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love letters

He feels bad for breaking her heart

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Q.I feel like the worst person in the world right now. I told my girlfriend the other night that it might be best to just be friends.

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I met her online two years ago. It turned out she was only in this country for the month and would go back home to Europe. We spent as much time together as we could, and then continued to keep in touch for two years after she left. We dated other people but kept talking.

Last fall, I was lonely and started giving her all of my attention. I texted and told her I wanted to see her and to give us a chance at a relationship. She came to visit for an extended trip, staying with family, with the intention of us becoming a couple. I was happy for the first two weeks she was here, but then began to realize we are two completely different people and that we fight a lot, despite having a lot of fun together.

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I had to break the news to her two days after she went back to her country. She was so upset and hurt. I never wanted to make her feel so terrible. I just feel like my loneliness last year made all of this happen. I should have never pursued a long-distance relationship like that.

I offered to be close friends with her. She is still so upset. I don’t know how to deal with this situation or if I even made the right decision.

Feeling bad

A.You’re not the worst person in the world. You broke someone’s heart, but it wasn’t intentional.

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Sure, you made a few mistakes, but so did this woman. She shouldn’t have come to town assuming that you would become her serious partner. It was a research trip — an exploratory journey — and you both did the best you could.

You seem self-aware about what started all of this; you got lonely, sent a text, and started making big promises. My advice is to stay self-aware by maintaining some necessary boundaries. Don’t be wishy-washy about this breakup; instead of saying it “might be best,” call the thing off. Do not offer to be her friend so that you feel better about dumping her (she should be leaning on real friends right now). Do not attempt to keep her in your life because you want to feel like a good guy (forcing that kind of relationship would make you a bad one).

Find something else to do when you feel that loneliness. Watch television. See friends. Date, but keep the texting to a minimum. Focus on seeing people in person.

Meredith

READERS RESPOND:

So a month. Two year break. Some additional time. And you decided it wasn’t worth it because you fight alot. WHY are you all tormented about this?

ROXROCK2

Hey, these things happen. But one thing that you should not do is tell her that you want to be friends. You want to do that because you want this not to be as painful (for you or for her), but it only drags out the pain. You may have broken her heart, but it has to be on her and the people around her to fix it. It is not your job; let her go in peace.

PRINCEHANS

What was the alternative gonna be — just never break up and have a long distance girlfriend you don’t like forever? Was it going to be nicer to wait a week after she got home, a month? No, you did what you had to. In case you missed it, people often reach out and try to make connections because they’re lonely. This isn’t something to feel guilty about, unless you’re admitting from the start that you never liked this girl and were solely in it for the attention she paid you. If that was the case, I think you’d probably still be chatting. Chalk this up to trying to make something work that wasn’t meant to be and move on with your life. And just because you feel guilty doesn’t mean you have to overcompensate by trying to be “close.” Leave the poor girl alone now, for god’s sake.

ELLLEEM

Couldn’t even break the news to her in person? RICH1273

I can relate to this post. I met my now husband online, and he also lived in another country. We visited each other twice (I went to him once, he came here once) and kept a long-distance thing going for about a year until he uprooted himself to move to Boston to be with me. We both knew the risks that were involved — what if our feelings changed once we were in a normal, day to day life? Would we get along? It was scary, but it luckily worked for us. I look back on it now (it has been almost 13 years) and I think about the risks we both took. You didn’t intentionally mean to hurt her, it is hard to know how you will feel until you are actually spending time together in a normal life (short visits are too much like a vacation). Unfortunately you decided you were not interested in keeping the relationship going, and you were honest. The plus side? At least both won’t have to worry about running into each other.

HAPPYDAZED

Ending relationships tends to be upsetting unless neither party has any feelings left. It helps no one to drag out a relationship because you’re afraid of having a difficult, direct conversation that would allow the dumped party to move on and find someone who does love them for who they are.

AULDYIN

Mere, I’m not sure that watching TV is the answer. JACQUISMITH

And at least watch a comedy that makes you feel better. LEGALYLIZ

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to meredith.goldstein@globe.com.
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