She says she isn’t ready to date

New podcast episode today.

Letters here.

I live in rural Vermont and dating/meeting people is fairly difficult. Within the past three months, I've become closer with a woman I've known for about a year now. I felt like she might have a crush on me, but I wasn't sure. We hung out a couple times, including taking a day trip. She recently opened up about having some serious seasonal depression. I sympathized, and then eventually, after having trouble reaching her, I sent her a physical letter.

I started out by saying that I had a crush on her, if it wasn't obvious. I told her she's beautiful, creative, has great taste in music, great style, and is very thoughtful and sweet. The next of couple days, as I waited for her to receive the letter, I had a ton of anxiety. Three or four days later, she messaged me and said she was going to write me a letter in return but decided that I deserved a faster response. She told me she's had a crush on me for months but has gone through some traumatic events this year. I won't go into specifics, but she isn't quite ready to date and wants to work through her issues. She said she wouldn't completely throw out the possibility of us getting together down the road but had no idea how long that road would be, and didn't want me to wait for her because it felt unfair. She still feels really drawn to me, she said, and I share that feeling, but we are in some kind of limbo that feels a little difficult to navigate.

That whole conversation was weeks ago, and we've had some really personal conversations since then about random family dynamics and struggles. I want to be supportive as a friend. I also feel like I have a positive effect on her, but perhaps that's just my ego trying to justify my feelings that we should be together. I don't want to pressure her into anything, but I do feel like I have a calming effect on her.

The little community I met her in had a Secret Santa, and naturally I was selected to give her a gift. It feels like some kind of a sign to me. I bought her really personal, meaningful gifts that I knew she would love. I just hope they didn’t result in pressure to commit to anything. Or maybe I do? I don't know.

– Waiting

You're in limbo ... but not. She did give you an answer to your question.

"She isn't quite ready to date and wants to work through her issues."

That message is clear.

The question you need to ask yourself is about your interest in friendship. How much are you willing to invest in a platonic relationship with this woman when you really want more? Do you want to be her go-to person for support if there's no romance with her in your future?

That's what you have to decide, and there's no easy answer. My advice is to set some boundaries for now. Maybe let her know that you're there for her, but that you don't want to be dishonest about your feelings. If she's looking for a "just friends" person to lean on, you're not it.

You could also put some extra effort into meeting other people. I'm sure that's easier said than done in rural Vermont (I'll take your word for it), but there are activities you haven't tried and people you haven't driven to see.

Something to understand right now is that there isn't any one thing you can do – or buy – to speed up her process. The perfect Secret Santa gift shows you know her and are paying attention, but you've already made that clear. Don't turn this into a test you have to figure out how to pass.

– Meredith

Readers? How much should the LW be thinking about what might happen down the road?