Dear Wendy: “Can I Dump A Guy And Still Keep In Touch With His Family?”

I have been in a relationship with a great guy for almost two years now, in a city that’s about 1000 miles from where I grew up. I’ve recently become unhappy about living here in the big city (which I really can’t afford) and have thought long and hard about moving back closer to my parents. I have also been thinking lately that, while I’m content in my relationship, I really don’t think I would be happy for the rest of my life with this guy. He’s just not “the one.” I know I have to be honest with him, and that it has to happen soon because it’s not fair that I think these things without telling him. He’s just such a good guy and we recently got back from a great weekend with his family; my question is: Is it possible to end this relationship without losing touch with this guy and his family? If I broke things off and moved away, is there any chance of everyone not hating me? — Needs a Change

Unless you do something to really screw the guy up, like dump him and then sleep with his brother, or slip out of his life in the middle of the night with only a post-it note as a final good-bye, it’s hard to imagine he or his family is going to hate you. Sure, he’ll probably be hurt. Maybe he won’t even want to talk to you for awhile — or possibly ever again. And I doubt you’ll be invited to the family Thanksgiving dinner this year, but as far as everyone hating you, it seems unlikely. And if they do? If they hate you for moving closer to home and ending a relationship you simply didn’t see going the distance, that says a lot more about their character than it does about yours. Give everyone a little time to process the breakup and then, if it’s something that will make you feel better, send a short note to his parents thanking them for the weekend you all just shared, maybe expressing your regret that things didn’t work out with their son and letting them know their kindness has always meant so much to you. You probably won’t become pen pals, but at least you will have left things on a friendly note, with the potential for future contact.

I have a guy friend whom I’ve been friends with since high school (which was a few years ago). He has liked me as more than a friend in the past, but I have made it clear (or so I thought) that I have no interest in him romantically. The problem is that he continues to ask me out to dinner or the movies or over to his house. He pays for my meal/movie whenever I do go out with him, despite my protests. I consistently turn down any request to get together if I know it will only be him and me, but he still doesn’t seem to get it. Maybe he really does only want to hang out, and isn’t interested in me, but I just don’t know how to read him. I feel like good friends should be able to spend time together platonically, but how can I politely let him know that I feel a little uncomfortable when he asks me over to his house alone? — Just a Friend

Well, let’s be honest here: you don’t really want to be friends with this guy, do you? At least, you’re not interested in the kind of friendship he seems to want with you — and that’s fine. But if he’s not getting that message it’s time to be more explicit — even at the risk of hurting his feelings. The next time he asks you out to dinner or a movie, say, “I may be way off base here, but when we hang out one-on-one together, it feels like more than just two friends spending time together — it feels like a date — and that’s something I’m uncomfortable with right now.” Be honest — tell him that you’re confused by your friendship with him and it would be better for you to have a little distance to get perspective and clarity. He’ll probably be upset about it, but wouldn’t you rather deal with that than one more uncomfortable evening watching a movie alone together at his place and trying to “read” his signals?

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at {encode=”[email protected]” title=”[email protected]”}.