Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I recently broke up with my boyfriend of a couple years. I just feel like our lives are moving in different directions and we don't have a lot in common anymore. Plus, the sparks had really gone out of the relationship.
I met this new guy and he's really successful and has his life together and wants to go out. He's pretty cute and we definitely have major chemistry, but my old boyfriend hasn't given up. He says I at least owe him another shot since we have been together for so long. I don't know if I should give him another chance or if I should just say no and see where things go with this new guy.
-- Signed, Someone old, someone new
A wise friend once asked, "What's the longest fireworks show you've ever seen?" My grudging response: "Not long." His point: Explosive and dizzying displays of heart-pounding energy and sparks are amazing, but they don't last. Not all sexual attraction fades, it just changes -- like Roman Candles versus a warm and comforting sparkler. This isn't a bad thing. As relationships evolve and mature, two people need more than just throw-down lust.
Two years is plenty of time to get to know each other and also enough time for initial butterflies to simmer down. Now your eye is wandering and a new guy has you distracted with the reemergence of electric longing.
Sort through the sex stuff to get to the heart of this push-and-pull you're muddling through. So sparks with your ex are gone? Or just changed? And what about the new guy? Is there substance there or is it just the bright and shiny newness that you're attracted to?
Ultimately your time is yours. If you're sure things are over with your ex -- really over -- you don't owe him anything and it's your right to move on. But are you really done with the old and into the new? Maybe you're just better at the beginnings than the middles or ends. My advice: If this breakup sticks, then stick to being single for a while and figure out what you really want from a relationship.
When you refer to someone as your ex, the designation typically signals that things are over. Sure, following a split you may reminisce about them, miss the good times, pine for their closeness or even go to dinner or bed with them on occasion. Hey, we all have our moments of weakness. But really, we are all smart enough to know that these exchanges are just delaying the inevitable end.
I'm not going to tell you that you should leave this guy on the curb or give him a second, third or fourth chance. Every relationship is different and everyone handles breakups differently. And I'm not going to tell you to disengage from what could be a potentially awesome friendship or relationship with this new guy.
I will remind you that you ended the relationship and you probably had a million good reasons to do so. And I'll tell you what's best for your heart and your emotional health, which is probably something you don't want to hear: You need a break from boys and relationships and all the feelings that come with them. You're confused, even a bit lost, and you won't find clarity in your ex's, or a new guy's, arms. You might find momentary comfort there, but it's always followed by more confusion.
Here's someone you should spend some time with: you. Wanda is so correct - you need to dedicate a few months to becoming independent, confident and clearheaded again. Figure out what you want and need in your daily life and your relationships. Boys are a dime a dozen. There will be plenty around to conduct chemistry projects with when you have your feet back underneath you.
• Wanda is a wise woman who has loved, lusted and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.