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It's not easy dating green

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  December 19, 2011 08:02 AM

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I'll run updates later this week. If you're a letter writer and you want to send an update, email it to meregoldstein at gmail with "UPDATE" in the subject line.


Q: Dear Meredith,

I have recently ended a relationship with a wonderful guy. Let's call him Mr. Green. He was my stab at "green dating" (the recycling of ex-boyfriends) after my marriage of 15 years ended. Mr. G contacted me out of the blue via Facebook almost a year after my breakup and we reconnected there. We have spent the past 2+ years in a relationship that I knew was doomed from the start.

I was honest with him from the get-go. I am not interested in ever being married again or even living with another man. I enjoyed his company, he was great with my kids, but the same issues we had 20+years ago were still valid. We are just ultimately not compatible. He has never been married and has his own emotional issues. He's a wonderfully sensitive guy and I love him very much but love isn't enough.

I ended the relationship last year but accepted a friendship with him. It was infrequent visits at first but then it became a monthly thing. We became friends with benefits and I felt like we were back in the thick of it again. I wasn't feeling compelled to go out there and meet others, nor was he.

One of our major differences is that I am demonstrative of my feelings and he lives in an emotional straight jacket. I get why, but it doesn't make me want to stay with him. I have now ended it for good and this time there will be no "friendship." I still care for him, I am still alone and he is too. Seeing each other will end up only one way. It’s unproductive for both our lives.

He is hurt that I won't be his friend. He says it's unprogressive of me, someone who prides herself on being a liberal-minded person. Am I wrong to not try to just be his friend? Can lovers really be friends after such intimacy? More than the proverbial innocuous holiday email that some exes can share, I don't believe you can just be friends without that tension or those old feelings coming up. Maybe I just wear my feelings too outwardly? Maybe I should restrain my feelings like him. Or maybe we just can't be friends. What do you think?

– Green Dater, Boston


A: It's not "unprogressive" to keep your distance, GD. It's honest and wise. Some exes are more than capable of being friends, but you guys aren't. So that's that. No friendship, at least not while you're single and vulnerable to making mistakes.

You can't change who you are. You can't bottle up your feelings and stay on your side of the friendship couch while he's sitting there just two cushions away. My guess is that he knows this, and that he's hoping that after another reconciliation or two you'll change your mind about him.

Explain that you need this space to figure out what it really feels like to be broken up. And tell him that dealing with the loss of an ex isn't about being liberal-minded. It's about protecting yourself. It's about reality. Assure him that a friendship might be possible -- later. But for now you need space. Your gut is right about that.

Readers? Thoughts on being "liberal" about post-breakup friendships? Thoughts on green dating? Is she being fair? 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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