For better or worse, I have dated dozens of men since leaving my ex-husband.

Most of these men were nice enough, but we just didn’t quite work. The vast majority of the time, I’m the one to end things. I don’t think that’s because I’m so wonderful that every guy wants to be with me. I think a man is just more willing to maintain the status quo in a relationship that’s starting to veer off the rails or was never really on the right course in the first place.

[Sidebar: Wow. I love my metaphors, don’t I? WordPress reminds me of that all the time. The “cliché” error is the one I get the most when using the proofread feature.]

During this time of self-imposed intense introspection as I approach my 35th birthday, I started mulling over my dating past. Two men stood out as guys I had really liked, and thought we could have something, who decided to call it quits with me. One in particular, I have thought of as “the one who got away” for quit some time now.

I decided to do a little experiment. I sent them identical emails (the only change was the salutation).

Subject: Long time…

Hi, ——–

I know it’s been years since we last spoke, but I was swapping dating stories the other day with friends and thought of you.
Don’t worry – meeting you didn’t fall into the “horror story” category. 😉
How’ve you been? What’s new? Indulge my curiosity!
Wishing you and yours well,

I wasn’t even sure if I would get a reply. It really had been years and our time together had been brief. But I soon found a reply from each of them in my inbox.  Each reply was the usual catching up email. Nothing earth shattering. It was nice to hear from them. But that was all. Just nice.

I was surprised by how little I felt upon receiving their replies. They are both terrific guys. Nice men who will take the time to reply to a woman they dated very briefly who decides to email them out of the blue. But it’s apparent to me now that I had built them up in my mind. I mythologized our time together, and the future we never had. The real men got lost somewhere in the shuffle a long time ago. Any feelings I once had for them have long since faded away. Their replies didn’t bring forth any desire to keep in touch or suggest a reunion. I wasn’t filled with love or yearning. In the end, it was all rather mundane.

So my little experiment provided unexpected benefits!

I’m over these guys – both of them – and there’s no reason to spend any further time thinking of them as missed opportunities. So I won’t.