Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared Jan. 22 and April 7, 2006.
DEAR CAROLYN: My story: Boy meets girl out in Washington, D.C., instant chemistry. On first real date, girl admits to boy that she already has plans for moving to New York City in a couple of weeks to attend school for about a year, but that she likes boy, too. Girl postpones moving plans a bit, spending an additional two months with boy, who continues to fall madly in love with girl. But, boy really wants girl to pursue professional dreams, and is totally supportive, while admitting he will miss her. Girl is now moving in less than a month. Boy has never been a big fan of long-distance situations, but has never felt this way before, even though, at 35, he probably should be old enough to know better! Girl is 27. Is it better to sever things so that both can fully enjoy everything their respective cities have to offer?
MATT: Oh, Boy. You have met someone for whom you have feelings you've never felt before, and you are 35. And you'd sever things? Over being a three-hour train ride apart? For only a year?
If you were 21, the never-felt-this-before standard would still be significant, but you'd have to weigh it against the fact that as a new adult, you're going to feel a whole lot of things you've never felt before. But at the threshold of middle age, you should in fact know yourself better.
A few months of knowing someone isn't much, but knowing when you've found a good thing is everything.
Besides, at any age, there isn't much sense in throwing away a perfectly good toaster just because there's a chance it might break. Have the nerve to tell her you care enough to want to keep seeing her, then have the nerve to see where it goes.
DEAR CAROLYN: I want you to tell me life will be OK, but I'm not sure I deserve it. There's this girl, and I love her, and I've never been more honest with anyone. Maybe my mother . . . and that's great. Right? Here's the problem: We've been "talking" on and off for a year and a half, and she's always had feelings for me but I was afraid to take the next step, and managed to foil everything again, again and again, by hooking up. Things are different now; I'm changed. I'll put that on everything. She's changed, too. She says she still has feelings but I've "crossed too many lines." I have, Carolyn. Can we heal? Will she ever trust me? I'm willing to put in the work.
SACRAMENTO: If you're sure — and not just sure, but sure — that your feelings are genuine and you're not simply obsessing about cookies because you were just told you could never have cookies again, then do the following:
Apologize for abusing her feelings for so long; tell her you love her; say you'll stop bothering her.
Then stop. It's the only sure way to demonstrate that you value her feelings over your own, which is the only sure way to demonstrate that you love her vs. merely wanting her. If ever she changes her mind, she can find you.