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love letters

‘Stranger Things’ led to more

Q.It all started last summer when I moved in with my current best friend and her friend “Mike.” I bet you can guess where this story is going. I knew within six months of spending time with Mike that I was totally and completely in love.

During the first few months of living together, he had feelings with someone else, so I stayed out of the way but cherished the time we hung out. But then we started hanging out a lot more. We weren’t big “going out” people, so we would make time to watch movies and cook together. It sounds so silly now, but we’d always find reasons to do errands together, even if it was just going to the market near our college campus. One night, he decided he wanted to start watching “Stranger Things” together, and we got our snacks and watched a few episodes. Now, before I go any further, I want to make it clear to the comments section that I knew I was being stupid. I shouldn’t have put my head on his shoulder. I shouldn’t have fallen asleep in his arms. I should have spoken up when I felt his lips on the back of my head.

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The following week, I came back to my apartment and we watched a Food Network episode (we both love cooking) and ended up cuddling. He turned to me when he had his arm around me and asked, “This is platonic cuddling, isn’t it?” I admitted that I had feelings for him and we kissed. Then he said what we were doing was risky and probably a bad idea, but I didn’t care. I was so in love at that point that nothing else mattered. We hooked up.

We were seeing each other for a while — we would always cuddle and stay up too late, just as an excuse to be in each other’s arms. Looking back, he treated me as a midnight booty call, but I convinced myself that as soon as we made it official, I would be treated like an actual girlfriend. I now know that I am stupid.

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He wound up ending it. I was destroyed by it, but eventually I was able to cool myself down and still be his friend. I was still in love and I convinced myself that once we moved out, we could try again. I believed that the reason for our breakup was the fact we were living together.

But months later, we had a party. He got drunk and wound up declaring his undying love for my best friend — our other roommate. Against my better judgment, I told her about Mike and me. For some background, they’d had feelings for each other in the past but mutually decided against doing anything about it. A month later, they told me they were dating. I moved out of my apartment on June 1, but this haunts me. How do I move on from this? Everyone tells me that I shouldn’t let this get to me. I’m trying. I’m really trying, but this destroyed me.

Destroyed

A.“Everyone tells me that I shouldn’t let this get to me.”

Well, that is some bad advice. Of course it’s going to get to you. You fell in love, got rejected, and then watched your best friend couple up with the object of your affection. It should hurt — because you’re human.

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That said, it shouldn’t take over your life forever. You need to force yourself to notice how big the world can be when you’re not living with Mike. Give yourself some space from both of your former roommates. Go look for some new fall scenery.

Also know this: The thing about dating roommates is that you get to play house. You skip over the courtship and awkward dates and go straight to pajamas and comfort. It can feel really nice. But relationships are so much better when you earn your way to that level of intimacy. Mike never inconvenienced himself to get to know you. He didn’t have to go above and beyond to have your company. Really, all he had to do was turn on Netflix.

I often hear from people, “I just want to find a shortcut around the dating and go straight to the part of the relationship where we can sit around and watch TV.” I’ve said that myself. But there’s a reason TV comes later. It’s the early part of a relationship that tells you whether someone is making an effort — and will keep showing up. Please remember that.

Meredith

READERS RESPOND:

This is what being in your early 20s is all about. You meet people, get to know and like them, maybe date, maybe break up. Sometimes it works out, and if it doesn’t, you move on. My advice for you is to calm down, keep meeting new people, and stay positive. You’ll eventually find someone who clicks and reciprocates your same feelings.

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LEAVESOFGREEN

I think she actually needs to learn the difference between dating and hooking up.

TIE—DYE—BRAIN—FRY

You had this idea in your head that things were going to work out between you two, without ever asking him if he had any interest in a real relationship. Sometimes you need to ask someone where something is heading. If that scares them off, then good. It means they weren’t heading in the same direction as you, anyway.

TWO-SHEDS

You will need a lot of space away from all this drama. I think it’s great advice that potential boyfriends need to earn your time and attention. Be careful with your heart and don’t ever be a booty call for someone that you love and want a relationship with. Hard lesson.

MARYORRHODA

Six paragraphs and not one detail of why you love this dude?

PODUBBNEY

Because he was there?

JIM501

My fantasies about a future relationship never include watching TV together.

LEGALLYLIZ2017

Let this be a lesson to you: Never sleep with someone you live with, no good can come of it. This includes spouses.

FINNFANN


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