After 30 Years
Q: I will be meeting an old girlfriend who I've loved since high school. It's been about 30 years since we've seen each other. It makes no difference to me what she's been through or what she looks like now. We are both single and both loved each very much back then. I could use some advice on how to handle this meeting. Should I buy her flowers? (I did this often.) What should I say when I first see her? I know I will give her a BIG HUG. Just a little nervous, and want everything to come off great. -- Al
Dr. Susan: It worries me just a little that you don't care who she is now, but insist that you still love whoever you knew her to be 30 years ago. So much of our character is formed after high school. As hard as it is, I'd go into this meeting with a slightly more open mind than you seem to have. You're hoping your relationship will click into place as though no time has passed, but it's bound to be a bit awkward at first. Flowers don't matter, but would be a lovely gesture. As for what to say, how about, "I've been waiting for this day for 30 years, so I'm a little nervous. How about you?" Don't try to be all sophisticated. Be real, and know that things will get more comfortable with her after the preliminary catching up is done. Plan something to do, like a walk, so in case words don't come as easily as you'd like, you'll at least be able to comment on your surroundings. Most importantly, take your time getting to know one another all over again.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.