Is it wrong to cut ties?

One of my closest friends of many years disclosed that he's had romantic feelings for me. It seemed important to him in the moment, but when we talked about it in person, he said he'd prefer to remain friends. I was confused but I let it go, and we continued our friendship. This was about six months ago.

Recently though, he said he wanted to kiss me – to see if there were sparks. I was fine with that, but after it happened I thought: If he were really interested in me after this much time, he'd know it, right? He said he the sparks were there ... but then we had plans and he cancelled. I told him he just didn't seem interested. He said he was.

We had another argument about it today, after we spent last night arguing by text. I demanded to know whether he was really into this, and he finally said he wasn't. Now I'm hurt. I feel like he messed with my head.

He told me I would get over it, but I made it clear that I want to cut all ties with him. Yes, we are young (19). But I want to know: Am I overreacting? Do I have a right to be upset? Should I cut all ties with him even though he was a close friend?

– Cutting Ties

One of the complicated things about dating a close friend is that it's difficult to start off casual. If you've known someone for years, that first kiss can make things seem insta-serious. Suddenly, there's a new, romantic layer on top of a relationship that was already big and important.

But it doesn't work that way on a practical level. You can't expect to skip those early, insecure phases of a relationship, even if you're coupling up with someone you've known forever.

I say this to remind you that even though your friend has known you for years, he might not be able to guess what he wants from you as a romantic partner. He might be curious, a little excited by the idea, without knowing that he's 100 percent in love. It sounds like that's what happened here. He wanted to explore the possibility, but in the most informal way. That didn't work for you, and that's OK.

You're not wrong to want to cut ties. It's about self-protection, not punishment. You need to give yourself the space to let go of the idea that the two of you could be something more.

As you give yourself time to process what happened, consider this: Maybe this friendship wasn't so great for you to begin with. It sounds like the second he mentioned feelings, you were ready to reciprocate. Maybe you were never really getting what you wanted from him at all.

– Meredith

Readers? What happened here?