He doesn’t want to stay friends

Once again:  Former letter writers, I think it's time for some updates. If you wrote a letter, please email and tell us what happened. We love closure. Send updates to meredith.goldstein@globe.com with "update" in the subject line. Send updates even if you wrote in a long, long time ago.

No chat today. But you can come to a talk this morning about work, too much work, job loss, working from home, and how this changing economy affects our mental health and brains. Feel free to join in and ask questions.

I am in quite a tricky situation and I'm hoping that you can talk some sense into me. I've been in a relationship for three years, and my boyfriend is wonderful. He's sweet, he's thoughtful, and he almost never gets jealous – even when I spend a fair amount of time with my close guy friends.

This brings me to Steve. He was my best friend, the first person I called when something happened. To be fair to Steve, it felt like our relationship was always on the verge of something more but never quite got there. I realized nothing was materializing (even though at the time I hoped it would) and started moving on, and eventually ended up in a wonderful relationship. Steve and I stayed great friends, often calling multiple times a week or having late night conversations. I was practically one of his roommates.

The boyfriend never once minded, and I made sure to be completely transparent! At some point in the last year, my boyfriend and I decided to move to a new city for his job. I soon found a better job, a new house, and a really exciting chance to push myself outside of my comfort zone. When I told Steve that this was happening, he distanced himself completely. I never got any sort of goodbye or closure. Losing my best friend was incredibly sad. While I'm glad I have my partner, I still think about Steve almost every day (often checking in on him through our mutual friends). Unanswered text messages make it clear to me that he doesn't want to stay friends, even though I just cannot imagine my life without him in it. Six months have passed since I moved (and longer since we've had any contact); all I want to do is to pick up the phone and start where we left off. How do I move on from a friendship breakup – especially one where I'm not really sure what went wrong? Is it ever appropriate to reach out again?

– Gone


Something is missing with Steve. It sounds like he lacks the maturity to have complicated conversations. He was never able to communicate his feelings when it mattered most. It’s a real loss – and I'm sorry – but this is how it has to be.

The tricky thing is that without any explanation for his behavior, you can make up all sorts of stories. Like, maybe he shut you out because he's been madly in love with you this whole time. It's important not to buy into that particular narrative. Really, your question counts as a love letter because there are lingering romantic feelings here, and I just don't want you to feed them right now.

You don’t know anything about what's happening in Steve's brain. Don’t make the story more star-crossed than it is.

The loss feels huge right now because you're building a new life. You're looking for friends and testing yourself with big challenges. Of course you miss the person you talked to when something important went down. But now it's time to call on other people. Make a list of the friends who are willing to show up for you no matter what.

You're also allowed to feel some anger here. Steve cut you off! Why isn’t he worried about you? Maybe it would help to give yourself permission to feel like you were wronged. He didn't support you when it counted. You don't want a friend like that. Stop asking about him.

– Meredith

Readers? What role does the whole "on the verge of something more" thing play in this friend breakup? How can the LW let go?