If you think you can navigate the rocky roads of romance and avoid pain altogether — either feeling it yourself or causing it for others — you’re being really naive. Getting rejected hurts, and if you’re out there trying to date, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get rejected sooner or later. It’s part of the territory, and anyone who’s traversing it should be aware of that. If they aren’t, well, it’s not your fault … unless, of course, you’re the one who’s being unaware, in which case let me try to enlighten you: dating comes with risks and one of those risks includes being rejected. Sometimes that rejection comes right away — a “no” when we ask for a number (or a date); sometimes it comes after a few weeks — or months — of long distance emailing and phone chats; and sometimes it comes after years and years together.
Rejection is never fun, regardless of when it happens, but the sooner it comes, the easier it is to take in the long-run. Rejection after a few months of long distance emailing, for example, will be much easier to handle than, say, after a year of emailing and a request for a visit. Seriously, have you contemplated that yet? What happens when he tells you he has some time off coming up and would it be okay if he came to visit? Are you going to wait until then to tell him you don’t feel a romantic connection with him? I hope not. Tell him now. Be bold about it. Don’t pull the ol’ fade-out (that’s lame), and for the love of god, don’t keep talking to him and hope he “gets the message.” I’m sorry, but talking to someone on the phone several times a week does not send the message that you think he’s boring.
You say you like being this guy’s “friend,” but is that even true? Even though he’s boring? If you do indeed like being his friend, be prepared that he doesn’t feel the same way — especially if you happened to have met on a dating site. People on dating sites aren’t looking for “friends” in other cities they can chit-chat with. And if looking at your photo every day gives this guy “pleasant thoughts,” he most certainly isn’t going to be interested in being “just friends.” What would be the point, really? To be reminded that what he wants doesn’t want him back?
There’s one final part of your letter I want to address and it’s the idea that you like the attention you get from this guy and you’re hesitant to let it go. I guess I’m wondering what else you’d get out of talking with someone several times a week whom you find boring. Maybe there’s some validation for you in knowing this guy in another city has the hots for you. Maybe you’re lonely and you like having someone listen to you. I don’t know. But I’m willing to bet, as much as you hate the idea of hurting this guy, there are some other reasons you’re avoiding “dumping” him, so to speak, and they may be a little more self-serving than you care to admit.
Bottom line: this guy obviously likes you. By continuing to talk to him on the phone several times a week, you are leading him to believe the feeling is mutual. At this point, after a few months of frequent communication, it would be cold to just “fade-out.” Pull up your big girl pants, do the kind thing, and tell him that as much as you’ve enjoyed getting to know him, you’ve recently come to the realization that you simply don’t feel enough of a romantic spark to explore anything more than a friendship with him. It likely won’t be the first time he’s been rejected and it probably won’t be the last, and if he has even a semblance of emotional balance he’s going to be just fine. And so will you.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.