Life Advice



Ask Anna: Can you start a relationship long distance? Plus, breaking up with kindness

Anna Pulley, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Dear Anna,

I've shared a close friendship with a woman for over a year, and since December, we've explored a romantic side of our relationship. However, I'm realizing that the romantic feelings aren't quite there for me. She's been a great friend, and I truly value our connection. I want to go back to our platonic relationship but am uncertain how to approach this conversation. I've never ended a relationship before, and I want to avoid falling into the trite narrative of "It's not you, it's me, but let's stay friends," even though it’s true. Do you have any advice on how to convey my feelings honestly without hurting her? — Just Friends

Dear JF,

You will hurt her, so let’s just get that out of the way. But it’s OK! Breakups hurt, even the most amicable ones. It’s like ripping off a Band-Aid — best to do it swiftly and allow for swearing.

That said, there are ways you can soften the blow (a little). When you talk to her, make sure it’s in a setting that feels safe and private, preferably somewhere that won't be permanently stained with the memory of this conversation.


Start by letting her know how you value her presence in your life, and it’s your strong foundation of friendship that got you this far. Make it clear that your feelings for her haven't gone away but simply shifted. Explain that your romantic feelings have taken a back seat, but your desire for her companionship, laughter and shared moments remains front and center. Be honest, but sprinkle that honesty with kindness.

Avoid the "It’s not you, it’s me" talk by steering clear of cliches in the first place. Instead, focus on the unique aspects of your friendship that you cherish and want to preserve. Then, most importantly, back up your words with actions. In other words: Be her friend — text, send memes, do the things you like to do together, check in on her, etc.

It might not be an easy convo, and there might be a need for some space initially, but if your friendship is as strong as you say, there’s a solid chance it’ll weather this storm. Besides, she might be feeling the same way you are about going back to platonic. You never know … until you know.

Navigating these tides might throw you both a bit off balance, but remember, the aim is to keep the ship sailing, even if the destination has changed.

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