Dear Annie: Several years ago, after my late husband passed away, I reconnected with an old friend whom I'd dated in high school. He was divorced. His ex-wife had become involved with someone else. She was 20 years younger than him. He had retired and that was when she asked for a divorce. I think it hurt him deeply.

We went to some activities together and enjoyed each other's company. After a length of time had passed, he called me and said he felt we were spending too much time together. I was truly hurt and surprised. After this conversation, I never saw him again. However, he wanted to stay friends and wanted to call from time to time and say hello. I felt that if he believed we were spending too much time together, it would be best not to have contact. After a while, I stopped answering his phone calls.

About a month ago, he joined Facebook and requested me as a friend. I accepted his friend request. He wrote on my Facebook page that it hurt to have lost a friend without knowing why. We talked on the phone shortly after this. He said I had been a part of his life since we started initially dating in high school. I told him that wasn't quite true: We had gone our separate ways after high school. He married; I married.

His closest friend told me he had been in love with me and regretted our not getting married. He thinks that when we reconnected, my friend was afraid of being hurt again, as he'd been hurt by his ex-wife.

I think that he regrets saying that he felt we'd become too close. He told me when we talked a few weeks back that he shared things with me he'd never shared with anyone else. I don't plan to see him again. He did mention a get-together that is taking place in the city where I live. He asked if I was attending it. I won't go because I don't want to run into him.

A close friend of mine is very devout, as am I. She thinks that it is my Christian duty to be a friend to him and influence him in his relationship with God. I have bought several devotional books and other religious material in addition to a Bible to give to him.

Am I being a terrible person not to trust him and want to help him? I care about him as a person but I don't trust him and I don't want to be hurt again. -- Confused Friend

Dear Confused Friend: Wanting to protect your heart from someone who's hurt you does not make you a terrible person. It makes you a person. We human beings all have needs, hopes, fears, doubts and love to give. By that token, while it's perfectly OK for you to leave this man out of your life, I'd ask you to consider if that's truly what you want. It seems that you might be as afraid of loving and losing as he is. All that he said was that he felt you were spending too much time together. That hardly meant that he never wanted to see you again. If any part of you is still romantically interested in him, then I recommend that you give it another go. And this time, really open your heart. Don't run at the first sign of conflict. Try working through it together.

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