This is the question I find going through my head when I meet someone I really like. Will you let me love you?

My (male) best friend says it's the wrong question. As I've gushed about here and there in the comments, I started seeing a mutual friend of ours (much more a friend of his and a mild acquaintance of mine) right before Thanksgiving. Things are still early, but I really like him a lot.

So that brings us back to the question. "Will you let me love you?"

My friend says I'm going about it wrong. I should love anyone I want and damn the consequences. In his words, "You're such a loving person that it's hard for you to hold back, and I'm not sure why you want to be emotionally withholding when you're not. It probably confuses the other person, too."

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So, to an extent, I know he's right. It's probably better to love with great abandon and let the cards fall where they may and deal with the consequences later. But I also have the tendency to fall hard, early, and it hurts like fuck when it isn't reciprocated. It's happened a few times recently (meaning the last year or two). Even when it's not early, I'm used to dudes who seem to be super into me and then withdraw hard when things get more serious, even without the L-word being involved, so I feel like I've learned to hold my cards close and wear my heart on my sleeve less.

When my dad was dying, a friend came back into my life and was my rock. He made sure I didn't sink too far and took care of me a lot. After my parents would go to sleep, he'd take me out driving, or we'd get drinks, or he'd take me to parties. Sometimes we'd sit in his car until 2am in the dead of winter, talking. Calling every night, asking me to call after my 2.5 hour drive back to school every Sunday so he'd know I was ok. He admitted he'd liked me since high school and it seemed like we'd inevitably be something. After a few months, I asked if he'd be my boyfriend. The words he used, after this intense connection? "Too soon." He chose to get back together with his old girlfriend instead, which was of course his prerogative. But again, stung.

My last serious boyfriend, we dated for 10 months. I knew around the third month that I was in love. Not desperate love, but I loved him and it was always on the tip of my tongue. I waited a while to say it because he hadn't and it sucks to be pressured with those words, but around the sixth month, it slipped out after sex.

Silence.

Awkward, deathly silence. Not a single word, until a few minutes later when I changed the subject. I never said it again.

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Over the summer, there was a guy I felt pretty strongly for, too. Not early enough to love, but there was the strong possibility if we kept seeing each other. But circumstances pushed me to ask him to be exclusive relatively early, and he pulled back hard. It happens, but it stings like whoa.

So I'm pretty used to ending up with guys who aren't emotionally available in some way, I guess. That's how dating goes — there's a reason some relationships don't work out. But I digress.

This is why I try to hold back when things are new. Because (a) coming on too hard and too fast seems like a surefire way to kill a relationship in its infancy and (b) it hurts like whoa when I get a negative reaction, or no reaction.

This new guy, he feels different. Not afraid to call what we do dates, asks me to stick around on Skype and talk when we're done playing video games with our friends, something more that I can't quantify. The best thing I can say is that he cuddles like he means it. When he smiles at me, when he teases me, it's good, it's genuine. He calls me on my bullshit. He's sharply intelligent. Flirting with him is the most fun.

We're long distance, since he lives closer to my hometown 2.5 hours away. We're still getting to know each other — our first date was the first time we've ever been in the same room. But I really like him a lot. Like, a lot a lot. So that brings us back to the question that runs through my head — "Will you let me love you?" Or will he pull back like the others? Because whether or not I do love someone, unless they're willing to let me love them, it feels like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place where it's unfair to push at their boundaries with my feelings, but it kills me to hold it in.

So I've been trying to play it cool, to not fall too hard, because it's so easy for me to build things up in my head when apparently there's a smaller basis than I had thought.

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Am I nuts? Is my friend right? I'm afraid of getting head over heels for nothing so early, but half-in-half-out is killing me now that I've let myself feel something instead of holding back like I usually do during the first few dates with a guy.

I dunno, GT. Any advice would be great. Thanks for letting me vent.