psuedo-breakup of a psuedo-relationship

Hi everyone!

I’ll preface this by saying I’m still really young (M18), and painfully inexperienced with love and relationships. Maybe that’s obvious…

I met a girl (F18) a little more than half a year ago, a few months before I went away to college. I vaguely knew her from school (we had one mutual friend), but we were never close. She messaged me on my birthday saying that we should hang out sometime, and after our mutual friend canceled on us a couple of times we decided just to go by ourselves.

I was immediately taken aback by how warm, caring, smart and talented she was, how easy it was to talk to her, how much I enjoyed her company. We started hanging out more and more, always by ourselves, often at night after I got off work. One thing that stood out to me about these nights was how free we were with sharing how much we liked each other. I would tell her everything I felt about her that wouldn’t push the guidelines of our platonic relationship, and so would she. Occasionally I would indulge myself in small, calculated moves that were in hindsight more obviously flirty than I intended, but she would always respond well.

I’d never felt as validated as I did with her. She made me believe that I was was a truly valuable person for the first time in my life, not only by what she would say, but by the fact that someone as wonderful as her was bothering to spend time with me. Slowly, our relationship became less and less platonic. We would use ‘love’, but always as a noun: ‘much love’, ‘sending you love’, etc, mostly over text. One night, she told me that she worried that she was getting attached to me. Incredibly naive me somehow didn’t understand that she meant that as more than a friend.

I’m a musician, and I ended up (I know how horribly cheesy this sounds, forgive me) writing a song about her, that I then performed at a concert she came to. I was so paranoid about her finding out that the song was about her, out of fear of sounding clingy, that I didn’t tell the audience the title and deliberately removed it from the sheet music in case she would walk by and see it. The concert was a massive success. I saw her a couple days afterwards and ended up telling her that she was the subject of that song. She said it was the nicest thing that anyone had ever done for her, and later told me that after she dropped me off at my house she cried in her car, overwhelmed.

When I went away to college we started calling each other almost every night. We started to be a little more overtly romantic. I remember telling her, in as vague a way as I could, that I thought she was beautiful. This went on until eventually we said that we loved each other, which was easily the most powerful moment of my life.

Even though it was now obvious that we both had feelings for each other, we understood that for the next four years we’d be living in different places, and could only be together during summer break. She said that she wouldn’t mind if I had a girlfriend in the city that I started going to school in, that no matter what happens she’d still love me. It was difficult for me to adopt that same approach with her, but I knew that she deserved the same freedom that she afforded me. This became sort of an unwritten agreement, that we’d not wait for each other at school but would make the most of the time we have at home.

Eventually, our workloads grew to the point where we didn’t have time to call each other anymore. Texting became more and more infrequent, and the word love fell out of our vocabulary. I began to get the feeling that she was trying to make our relationship just a friendship again.

Fast forward to yesterday night, when someone I know who goes to school with her told me that she’s currently dating someone else. I was crushed. The thought of her with another guy makes me more depressed than I’d like to admit, but I can’t really tell if thats irrational or not. For all I know she’s just following the rules of our agreement, but I go in and out of feeling like this means I won’t ever be able to be with her, depending on the terms of this relationship. I also have messed around with another girl while I’ve been at college (although not to the level of a relationship), so I feel like a hypocrite. The most prominent thing I feel though, is a distinct and intense pain unlike anything I’ve felt before. If this is the end, I wish I had the luxury of a falling out, so I at least could have some legitimate reasons why I shouldn’t be with her. She still is perfect to me, which is making everything hurt so much more.

How should I go about talking to her about this? What should I consider for now and the future? I’m definitely going to give it some time before I bring it up, but when summer gets closer I’ll need to know if anything has changed between us, because I don’t know whether or not to grieve for our relationship or to look forward to falling in love with her again.

Thank you so much for reading all of this. Apologies for the poor writing, and let me know if there’s anything I can clarify.

TL;DR: Fell in love with a wonderful girl, we both went away to college and decided to not wait for each other. She started dating someone at school and I feel profoundly hurt, wondering how to approach communication.

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