‘It’s like a one-sided tennis match’

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Dear Meredith,

I used to live in Massachusetts but moved halfway across the country. The reason I moved to this new place was that it seemed more fitting of my lifestyle and might encourage healthy romantic connections. However, that hasn't happened quite yet. More than a year ago, I met up with friends on a weekend trip out of town. I was in a weird place; my mom had recently passed, so getting out of town and spending quality time in the outdoors with close friends was a priority. They brought someone with them, someone visiting from Boston. I knew she was joining us and that it was a subtle setup, but thought very little of it.

We had a fun weekend, pleasant conversation, and flirtation. I helped my friends by driving her to the airport to catch her flight back to Logan. We kept in touch. Months later, I was planning to head back to Massachusetts, visit family, and do some work in Boston. We wound up making plans to hang out. After a few lovely days together, and while staying in the city and her living nearby, I was hoping we'd spend more quality time together. But that did not quite happen. In the end, I was in Massachusetts for two months, we saw each other three times, and what started positive upon my arrival turned out to fizzle. Then it was time for me to return home and gave up on pursuing this connection further.

Fast forward to January 2020 and we started to chat again. She reached out to say hello. In the months that followed, I was candid about my feelings. She reciprocated a similar sentiment, but that she had been recovering from heartbreak, and had not been ready for anything too emotionally involved. She was planning to relocate, and I offered to help her move. We were both excited to hang out and adventure together. Then COVID and lockdown occurred, and her plans changed. She is still in New England, possibly planning to stay there. While we do text and talk, I feel as though our communication is sporadic at best, and when we do connect, we are often interrupted. She calls when she has time, usually when driving, but I get a feeling that she does not allow time for us to connect. She seems preoccupied.

It's like a one-sided tennis match – lacks flow and isn't very fun. How do I stay open without being foolishly vulnerable when I'm not even in a relationship? I guess it is difficult to walk away, knowing how hard it is to meet a living example of who you're hoping to be with, sans the potential that she might not have the same feelings. I guess I have to ask her what she wants. Why can't this stuff just be more simple?

– Vulnerable

You moved to a new place hoping to build a healthier romantic life (among other things, I hope). Now, you're focused on a woman who lives back in Massachusetts. That was not the plan.

You asked how you can "stay open" without getting hurt. My answer is that you don't have to be open to this at all.

This flirtation is a distraction, but not a fun one. This woman is not going to be able to date you. Even if she became more responsive and excited [insert tennis metaphor; I don't know a lot about tennis], she’d still be too far away.

You have my permission to drop the ball (that one works!) and spend your time doing as much as you can at home, with safety in mind. Scroll the apps. Spend time outdoors when you can. If and when she calls, you can ignore her or keep it to text so you can decide what’s worth a response. If you want to talk to her about her intentions, that's fine ... but don't get confused. She's not someone you can date right now.

Also remember that she showed up out of nowhere with feelings, but you never had much time in person. She is not a living example of a goal. She's just a woman who seems nice but hasn't been able to give you what you want.

– Meredith

Readers? Worth pursing? If so, how?