Q. I’m a university student entering my last year of school. I met my ex on Tinder 2½ years ago. We had an incredible first year and a half. Then, last November (during his final year at school), he received a job offer and told me he wasn’t sure he wanted to stay together after he graduated. We continued to talk about it, weighing pros and cons. After graduation, when he told me he still wanted to break it off, I was devastated. We kept in touch daily because he said I was his best friend and he didn’t want to lose me.
We both paid for me to fly out at the end of August to visit him — a blissful, incredibly fun five days in his new city. Despite saying how much he loved seeing me, he reiterated that he wants his “freedom and options,” although he denied wanting to date other women.
When I found out he was on Tinder a week later, he again denied seeking other women out and instead said he wanted “validation.” This man is one of the most attractive men I’ve ever met. He’s never wanted for attention from beautiful women. He insists he wants to talk every day and continue to be best friends, despite my attempting twice to cut contact because it hurts me too much. I don’t want to cut him off, but it’s so hard to move on with him in my life.
— Heartbroken at college
A. You can cut him off. You should cut him off. Yes, it’s difficult to stop talking to someone who’s been part of your daily routine, but you broke up. It wasn’t even mutual. How can you move on and heal when he won’t stay out of your way?
Tell this man you still love him, which is why you have to keep him out of your life. You need new routines and excitement. He doesn’t get to set the terms of this relationship.
For the record, it sounds like he was trying to be nice about the Tinder thing, but it didn’t help. Honesty would have been better. He’s on a dating app, which means he’s looking. I can’t say he’s seeking a new girlfriend — or even sex — but he’s searching for something, probably more than just a right swipe. He doesn’t owe you explanations (sorry). He should have told you his romantic life is his concern, not yours. Another reason you can’t be friends right now.
It’s time to consider your own freedom. This is a perfect moment to be selfish, to surround yourself with wonderful (local) people, and to revel in a year at school, which is all about your education and talent. Moving on will be a process, and it might not be pleasant at first, but it gets great, I swear. It helps to do it without an almost-partner in the way. — Meredith
When he says he wants “freedom and options,” he means he wants to sleep with other women and keep the option to sleep with you when he’s in a dry spell. SURFERROSA
So, as his best friend, how will you feel when he brings his new girlfriend around? THE_BRIDE
Why don’t you read the other 726 letters about how to deal with a breakup. It hurts, it stinks, we’ve all been there. But you cannot, I repeat, CANNOT, be friends with your ex — at least not now. BOSTONSWEETS21
Get Season 3 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to email@example.com.