Q: I have (had?) a good female friend who I met while she was visiting a mutual friend some years ago. Because of my more flexible schedule, it was decided that I would show her around. So, we spent a few days seeing the sights and hanging out and talking. I think we really hit it off at least insofar as we could spend hours comfortably talking and enjoying each other's company.
Anyway, after a few days, she goes back home and that's that. We keep in sporadic touch over the years, an email here and there. Then we are invited to an event, and we each find out that the other will be there. She writes me an enthusiastic email and invites me to her city en route to the event city.
I assume at first that it's purely friendly -- after all, we'd only met each other once a few years earlier. So, I gladly accept her kind invitation under this assumption. As we talk more and more, however, it becomes fairly clear that she possibly has more in mind. I was caught off guard.
You see, at that time, I had just recently gone through a complicated breakup and was in the final stages of what turned out to be an unhealthy relationship. So, another relationship wasn't on my mind.
But then we spent an amazing week together -- nothing physical, I didn't want to lead her on, given my situation -- and I fell in love with her. I had the impression that she liked me too. So once I got back home, I made arrangements to see her again.
I wrote to her a while later to say I was moving temporarily to her area for work reasons, and she seemed very enthusiastic. I arrive, and we meet a couple of times. Long walks, beautiful conversations, good times.
Then one weekend, I have some business early on a Saturday and arrive in her area on the Friday to spend a day off by myself. We meet up later at her place and hang out. I mention my appointment early the next day, and she offers her couch for the night.
I hesitate, wondering if she meant it or was being polite. On one level, I had a feeling she was being polite, and yet I had a hard time refusing her generosity. So I accept.
As we're preparing the couch, she gets a phone call. She comes back and casually mentions her boyfriend of several months. I was taken aback and suddenly felt unwelcome. Anyway, I smile and congratulate her, and we each go to our separate rooms.
The next day, I text her as agreed to see if she'd like to hang out. After several hours, she responded to say, sorry, she'd been busy all day but let's hang out soon. I wrote back a polite message saying that I understood and would be happy to meet again, convinced that she was simply being polite.
Weeks go by without contact, and I send a quick message one day saying I'd be in her neck of the woods the next day, would she like to meet? No answer for days!
After a week -- more than enough time to respond to a text, I think -- I bite the bullet and send her a letter I'd written outlining my reasons for moving and my feelings for her, while making it crystal clear I fully respect her personal life and decisions. I wanted simply to let her know, given our history.
Days later, still no response. Now, I can't help feeling that I overstepped my bounds by agreeing to stay at her place, that she feels I'm coming on too strong, that she wants to pour cold water on my feelings etc. In short, a repetitive loop of guilt and regret replays itself in my mind -- if only I hadn't stayed over, been so pushy etc.
Am I right to be feeling this way? Did I really push too fast too soon? Or am I being overly hard on myself?
– Wondering With Regret, Boston
A: She's not responding because she has a boyfriend, WWR. You've made it clear that you want more than a friendship, so she's setting a boundary by disappearing. My guess is that you'll eventually hear from her, but it will be a benign check-in or a simple explanation of why she can't give you what you want. Your timing has been off from the start. She's taken.
If there's a lesson here, it's that a) people don't fall in love in a week and b) it's always best to communicate sooner than later. You sent mixed signals during that second visit. You knew that you were interested but wanted to take it slow. You probably could have told her that.
It's not worth beating yourself up -- this is about her meeting someone else, not about how you messed up by accepting an invitation to sleep on her couch -- but don't ignore the lessons. Much of the early communication in this relationship went on in your head. By the time you wanted to talk it out, she was with someone else. You really didn't start pushing for more until she was committed to another person.
Give her space. If she doesn't resurface, that's OK. I'm not sure you want to be around her if she has a boyfriend anyway. She's more than just a friend.
Readers? Did he do anything wrong? Did she disappear because he slept on her couch? Should he have written the letter? Will he hear from her? Can you help him sort this out?
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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.