September 08, 2014 12:00 PM

Meg Ryan has always kept a low profile on the tiny, tony island of Chappaquiddick, Mass., where she spends most summers. But this year she was even less on the scene there and in neighboring Martha’s Vineyard than usual, skipping her regular coffee run at Espresso Love and bypassing the Quarterdeck, an eatery she has frequented in years past with daughter Daisy, 9. Stopping by Morning Glory Farm on her bicycle on Aug. 24, the actress stuck to her polite-but-please-don’t-ask-me-for-a-selfie mode. Says clerk Mira Vasiljevic: “She was very nice and seemed happy.”

She is also in the midst of a major transition, splitting from rocker John Mellencamp after more than three largely long-distance years with him. Mellencamp, 62, has homes in Indiana and South Carolina, while Ryan, 52, is raising Daisy primarily in New York City. “I’m too sensitive to live [in New York],” Mellencamp told Rolling Stone last year. “I can’t see poor people. I can’t see the suffering. I can’t see the trash on the streets…. I’m not leaving Indiana. I’m going to die here.” Not surprisingly, “[Meg and John] had distance problems during the entire relationship and tried to make it work,” says a source who has spent time with Mellencamp near his home on Daufuskie Island, S.C., “but it wasn’t meant to be.”

The physical separation wasn’t the only challenge. The Grammy-winning musician, whose 22nd album, Plain Spoken, comes out in September, and the onetime romantic-comedy queen “are not the same type of people,” says an Indiana source close to Mellencamp. “They have opposite backgrounds with different goals.”

Both stars share a disdain for Hollywood life. Mellencamp, a father of five who split from his wife of 18 years, model Elaine Irwin, in 2010, can sometimes be “in his own world,” says another Indiana source. “He goes in an isolation mood, and it is not good for a partner to be around him.” Ryan—who has son Jack, 22, with ex-husband Dennis Quaid and adopted Daisy from China and has raised her as a single mother—”was very supportive of John’s children,” says the source. “She could have fit into his life, but there would be a lot for her to give up.”

After downshifting her career for more than a decade, Ryan is gearing up to make her directorial debut with the WWII coming-of-age drama Ithaca, coproduced by her Sleepless in Seattle costar Tom Hanks. (She’ll costar along with son Jack.) Also in the pipeline is an NBC pilot, a comedy that features her as a single mom who returns to her career as a publisher. “It remains in development,” says an insider.

A reconciliation seems unlikely while the couple focus on their upcoming projects. “They had problems and really worked on beating them,” says the Indiana source, “but it wasn’t enough.”

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