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She is in Alaska; he is in Seattle — now what?

Wayne and Wanda

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I recently connected online with my ex from college. We always got along well, but life took us in different directions and we broke up after we graduated. I moved, he moved, and he married the first girl he dated after me. I heard they were in Seattle and had kids. So I was surprised to hear from him this summer, and even more surprised to hear he was divorced.

Our online chats quickly turned to phone calls and texting and then, when business took me to Seattle, we went out to dinner. He was as funny as ever, still really cute and charming. The chemistry was there and better than ever.

I've seen him about once a month since, thanks to work travel. We talk almost daily and tell others we are dating, but I am unsure how to move forward. Do I keep getting closer to someone who lives in another state? Some of my friends say maybe this guy was the one who got away. Others say I'm wasting my time since I live in Alaska and he's in Seattle. Should I hang in there and see where it goes? Or give up and look for something closer to home?

Signed,

Long-distance loving

 

Wanda: Fifteen years ago, if you found yourself pining for a long-lost love, you'd rely on snail mail, directory assistance, phone books or even a well-timed class reunion to reconnect. It's all so much easier now. With a few clickety-clacks of the keyboard, you can key into a whole cadre of exes.

There are risks: For some, this easy access to past partners enables romantic laziness. In moments of low self-esteem or simple loneliness, it's easier than ever to send a relatively passive chat or text and feel out whether that one-time fling wants to fling again. These reconnections, for some, are no more than harmless flirtations or casual catch-ups that might even yield some physical perks.

Occasionally they turn into something more. So he's in Seattle? Not the end of the world! Many couples navigate longer distances. It sounds like on top of a strong past connection, the future looks bright. Keep an open mind and enjoy the reconnection, but don't be blind to reality. If you're looking for a constant companion, clearly he can't do that. Also, with children in his picture, he may not be open to relocating. Are you? These are things to consider, but certainly not deal-breakers in the short term.

 

Wayne: Unrequited love. So bittersweet. So haunting. What could have been. What might be. Oh, the agony. Oh, the poetry.

Yes, social media and digital communication certainly has made it easier to reconnect with former flings, exes and crushes. If we're ever feeling lonely, curious or bold enough, we can have these folks back in our lives with amazing quickness. Sometimes as chat room friends, sometimes as bedroom buddies.

But why would you? Things didn't work out the first time. There's history, baggage and drama attached to most former flames, and it all comes bubbling back up at some point. You're investing time, money and energy into something that's already filled with complications. Sure, you might hit the love lottery, but these situations often end the way they ended the first time: with a breakup.

Meanwhile, the same social media and digital dating forums that connect exes can also introduce single folks to hundreds of potential partners with no history of baggage and drama. Not trying to rain on your parade -- hey, enjoy the loving while you can get it! But I do want to remind you that there's a world of new opportunities out there too, if you're looking for a partner and this gets difficult.

And a warning: If he reached out to you, it's safe to assume that he also reached out to other former crushes that may now be in his life, as well. And he is probably also dating new people. At the very least, this monthly fling with you (on your / your company's dime) is a best-case, low-maintenance scenario for a bachelor on the rebound.

• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at wanda@adn.com.