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Ask E. Jean For DearSugar: I Can't Handle My Old Love During the Holidays!

Ask E. Jean For DearSugar: I Can't Handle My Old Love During the Holidays!

Dear E. Jean,

Every year at this time — and I’m a total wreck throughout the holidays! — I start wondering about my old boyfriend, the love of my life. We were extremely happy together, though “happy” doesn’t begin to describe the mind-bending 10 months we spent together. He moved to California to get his doctorate at Stanford, we could never get the long-distance thing to work, and our romance ended abruptly. I have never known why, exactly.

Need I tell you, E. Jean, the breakup came at Christmas? And that we ended it on the phone? I have had other boyfriends since, of course. They were smart, talented, charming men, but nobody makes my heart beat like my old love. (I’ve also turned down two very eligible marriage proposals and my mother is ready to kill me!)

Here’s my question: Every year my old love calls to wish me a merry Christmas. My agony of joy and horror starts in around Thanksgiving, and now it’s approaching its usual fever pitch. I’m a basket case!

I can’t take this! I’ve put my whole life on hold for six years! Do I ignore his call this year and finally move on? Can I endure one more stilted conversation with the man I still love and no doubt always will love till I die? — Sitting by the Phone

To see E. Jean's answer


Miss Sitting, My Sugar Plum —

Forget the phone. Phones are for amateurs. Pack your bags, get on a damn plane, and go see him. The best way to get over a man is to remove the mystery. (When the mystery goes, love goes with it.) Wear something killer, meet him for cocktails, and ask him why he “abruptly” ended your affair. You will be half-way out of love with him by the end of the conversation.

Of course, you may walk into the gin joint after all these years . . . your eyes will lock . . . and your will crash into each other’s arms like felled trees. Either way, get on that plane!

To see more advice from E. Jean visit Elle Magazine and

Join The Conversation
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I've done this with a guy, I would send him Christmas cards every year, he left abruptly, never said goodbye. We would reconnected and met up, it was heart wretching to see everything unfold. He was not the man that I fell in love with, he didn't have the character, the years seemed to have harden him, and I felt so stupid for wasting my time thinking about him, helping him, and thinking what if. I think you need to find out in order to put your head and heart at ease. It's the only way to really know, you have to look him in the eyes when your being honest with him and yourself to really know. I wish you luck.
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 9 years
I actually did something similar to this. A crush from two years ago had moved away, we reconnected on the phone, where I could finally admit that I had a crush on him "back then." He admitted he felt the same, but thought I would never go for him. So, over winter break from college, off to New York I flew to visit for a week. Sounds so romantic, right? I ended up paying extra to book an earlier flight back home. It wasn't completely horrible, but he was just a much different person, into a different lifestyle, and everything felt forced and awkward. We've had no contact since. Oh well, at least I saw Niagara Falls, right?
herjoiedevivre herjoiedevivre 9 years
wow, I think e.jean is RIGHT on the mark. seriously. I was hopelessly in love with the memory, and I'd glamorized it waaay beyond reality. this went on for months- I was sad for literally 6-7 months. and then he wanted to meet me. I was so nervous. I cut all of my hair off- it was shoulder-length and I chopped it in a radical cut to above my chin, giving myself bangs and a posh-like haircut. I wore a new outfit, and waited at the coffee shop for him. he didn't show up that day. he'd "forgotten". yeahh. so then one day next week I, slightly pissed off and definitely not putting as much work into my outfit as before, met him at starbucks. and it was kind of a wake-up call. like, "is this the person that I've been idealizing and crying over for months? this..this is IT?" I remember looking at his feet and thinking they were disgusting (it was summer, he was in sandals). that was all it took. poof. it was gone. 2 years and some months of heartbreak- gone. I love you e.jean!! perfect, perfect advice.
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
:( I feel for you. My ex has just sent me a christmas card and a *really thoughtful* gift. We broke up four years ago. Man. Four years. For the first time he signed the card from him and the woman he started seeing after leaving me to be "single" for a while. Men are bizarre creatures and who knows what would happen if you turned up on an aeroplane for a visit?
This year, when he calls, ask him what his romantic life is like. If he's single, and you're single maybe ya'll should start over and see where it takes you (like, perhaps to California). Or, if he has no interest in trying again, tell him to stop calling you because it ruins your holidays and opens up old sores.
fadedblue fadedblue 9 years
first off, no man is worth putting your life on hold for six years, especially if he's not even in a relationship with you. i can't imagine why he'd choose to call you every christmas knowing that he broke it off with you with little explanation, and why you keep taking his calls in the first place. but i do agree with e.jean that your continuing love, infatuation, whatever, is in the mystery. and you need to take off the rose-colored glasses and finally get your answers so you can move on. be it flying on the next plane out to cali, or taking his annual holiday call and calling HIM out, do it quickly so you can enjoy your life and the other great men who obviously want to enjoy it with you!!
missnomi missnomi 9 years
I agree with E Jean. Seeing him is the best thing. Either you'll see that most of the magic that's in your head is just there: in your own mind, not in reality and it'll help you move on afterwards (Marci, it's not about him wanting to see her or not, it's about her being able to let go). Or, the spark is still there and if it's real, not only you, but he'll notice too (if he doesn't it's not the real thing). Nerve wrecking, extreme, extraordinary, I know, but whatever it takes, right? Good Luck!!!
Marci Marci 9 years
I don't agree here. If he wanted to see you in all this time, he would've suggested it somewhere along the line and he hasn't. People do lots of flirting on the phone when there's even a slight interest, but it doesn't sound like that's what goes on since you call it 'stilted', so I hate to say it but it sounds like a one-sided interest. If speaking with him each year upsets you and keeps you hoping for something that never comes, I say don't take the call and close that door.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
There may be something though.....after all he calls every year. He's at the very least, thinking of you. Sounds like a great story for you to let us know how the ending goes. Do it !
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 9 years
If it's killing you, then go find out. But I will say that when a man wants to be with you, in most cases, that's right where he'll be...if he feels the same way, what's with the once-a-year phone calls? Don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but that's been my experience.
lemassabielle lemassabielle 9 years
That was awesome advice and so true! Women love the mystery and the allure. Especially when it comes to first loves! they can do no wrong in our eyes. If you don't want to waste the money on a plane ticket simply say "I still have feelings for you and don't think it would be a good idea to talk to you, you can take that however you want, goodbye." and see what happens. He might decide to coming running back or running away. Make this the last phone call. Tell us what happens!
sabrinaland sabrinaland 9 years
E. Jean is spot on! Book your plane ticket and get your butt over there. No matter what happens, by actively DOING SOMETHING about this you'll feel so much better, maybe not now but in the long-run you will.
bastille_75 bastille_75 9 years
Great Advice!!!! I actually did that with an ex that I could never quite get over and the initial meeting was great and it was just like the "old days", but then we realized that no matter how much we still loved and respected each other we had grown apart (it had been about 11yrs since we saw each other) and then it just faded for both of us. I must say it was one of the best things I did otherwise i would be stuck here now - 14 yrs later - believing the love of my life was out there w/o me and not able to really move on because nobody could match imagination of how great the ex was and how everyone else fell short of him!!
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
Ohmigosh girl! Forget the louse! You can do better than a fella who breaks up with you OVER THE PHONE. So tacky. He does that and thinks he can freely call you to wish you "happy holidays?" No way! Don't dwell another minute on him, girl! Move one with your heart, and don't bother answering his call when he makes it this year!
kurniakasih kurniakasih 9 years
Brilliant advice!! :D
MrDPember MrDPember 9 years
I am trying not to cry (at work to boot!) after reading this one. I have a semi-similar situation. Sadly, I don't get a yearly phone call...or anything else for that matter and yet I am still hopelessly in love. Just left high and dry. Did you ever give it the "FINAL STAND" as my friends and I call it. Take one last chance to put your feelings on the table and see if possibly you could work it out? Oh I hope it works out for you! I am such a hopeless romantic.
miosotis miosotis 9 years
E Jean is awesome!
missbanana missbanana 9 years
oh man... my heart goes out to you honey... =( ive felt the same way.
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