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Can we be friends?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  November 30, 2010 09:18 AM

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The Romance Rumble continues. I am shocked by some of the early casualties. Please buy your tickets for the Dec. 10 screening. There will be news on the pre-party soon. Even if your favorite film doesn't win, it will be fun and social and ... well, I just want to hang out on a cold Friday night.


Q: Dear LL,

Almost three weeks ago, I was dumped for the first time. We're both 23 (young love, I know) and dated for about two years. After about six months together we began a long-distance relationship (three hours apart). He started working and I started medical school. Over the next year and a half, we built a wonderful and honest relationship, talking every night and spending amazing weekends together.

Then, over the past few months, he began distancing himself. He said that he needed space to "find himself," so I backed off and tried to understand/support him. We joked that it was his quarter-life crisis. After a while, he seemed more interested in our relationship and making future plans, which I took as a positive sign. Apparently, he thought otherwise. Two days before I was going to visit him, he called and dumped me. I was completely devastated. He said that he couldn't handle the distance anymore since there is no end in sight (I have two more years of school). From my perspective, our time together was well worth the drive. Either way, the real problem is now getting over him, especially since he is insisting that we remain friends.

Since the break-up, we've talked plenty and he even came to visit for an afternoon to discuss things in person since we broke up over the phone (lame, right?). All this time, his focus was on being friends and he kept on setting rules about our new "friendship." We can talk two nights a week, see each other every month or two, etc. While I would love to keep him in my life, I know that I need to get the idea of us out of my head before considering any type of friendship with him (and only one without those ridiculous rules). He seems to think that ending our relationship and starting a new friendship can blend seamlessly into one another.

When we talked tonight, I finally told him that we need to stop communicating completely so that I can try to move on and then maybe come back to the idea of being friends. He told me that the decision was mine to make, but was clearly upset about it and immediately began asking when I thought we could talk again. Just when I was confident about moving on, he's suddenly afraid to lose his "best friend." Talk about confusing?!

So here's my question: am I finally making the right moves to move on? I'm feeling partly confident/partly confused about my decision and just need advice and encouragement because I still feel heart-broken too. And I don't really understand how this will ever come full circle into a friendship.

– Making Moves to Move On, New York

A: Yes, MMTMO, you're making all the right moves. You're setting boundaries. You're prioritizing yourself. You're deeming your ex's rules to be selfish and irrational. You're on the up, I swear.

The way I see it, this guy just lost out on dating his "best friend," who also happens to be a doctor-in-training. His loss.

Is it possible to have a friendship with him? Maybe. But do you want one? Again, he's three hours away. If there isn't a "pajama party" at the end of the drive, will either of you want to make the journey?

Your friendship was a part of your romantic relationship. He has to realize that by breaking up with you, he loses all of you. He can't assume you'll want a platonic friendship. He can't script the break-up. I assume that this is his first big romantic loss. Don't assume he knows anything you don't.

I know it's confusing and tempting to be around him as much as you can, even if it's as a friend. But you're doing it right. Cleaning the wound. Treating it. Letting it heal. Like a good doctor.

Readers? Any suggestions? Is she doing this right? Should she have to tell him when she'll be open to a friendship? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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