Fell in love while studying abroad

Dear Meredith,

I have written and deleted this letter a dozen times over. Perhaps my hesitation stems from my affinity for this column or the pressure to come up with a witty sign-off, or perhaps I waver simply due my uncertainty that this exercise will yield productive solutions. Ultimately, my admiration for the Love Letters community you have cultivated convinced me to ultimately hit send. And after all, unfamiliar situations often warrant new solutions.

So here I go: I am a college student and I was fortunate enough to study abroad this past fall. To be completely cliche, my experience was incredibly formative and I am grateful that I had this opportunity. I made a conscious effort to not let any one person define this experience, but when I reflect back on this time, I find that one "friend" is inextricably tied to it. Our relationship started off as a genuine friendship. We were classmates, and he was an incredibly kind, generous, supportive, and patient local, going out of his way to help me acclimate to the city.

We hit it off as friends outside of class too, sharing common interests and a similar sense of humor. We hung out relatively frequently, and I met his friends and family. From the very beginning, I had my suspicions that he liked me as more than a friend, but I dismissed the possibility of anything progressing because I was originally unsure about his and my own feelings, and because of the short duration of my stay in the country. My intuition was confirmed when, during my last week, he kissed me and professed as much. I reciprocated these actions, though to a much milder degree – so that I could remember our relationship fondly regardless of what happened.

Thanks to modern technology, we have stayed in frequent contact since I left. He will occasionally use endearing terms in reference to me and/or conclude his messages with "xx." Though I am well aware that distance may make the heart grow fonder, I am reminded of him daily and miss having him in my life. To top it off, I have made the overwhelming realization that his feelings are very much reciprocated. He is truly one of the greatest people I have ever met and helped me through one of the most challenging times in my life, and I can't help feeling that I missed out. However, due to distance, despite false sense of closeness due to our frequent contact, this prospect is unlikely (though I may return to his home city in the near future) and I am unsure of how to proceed. I would appreciate any input on this situation that you (and your readers!) may have.

Ideally, I would like to maintain some sort of contact with him as he means a tremendous amount to me, but I am logical to a fault, and I don't know if this is good for either of us. Thank you for accepting my rant, and I am grateful for any and all guidance.

– Irish He Was Here


I'll start by saying that you did a great job on the sign-off. It's an A-plus sign-off.

Now for your letter. You are very logical, so you know that all of this is a big maybe. Sometimes long-distance relationships do work out. Sometimes casual college romances become big commitments. Not always, but sometimes. A maybe isn't a no.

In your case, it's too early to know if there's potential. That's why you just have to see how this goes. Send your "xx" messages and make plans to see him as soon as you can  – whenever it makes logistical and financial sense. Your next visit should be revealing; it'll be interesting to see how you feel about him after you've had more time to get used to being back on campus.

The big takeaway is that I don't think you have to cut off contact or force yourself to minimize his importance. Based on what you've said in your letter, you're not letting these feelings interrupt your life, and you seem to be very practical about how much space this romance should take up in your brain. It's OK to play this out and get answers over time. You're excited about him, and you want to know more. I'd be a shame to logic yourself out of that.

– Meredith

Readers? How can the LW keep this maybe-relationship in perspective?