He wants his ‘freedom and options’

Chat at 1 p.m.

I'm a local university student entering my last year of school, and I'm dealing with a very messy breakup. I met my ex on Tinder two and a half years ago. We had an incredible first year and a half and then last November (during his last year at school), when he received a job offer, he told me he wasn’t sure he wanted to stay together when he graduated. We continued to talk about it, weighing pros and cons, trying to keep communication open. We dated for about two years total and talked about seeing ourselves together past college and potentially for the rest of our lives. When he finally graduated and told me he still wanted to break it off, I was devastated – although I knew it was coming. I was still naively hopeful he’d go to his "adult job" and miss me and want me back, so we kept in touch daily. He said I was his best friend and that 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. However, despite saying how much he loved seeing me and how much he loved me, he reiterated that he wants his "freedom and options," although he openly denied wanting to date other women.

When I found out he was on Tinder a week later, he denied seeking other women out and instead sad he wanted "validation." This man is one of the most attractive men I've ever met, a college athlete, and he's never wanted for attention from beautiful women, even when I was there and his arms were around me. He still 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 love having him as a close friend but I also am so heartbroken and have been for months now, and I don't know if he really understands how I feel. I feel really lost. I don’t want to cut him off but it's so hard to move on with him in my life. Thank you so much for your patience. I know this is long, but I really hope you can help.

– Heartbroken at College


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, and that because of your strong romantic feelings, 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 romantic dinners or 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 probably should have told you that 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

Readers? Another friendship with an ex. Thoughts on this one?