We need to talk. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you, but I’m worried you’re looking for something a little more serious than what I have the emotional capacity to provide right now.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun so far: the little three-mile loops in Prospect Park, listening to that special playlist you made for me, you introducing me to your friends as the exciting new thing in your life. But this is progressing faster than I can manage—remember, I’m a marathon, not a sprint.

So with that in mind, I think we should establish some boundaries.

As your marathon, I can provide you with an opportunity to run 26.2 miles. I cannot make Susan come home.

While I hope to serve as a fun, casual reprieve from the pressures of day-to-day life, I cannot make your marketing career meaningful. Instead of using me to fill a void I’ll never satiate, maybe you could try—uh, IDK, a real job?

I want to help you feel like you have control over your body. I cannot make you like how it looks in shorts.

If you’re willing to put in the leg work, then together, we can create something to be proud of. But I’ll never make you feel as special as winning the fourth-grade Spelling Bee once did. And to be honest, I don’t think it’s fair that you’re pitting us against each other! One of us is a cutthroat competition that demands months of grueling preparation… and I’m a marathon.

I will strengthen your legs, not your spine. If you’re afraid of spiders, climate change, or heights, I cannot help you. Frankly, I don’t know why you thought I could. If you want your landlord to stop asking to use your bath, you will have to find the courage to confront him elsewhere. The only fear I can help you overcome is the fear of not being able to run 26.2 miles.

I want to make you feel powerful. But let me be crystal clear: I cannot make you impervious to the cruel, random violence of human existence. You will be in no fewer car crashes, experience no fewer muggings, run into no fewer exes in your life than you would have without my help.

We both know I can’t get your mother to love you—I’m not med school. And speaking of your mother, harboring an obsession with me is only fueling your anxious attachment style. I want better for you—better for us!

If you win the New York City Marathon, you will have beaten thousands of other racers. You cannot beat Father Time. You are still going to die. Possibly sooner than you would have otherwise, if your form sucks.

That being said, I’m still interested in making this work, I just need to do it on my own terms. So here’s what I can promise: A shiny blanket (pretty!), a sense of accomplishment (take that, Spelling Bee!), and the chance to shit your pants, outside, as your city cheers you on.

No one else can give you that.

Not even Susan.