I'm having an affair with my ex

I'm dating the one I left. Does this mean he's the one?

Published February 6, 2012 1:00AM (EST)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

Last summer I left my 10-year relationship with my boyfriend because I was unhappy with what the relationship had become. I wanted to get married, start a family, purchase a home together -- settle down and make a life with him. He'd been stringing me along so many years with the line, “I want to, but I'm just not ready.”

So I decided to spread my wings and fly. I was exceptionally brokenhearted at first, but was also excited at the thought of being single again after so long. Dating and meeting new people and living the single life was freeing and new, a welcome change from the sameness of the life I'd had with my partner of 10 long years.

We stayed in touch through the breakup process, which crushed him, and we tried to stay friends although it was awkward at times, to say the least. I stupidly thought that I could break apart from him but remain best friends. Everyone says that doesn't work. He admitted he was wrong to have denied me a commitment. He told me he wanted kids now. He proposed to me, and swore he'd try everything to get me back. I held off, but stayed in touch.

I joined Match.com and went on a series of somewhat lame dates (but I tried not be so hard on them or myself -- I hadn't dated in 10 years!). My ex bought a larger, less flashy car because, he said, "It'll be good for kids."

I moved my life to another part of the city. He kept all the pictures of us up in the house.

I told all my girlfriends I was a strong, independent woman now on the prowl and that they should all fix me up. My ex quietly told only those closest to him.

I told him I didn't see a future with him. He planned a trip for us to go to Napa, and I -- needing a break from work and badly wanting to travel with my "old friend" -- went.

We had a wonderful time: We ate, tasted wine, walked along the river, laughed, made love. Everything went smashingly well.

Now we secretly meet once or twice a week (when I'm not out on my Match.com dates!). We make dinner at our old house or my new one, and sleep together regularly. I've only told a few close friends, because I don't want to seem like a flip-flopper. But those few close friends aren't really shocked because they knew how close we were for so long.

This is not characteristic of me. I am known to be a hard-ass. I'm known to make decisions and stick to them. I don't turn back. I've never even fathomed I would write a letter to an advice columnist. I'm the rock everyone usually goes to for advice.

But I'm flat-out still in love with him, although I'm very suspicious of his 180-degree turn in terms of kids and marriage. I don't want to go back to him and end up playing the fool. On the other hand, I don't want to lose the person I could live my life with and make a future with.

Is it just the excitement of the thing that's getting to me, or is this one the real deal? I'm asking you: Can you think of a way I can test him or test myself to know the difference? Please advise.

Hardheaded in Love

Dear Hardheaded in Love,

You want to test him? You just did. He passed. The test is over.

Can you hear him talking? He bought a sedan. He kept all your old pictures up. He proposed.

He's saying he's ready. He's saying he's changed. He's saying he doesn't want to lose you. He's saying come on, marry me, let's have kids.

What more can he do?

He doesn't want anybody else. He wants you. Maybe neither of you realized it but the whole episode sounds like a test.

Pencils down.

Get married. Quick.

By Cary Tennis

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