Hey my Peeps (Do people still say “peeps?” **shrugs**)

I have an advice letter from Dear Prudence at Slate magazine. The letter reads

I have reconnected on social media with a former girlfriend, and she has become a very close friend. We dated briefly in our early 20s. It was an intense relationship that fell apart because we were both young and immature. I am now a middle-aged, divorced single dad; she is happily married with two daughters and lives several states away. The chemistry between us is unmistakable. She even came back to my area (alone) several months ago to visit family, and she invited me out for dinner and mentioned that her husband was in poor health. The remark about her husband’s health was only in passing. We didn’t have a whole conversation about that. But as you can tell, I put a whole lot of meaning into it. I can tell she has feelings for me. How strong, I don’t know, but she clearly loves her husband and their kids.

I am absolutely smitten with her. I think about her every day. We talk on social media maybe once a week or so. I don’t want to break up her family or even sow any hint of trouble there, so I haven’t told her how I feel. On the other hand, it is hard to think seriously of anyone else romantically—just in case something happens in her husband’s life. And I feel like total shit for even thinking that. If I break off contact with her, I lose a good friend. And how do I do that? And what do I say to our mutual friends? I know I am in a destructive pattern, but I don’t know what to do.

—Can’t Extinguish Old Flame

Dear Flame,

I’m just going to be straight forward.  This sounds a bit one-sided.  You’re going on and on about how “smitten” you are with her, but you did not say if she is smitten with you.  This leads me to believe that she is not smitten with you.  This chemistry that you claim is there may be imaginary.  Plus, you mention in the letter that she is happily married.  So… if she is happily married, then where does that leave you? In the friend zone.

I think you are seeing things that are just not there.  Plus, she is dealing with a very serious issue right now.  Her husband is sick.  Let her take care of her husband and kids. Be honest. Do you really expect her to leave behind her husband and kids and jump right into your arms? Would you want someone who would do that? I hope not.

It also sounds to me like you’re lonely.  Go out and have some fun. Meet new people. Find a hobby.  Quit sitting around thinking of something that will probably never happen.  You deserve to be happy, but pursuing a married woman is not the road to happiness.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

~Jana Leigh

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