUCH that only now that the clock's hit the twenty-three long years mark do you suddenly realise it and feel it enough to lift a finger in her direction?


If you weren't in a "so-so" relationship and instead were with the love of your life, living the life you love, you'd be going, 'Brenda? Brenda WHO?' and you bloody know it. So the simple fact of the matter is this: your current paper-less, but nonetheless "marriage" to your partner, instead of having gone from strength to strength to where, amongst other signs, the idea of living life without her constantly in it is tantamount to considering gouging out both your eyeballs with a rusty fork, has you posting in public that life with her feels "so-so". Your mind, finally admitting that this current woman, lovely though she may be, is not your soulmate, is moving to the next question in-line: so who DO I belong to?

Cue impatience, needing to put that finally unleashed urge into effect: now (late developer/starter, romantically) being ready for said real deal you obviously would prefer the real deal to be available now-now-NOW! Well, you can't. Nothing in life worth having ever came that and slapshod irreparably conks out long before you hit Autumn and Winter, whereas, expensive but excellently-made includes optimum longevity.

No work, no perk. You're going to have to do the process of work that EARNS you your 'can't NOT love, can't NOT be constantly fascinated by' soulmate. And that excludes you trying to pick someone out of your past album, deifying them in the process to justifyingly suit and explain that over-eagerness, impatience and, let's be honest, laziness. So in summary, you're Billy Crystal/Harry, having decided you're ready, but where, inconveniently, there's no Meg Ryan/Sally (counterpart), conveniently already in the frame. Because you've yet to bump into her.

It's not Brenda. Had it been Brenda and were it still Brenda, as illustrated, we'd not be having this conversation. And - stuff 'readiness', anyway. The minute you MEET/DISCOVER one of the cream (or best of that whole pool) of your true soulmates, readiness is automatic, even if you hadn't even realised you were remotely ready. You find it IMPOSSIBLE not to be ready! In fact, meeting her is proof-positive of a readiness you weren't even aware (or allowing yourself to be aware) existed.

Put more simply (because there's more than merely the fiscal version) - no-one but no-one on winning the Lottery says, 'No, wait, could we put this on ice for a few years?...because I'm just not ready for that amount of life-changing good fortune right now', do they. So readiness is immaterial and births itself. Readiness is ACTIVATED. BY meeting The One/one of The Ones. Right now, all you are is RIPE. Willing and able.

Now think about the calibre of your counterpart? If you're going to even entertain being the type who could cheat, i.e. keep using 'wife' despite knowing you no longer want, then that's the exact same calibre you're going to attract. (Counterpart.) So I'd forget that whole lilypad-leaping nonsense or even toying with the idea *right now* and in so doing, do yourself that giant, lifelong favour.

Where you're at in this process of having finally ripened, is to now seek definitive proof over whether this woman *isn't* your soulmate or, equally possibly, is, but where you've just not managed to 'activate' the full scope available in terms of nature and depth of mutual intimacy, to where you realise she indeed is the one and was all along. Bit like long-term owning a car while the whole time never having realised it had optional turbo and ABS, etc., etc.

'Houston, we have a problem. I find myself having reached a place where I'm doubting whether you and I are right enough for each other when it comes to 'until the day we die' and need to know, is that my fault/your fault/OUR fault/life's fault or quite possibly all of the above, for not having located and activated all the available buttons and levers. It could be me, rather than our relationship...say, mid-life-crisis and I'm just blaming the relationship when really it has little to do with it because it's preferable to worrying I might be going slightly mad? OR we might be wasting our lives on and with the 'not right enough' person and should let one another go off to find the greatest birthright of all. I think we're both nice people who each deserve the most joy-inspiring relationship possible before we go and die knowing we for whatever reasons missed out on life's greatest pleasure and meaning. So I suggest we should visit a couples counsellor to find out one way or the other before it's too late.'

Yeah, that honesty takes b*lls, but if you're not willing to DO that 'do-able' for the soulmate you've just not met yet (even if it's she who's been this whole time stood in front of you, lain 'idle'), then you can't really hand-on-heart claim to want and be ready for her/it, can you...doesn't gel.

But now consider this: maybe this so-called lateness was your (and your wife's) pre-writ schedule of events all along, meaning, there *wasn't* any delay and *wasn't* any "time waste", just a lot more practise and getting-good required? Maybe you and wife had to experience being together *and* experience realising you weren't exact enough counterparts *and* then experience the disappointment of splitting up at your ages, as an exercise that you and she as individuals for whatever reason(s) badly needed? Maybe you were put together as each other's most excellent toning-up equipment FOR becoming good enough to get to meet your respective "Ones"? In that case, there'd be no need for resentments, recriminations and bitterness and instead a mutual 'Thank-you sincerely for having been the one to help me get to a Ripeness and Readiness that otherwise I might not have reached'???

But if you want her to be forever thanking YOU every time she looks through her album, then - DON'T CHEAT ON HER. Give her the exact same programme, awarenesses, chances and opportunities as you. Share it with her, in other words. Because, YOU DON'T KNOW... wife might well turn around and say, 'Oh, thank god for that! I've been feeling the same for as long as you have but didn't know what to do or didn't dare try or even dare say anything!'.

Do things properly and you'll get the perk, simple as that. Cheat and you'll end up with the partner you then deserve.

But what OnTheRoad said is 100% true, despite oft overlooked or unknown: if you ain't ever pressed all the On switches or in the right order at the right times (even if just because you can't multi-task thus were over-focussing on your career and other stuff for all this time), you can't credibly say the relationship is "so-so", you can only say the relationship never got started or run properly, hence hasn't properly delivered the associative PRODUCTS.

Hope that helps bring home what he was trying to say to you?

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writing to someone to say you are sorry for something that happened is NOT cheating. its writing to say you are sorry, that all. i really dont think there is any harm in that. if other posters do, that's fine. i personally think its better to own up to somehting that was hurtful, whether it happened 2 minutes ago or 20 years later. ( a bit late, but why not if it might help to explain). Brenda might appreciate it as a well meant gesture that came out of a poorly chosen mistake.

As this situation (even after all this length of time) is on the thread starters mind, it suggests is not something that they obviously feel good with even now.

Brenda may accept the apology she may not give a damn, the possibilities to what Brenda may or may not do are endless, and as I dont know the people concerned or the situation that caused this, I am trying to offer a positive possibility to someone elses post.

the original thread starter doenst have to take my advice or anyone elses if they don't feel it is helping them and again that's fine too, but I don't think there is any major problems offering a view; because if there is one small thing anyone has written on this subject that can help the original poster then that is better surely getting too caught up in each and every post or looking for endless negative labels when we don't know the people or full facts about what really went on are.

It is for the thread starter to decide their next decision. I wish the thread starter well. i dont think there is any harm in an apology. things change, people change. its up to Brenda and the thread starter what happens thereafter, if anything actually even happens.

cheating is never a nice thing of course, but I have never said it was. if two people have feelings for each other and they are strong enough, the reality is that they may want to pursue them (and for some people that will mean cheating), it is what happens every day for some people: if it didn't there would be no divorces!!!!!!

others of course wouldn't dream of cheating or accept anyone in their lives who would do it or give theme another chance if they were caught cheating on them. but there are also people who do cheat and are forgiven and go on to happy lives and those who cheat are taken back but the other then leaves too many posibilites which for this story; is why I have tried to stay as positive as i can on this.

its not really about what we think however strongly we say it in the end, its about what the threadstarter does doesn't do. it is their question and we are only just giving our viewpoints. this is not a problem I feel its worth getting our undewrwear in a twist over; not when you consider the bigger things on the global scale for people with mega troubles and trauma. but I'm happy to offer a small view point.

but what people sometimes forget when they are dogged on their cheating is cheating stance is that a relationship that is not that strong however long or new it is is going to bring insecurities sooner or later if one person or both people in it are insecure about it, or are too inflexible to communicate properly.

life doesn't always fit into black and white categories such as its not acceptable ever to contact exes, I know many people who have great freindships with exes now and there is nothing going on, they are mature adults, secure individuals and have accepted that they were not right for each other in the long run and are much much happier with their platonic lives now than they were staying together for the sake of families, shame, their moralistic mates who felt they had the right to judge them (but not consider their true happiness and that what was once loving is not that ways any longer).

some of these people are with new partners, some with long term significant others now and some are single and ready to seek love again; but one thing is that they just realise they don't want that previous person to share their life in the same way they once did when they were in love with them. (and no, they did not cheat, but if they had cheated then i would have said the same thing, they were not compatible and something was wrong).

this whole problem and my original point was about communication.

if you can in a relationship fairly and honestly you can often avoid a lot of unessasary hurt for others, and if you make a mistake then why not say sorry. the world would be a much better place if people could just say sorry sooner, or tell others what they felt without feeling they were going to be shot down, frozen out, ganged up on by friends on their moral cruisades and relatives who want things that the people involved may no longer want, or slander or take an aggressive stance when they don't have the full knowledge.



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The more I read this thread, the more narcistic the OP sounds to me. There is no indication that he feels for his current SO. No indication that he could work on that relationship and maybe make at least one person's life better. It's all about his feelings. Does it make him feel important to think he hurt someone so badly? The focus here is wrong.

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you just have to let go... do your best to make your decision, make it, and move on.

Best Wishes.

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Sorry, AV, but CONTACTING AN EX, FULL-STOP absolutely is cheating. The 'who' matters as much as the 'what'. The clue is in the label - "Ex" - and the well-worn phrase, Only have eyes for you. That's an objectively moral, Nature-led fact, personal opinions and preferences immaterial. And also, I might add, an ethos of this forum in order to set the example where good emotional health and solutions-productivity is concerned. So if you embark on the adviser position, you need to be aware of the level of responsibility you take on. (Never mind... we all make mistakes, said the tortoise as he climbed red-faced off the rock. As long as we don't make them twice, pretty please, thank-you.)

Back to "Brenda, Brenda, Brenda", though...

Referring in depth within any letter to a majorly upsetting, past, personal event and highly potentially, in the process, inevitably re-kindling old feelings surrounding it (or feelings for the era itself, as can too easily get mistaken for lingering attachment to the contacter thus still upset the apple-cart), takes that contact-making taboo-breakage to another level. It may not be full-blown adultery but it's still, not one but *two* steps on that whole slippery slope. So why go there?

I'm sure Brenda's a clever enough girl to have already worked it all out on her tod, anyway. In which case, we're talking merely about catharcism and closure for SG. Well, then... Better to write the letter but then set fire to it and watch it go join the ozone. That way, there's absolutely *no* risk of any poor "Mr Brenda" getting undeservedly, seriously knocked off his perch.

That's right - MR Brenda! Assuming there's zero reason for Brenda not to have become happily settled by now, this far down the line - did that possibility never occur to you, or the effect it could have on him (and any kids of theirs), whether directly or incrementally over time [rhetorical question]? Couples destined to part should be given the respectful right to part *naturally*, not have their rightful control and timelines deprived of them by an outside third party, un-summoned and uninvited, at that.

It's at the very least about the 'hankerer' being socially and morally responsible enough to remember all the potential, negative consequences, rather than believing oneself so central to the universe, whereby one completely fails to consider all the potential ramifications in whatever directions, and any other potential victims/losers as, regardless, you open up that can of by-now moot point worms. If a letter from one of her significant exes ended up causing strife and suspicion or in ANY WAY dented their relations, I doubt it would be *gratitude* that Brenda were left feeling toward the OP. Ergo, it'd be an exercise in worse than futility: a serious backfiring.

Boring lecture over, but please be more thoughtful (everyone) in future.

PS OTR: FYI, it's not Narcissistic to experience the one, human-common symptom of harking back to 'the little Black Book' when in a state of frustrated impatience and having to try on the idea of being single thus back on the dating market again. You need to be certain of three, major NPD symptoms *at least*.

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nope. contacting an ex (or anyone for that matter) to apologize for your behaviour is not cheating.

but if we differ in our opinions then that's ok, the world is a big place and there are many different opinions out there shaped by so many different reasons and experiences; (and we are all entitled to differing opinions) there is nothing wrong with that.

if we differ, we differ Its no big deal. I'm not interested in petty online squabbles for the sake of it.

but as I believe i have said before: this question is not about you or me and that I'm sure the "original poster" will decide the outcome one way or another. so good luck to her. :-)

ok, im signing out on this topic. I hope the original poster is in a happier place.

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"Blah blah-blah blah blah, I'll go then."

If going strikes you- sorry, your ego as far easier than simply doing as you're politely asked by the moderator for a perfectly good, solid reason, not least, as aligns with the forum creator-owner's own, socially and morally responsible attitudes - fine by me. You can go and be "so special" and "above the law" elsewhere, can't you.

PS: Him.

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I haven't been in contact with this string for a few weeks. Thanks for taking the time to all to voice your opinions. I do not have any contact information for Brenda, nor shall I investigate any contact. What is done, is done. I made a very poor decision as a young man, one I have come to regret, and have quite a lot of trouble with it from time to time. I am certain Brenda has made a happy life for herself. I do not want to interfere in that in any way. My pain is my own.

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Yours *and your wife's* - because that's what marriage entails: sharing. Everything. Good *and* bad/upsetting. Maybe that's what's been missing in your relationship, vital-ingredient-wise???

Try it, Sam-I-am...Dare to (gently) point out the elephant in the room and things can only get better. Do nothing and the elephant will continue to sit there, making a mess and quiet stink.

But cheers for the update, we appreciate it. :-)

Let us know if there's anything else we can do.

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