Q: Dear Meredith,
A few months ago, I began what I believed was a whirlwind romance with a co-worker. We had known each other for a year but I never thought of him as anything more than just that -- he wasn't my "type" and lived with his girlfriend.
One night, when we were out after work grabbing drinks, something changed. He put his hand on my lower back and in that one minute, I felt completely different about him. I pulled him aside to ask him what was going on and the next thing I know, he was kissing me. Game over. I tried to chalk it up to a careless moment at a bar, but over the next week I noticed we were acting differently toward each other -- we were texting constantly and finding any reason to be together at work. We finally talked about it and we both admitted that we could not stop thinking about each other. Within a matter of days we began seeing each other all the time and talking non-stop. He broke things off with the girlfriend and moved into a spare bedroom while he looked for a new place to live. He brought up the future -- marriage, babies, the whole nine yards. Suddenly I was so excited about all our plans and for once I felt like things were "meant to be." The only thing standing in our way was the fact that in our field we make little money -- something that was preventing him from being able to move out immediately. But other than his living arrangements, we were a couple -- everyone at work knew we were together, he told his friends and his family about me, we spent all our time together.
Then, about two months in to this whirlwind romance, I got a job promotion. While I normally would have been ecstatic, suddenly I was terrified -- I wouldn't spend my days side-by-side with this man who I had completely fallen for. We told each other it was going to be fine. But not less than one week into my new position, he suddenly started pulling away; he stopped texting me every second, and when I saw him for the first time one night after work, it just felt like something was off. I finally confronted him about how I was feeling and he told me he was "confused," and that even though I had made him happy, he needed to work on being happy on his own. He said he needed time. Of course I was completely crushed and confused. I tried to give him space but the next thing I knew, I found out he was spending time with the ex-girlfriend he lived with -- I guess she wasn't an "ex" after all. When I tried to confront him about this he told me he is being honest with me -- that he's confused and doesn't know what to do, and how is he supposed to afford moving out of the apartment they share together on the measly salary we make?
So for the past two weeks we have barely spoken, save for the text messages back and forth in which he calls me his "best friend."
The worst part is, this not-so-ex girlfriend has absolutely no idea about me and him. At the time, he told me he didn't see the point in telling her about us because they were broken up and he was moving out and he didn't want to hurt her more. But now, I just feel like he's been living a lie for the past few months and now he just gets to go back to his old life without any repercussions.
I guess I just don't understand how someone can make all these plans for the future with you and then change their mind so quickly. All of my friends are telling me that he's being selfish and unfair, and to just let him go, but I'm having a hard time. Especially because he keeps reaching out and telling me what a tough time he is having. He says he "doesn't know" what he's doing yet but he knows that he doesn't want to hurt me. I just don't want to walk away from something that felt so "meant to be." Am I being completely delusional? I just wish that the other girl knew the truth because I feel like that would force him to make a decision, one way or the other.
– hopeful(ly) not delusional, Boston
A: You're not delusional. You're just ... the woman who got involved with the cowardly guy who was still living with his girlfriend and had no real plans to leave her, despite all of his big talk.
You jumped into this before knowing enough about his life outside of the office. And really, let's not forget that this started with you making out with somebody else's boyfriend. I had bad vibes from paragraph one (or two).
Sadly, your friends are right. It hurts and it's a horrible disappointment, but this guy is too selfish to be a partner right now.
Also, in response to your last sentence, let's not "force him to make a decision." That's not how good, adult relationships begin. You should be with someone who has the courage to make choices because they know what they want -- not because they've been backed into a corner. I wish his girlfriend knew about you too, but no matter what, I wouldn't want you to be with him at this point.
Accept the fact that he's decided not to leave her. Tell him that you're not his best friend and to leave you alone. Then go enjoy your promotion. And count it as a blessing -- because he was going to mess this up no matter what. At least you don't have to look at him all day.
Readers? Are her friends right? Should she be talking to this guy at all? What if eventually decides he wants to be with her? Help.
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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.