Confusing feelings


Confusing feelings


your avatar   Dana, 26-year-old woman

I am a single white female with a four year old daughter. I would greatly appreciate an educated outside opinion! I dated a man in the Navy for a year. We spent every waking moment together; we loved each other. However, I was discharged honorably from the navy for back problems. He went on to Italy with the ship, while I was forced to stay in Virginia. We wanted to do the long distance thing, but two weeks later he called drunk, saying he couldn't handle a long distance relationship. We promised to hook up when he came back from Italy. I was so hurt, I refused to let myself call him, and he never called me.

I proceeded to find a man that had some of his similarities and accidentally got pregnant. I've always told myself that my daughter would have her daddy (my mom was married 6 times to abusive men), so I've stayed with him all this time - mostly for my daughter. I don't have half the feelings for "baby daddy" as I did for "first love", but we are very compatible, and make it work. I think "baby daddy" loves me more than I do him, sadly, but I do love him.

I recently called my "first love" for the first time in 5 years. He lives a couple of hours north of me (this was one of the reasons I was attracted to "baby daddy" because he was from the same state). It's been five years since "first love" and I dated, but I can't stop thinking about him. "Baby daddy", daughter and I went up north to see him for the first time in 5 years. Now, I burst out crying when I'm alone because I want nothing else but to be together with "first love". I feel horrible, but I also feel he's my soulmate.

I don't know how "first love" feels about me. He's single and thinks I'm happy. I would be happy if I had never met "first love" but still, no man compares to him. I want to resolve this because I cannot go on everyday feeling like this. It feels like I'm mentally cheating on "baby daddy" and I feel horrible. I'm incredibly sad, and heartbroken! I don't know what's wrong with - you would think I could get over him! I'm confused, please help. Thank you.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Dana,

I can see your confusion and pain. You feel committed to your partner. He is the father of your child, and you don't want to have her endure the childhood you had, with broken relationships and shifting parents. This man loves you, and you care enough for him not to want to hurt him. And yet, you feel more of an attraction for the first man.

Dana, the first thing I can say to you that may help is that "soulmate" is a myth. It is a lovely myth, but has NO basis in truth. There is NEVER a 100% match between two people. And if you were to do a systematic search, you could find more than one potential partner for a person with enough of a match to make for a happy, long-term relationship. Of course, I have never met any of the players in your drama, so I am only making suppositions for you to think about. I'll put them as questions:

How would you feel about your partner if you'd never met the first man? Would you be able to love him fully, if there was no temptation to compare? When you were with the first man you were single, with no child, in the Navy - where routine was determined by someone else. Now, you are in civilian life. I don't know if you have a job or if you are a full-time mother and look after the household, but even if you work, you still need to cook, clean, do the shopping. So here is the question. Suppose you'd married the first man and now found yourself in exactly the same situation but with him as your partner. Would you still feel for him what you felt on the ship, or would you feel for him what you feel for your current partner?

I am sure you can see what I'm trying to say. I think the attraction the first man has for you is at least partly nostalgia. It would be nice to return to a life with more direction, less responsibility and obligations. You love your daughter, love your man... but it would be nice to return to the free spirit of yesterday. It would. But having a fling with the first man is not going to take you there, is it?

Have a good life,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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