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Friend is tired of being 'second best'

DEAR AMY: I'm a woman in my late 20s. For several years, my friend "Terence" has always been there for me. He has helped when I've gone through breakups, when my mother had cancer and when my house was vandalized and all my stuff was stolen. He does little things for me, like dropping off soup when I'm sick or sending me flowers. I know he has feelings for me. He and I have talked about dating, but when it comes up, I am either not looking to date anyone, or I'm already dating someone. I think I would date him some day (when the time is right). Recently, he said he feels like he's "second best" because I only spend time with him when I don't have other plans. I'm busy, and I wish he could understand that I can't spend time with everyone! It came to a head recently. I went for a pre-dawn bike ride and had a mechanical problem. I called him and he biked the 10 miles out on the trail to bring me a spare part and coffee. We watched the sunrise together. He invited me out for breakfast, but I told him the guy I'm dating was still asleep at my apartment and I didn't want him to wake up without me there. Terence said it was the last straw. The last thing he said to me was, "The next time you're in trouble, call the guy you're sleeping with, not me. Or better yet, just don't call me again." He hasn't returned my calls, texts or emails. I feel like I've lost a really good friend. How do I repair the friendship?

-- Lost

DEAR LOST: If you and "Terence" reconnect, the relationship pattern you have established will continue, despite your better intentions. If you lure him back, you will eventually burn him again -- because you'd like to have a nice guy stowed away in your backpack for when you need him.

And so, you should quietly let him go. Terence deserves a parade, as well as a relationship with someone who puts him first (and not only when she needs a spare part).

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