Thinking About It

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I&'m trying to decide about getting back together with an ex. We were
good friends for many years and then after my second divorce and her
first (24 years in my case and 20 in hers) were friends with benefits in
an on-again/off- again relationship for three years. We started out
keeping it secret and being very clear it was “not a relationship” but it
is hard to be so wonderfully intimate with someone without falling in
love at least a little. The problem is we were never in love with the
other at the same time and it ended over mutual frustration at un-met
expectations. We took time to re-grow our friendship, which has been
very caring since then. She&'s been single as I am now. I had an
intense relationship in between with someone who moved away (I’m
settled here). My ex and I have each “confessed” to “thinking about”
starting up again. I’m I didn’t want to be involved the first time) How
can I know what&'s good, right, and fair?

Thinking About It

Dear Thinking About It:

If you made a vocabulary list of words like love, passion, intense,
romance on one side of the page, and caring, friendship, and thinking
about on the other, you might think the lists were about two different
people. Good, right, and fair might end up on a very different list.
I understand you are probably lonely after the end of your grand
relationship. She may be lonely for lack of having had one. Beginning,
or re-beginning under those kind of circumstances almost certainly
dooms your next phase to a repeat of the first round: two people who
aren’t really committed to making a go of a real relationship, trying to
find physical satisfaction and comfort with one another. It might work
for a little while. But it’s not likely to sustain either of you for the long
run, at least if you start off like that.

You have many options from which to choose. Here’s three: Share a
bottle of wine, put it all on the table, agree that this is a brief interlude
and that you’ll go back to friendship after a fixed period of time. Treat
one another the way you would a new potential partner: date and hold
hands, and see if real romance emerges, in synch, for both of you.
Stay friends only and commiserate over your loneliness verbally, but
save the dating and sex for other people, one of whom might turn out
to be right for you or her to have a real relationship with. To decide,
think about whether it would be good, right, and fair for someone to
treat you like you are thinking about treating her.