Sometimes it seems like what is old is new again.  Nowhere else have I noticed this more than in relationships.  Think about that long-lost friend you’ve found on Facebook.  You may spend hours, or even weeks catching up with them.  There is a calm sense of familiarity matched with the excitement of getting to know someone new.

Then apply that same concept to a relationship.  How many people have ‘the one who got away’?  This sense of wondering what could have been, what may have been, is a lingering feeling with so many of us.  As most women can testify, being unavailable seems to be the best way to attract men.

Just yesterday, as I was grading final papers, I heard from two men I used to date via instant messenger.  The first one, who is married, asks, ‘Do you regret that we never really gave it a shot?’.  He was a guy I met at my freshman orientation at Central Michigan University and kept going back to for seven years.  We could never get the timing right.  When I was living in Kalamazoo he was living in Grand Rapids.  When I was living in Grand Rapids he was living in Kalamazoo and then Chicago.  Yet there was something about him that sparked an instant connection, a connection that never really ended.  So when I debated moving there after my undergraduate, only to be told not to.  I moved forward.  Do I still wonder?  Not as much as I used to.  I’m very happy with where I am in life and with Mr. Right.

Then 2 hours later I get an instant message from a guy many of my friends know as, Pizza guy.  He and I dated on and off for about 6 months the year I met Mr. Right.  He was a nice guy.  He owned a couple pizza joints and was always willing to help out my live broadcasts by bringing free pizza for on-air mentions.  It was a friendship, with a little bit of dating, with a whole lot of business.  He was always too dedicated to his work, which unfortunately, meant we worked opposite shifts.  It never went anywhere because of this.  Now, 3 years later, he instant messages me.  He tells me that he misses me, that we were good together, and he’s ready to settle down now.  He pleads for me to leave Mr. Right and date him again.  While I must admit it’s flattering, I’m not even the slightest bit tempted.

The other night after seeing a chick flick with a close friend we got to talking about ‘The one who got away’ , the one that we always wonder about.  She had one too. However happy we are in our relationships its nice once and a while look back and remember.  Neither one of us are tempted to stray, just amusing thoughts in our minds.  It reminded me of a John Mayer song,

“Back to you
It always comes around
Back to you
I tried to forget you
I tried to stay away
But it’s too late

Over you
I’m never over
Over you
Theres something about you
It’s just the way you move
The way you move me”

Then, out of nowhere, one of my closest friends brings up the same subject.  In the midst of an apparent breakup, her ‘one who got away’ reconnected with her.  It’s often ironic how themes in life play out simultaneously, even if we don’t live in the same neighborhood.

She’s one of those girls who always seems to find the guys who don’t treat her well.  As a friend I struggle, because I know I cannot say too much without upsetting her, but it’s hurtful sometimes to see what she puts up with.  This particular ‘one who got away’, is actually a former colleague of mine.  He was one of a few rocks for me when I went through the most difficult time in my life.  I can’t lie, part of me would like to see them together.  I love the guy like a big brother.  I know if he treated me well as a friend, he’d treat her well as a dating partner.

So when it comes to Second dates with old flings, when is it ok?  When is it bad.  One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was, “you broke up for a reason”.  How true.  So the question one must ask is, why did it end?

Was it timing?  Was it different goals?  Was it incompatibility?  Was it cheating?  Was it abuse?  Was it one-sided?  If it was any of the latter 4, it is time to tap those breaks, put the car in reverse, and get the heck outta there.  But what about the first two?

Let’s first look at different goals.  One of the biggest challenges of any long-term relationship is changing- together.  We change over time and so do our goals.  Incompatible goals lead to an incompatible relationship.  So time has now passed and, once again, you and your goals have changed.  Do they match your potential partners?  If so, proceed with caution.

Now let’s look at timing.  It’s a funny little concept.  Sometimes, despite our best guided efforts, timing gets in the way of relationships.  Sometimes we aren’t in the same place at the same time emotionally.  Sometimes it’s geographically.  If you feel that the timing is right now, then proceed with caution.

For my situation we never got the timing right.  Then when I was ready to make the timing happen, he wasn’t on board.  My situation went from a problem of timing to a problem of not doing what it takes to make things happen.  It was no longer about timing but more about effort.  I wasn’t about to move to another city and state for someone who said they wouldn’t guarantee a relationship, it was timing no more.  I was fortunate enough to have friends who tapped the breaks for me and shook me out of that spell.

For my friends considering a second date with a potential soul mate, be sure to ask yourself the six questions listed above.  If you answered yes to the first two, that it was timing or goals, proceed with caution, you have a green light.  If you answered yes to the last four,  buyer beware.