Should I send an apology for pushing her away years ago?

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Hi Meredith,

I want to know whether to send a long overdue apology or leave things as they are. Growing up, I was close friends with a girl I met through my sister. Things were very flirty between us, but when we both went off to college, I decided to cut her off. She was in a long-term relationship with someone else and I felt like I was being strung along. My friends felt I wasn't doing enough to draw boundaries with her (she was dating a brother of one of my friends). I was feeling hurt and rejected for so many reasons, so I pushed her away.

She tried very hard over several years to reestablish a connection, but I wasn't willing to budge. Cut to several years later and I realize how much my actions must have hurt her. At the time, I couldn't see past my own hurt. I have wanted to send her an apology and have been drafting and re-drafting versions for the past three years. It's really weighing on me. However, I don't know if reaching out now will just cause her more hurt.

She is in another long-term relationship and I'm afraid my reaching out would damage that. I have been so careful to craft an apology that is heartfelt but platonic – one that doesn't ask for forgiveness or to re-establish our friendship. That said, there is selfish part of me that would love to reconnect and misses the attention she gave me. I clearly have a lot of conflicting emotions about this, but I haven't been able to get past the feeling that I need to apologize. I realize I cannot predict how she will react or what impact an apology might have on her. I guess my question is: do you think I should apologize or do you think the risk of causing her further harm is too great?

– The Explanation

You're the letter writer here, so I'm thinking about you. I'm worried that if you send any letter, her response (or lack thereof) will become too important. I'm not sure you should send a note if it means this much.

You can always wait and see how you feel later. There's no deadline here.

If you do send, make the message as short and clear as possible. What are the points? From my side, it goes like this:

1. You’ve been feeling bad that you cut her off without much explanation. You’d like to acknowledge how much that might have hurt.
2. You dropped her to protect yourself – because you had romantic feelings for her and needed to draw boundaries so that you weren't waiting on a relationship that wasn't going to happen.
3. You hope reaching out doesn't cause pain; your intent is to provide some closure and understanding.
4. You're happy for her and have no expectation for friendship now. In fact, you acknowledge that maintaining the boundary makes sense. Also, you wish her the best.

She might have figured some of this stuff out by asking mutual friends and noticing the obvious. The thing to think about, as you consider hitting send, is how you really feel about point 4. Is the temptation to seek her attention too great? How will you feel if there's no response – or a negative one? If she wants to be friends, how will you maintain a boundary? If these questions are too much, wait and think.

If you're writing this many drafts, you don't know what you want to say. Take a beat and think about what you need her to know and why. Once you're sure, keep it short and sweet.

– Meredith

Readers? Send? Don't send? What would you say? Ever received this kind of note?