Can I ‘fake it ’till I make it’ with a woman?

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I'm 21, straight, and have been dating my first partner for one month. We started out with a hookup after a party and have been having what feels to me like a lot of sex; I had no experience before. She's very intelligent, decently pretty, and we share a lot of common interests. However, she seems much more attracted to me than I am to her. She tells me how much I turn her on, and seems to want me to be around more.

I have never daydreamed about her or wished she was around more, and she has never given me "butterflies" like some other girls have before. She has repeatedly expressed a desire to become more serious (i.e. call ourselves boyfriend and girlfriend), while I have said I’m not ready. The most recent time she asked me why I was hesitant, and I said I didn't want to explain; she asked whether it had anything to do with her and I said no. That was mostly true; it isn't anything about her, so much as my lack of feelings for her.

I am very busy with college and extracurriculars and have had some trouble managing my school schedule since we started dating. I have considered stopping dating her because I am too busy and feel like I could be more strongly attracted to someone else, but I also worry that I won't get the chance to explore what it is like to be in a relationship for years after this, given my plans for school, travel, and building my career. My question is: Is it worth it to "fake it till I make it" and stick with her, and maybe eventually develop the kind of feelings she seems to have? Or should I end it now to avoid causing her more pain later?

– Extracurriculars

"Is it worth it to 'fake it till I make it' and stick with her, and maybe eventually develop the kind of feelings she seems to have?"

No. Sometimes feelings grow and you wind up caring about someone deeply over time. But you don't want to. That is about you. Right now, you desire experiences, context, and more time for yourself.

Tell her that. Explain that you're just starting to figure out what you want from your romantic life, and that it would be a lie to pretend you want to make this work. Yes, it will cause disappointment. That's how it goes, unfortunately.

I'm so pleased she's asking questions, because imagine if she wasn't! You'd be picking up on vibes without the opening to say, "Hey, this isn't it." Instead, you can tell her, "Since you asked, I do think we're in different places when it comes to our intentions. I've enjoyed the time I spend with you, but I can't do more because [fill it all in here]. I'm so sorry."

Then say goodbye. Accept that it will be awkward and uncomfortable to hurt someone. That's OK, despite the upsetting feelings that follow.

It is not better to avoid conflict and wait until someone breaks it off with you. There is a happy medium that exists between pulling the rug out from under someone, and trying to be the "good guy" by letting someone think you love them when you don’t. That middle ground comes with conversation. You can tell her you've been thinking about her questions. Then discuss your answers and maybe you'll both come to the decision together.

- Meredith

Readers? What's the lesson here? Next steps?