DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing "Erik" for about three months. On our second date he told me he loved me. I told him he was moving too fast, so he modified it by saying he loved "things" about me -- my personality, sense of humor, etc.
Two weeks ago, Erik told me that he is now totally "in love" with me. I politely tried to discourage him. He went on to say that he's been "dumped" by several women in the past -- and began to cry. He's a very emotional person.
Erik and I work different shifts and keep in touch during the day by e-mail. I try to lift his spirits by writing that I hope he is having a good day, etc. In return, he writes me lengthy letters telling me that he is "desperately lonely," but that he's a "fighter" and a "survivor," and he will try to "make it through the day." He has even hinted that if our relationship doesn't work out, he doesn't think he can go on living.
I have repeatedly told Erik that I prefer "light conversation," but he goes on and on about his "quest for love" and how it hurts that my work schedule doesn't fit his. The few times I've had lunch with him he's made me late in returning to work. I'm beginning to think Erik is selfish, desperate and too needy.
Abby, it has reached the point where I no longer derive pleasure from being around him. But I have an enormous cloud of guilt hanging over my head about ending it. Please help. -- FREAKED OUT
DEAR FREAKED OUT: You have an "enormous cloud of guilt" because Erik has carefully and consistently enveloped you in it. You have been honest from the beginning. In your letter, you have described a person who is his own worst enemy. You are not responsible for Erik's welfare if his romances don't bear fruit.
Please don't hesitate any longer. It's time to tell him that you want to date other people. Undoubtedly, Erik is more resilient than you think.