“Help: Can you break up with a guy and not hurt him?”

Dear Sarah,

I’m 16 and a sophomore in high school. At the beginning of the year I met a guy and we started to have feelings for each other. For the first few weeks of school we were in a sports showcase together and hung out every day, so we started texting and getting to know each other. Things started picking up and about a month and a half later, he pulled me over in the hallway and asked me out on a date. I happily agreed, but then my schedule became jam-packed with school commitments and extracurricular activities. While we occasionally FaceTimed and texted a lot, we didn’t get to talk much IRL. I also only have one class with him and when we get the chance to actually talk, I feel like it doesn’t flow as well as our text convos.

It’s now been a few months and we still haven’t gone on a date yet, because of my busy schedule. This weekend he texted saying that he was sorry that he hasn’t been as invested lately. I feel bad —I feel like it’s more my fault. He still wants to continue with our relationship and said that he knows that my other stuff comes first. I really liked him, but now since we don’t talk as much my feelings are slowly starting to fade and I feel like I’m leading him on. He’s also the sweetest guy ever and much more mature than most guys my age, but I’m in no rush to have a boyfriend.

Should I end things? It would be easier for me if I did. Even though we were never officially dating we were definitely “together” and weren’t talking to other people. I’m just scared that he’ll hate me and I don’t want to hurt his feelings. I also want to stay friends because we were friends before we started liking each other. Help…?

Friend Before Boyfriend in Florida

Dear Friend,

It sounds like you are asking me permission to break off your virtual “relationship,” and I’m gonna say: YES, sooner rather than later. The fact that you never made time to go out on a date with him says everything about your priorities—which are TOTALLY GREAT, but don’t include a guy in your life right now. It’s convenient and flirty to text, it feels good and barely takes up any time. You can do it on the fly, between classes, activities, etc. But as you’ve come to realize, texting and the occasional FaceTime do not a relationship make.

Take the fact that he said he was “less invested” to mean that he’s not going to be devastated when you pull the plug. Yeah, he might enjoy the chit chat and banter but he’s a teenage boy—if he really likes you he wants to be with a flesh and blood person not his smartphone! You might even be letting him off to hook to pursue someone he can actually go on dates and be with.

Will he be mad? Maybe not—or maybe for like, 5 minutes. You want to be the nice person, but sometimes being truly kind is simply being honest with yourself and others.

Love, Sarah

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