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Missing someone who is far away

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  January 19, 2011 07:51 AM

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Chat at 1.

Q:Hi Meredith,

I wish the LL gang existed when I was living in Boston a few years ago! Thanks for lots of great, practical, sane advice! ;-)

I wondered if you could offer me some. I should probably preface my question by telling you that my heart has been lost to movies like "Once", "Anne of Avonlea," "A Little Romance," "Roman Holiday," and "Best of Youth." I must be a dinosaur in disguise.

I wrote in once to the Wednesday chats as "faraway friend." The friend in question was my old housemate who's American but is now working in another country. We were housemates and good friends for a year and have been long-distance friends for several years. FF is very open-hearted. When we were housemates, he mailed my Netflix movies off for me in the middle of the night when I had to run to the airport, got dressed up and went trick-or-treating with me, let me check out books with his library card ... you get the idea. I couldn't find the courage to tell him how I felt, even after he moved out of the house. So we became pen pals and grew closer through e-mail. He writes with flair and warmth and we swapped stories happily, without sharing anything too personal.

Then, about a year ago, FF came to town on his way to see another friend. We had an amazing six hours together -- walking by the water, talking, having dinner, swapping more stories. The instant when he bear-hugged me when we first saw each other is one that I carry with me every day. I felt like we did share a "moment" ... that lovely speck of time when you look at each other and connect and smile in a way that's almost too good to be true. But maybe I'm wrong. Our e-mails continued in the same way following the visit -- no significant changes. Just nice, warm stories like before.

So finally, a few months ago, I e-mailed him to tell him how I felt. More months went by -- no response. Then I dropped him a quick note to say hi, tell him not to worry and that I understood, and share a few happy words about my job. Still nothing. Then, before Christmas, I dropped his sister a note on Facebook to ask her what I should do. I've never met her but have heard a lot about her. It's been weeks and I haven't heard from her either. I have to admit that although I didn't expect him to share my feelings, I thought he would write back because even in situations where he didn't have reliable Internet access, he always wrote back.

I am having trouble letting go and moving on. I am in my early 30s and have been single for most of my life. I have had a lot of unrequited love and close friendships with guys who liked me very much but either were taken or didn't feel "that way" about me. (I don't think FF has dated a whole lot either.) I enjoy my job, my friends and my family very much and have pretty much everything I could ask for in life. But I am striking out big time in love.

I don't believe that there's just one person out there for each of us. But I have trouble understanding how God (or the powers that be) could have put such a splendiferous sweetheart in my path without having great dreams and hopes for us.

Thank you so much for any advice you can share.

– Missing Faraway Friend

A: MFF, thank you for sharing your favorite movies. They mess with your head, don't they? Did you know that the real-life couple in "Once" broke up? They did. They're just friends now, as far as I know. There's your reality.

Let's consider some of my favorite romantic films, the ones on my list from December. In "Say Anything," Lloyd Dobler makes his intentions clear very quickly. He asks her out on a date. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is about two people who have already been together. And in "Twilight," the guy/vampire proclaims his love (and takes his top off) within the first half of the film.

My point is, romance doesn't have to involve years of pining. The years without your ex-roommate fueled your natural inclination to imagine him as something he wasn't. He was a lovely, fun friend who did fantastic, creative things with you when you shared a home. He possessed qualities you'd want in a romantic partner -- someone who can dress up on Halloween and mail your movies.

But now he's gone and has made it clear that he can't reciprocate your feelings. That doesn't mean that you're supposed to romanticize him even more. It means that you're supposed to ask friends to set you up, or do some online dating -- whatever will make it possible to have a few outings with suitors whose intentions are clear from the start.

You're not crazy for thinking there was something there, but now he's just a faraway ex-roommate. Go watch some movies about love that blossoms quickly. And then consider the lesson you learned from all of this -- that it's worth disclosing your romantic feelings when you have them. Get answers when you can. There's no point in waiting.

Readers? How can she stop thinking about him? Can you give her some respectful reality? What does it mean that he didn't write back? Will she hear from him? Would you mail Netflix for any old friend? Anyone waited years for unrequited love? 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.
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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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