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(Stephanie White/Getty Images)
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I'm excited but nervous to see my first love - 37 years later Add to ...

Group Therapy is a relationship advice column that asks readers to contribute their wisdom.

A reader writes: I met my first love when I was 17 and he was 19. We planned to marry, but he got cold feet and broke my heart. Twice in the next few years, we reconnected - but I was gun-shy. Now I'm 54, no kids, divorced - and guess who finds me? He's divorced three times and has a young child. I'm flying to the U.S. to visit him and I can't eat, I have butterflies, I'm excited and terrified. Why am I so spun out?

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Take things slow

Not marrying as teens was a blessing. Divorced three times, though! At 54, the mixed emotions are your wanting to have things come easy at this point in your life, while recognizing your spidey sense is tingling. Take things slow.

- Guy Jarvis, Toronto

Be prepared for anything

Perhaps you have both evolved to the point where your love can finally flourish into your blissful senior years. Perhaps time together will prove finally that you were never meant to be: crash and burn ... or worse, dullsville. A word of warning - he's well past performing like a teenager. The only way to know is to play it out. Can you face the reality either way?

- Wayne Coghlan, Collingwood, Ont.

Go for it

Reading your epic love story, my breath caught for a few moments. This was obviously meant to be. You should completely go for it. You have got nothing to lose.

- Ruba Nadda, Toronto

THE FINAL WORD

You're so spun about this because that magical, hormone-soaked rush of first love is an experience that never quite leaves us. If love is a drug - and scientists tell us that it acts on the brain in precisely the same way - you are experiencing a major flashback. I certainly don't want to harsh your buzz - because I know that buzz, and that buzz can be a glorious, exhilarating experience. But allow me to act as an older, wiser hippie mentor, gently talking you through the psychedelic colours and patterns whirling before your eyes.

A friend who was acting in a similar mentorship capacity toward me a few years back (it was Halloween and I was cowering under someone's picnic table, convinced the masks on people's faces were merging with their actual faces) gave me a piece of valuable advice. "You are bigger than the buzz," he imparted. And suddenly, I felt the truth of it. The person with the monkey mask was not morphing into an abominable monkey-human hybrid before my eyes. That was all in my mind and it was time to get a grip and assert control over my addled perceptions.

This is what you need to do too. I'm not saying not to feel excited and not to wallow in romantic nostalgia and not to dally over pleasant reminiscences of what your teenage relationship with this man entailed. But I am saying to get a grip and realize that, in the here and now with 30-plus years gone by, you have no idea what you may be getting into. As Guy cautions, take things slow. As Wayne says, be prepared for anything - including disappointment. With these two pieces of sober advice firmly in hand, you're now ready to take Ruba's advice, feel that delirious rush, and go for it.

Next week's question:

I am a never-married guy, 45. Last year I "met" a woman via Facebook, 48, married with kids, who lives 3,000 kilometres away. After a few months of chat she initiated explicit sex chat, which I saw as safe flirtation. Then she announced she'd left her husband. We have now visited each other twice and I am fond of her but don't see a future. She wants to move close and craves constant online contact. I've cut back the chat but have avoided a clean break as I know she'll be devastated, and I feel guilty about the husband. Help!

Let's hear from you

If you would like to participate, e-mail us at grouptherapy@globeandmail.com. All questions are published anonymously, but we will include your name and hometown if we use your response, which will be edited.

Lynn Coady is the author of novels Strange Heaven and Mean Boy.

 

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