We’re still hiking together

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I am 26 and have been in only two relationships ever. One in high school that I frequently forget about. It was more a product of circumstance than actually wanting to be in the relationship.

My only other relationship – the one I'm having issues with – ended about five months ago. We were only dating for a few months, and while I'm sure now that I had stronger feelings than I was willing to admit at the time, I still wasn't sure if I loved him. I still think his reasons for breaking up with me are not valid, though I respect that anyone has the right to end a relationship for any reason. He claimed that I felt more for him than he felt for me, we had little in common, and that he was actively looking for a job away from where we live. He did admit the day after that he wasn't actively looking for a job, just passively putting out feelers. He also admitted that he didn't want to break up with me but that he thought it was the best choice for me. He said he felt more like we were good companions. In the end, he said something about maybe being friends in the future.

After that, I deleted his messages and didn't reach out for a good month and a half. I started the "no contact" phase then as a means to gain some distance and perspective.

But then I reached out to ask him for good hiking locations. I don't remember the specific timeline, but we did meet up and he gave me his old hiking shoes. I was a wreck after that, and I went another month without talking to him.

I still miss him. I don't think I'm idealizing him either. I miss our conversations most of all. I know he's not perfect but I can't help but believe there could have been something more, and something just scared him or whatever. We've been on a few hikes together since the end of October and he's been friendly.

Lately I've been having these grand ideas of confronting him with the fact that he disrespected me and the relationship by taking the information he had and making up his own mind about it. I'm not sure if I want to stay friends with him. I think I do, but I know I might have ulterior motives. I have tried more online dating, and I don't want to hold out for my ex for no reason. I know I've probably left something out, but what do you think? Knowing all of this, what would your advice be?

– Hiking

If you're actively longing for him to take you back and there's no hope of that happening, you shouldn't be spending time with him right now. These hikes remind you why you didn't want to break up in the first place. It doesn't sound like they’re helping you see him as a platonic friend.

I'm not sure what you would gain by accusing him of disrespecting the relationship. I mean, I get it – the fact that he said he was ending things for you, not him, is very frustrating. But ... he did give you another reason. He also told you he didn't feel enough. So many letter writers are desperate to understand why a relationship ended, but you did get an answer. He likes your companionship, but he wasn't feeling more.

You could tell him that the hikes have made you wish you were together. Maybe you could tell him what you miss and what you second-guess. Why do you long for him as a boyfriend, as opposed to a platonic companion? What do you wish had been different when you dated?

If you bring all of this up and he is confident about the breakup, no more hikes for a bit. Or maybe ever. Five months might seem like a good break, but it's not as though you're returning to a friendship that existed before this relationship, right? If he wants to be your ex, treat him that way and let him go for real.

– Meredith

Readers? Should they be hiking? Is there anything for this LW to say?