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Love Letters

Is it flirting or something more?

Q. Back in the spring, I broke up with a girl I’d been dating for a long time because I finally realized she’s not the person I want to marry. Even though I’m only 24 years old, marriage is something that’s on my radar. I’m starting graduate school in the Boston area in September, so I’ve tried to focus and avoided the dating scene.

However, I met a girl in January through a community theater group and we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. If she were single, I would definitely be interested. But she’s been with her boyfriend for a little more than a year. We have a lot in common and her relationship status didn’t stop me from some harmless flirting. But she seems to have started flirting back. At an event recently, she walked by and put her hand around my waist and gently squeezed my ribs. And we started carpooling, just the two of us, at her invitation.

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She knew about my breakup in the spring and asked me about it. I told her my ex wasn’t the right person and I vaguely suggested I was looking for Ms. Right. I asked about her relationship history. She said her current boyfriend doesn’t really want to get married. We happened to drive by a locally famous restaurant and I asked if she’d ever been, and she hadn’t. Obviously I wanted to ask her to go there on a date with me, but I had to respect her relationship status and her boyfriend’s feelings. So I told her she should go, or at least ask her boyfriend to take her. She replied, “Or we could just go before you leave [for graduate school].”

I was really surprised she said “we” could go, especially considering she’s in a relationship, even though it sounds like she may be uneasy about it. But do you think she’s just being a flirt? After all, she’s in theater, is this whole thing just an act? Hopeless Romantic, Providence

A. I think she’s flirting because you’re safe. No matter what happens, you’re leaving for Boston. Yes, it’s only an hour or so from home, but it’s a world away from community theater and carpools. You’re going to leave her behind.

You can let this be your pre-Boston crush, have the nice dinner, and then move away — or you can disclose your feelings and ask if she reciprocates. Or you can just wait, which is what I recommend. Start your grad program, adjust to Boston life, and then decide whether you’re still interested in having her around as more than a friend.

Dinner is not a big deal. Friends go to dinner all of the time. Instead of trying to decode her motives, think about your own. Dinner is just about all you can do right now. If you eventually decide that you really want more, put it out there and see what happens. But get to Boston first.

Readers Respond:

Your life is about to go through a lot of changes. Now is not the time to wedge yourself into someone else’s relationship. Stop blaming her for the flirting and stop leading her on.

Um, she’s an actress, and she’s playing the lead, don’t you think?

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com.
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