I just knew someone would make a comment like this in response to this post.
I knew because it's a very reasonable comment, and Anonymous made his point very well. I expected someone would make this observation because it just makes sense.
The day before that posted, I talked with my counselor about that very topic; all the doubt that a failed relationship can raise - both in yourself, and in others. His goal is to encourage me not to doubt myself because, especially in this case, there really wasn't anything I could have done. Trooper's feelings changed. End of story.
I totally understand and respect that. Like I said in the post, I know Trooper never lied to me. Let me also make it clear that I know he never intended to hurt me.
But like I said in my reply, when you're dating, I feel like not intending to hurt someone just isn't enough. When you're dating, you aren't only playing with your own feelings - you're risking someone else's. I think people owe it to each other to be more responsible.
Listen, Anonymous makes an excellent point. No one can tell the future. You do the best you can with what you know at the time. You meet someone, and feel like you could be falling for her, so you act accordingly. As time goes by, you start to have doubts. Eventually, you realize you no longer feel the same, and it's time to end things.
Her feelings are probably going to be hurt. While that's unfortunate, it is also unavoidable. It's one of those inherent dating risks we all just have to live with. It's a risk that she should have been aware of, and prepared for, before she started dating. If she wasn't - that's not your fault or problem.
But I'm not talking about that situation.
I'm talking about how some people jump into a relationship without knowing themselves well enough to even be aware of those feelings. Or, they behave as though they're sure of their feelings, even when they know they have doubts. In both of those cases, one person has more information about the relationship than the other. That's not a good relationship. Relationships are mutual, and involve communication. A good relationship happens between two people - not in the mind of one person.
So, if you're having doubts - you need to share how you feel. Yes, that's going to be a difficult conversation. No, it won't be enjoyable or comfortable. Yes, you're taking a risk that she won't be willing to work through your doubts, and you may lose her.
But guess what? That's also an unfortunate, but unavoidable, risk in dating. It's a risk that you should have been aware of, and prepared for, before you started dating. If you weren't, that's not her fault. But you've just made it her problem.
Simply saying, "Ooops, sorry, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," is enough if you've done all you can to avoid hurting her feelings. If you could have done more - you haven't done enough.