“Is the universe screwing with me?”: The Old Flame question

Dr. Alex,
I have a question.  Last week I saw a guy that I was pretty much in love with 20 years ago.  My first love and hard crush.  I haven’t seen him for years and saw him at Chipotle randomly one night.  Was that just the universe screwing with me or do you think that means something?  Of course I was still attracted to him.
Thank you.
— Adrienne, New York City

Great letter, Adrienne!  Before we start, and not on How to Write Letters That Get Back a Meaningful Response:1) Make it short!  Express the scenario and the challenge briefly but succinctly.  200 words is a good upper limit.

2) Include your name, age, city and occupation.  Puts it all in context and helps readers relate to your situation.

3) Make sure there’s a meaningful question in there you want answered!

Adrienne dear – you were doing reasonably well, but let’s examine your question again:

Was that just the universe screwing with me or do you think that means something?

Now I could just be cheeky and answer this with a ‘Yes.’  Or a ‘No.’  I could even explain that cheeky answer with further cheeky explanation.  Just like in the fifth grade, silly questions tend to beget silly answers.

Instead, I will address what I think your real question is.  Namely, “What course of action should I take?  Would it be wrong to seek out this guy’s company and see what happens?”

To which I would say: of course you should hang out with this guy.  He’s your first love from 20 years ago!  You should at least give him a chance as much as the next guy.  It might even be fun.

However, please proceed with caution, and be sure to do the same amount of due diligence as you would with a complete stranger.

Neurological patterns tend to persist over time, which is why you’re still having a pretty strong reaction to this guy even though it’s been 20 years since your crush.  This means that you are extra-susceptible when it comes to him.

Extra-susceptible means you have to be extra-cautious.  Because of your history, you are much more likely to bypass rationality and do something silly.

Like jump into bed with him too soon.  Or declare your undying love before the time is ripe.  Or get attached and needy.  So: proceed – with caution.

As far as the answer to your philosophical question —  “Is the universe screwing with me” – the answer to that is usually yes.  Enjoy it, flow with it, don’t fight it, don’t overthink it.  That’s the essence of the Tao.

Categories: Dating for Women