Q: Hi Meredith,
I have been seeing "Mike" for the last six months. We see each other as often as we can (which with work is about one night a week). He treats me really well, makes a big effort, and we have a great time together. We started seeing each other when we both moved here to work in Boston -- I am best friends with his sister. At the start we kept it a secret from his sister; it was casual and I didn't want to mess up our friendship. Then time passed and when we still weren't a couple, I never had a reason to share it with her. They are very protective of each other and I didn't want to risk any awkwardness.
Mike and I had the talk a couple of months ago and he said he didn't want a girlfriend. I was pretty sad about it but not devastated. We tried to be friends but ended up falling back into the same situation. So another two months in, I think we're getting on even better and he says he just doesn't love me. He said he really considered becoming a couple but couldn't force it if he didn't love me. We both cried as we've become best friends and rely very heavily on each other here. Our families are far away. He is such a nice guy I can't be angry with him. After this weekend, we won't be seeing each other for weeks as we are both travelling -- it should be easy to cut contact.
The thing is, I would be lost without him. We text every night, and any night we can we spend together we make plans. He doesn't go out seeing other girls, he works crazy hours, and any night he's free he spends with me.
It kills me it just wasn't enough for him to even try a relationship. I don't know if I see a future for us but I'd like to have tried. I feel like a failure for not being lovable and I'm so angry at myself for not having the backbone to cut contact with him. I would be so upset if he met someone else, yet he seems to be fine with things and has been making a huge effort to stay as just friends.
Another thing that kills me is that even though this has been a significant relationship in my life, I can't share with his sister, my best friend, how upset I am. Some of my friends know but as we are away from home, and I don't think they understand just how important he is to me. I feel so alone, and ironically he is the only person I would be close enough to talk to at the moment. I feel so lost and am panicking about being alone. I'm in my late 20s and have not been on a date in so long -- all of my friends are in couples and I never meet anyone.
I know I'm babbling so any help you can give would be very much appreciated!
– Lost, Quincy
A: I'm so sorry this didn't work out, Lost.
I don't want to make you feel worse than you already do, but let me say this: If you can't tell your best friend about a relationship, you probably shouldn't be in the relationship. I understand that this was a tricky one, but dating is tough. We need the people we love to be in the know.
My advice (you know what's coming) is to tell this guy that you need space. Tell him to stop with the texts and the platonic check-ins. He can't be your friend right now. You didn't call yourselves a couple, but this is a breakup, for sure. You need to expand your local friend base and keep busy with activities. You need to bounce back on your own.
You also need to call on the friends who know about this. Cry to them. Let them give you pep talks. Tell them that you want to be set up. (And please remember to ask them about their lives, too.)
Also, when you tell this guy that you need to cut him off, please admit that you're feeling a bit lost without his sister. I wouldn't want you to use her as a sounding board for this, but it would help if she knew. You guys are going to go home at some point and it's going to be awkward. Perhaps you'll both agree that it's best to tell her, just so she doesn't have to find out from someone else or wonder why you're sort of a mess.
Something tells me that part of your angst about this is that you're saying goodbye to something that never existed on the books. Maybe if you tell her what happened, you can put the whole thing in the past tense.
Readers? Should she tell the sister? Is she allowed to keep talking to the brother? What happens next? Help her.
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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.