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Love Letters

He talks about being married, but they aren’t even dating

When should you cut ties with a “friend” who keeps stringing you along?

I have a good friend I met at work about four years ago. We started meeting up during lunch breaks, hanging out outside of the office, and going on dates. A couple months after meeting, I tried to express how much I liked him and that I wanted something more, but he said he wanted to keep the relationship casual. I was hurt but understood where he was coming from. He had a lot he was dealing with personally at the time.

We stayed in touch and have met for drinks multiple times as friends. I’ve struggled with this relationship because I really want to keep the mind-set of just being friends, but I feel a stronger connection. He has also made references over the last few years to “when we are married,” and I’m still questioning his meaning.

People constantly mistake us for a couple, and it’s tough to hear because I feel like I’ve never been able to connect with anyone else like I have with him. He is dating other people and it has started to make me jealous. This friendship has become emotionally draining for me. Should I cut ties with him? Is it possible to keep a platonic relationship healthy with a friend I have feelings for?

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– Jealous

A. Is it possible to keep a platonic relationship healthy with a friend I have feelings for?

Not in this case. You’ve tried to be his friend and it hasn’t worked. More accurately, it’s worked for him, but you’ve been pretty miserable. Now you’re miserable and jealous. Whatever’s good here doesn’t outweigh the unhealthy. My vote is: End it.

I say this, by the way, as someone who logged an incredible number of hours in my early- to mid-20s pining for a friend or two. There were lots of hints about later. For the record, a romantic version of “later” never came.

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Please don’t wallow in guilt when you break up with him as a friend. This man has dangled possibilities to keep you around. You mention his “when we’re married ... " talk. That sounds like manipulative, thoughtless behavior.

I feel like I’ve never been able to connect with anyone else like I have with him.

This statement is the one that got to me, by the way. Because even though it’s true, it’s the reason you want so much more. Please seek out others with whom you can connect in more fulfilling and honest ways.

– Meredith

READERS RESPOND

News flash: We all have a lot we’re dealing with personally! BIGSIGH

Do you want to spend your life wanting to be with someone who only wants to be friends? Your feelings for this person are holding you back from finding someone who’s actually into you. SURFERROSA

I totally get your struggle. I’m really sorry. You need to end it, grieve it, put it behind you so you can look forward. SEENITTOO

You don’t want to lose his friendship, not because he’s such a great friend (is he really any better than any other friend?), but because you want a typical rom-com ending where he suddenly realizes you are the one. After four years, it’s time to write a new ending. ASH

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Catch Season 5 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen.