I want to confess my feelings to a friend who left for college

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Dear Meredith,

I need to ask ... how do I confess my true feelings to someone I know I love? With a troubling past preventing me from revealing how I truly feel, how can I overcome these heartbreaking feelings that I've had for her since I was at least six years old?

My friend, the one I want to confess to, has known me most of her life. I am 20 years old now, and she is off at college, and it basically feels like I am all alone without the one person I trust. She has this beautiful voice that just makes my face turn pink, which I think it means that I have a strong feelings for her. But then I wonder ... am I right? Can you give me some advice on how I can approach her and reveal my feelings? At this point, I fantasize about proposing to her.

– Alone

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Actually, I don't believe that. But I do believe absence makes the heart do a bunch of unexpected things, only some of which require action.

All you know right now is that when this woman was by your side, in person, you loved her in some way, but didn't act on those feelings. You also know that when she left you for another kind of life (college), you began to feel lost. It sounds like you could use someone to talk to, even if it's not her. Are there options for counseling? Maybe it's time to talk about your past.

As for the confession, my advice is to see how it feels to have her close by again. I assume she’ll return at some point for a break. (If not, there isn't much you can do to pursue this anyway.) Then, if the feelings are there, tell her about them with great specificity. No need to propose or say, "I'm madly in love with you." It's more about the truth, which is something like, "Ever since you’ve left, I've been sitting with all of these romantic feelings. I don't know if they're reciprocated or what to do with them, but ... I’m wondering how you feel."

Please remember that this might be big news to her; she might not have immediate answers. Also, she's in college, and regardless of her feelings, she might have other things to concentrate on right now. That's OK.

By the way, I am someone who, when I was young, made a big declarationor two – about feelings. It's kind of a rush to do it. Saying, "I think I'm in love with you!" to someone, without warning, feels cinematic, especially when it's genuine. Looking back, I'm glad I was honest, even when the feelings weren't reciprocated, but I do wish I had gone into the announcement with a more empathetic understanding of where the other person might be in life. Saying it to someone who's in no place to date, who no longer lives around town, who has other priorities ... it puts them in the position of them having to tell you what you already know, which is that they're very busy and that this news is confusing (sorry, Brad).

I'm not saying you should stay silent, but please listen to her side of this. Have patience. Start small. Also focus on ways to fill out your life so it isn't all about her yes or no.

– Meredith

Readers? How and why do we make this kind of confession? Are there times we shouldn't?