Dear Uncle Mat

This summer I started dating a guy and thought it would be strictly a “summer fling,” as I go to college in a state more than a thousand miles away. The summer played out, there were wild parties, movies, drunken shows at The Cafe or Limelight, and midnight walks in the moonlight around San Anto. It was your typical summertime romance, translating French prose for each other late into the night, and talking about idealism and saving the world.

Then I noticed something was off. We were inseparable for the first month or so and then our devotion to each other seemed to dwindle to a slow burn. Our passionate flame of love or lust or whatever became a damp coal. He called less often, but when he did he used odd phrases like, “I love you,” and “I can’t imagine life without you,” which really boggle my mind. I never got the feeling he was cheating on me or even lying about how he felt, but nonetheless, I tried to back off emotionally. We talked about it and he claimed that it was my coldness that led to his hesitation. It wouldn’t happen again. We wouldn’t hesitate. We had a good last week while I was in town, one of our most memorable, but then the night before my plane left he never showed up. I didn’t forgive it, but I got over it. Now that I’m gone, we plan to be pen pals and he never writes me, I call him occasionally but he never answers and will call back days, maybe weeks later to talk about my classes or the weather. He still says he loves me but there is never a mention of French prose. Is calling three or four times a week too much? Is texting him meaningful lines and phrases I read in books or hear in songs translating to “needy?” If he doesn’t want me, why can’t he just say we’re through? I never imagined that I would fall for him so hard or that he would ever claim to love me. Maybe I was just drawn in by the desire to be loved? Or that I actually found a guy who would read literature with me late into the night? Was it too good to be true?

— Loving in the dark

Oh sweetie,

I’m not sure where to begin. You should probably make yourself a cup of tea and sit down. It was all a dream. Tangible and delightful, but not real. Please stop texting him French prose and anything else meaningful. He is not telling you things are through because he is a boy. He is in college and you might be the smartest, best-read girl he has ever known. He doesn’t know if he wants it to be through.

You are no longer happy, though, so you may call it through. You planned on a fling; because of the great distance between you, summer love was all you could afford. You were mostly right. The romance of literature and politically subversive conversations warped your fragile little minds and hearts. This is why the government doesn’t want you to read or think. Feel no shame. And stop trying to place blame. Thank him for the good times and let it drift away. This type of love is magical and will make you laugh (mostly at yourself) and you will remember these as great times that made you into the woman you will be many years and several therapists from now. These not-so-little-seeming summer trysts are what start revolutions, fuel Beatles record sales, and make Jane Austen viable for endless movie adaptations through the decades.

Beginning today you will focus on school and your immediate surroundings. Study hard and flirt with your classmates. Love your college life. It really is the best. Maybe a fairer d’Artagnan will be waiting when you return next summer, maybe not. Maybe next summer you’ll study abroad in France and have lustful French phrases whispered in your ear by a native tongue, quietly giggling to yourself about how much better they sound on the lawn of the Bastille than the Alamo.

Much love for love,

Your Uncle Mat

P.S. Exchange physical letters and postcards with your lovers. Text messages do not keep well in shoe boxes and attics.

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at dear
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