I won't be in the office for chat today, but Glenn Yoder will there to moderate. Enjoy him.
Q: Hi Meredith,
I have been friends with "Matt" for about 7 years. We are both in our mid-30s, have wonderful time together, and appreciate each other's company. A few years after we became friends, I started to like him and expressed my interest. He was interested and we dated. But after a month or two, he just went silent ... no calls, txts, e-mails. We would see each other after a while and he would act like nothing had happened.
I was crushed and tried to move on, and after a while we got back to being friends again. I dated a few guys, one of them for a little over a year, but in all honesty, I just wanted to be with Matt. During that time, he didn't date anyone.
Time would go by and Matt and I would start flirting and having friendly dates and then ... déjà vu! It all happened again. We were dating, having grilled cheeses, and after a while he would go silent and that's was it. He would then resurface like nothing happened and would not even address the situation we were in. I stopped seeing him with the intention of moving on with my life without him, even as a friend. Meredith, the more I tried to put distance in all ways imaginable, the more I missed him and it hurt.
In trying to figure things out, I decided to accept the fact that he wasn't into me or wasn't ready for a relationship. We got together to talk and it was clear that while we didn't work as a couple, he didn't want to lose me as a friend.
I still love him, and that's why I am writing to you. I really want to stop loving him the way I do. Is it possible to remain friends while I try to stop my feelings for him? It hurts to be with him as just friends, but I know that this phase is going to pass at some point. I just feel bad if I have to completely cut him off because we were friends a few years before we started dating. Is our friendship ruined?
– Just Friends Forever, Cambridge
A: The friendship isn't ruined, JFF, it's just evolving. Relationships change all of the time. The one you have with Matt just needs to be minimized at the moment.
Telling Matt that you need to bow out of his life for a bit doesn't mean that he'll be gone forever. It just means that you can't keep him close to you for now. You need to separate yourself from him, but it'll be easier if you stop thinking about this as a loss. He's just taking on a new role, the one of a close friend who needs to be ignored because he ditches you after making out with you. (It would be great if he could wear a name tag that said all of that.)
So yes, you need to ditch him, at least temporarily. And then you need to allow yourself to get angry at him. He was a bad friend to disappear after intimacy. You're supposed to be ticked off, and angry feelings will help put this whole thing in perspective.
Prepare for your own feelings to change as you go through the process. You might hate Matt for a bit, forgive him, move on, and then decide that the friendship you thought was great and entertaining was really just a multi-year flirtation. You might find that Matt is a better acquaintance than friend. Again, you just have to let this whole thing evolve. You said you know that this phase will pass at some point. Please let yourself get to the next phase. Do what you need to do to make it happen.
Just don't think of it as a loss. That's what's messing with your head. Really, it's just a change.
Readers? How can she get over this? Does she have to cut him off? Is this friendship ruined or am I right to say that it's just changing? Is Matt worth all of this trouble? Discuss.
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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.