There’s a man in my life that I’ve known for almost six years now & our relationship is complicated. He’s older than me by 20 years exactly (I’m in my 20’s), & until recently we were just good friends. Two years ago he said he was in love with me & has told me so several times since, as well as buying me various expensive gifts. We’ve never been sexually involved & we live on separate sides of the country, so we don’t see each other more than once a year. I do care about him as a friend & a person but I’m not in love with him & don’t have any desire to be with him. I’ve told him I don’t love him but he says that doesn’t matter & he loves me anyway. At this point I don’t know what to say, & I feel guilty that I don’t return his feelings. Any advice?
Both his age and the fact that you feel guilty for not returning his feelings are evidence that he is emotionally manipulating you. You need to take a step back and recognize that you are being inappropriately pressured.
You are in no way obligated to return his feelings. If you’ve made it clear that you don’t have any desire to be with him and he says it doesn’t matter, that means he is disrespecting you. Fuck that shit.
Stop allowing him to give you romantic attention. Definitely stop accepting gifts from him, and if necessary, return the gifts that he has already given you. I know it’s nice to get gifts and attention, but you can’t let that shit happen if you just want to be friends.
Be kind, but be firm. Let him know that you are not romantically available for reasons that should be plainly obvious. Your age, your distance, and your unrequited feelings make a relationship impossible, and if he can’t move on, then you may have to sever the friendship.
(Oh, and while you’re at it, stop using a damned ampersand when it’s just as easy to type the word “and.” Don’t be fucking lazy about the details.)