Dear Harlan,

I’m 20 years old and have never had a boyfriend, let alone ever really put myself out there enough to talk to a guy. I’ve just graduated from a two-year college and have moved to a new city to pursue my bachelor’s degree at a university. My friend and roommate from my first two years of college moved with me, and we are now renting an apartment together here. She had been dating a guy, “Justin,” for one to two months prior to graduation. After graduation, we all went our separate ways. My roommate lost her phone and didn’t contact Justin. Justin messaged me over Facebook because he was concerned about her and I said I hadn’t heard from her, either. She then wrote on my Facebook timeline (publicly) and said she lost her phone and for me not to be worried about her. Justin saw this, and was upset that she still had not messaged him.

Long story short, he told me how mad at her he was and that he was ending things with her because he didn’t feel that she cared too much about him, as she didn’t contact him for more than a week. He ended things with her, but Justin and I continued talking over Facebook every now and then and have now been talking nonstop for about two weeks. We both have feelings for each other, but don’t know what to do about it. We have both been very open through the whole situation and know that the options are very minimal. Then, Samantha contacted him and said she messed up and that she feels as though things aren’t over. Justin was kind but honest with her, and told her they would not be getting back together. Recently, I told him we have to slow down and be just friends for a long time for the sake of my living with Samantha. He respected that, but I just don’t feel right. He said he would no longer contact me because he wants me to be happy and he is only making the situation worse by being involved in my life. But what if I want him in my life, and I want to be in his life? Where do I go from here?

Confused Roommate

Dear Confused,

Of course you’re going to like your roommate’s boyfriend. He’s the only guy knocking on your door. Listen to me — you absolutely did the right thing. It doesn’t feel good because you’re alone and don’t have any other options. The reason you’ve never dated isn’t because you’re unattractive (I mean, your roommate’s man wants you.) It’s because you’re not putting yourself out there. This is what happens. You fall for the closest guy who shows interest. Change this. Figure out why you can’t put yourself out there. Put yourself in rooms doing things you love to do with men who share your interests in your new school. Meet with a therapist. Work on you. When it feels right, join an online dating service. Get set up. Meet people at work. Talk to men you find interesting. The problem is NOT that you’re attracted to your roommate’s man — it’s that you have no other men in your life and are doing absolutely nothing about it. Once you change how you approach and meet men, see if you’re still interested in your roommate’s ex in a year. My guess: NO WAY.

Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober).” Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan!, 3501 N. Southport Ave., Suite 226, Chicago, IL 60657.

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