I'm looking for some hugs, perspective, and maybe shared experiences with happy endings. Tell me about someone hurting you but it being totally cool in the end. That happens, right?

Today, I broke someone's heart. Which might sound melodramatic, and in the grand scheme of things, it is. But I've been in his position, and I know he's in so much pain right now.

Basically, I had a short fling with someone last summer. He fell hard and fast for me, almost scarily so. He is a wonderful person, and in an alternative reality maybe we could have tried dating. Various things made it seem like a really bad idea, however: he's much younger than I am and not mature in all the ways I would need my partner to be, we would have been long-distance, he lives in the same town as my ex and I don't know if I would have been able to separate my feelings for him from those towards my ex (a mixture of pure hatred and desperate nostalgia), we never really got to know each that well, I want to be able to live in the here and now after years of long-distance and mental absence from my surroundings... I tried letting him down gently. He kept insisting until I gave him a "hard no". I quite happily agreed to be penpals with him, on a friends-only basis, even though it was pretty obvious he still had feelings for me.

A few months later, I noticed (on Facebook, as one does) that he was in a relationship, and felt a mixture of relief (yay, he's moved on!) and sadness (oh, he won't send me beautifully calligraphied letters anymore). The relationship didn't last long, and today I received a letter from him.

It was the most beautiful thing anyone had ever written to me. I was swooning because it was so romantic and, in another situation, it would have been all my dreams come true. I also felt horrible. Partly because I knew I would have to break his heart, and partly because I knew I'd dent mine in the process. I responded to him as kindly as I could, but I still feel absolutely terrible.

Now, you can say this is an overreaction, and that he is unrealistically and overly invested. All of which is true, but it doesn't change how we both feel. He is going to be devastated, humiliated, and convinced he's never going to feel this way for anyone else. I am heart-broken and terrified because even though I rationally know trying anything with him would have been short-lived, unfair, and frustrating for me, the romantic inside is screaming at me because this is it, this is the golden ticket. This is someone who is mad about me, someone who is romantic and innocent and earnest, someone who is intense, someone who isn't lukewarm or flaky or uncommitted or a downright asshole. What if I never meet another person like this? What if he is unique in his feelings for me, and I'm incapable of returning those feelings?

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I know he will get over it, and I know I will get over him. (Really, I need to emphasize that despite my angst I am convinced that I made the right choice.) But right now I'm hurting so much for both of us. We're both such beautiful hopeless romantics, and it kills me that I needed to throw a dose of acidic reality at his shining armour and burn myself in the process.