Ask M: “The one who got away”

In today’s AskM column, M gives advice to two women: one who cannot stop thinking about the past, and another who is learning how to find a partner on her own.

Dear M,
I hope you have some time to read my email and help me.

I got married about a year ago to a wonderful man from my culture. Before my marriage I was in love with a man from another culture whom my family forbade me from marrying. Although I did not love my husband at first when we were married I knew he loved me and was willing to take the risk of getting married to him in hopes of eventually loving him. Our marriage is going well alhumdu’lillah and I do love my husband but i find myself thinking a lot about about the other guy; what has happened to him? Does he still think of me? Will he spontaneously write to me someday? I find myself drowning in these thoughts and I tell myself that it is haram for me to even allow such thoughts to enter my mind.

I don’t know what to do and there’s no one I can speak to candidly about this matter. I can’t simply lie to myself and deny the fact that deep down inside I yearn to hear from him, just once. Please advise me.

Living but lost


Dear Living but Lost,

First, congratulations on your new married life!

You should know It’s completely natural to think about your past and wonder about those who were once in your life but are no longer there – for whatever reason – whether they were friends, acquaintances, or more intimate relationships. Your ex was once a big part of your life, so it’s natural you would wonder what’s become of him.

Instead of feeling guilty for thinking about him, try to understand your desire to hear from him again. It is possible the desire stems from simple curiosity or is due to a lack of closure.

You should also consider what you would hope to accomplish by hearing from him again. You and your ex have embarked on two very different paths since your relationship ended, and you have since entered into a happy, loving marriage. If you take an honest look at yourself, you might also see that you’re not the same person you were when you and your ex were together. As a result, it’s possible the connection you’re fondly remembering with your ex is something that wouldn’t appeal to who you are now.

Remember, it’s easy to get caught up in “What If’s”. Sometimes we take for granted what we presently have as we fantasize missing out on an imaginary ideal. But we must question whether that ideal is grounded in reality. Although you mention your parents prevented you from marrying your ex, ask yourself if that was the only reason the relationship didn’t work. Sometimes there are more than one reason a relationship ends. And the romanticized version of a relationship we have in our minds doesn’t always match up with the real one.

Instead of thinking of a relationship that wasn’t, try focusing on the beautiful relationship and loving husband you are so lucky to have right now. While you can never truly “know” about the relationship that never materialized, you have a beautiful one right in front of you that you can be sure about. And he is the one who deserves your thoughts and attention.

Good luck!


Hello M,

I want to marry a boy of my choice, but it’s hard to find one. There was a boy who said he liked me and stuff, but I want to find out if it’s true or not.




Dear Banu,

Did this boy tell you directly that he likes you, or did you hear it from someone else?

If he told you directly, then you can decide whether you’re interested in getting to know him better. In the process, you will have to define for yourself the boundaries you’re comfortable with in getting to know him and his views on marriage and partnership to see if they are compatible with your own.

If, on the other hand, he told someone else and you’re indeed interested in him, you can let the mutual acquaintance know you’re open to learning more about him. Your common source can communicate that information to the boy if you feel it would be too forward to let him know yourself. If, however, you’re not interested, you can let your acquaintance politely relay that message to the boy and move on to considering someone you’re more interested in.

Good luck!


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