A number of years ago I dated a wonderful woman, let's call her Beth. We had many things in common and really clicked. A real power couple! The problem was that I was moving for graduate school and did not want to have a long-distance relationship. We ended up breaking up, but over my first year of grad school we kept in touch, flirted, and remained somewhat affectionate.
Fast forward to the next summer and she is moving to Texas for her own graduate program. I came home for a couple of weeks that summer and we reconnected in person. We decided that we wanted to try the distance thing. The problem was that we never had much of a plan and it fell apart rather quickly. Since then we have again kept in touch, flirted, and talked about how we miss each other and wish things were different.
To make things more complicated, I've been dating another woman for a little over a year. We'll call her Michelle. Things died down between me and Beth basically because I started dating Michelle, who is in my area code. The problem is that I constantly think about Beth, miss her, and believe that she could have been the woman to share my life with. She has also shared these feelings. Both women are incredible in their own ways, but I don't feel the same kind of connection with Michelle as I did with Beth.
I've thought about breaking it off with Michelle but I am terrified of moving to Texas, realizing that it was a horrible choice, and kicking myself for ruining things with her. That being said, the thought of losing Beth forever due to my inability to act breaks my heart.
Is this a case of the grass is always greener on the other side? Am I crazy, especially since I haven't seen Beth in person in more than a year? Have I built up Beth in my mind into something she'll never be able to live up to? Should I break up with Michelle and move to Beth's area (she has 1 more year of school) or is this infatuation with Beth merely blocking my ability to truly connect with Michelle? I'm going out of my mind with indecision. Do people make crazy decisions like this in real life or is it just reserved for Hollywood?
– Stuck in the Middle, Location Unknown
A: Break up with Michelle, SITM. Now. Let her find someone who isn't using her as a backup plan. She deserves better, no matter what happens with Beth.
After you've cut all ties to Michelle, tell Beth that you want to be with her. If she wants to try again, you can absolutely volunteer to move there. If that's too much for her to deal with during her last year of school, you can also volunteer to take long trips to see her.
If Beth tells you that she doesn't want to try this right now, be single. Please. Don't run back to Michelle.
It's time to find out whether you and Beth really want each other or whether your off-again relationship has just been a long-term, long-distance bluff to pass the time. More importantly, it's time to free Michelle so that she can go and be awesome.
Be honest with everyone. You do have the ability to act. Find out what's real.
Readers? Are his feelings for Beth legit? Or is Michelle a better reality? Should he move to live near Beth during her last year of school? What should he tell Michelle? Should he be single? 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.