Caution: Read This

Caution:  be extra careful when contacting old "friends".  It may seem innocent to reconnect with an old boyfriend or girlfriend.  You may also be looking for answers or closure.  But your curiosity or need for closure never outweighs the cost of messing up a good marriage.  Too many lives can be damaged.

 

I advise people to think about the following before reconnecting:

1. What is the purpose? What do you hope to get? Is it really necessary?

2. If you are married, is your spouse OK with it?  They should be or don't do it.

3. Is your contacting them going to cause them or their family unecessary problems?

4. If they are married is their spouse OK with it?  They should be.

5. The way you remember things from thirty years ago is never accurate nor complete. 

 

The following edited article from Good Housekeeping tells the story -

 

Reconnecting with Lost Friends
Written by Sarah Bird, Edited for this site

Thanks to the Internet, Americans are reconnecting in record numbers. There are huge rewards — but also unexpected risks

Every time I dig through my jewelry box, I stumble across the necklace a close college friend gave me over 30 years ago. The antique necklace haunts me for two reasons: because it had originally been a present to my friend, Mary, from her grandmother, and because my friendship with Mary came to an uneasy, unresolved end. So when Good Housekeeping asked me to investigate the growing trend of reconnecting online by tracking down a dropped connection or two of my own, I took it as a sign.

In 1971, during our junior year, we abandoned college to hitchhike in Europe - a trip that intensified our friendship and then destroyed it. Bound by hours spent in cramped train compartments, we had only each other. In that isolation, small slights gradually grew into unforgivable offenses. Barely 20, I grew weary of always being the grown-up; she seemed weary of me. After a tense ride to Spain, we parted ways, with no explanation and no plans to meet again.

But all these years later, besides returning the necklace, I wanted to understand why our friendship fell apart, to tell her my side of the story, and to hear hers. I wanted to know what'd happened to her since. And I wanted to see her for the reason I think we all want to reconnect with people from our past: She'd been part of my life, and, for better or worse, she helped make me who I am now.

One Mouse Click

Reconnecting has never been more popular, largely because it's never been easier. Over the past few years, social networking has grown dramatically, with 127 million Americans now visiting these Websites each month.  Many networks, like Facebook and Friendster, allow you to make new friend and reconnect with old ones.  And ordinary search engines let us find in minutes information that once took weeks of letter-writing and long-distance calling, or hiring a detective to uncover.

Most searches, like mine, are for a lost friend; next most common, for an old flame. Ironically, I knew my easiest route to finding Mary would probably be to ask my own lost love, Dave. We'd first met because he was pals with one of Mary’s boyfriends.  After I returned from Europe I ran into him again. He was 6'4" — a good four inches taller than me — and could make me laugh; how could I not fall in love? After graduation I moved with him to Austin. Our romance didn't last. I held a place in my heart for him until meeting the man I married. Kick up those embers? No way. And, after all, who needs an old sweetheart when you have Google? I entered Mary’s full name and watched my screen start listing 345,000 entries.

Rekindling Old Flames

So in order to find Mary I would have to contact Dave.  While I did have a mailing address for him, a letter seemed too bold, and I couldn't bear calling mutual friends to ask for his private number. It is true that reconnectors now feel safer because they can make contact via computer, but I realized that the Internet conferred another benefit: No one else has to know about your search. After mere minutes of Googling, I had the timid reconnector's best friend: an e-mail address. I sent a breezy message winging Dave's way. After all, I was only writing to find Mary. Wasn't I?  The butterflies that rose in my stomach when Dave's name popped up in my in-box moments later begged to differ: They had nothing to do with Mary's necklace.

"Sarah," Dave's e-mail began. "You are still the best. How excellent to hear from you." In our back-and-forth, he told me about his three daughters, his wife of 18 years, about his business. Then he wrote that he'd like to hear more about my life and included his phone number. And, just like that, the years disappeared and I was again the besotted young woman caroming from exhilaration to despair. The intensity of my reaction unnerved me. But what truly gave me pause was my impulse to hide the e-mails so that my husband wouldn't come across them.

Disturbed, I phoned the leading expert in a field I never imagined would pertain to me: rekindled romance. Nancy Kalish, Ph.D., a developmental psychology professor at California State University in Sacramento, has researched more than 2,000 of these reunions, and she interrupted me the instant I told the white lie that I was "planning on" getting in touch with an old flame. "Did you know that reconnecting with a lost love can be like taking cocaine?" she demanded. "Fifty percent of the rekindlers I've surveyed report that they'd had wonderful marriages — before they reconnected. They didn't expect meeting again to pack such a wallop. Now that looking for old flames is so easy and trendy, happy marriages are crumbling.  Uneasily, I pooh-poohed the possibility that anyone's marriage was in danger. "Apparently, my lost love has a gorgeous wife."

"Doesn't matter," Kalish warned. "Wrinkles, weight, none of that matters. Some neuroscience research suggests that early loves are encoded in the brain, the same way cocaine addiction is. Seeing that person again, talking on the phone, even e-mail triggers all those visceral memories of being young and in love. Do not call this man." Having glimpsed the dark side of reconnection, I decided not to call David. But I did dare to e-mail him to ask if he knew anyone who was still in contact with Mary — and to tell him that I would always be grateful to him for putting me on the path that eventually led me to the life I was meant to have. 

Finally — Reconnection

Unexpectedly, an e-mail appeared (care of my high school alumni association) from an old friend Tami. Just seeing that name triggered memories of a soft-spoken girl with soulful eyes and a braid as thick as my wrist. She had somehow slipped out of my life — but the search for my friend Mary had put her back in contact with me.

I zipped off a reply, and soon Tami and I were swapping stories. I discovered she lives where I'd soon be visiting to look at colleges with my son. We made a date, and a few weeks later, I entered the shop where Tami works. Behind shelves was a pillow embroidered with the words, "Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget," I spotted Tami.

One look and I knew she was exactly the same person she had been when I first met her in junior high: kind, sensitive, artistic. That evening, she and I returned to a friendship that seemed never to have been interrupted, but felt deeper for the self-understanding we'd both gained over the years. We caught up on all the details.  It was the kind of communion reconnectors dream of — a celebration of our shared past, an affirmation of our future.

So my attempt at reuniting with Mary remains unresolved. For the first time in history, anyone can answer: "Whatever happened to?" A few keystrokes can reveal what's become of our high school heroes; where life has taken our old friends; what's befallen our vanished heartthrobs. Perhaps gathering up those dropped threads gives us a greater sense not just of who we were, but of who we've grown to be: This time around, I recognized — and resisted — the lure of the old flame, and found that a true friendship could grow even stronger through years of separation.

 
 


agape