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LOVE LETTERS

Should she break up with her boyfriend?

By Globe Staff  

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Q. I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for over a year and a half. But a couple of weeks ago, I was hanging out with one of my male friends — someone my boyfriend sees as a threat. I never saw any potential threat, partly because of my low self-esteem. I didn’t think this friend would ever see me that way.

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While I was hanging out with this friend, he ended up kissing me. I was too shocked to do much, but was truthful with my friends and my boyfriend. One of my friends misread my messages and told my boyfriend that I had sex with the other guy (which did not happen).

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In explaining what did happen, I realized I do have feelings for my friend. I just don’t know who I feel stronger about. My friend is closer to my age (my boyfriend is a few years older). The friend is sweet and funny and caring, and now tells me he really wants to be with me more than anything. My boyfriend can be sweet and funny, but has a tendency to get overprotective and slightly controlling without meaning to. He doesn’t have many friends and is still working on getting his life back on track after going down a dark path that I’ve helped him through. Part of me feels that I like my friend more, but the other part feels like there’s a hole in my heart and that my life would be shattered without my boyfriend.

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A. You should break up with your boyfriend because it sounds like you already have.

That’s why you feel the hole in your heart, right? You’ve started the grieving process without him.

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Sure, it’s possible to work this out, and maybe your feelings for this friend will go away over time. But . . . you don’t want them to. You love the idea of exploring this crush.

You will be shattering your life a bit, because that’s what happens when you leave a long-term relationship: It’s supposed to be lonely.

Try to keep reminding yourself of that fact so you don’t expect your friend to turn into a serious boyfriend. With him, you are starting something very new that might not last very long. You might even wind up single. That wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Meredith

READERS RESPOND:

You’ve stuck around with your boyfriend for 1½ years because he’s your “project.” Now that your project is near completion, it’s time to find a new one. JIM-IN-LITTLETON

Always wise to step away from a boyfriend with control issues. And you explaining away his control by saying that “he doesn’t mean to” is not good. You shouldn’t be rationalizing his behavior — he can do that all by himself. Break up. And maybe don’t rush right into this next relationship so fast. Get your own ducks in a row first. ENJOYEVERYSANDWICH

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Break up with the boyfriend and do not date the friend. Figure out that low self-esteem problem, and do that as a single person. SUNALSORISES

Unfortunately, SUNALSORISES, one of the sad truths about having low self-esteem is that you always need someone around to “protect” you. But maybe the letter writer is stronger than she thinks and will take your advice. JESNANA

“. . . but has a tendency to get overprotective and slightly controlling without meaning to. . .” Letter writer: Male or female, controlling people know that they are controlling. They do so as a means of coping with their own insecurities. Whatever you decide to do, your boyfriend’s “I didn’t mean to be a bit controlling” is total [expletive]. AULDYIN

You make me a little nervous with this “my life would be shattered” and “hole in my heart” thing. Between that and your “I’m too insecure to believe he’d like me” statement, I’m slightly more inclined to suggest you hook up with a therapist than either of these guys. ELLLEEM

Try door three: neither guy. If you were really all that into either guy, it wouldn’t be a tough choice. JUST-ANOTHER-BOSTONIAN

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