Since then, she has been rather business-like and abrupt in conversations. This is despite my profusely, humbly, and unreservedly apologizing to her (on a few occasions) and making it clear that I had no intention of hurting her feelings or hounding her. Those multiple calls were merely out of concern and genuine care for her well-being. But she claims that looking from outside, things appear different and she continues to cast doubts on my perfectly honorable intentions. I am amazed that she was fine with our communication until that day. Not sure what happened that caused her to suddenly changed her attitude.
The year drew to a close on such a sour note while a year earlier we were on great terms. Since we work together and because I genuinely care about people’s feelings, I really want to get back to how things were before. I can’t help but kick myself for unwittingly upsetting her. I pride myself in looking after my work colleagues – male or female – of any cadre but the above incident has left me deeply traumatized. I get on so well with all my colleagues because of my high sensitivity and emotional quotient as well as my spiritualistic attitude.
My conscience is clear that my intentions were perfectly above-board rather than to harass or hound someone. I would value your advice as I cannot think of anything else to do apart from perhaps hoping for divine intervention! I really want a second chance, which I think is quite a fair thing. My colleague had previously and repeatedly told me how considerate and caring I am, so I really do not want this friendship to end this way if it can be helped. — A Caring but Concerned Male
Hey, guess what – it doesn’t matter if you don’t want your friendship with your colleague to end this way or not; it’s over. And you are not entitled to a reason or an explanation or a “second chance.” Your behavior was unhinged. I don’t even call my husband five freaking times after an unanswered text unless I know he’s at the drugstore and we’re out of toilet paper and it’s an emergency that he picks some up while he’s out. There is literally NO EXCUSE to harass someone like you did – and yes, it was harassment. Calling it “concern” is something only a certain kind of man would ever attempt. That was some straight up stalker-level crap and you know it. And, please, with your “I pride myself in looking after my work colleagues – male or female” bullshit; no one buys it. There’s NO WAY you would call a male co-worker five times in a row after an unanswered text and call it simply looking out for him.
You know what else no one buys? That your communication with your colleague was strictly platonic. I mean, yes, maybe on her end there were no feelings, but you definitely had more-than-platonic feelings for her. She either felt something, too, and came to her senses when her partner caught on and she suddenly had to answer to what your relationship was and she realized it was not something she wanted to jeopardize her relationship with her partner for, OR she felt truly only platonic feelings for you until she got freaked out by your creepiness and then decided to distance herself from you, stat. My guess is the latter. Either way, dude, it’s done and you need to leave her alone and never, ever treat another woman like that again.
I promise, any collegial friendships you have with co-workers are NOT – 100% NOT – the result of your high sensitivity and emotional quotient and spiritualistic attitude. Work friendships are rarely formed as a result of any of that. What fosters work friendships is a sense of humor, being helpful (but not overbearing and creepy about it!), loyal, and respecting boundaries and discretion when warranted. Spirituality? Nah. Emotionality? No. Absolutely not. I really think that the things you believe are attracting people to you are what pushes them away. I’d advise doing the opposite of what you’ve been doing if you want to be liked at work: stop trying to fix people’s lives; don’t call and text after hours; don’t try to be spiritual, you aren’t on a retreat together; and for the love of God, don’t stalk anyone. Also, if you’re really “traumatized” by the “sour ending” of a casual work friendship in which you conducted yourself inappropriately, you might want to talk to a therapist. It’s normal to feel regret in this kind of situation and embarrassment and maybe even a little sadness that the feelings you developed weren’t reciprocated – all emotions that a little time would quickly ease. But to feel traumatized suggests the need for a deeper unpacking of this, some guidance on how best to move forward, and maybe even some help reading social cues.
From the forums:
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about six months and really like him. He is 30 and I’m 25. He’s been married before and I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact that he loved someone else that much and that he has already had a proposal and big fairytale wedding so that it wouldn’t mean as much to do it again with me.
I’ve dated a fair bit before but haven’t been in a relationship longer than six months and have never been in love, but I am starting to feel that way about him. My boyfriend, however, was in a relationship for seven years total, living with her for four. She left him for someone else less than a year after the wedding and after having an affair. He was heartbroken and says he did not see it coming, but now he feels conflicted about her as he loved her so much while on the other hand she hurt him.
This was three years ago, and while he does seem to really care about me, it took him a while before he could talk about it or even tell me he’d been married before. I worry that deep inside he’ll never get over her and I’ll never have his whole heart.
I know this might sound unreasonable and everyone has a past, but I’m struggling to accept this. Do men always hang onto an old love and can they fully recover from heartbreak? I’ve read men take divorce harder than women do. — Rebound Love?
Men are not a monolith. There really isn’t anything that all men do or don’t do except maybe they all think about sex and pizza at least once a day. But, no, men don’t “always hang on to an old love.” They might be sad and depressed and lonely and feel rejected for a little while, sure – just like some women would be. Some might feel these things longer than others. Many will move on the minute sex or really good pizza are offered; they just aren’t that complicated, to be honest. Maybe your boyfriend is hung up on hs ex, but literally nothing in your note, or in your update, indicates this is the case, and I have a feeling that if there were red flags worth mentioning, you’d have mentioned them. Nothing about your boyfriend’s behavior suggests he’s not over his ex.
What *is* suggested in your note is your unhealthy obsession with your boyfriend’s past, and I promise it is getting in the way of your moving forward. If you want your relationship to be your first to move beyond the six-month mark, you have to focus on what’s in front of you: focus on your feelings for your boyfriend and how he expresses his feelings for you; focus on spending time together, getting to know one another (not through stalking social media pages of people in his life), and having fun. Life and love and relationships can be complicated enough; you don’t need to go looking for complications. Let things unroll organically. And if you’re having trouble doing that, figure out some way you can process your anxiety – exercise, hobbies, talking with friends – that takes the pressure off your relationship.
Think of your relationship as an egg you’re balancing on a spoon as you get from Point A to Point B. The more you think about what happened before Point A, the more the egg wobbles. The more you squint past Point B to see if you can make out what lies ahead, the more the egg shakes. Keep your eye on the egg, focus on the right now, keep taking one careful step in front of the other, and you might just surprise yourself with how far you can take this egg, er, relationship…