Q: Hi Meredith,
Last fall I got out of a rather unhealthy relationship. I didn't date after that until a met "Tyler" while I was on vacation earlier this year. Tyler is a professional in his mid-20s, a few years older than me. It wasn't fireworks from day one. In fact, I spent most of the vacation avoiding him. I'm from Boston and he lives in another city and that was a huge red flag from the moment we met.
Although I tried really hard not to like him, communication didn't stop after we left the beach town. We started off slow, emailing each other during work hours. This progressed to long phone calls, and me visiting him a few times over the summer. The elephant in the room, the distance, was rarely brought up until recently when he phoned me to break up the day he was supposed to be visiting. Tyler told me he couldn't proceed with a long-distance relationship, something we both experienced when we were in college. He no longer speaks to his former girlfriend. I am on friendly terms with my long-distance ex.
We then spent days expressing how we both felt, me wanting to stay together and to eventually move to his city, while he adamantly said he just couldn't balance work, school, and a girlfriend who was a flight away. I'm a rational person; his side of the argument is completely valid. We agreed to remain friends because nothing "bad" happened between us but decided that we should give each other space so we could move on.
Here is where my dilemma comes into play. We still talk for hours nearly every day. We have the same conversation at least twice a week, me still wanting to be with him, him missing me but not committing. I am somewhat of a hopeless romantic. Not everyone is going to meet a potential love on the same career path, in the same city, with all the same life goals. Do I try to form a friendship that may one day lead to more if the timing is right or do I cease all communication and bury every "what if" scenario that provides that small glimmer of hope.
– Out of state, out of mind?, Boston
A: Here's a question, OOSOOM: If Tyler lived here, would he want to be your committed boyfriend? Is distance the only thing keeping you apart? Because based on what you've told us, it's not just about the fact that you're states away. It's also about work, school, and his place in life.
He's not working with you to come up with a plan to close the distance gap, which means he's not the guy you should be thinking about at night. He doesn't deserve so many hours of your day.
You can't continue this routine. I have no problem with occasional updates or a Facebook friendship, but for right now, no calls, texts, or confusing visits. Make your needs clear. Just say, "Hey Tyler, you know how I feel about you. But if you can't be a real boyfriend, I need some real space to get over this. Help me set boundaries. No more afternoon talks. No emailing all day. I need a real partner who's making plans with me, not a Snuffleupagus boyfriend."
I know you're worried that you'll lose him if you stop lobbying on your own behalf, but that's not how it works. If he wants to be with you, he'll find you, even if you haven't been talking on the phone every day. He knows you well enough to understand what he's giving up. Please prioritize yourself and, at the very least, stop the daily calls before they become a real addiction.
Readers? Should she cut him off entirely or can she keep him around as a faraway friend? Is there hope for them? Why is he talking to her every day if he doesn’t want to be in this relationship? 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 new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.