DEAR ABBY: I'm a happily married man with a great family that's mostly grown.
In high school I was infatuated with a girl, "Stacy," who was the center of attention, especially from the guys. As seniors we were close, but we never dated. When I left for college, we lost track.
In college I became involved with the woman who would become my wife. Before our wedding, I was at a friend's wedding, and Stacy and I danced several dances. Our chemistry was electric. I nearly broke up with my fiancee to see if Stacy and I could get together, but common sense prevailed.
At our 25th reunion, I saw Stacy again. She looked as good as ever. She is also happily married with a family. She gave me a hug that lasted a little too long, but was every bit as electric as our dance back then. Now I'm wondering what I have missed. Was the hug a signal or just the affectionate embrace of a good friend?
I'm afraid to contact her because I don't want to ruin my reputation or hers. We live in different states. Even if there is a spark there, I'm not sure we could sustain a relationship. But how do I get her off my mind? I'm tortured by the memories of the dance and the hug. -- ROMANTIC TEXAN
DEAR ROMANTIC: Let common sense prevail again and quit playing with fire before someone gets burned. The next letter may offer you some insight:
DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife of more than 30 years reconnected with an old love from college through a social website. I was OK with it until I noticed she was getting obsessed with his chats. She kept saying they were just old friends and I should trust her.
It went on for months, until one day she forgot to close her chat session. It was obvious she regretted not marrying him and was reliving her past. We discussed it and I kept hearing, "Trust me, we're only fantasizing." It went downhill from there. We went through marriage counseling, but nothing changed.
What I learned through counseling is that an emotional affair may do more damage than an in-person one. While I thought I had a great marriage, she was thinking about what might have been with her first love. She wouldn't end the relationship and finally we divorced.
That was three years ago. He separated from his wife, and they lived together until she found out he wasn't the same person in real life that he was online or how she thought she remembered him from their youth. It didn't last, and he went back to his wife. My ex was sorry for what happened and wanted a second chance with me, but it was too late.
I'm now married to a wonderful woman I trust completely. My ex lost all she had except her memories of the 30 happy years we had together.
People need to understand how dangerous an emotional affair can be. The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. Old flames change from who they were in their youth, and an online fling can be disastrous. -- R.B. IN MASSACHUSETTS