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    Dear Anita,

    I am so sorry to hear that you spent so much time on my post only for it to be lost. I had a similar issue in college and I know it is infuriating. I appreciate you dedicating so much time to make such a comprehensive reply, and greatly appreciate you summarizing it from memory. I have a counseling appointment tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon and I will address some your points with my counselor then—specifically my experience with my mother.

    I’ll write a more thorough reply after my session tomorrow.

    Thank you again, Anita.



    Oh, thank you, Anita. Take your time. I always appreciate your counsel.



    Dear Teak,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to both read my ramblings and making a comprehensive reply.

    Yes, she has kept her “protective shield” up with me since day one, and we have only briefly found intimacy. Regrettably, alcohol was involved in both instances; however, she was sober the next morning at the cabin when we kissed again, held one another, and my hand on her leg and her hand on my arm as we drove home. Yet, I think she decided against it—likely to protect her heart, as she saw nothing long-term with us.

    Her week away with no contact and the inappropriate comments about the maintenance man solidified that our relationship would remain casual and likely inconsequential. I have thought often about why I feel such an attraction to her. Not so much a physical attraction—though that obviously exists—but more of that connection I’ve written about. There was just something there for me at our first “date” that I cannot explain. And ease or comfort that I have rarely found with another. Anita astutely explained that this connection may always have been heavily aided by my counseling last year, and my willingness to open up and be vulnerable with another person. Regrettably, this other person may have not been as willing to be vulnerable with me. I have learned in our brief relationship these past few months how fiercely independent she is, and while I think she desires a companion, she has acknowledged that she is strong enough to walk this world alone. For example, I wrote here before how I told her that I was glad she did not have to be alone the night I had her over for dinner after her invasive screening/test for cervical cancer last month. She sharply replied something to the effect that, “I was alone the last time,” referring to a previous surgery to remove some (pre)cancerous growth.

    I asked her at dinner on Wednesday why her parents and her husband at the time both allowed her to nearly die when she was battling the eating disorder a few years ago. She said her father would often “pinch her sides” as a teenager, which clearly added to her body image issues. She said that she has always been “bottom heavy”—she has a thicker butt and thighs but probably A-cup breasts, which she has admitted she does not like, so body image contributes too. Her mother had either checked out or simply did not want to get involved in her life. (She tries to maintain a strong relationship with her parents, which both surprises me and fascinates me, as they both were not great parents until recently.) She said her husband loved her no matter what she looked like but explained that he found her “sexier” after she gained weight again. This angered her as she nearly died but he did not engage her on any meaningful level about her eating disorder until she was in recovery.

    Finally, I agree with you regarding my savior complex. I believe it was Anita who too identified that before. I will bring that up with my counselor at my next appointment, as I have often felt this in relationships. I have dated a few damaged women, and I ultimately try to save them, which ultimately causes me stress and pain. (I mentioned previously trying to help someone years ago, and ultimately walking away, only to have her commit suicide.) With my coworker, there was the initial attraction/connection on my part, which evolved to a need to show her that I was different and that I could be a base of support as time went on. Granted we have only been friends since mid-November 2020.

    I suppose my torment comes from a sense of rejection by her. Not in the romantic sense but it of the almost consistent rebuff by her. I immensely enjoy her and her company, but she seems quite ambivalent about me. I don’t know. Maybe “ambivalent” is too strong a word, but she seems incapable of revealing that I possibly mean something to her. Perhaps I do but she is not willing to be vulnerable. And that snub stings but that has to do with her, as you wrote, TeaK.

    You are right and I need to figure out this need to be a “savior.” And I do need to accept her feelings towards our relationship and refocus on myself. While I will remain her friend, I cannot invest any more of myself in this relationship. It’s only going to end badly for me.


    This is likely the last time I will write in this thread about my coworker. I do truly appreciate your understanding and advice with this piece of my life, Anita (and Brandy). Truly! This has been a welcome outlet to spill out my thoughts, but, honestly, I barely had the will or energy to write this post…

    I never heard from her while she was away for a week on her vacation last week. This was not unexpected, and the distance allowed me to further emotionally break away. We did go out for dinner and drinks this past Wednesday, and while it was another fun night, gone was anything beyond the existing friendship. Any touching of my arm or back had stopped weeks ago—after the post-cabin “date” when she revealed that she saw nothing long-term with us. Even our goodbye was a quick hug and a few pats on my back from her. It stung as I knew that we would be platonic and any hopes for a deeper friendship had passed. But the physical contact—even simply the glancing touch on my arm or her hand on my arm as we watched a movie was missed.

    She mentioned something surprising over drinks. I said that I purposely did not message her because I felt that she needed to get away and take a break from her life here when she traveled south to visit her best friend. She replied that she appreciated that and she indeed did, and that is the reason we were out together and she was not out with her friends this past week. That many of them had “blown up her phone” by Facebook messaging her and texting her, with some complaining that she didn’t reply. She appreciated that I did not contact her and that was one of the main reasons that we hung out. Interesting if a little selfish perhaps in my opinion.

    What led to this was that I mentioned her having an avoidant personality style. She did not understand what that was, so I tried to explain that she tends to retreat from people when she feels that she needs to. (I didn’t expound to say that she seems to retreat when people get close, as I didn’t want to tie myself into the explanation.) She said that was accurate and it’s to be expected when one was raised by an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother. That she had to learn to be self-sufficient at a young age and worked hard to get out of that situation as soon as she was able. She ended up moving out of her parents’ home and into her own apartment at 16-years of age. She also mentioned that she wasn’t one of the “pretty or cool girls” in high school and couldn’t wait to finish. All factors that led to her being so driven in academia.

    Yesterday (Saturday morning), she had sent out a Snapchat picture of her kitchen ceiling with a large hole in it. I messaged to ask her about it, which had turned out to be a water leak from her shower that was, unfortunately, entirely her fault.

    We went back and forth for a few before she replied, “Good news is I get to see the cute maintenance man again on Monday. He has an 11 year old and an 10 yr old and an 8 year old… 🤢 I’m like dude it put away….but also whip it out. Let me see what all them kids is about lol 😂 I am trash lol 😂

    Taken aback, I replied, “Wow. Just don’t let him use your bathroom and sneak around the corner on him if he’s naked. ;-)”

    To which she replied, “Stop with the wink! It was an accident lol. I’m not a predator, sir! I’ll get back to the old sex shop this weekend and tame the beast. Then I won’t be such a perv lol. I’ve already got the remedy. Just need to refill the prescription lol.”

    This is a woman who speaks two languages and taught the second language at the university level. Crude and jarring? Yes, but also telling. Clearly, she sees me as nothing more than a friend if she is willing to share that. While it stung to read, I did not show it in my reply by maintaining a light and playful tone. Yet, somehow, she interpreted my teasing that she purposefully walked in on me changing at the cabin was somehow “predatory”?

    This exchange yesterday was the final nail in the coffin for me. I have no more energy to give the relationship and cannot continue to hope for something that simply is not going to manifest, and I must come to terms with what it is. I desired to be, or thought I could be, a more significant piece of her life than I am or was. To her credit, she never offered me any false hopes (other than the few kisses), and to my knowledge, she was never dishonest with me. She never used me or manipulated me I felt. Our “dates” were strangely calm and enjoyable, and she never played games. What I mean is she never would cancel at the last minute and was always present and engaging when we were together. Yet, when we were apart, I felt like an afterthought. Yes, she would text on occasion but it could be days in between.

    Further, things with us were always planned. Perhaps only twice has she texted me to spontaneously ask if I wanted to hang out. Yes, she teleworks her full-time office job with me, and her second, the part-time food service job, most Friday and Saturday nights, which leaves her only Sunday as her single day off. However, only once has she asked me to hang out, and that was simply because I was making a run to Starbucks and asked if she wanted me to drop off a coffee. It’s been over a month since she invited me over for dinner. Whenever I gave her a gift—rarely anything personal, but rather practical—she would always ask if it was extra something I had, and nothing purchased simply for her. She mentioned at dinner on Wednesday that she “hates gifts” but would always welcome a card or letter.

    While I have told her in person, via text message, and the lengthy letter/email I wrote, about what she means to me and how much I appreciate her, never have any platitudes it been initiated by her. Any platitudes have always been in response to my own. At times, compliments I made to her were deflected or ignored. Hell, even the letter I wrote her was not acknowledged until a week later at dinner—and then only briefly discussed. Did it mean anything to her?

    I wanted to be someone different for her here in the small town in the middle of nowhere. Someone other than the country boys that abound. Someone who does more than drink, hunt, and fish. Wanted her to know that it’s okay to lean on others. That those she lets close aren’t going to let her down. That men see more in her than just a sexual being. (Not that she isn’t sexy, and I would not refuse if presented the opportunity.)

    She may be looking for someone but that someone just isn’t me, or she may be just focusing on herself and trying to figure out her life now that she has a secure and well-paying job. She has been actively looking to purchase a home about 45 mins away where she both attended and taught college. Over drinks the other night, she fretted about being able to compare to the “young and hot” college girls if/when she moves away. (She is only in her mid-20s, so I don’t think she has much to worry about—other than the overabundance of tanning salon visits and her vaping and drinking.)

    I’ll continue to support her as a friend but cannot invest any more of myself with little to no reciprocity. No matter how much I say or write, she never seemed to want to show me any more of herself. I’d get bits and pieces of the stressors and traumas that were her life when she was younger, but she always keeps those walls up or uses alcohol to lean on. I would oftentimes foolishly wait for a call/text asking if I wanted to hang out with her but it never came.

    I know that I’m jumped in too quickly after we met. Meeting someone attractive and intelligent here after nearly a year alone in isolation was thrilling and electrifying. Still, she stifled things before our second “date” by texting that she did not feel that dating a coworker was the best idea. I don’t believe she has ever flirted with me. And while there was the brief period before the cabin when it felt like we may have been moving toward a deeper friendship, but she has chosen to not take that path. She was/in under no obligation to give me her time, affections, and pieces of herself to me.

    I began this post this morning but spent the day trying to figure out why I’m so sad/distraught/letdown. I think part of it is a regret that I am so much older than her. While she remained unruffled when I revealed that I had a daughter only a few years younger than her, she did reveal at the dinner after the cabin that “it freaked her out.” I can’t help but shake that she was initially interested, then decided that it was more or less a dealbreaker, then in the weeks before the cabin—and then the cabin—began to develop feelings, only to ultimately decided that a friends is all we would be. This is understandable.

    I think what bothers me the most is she has always seemed so ambivalent. Thinking back, she rarely asks about me, my family, friends, shows I may be watching, books I may be reading, etc. It feels almost selfish to an extent. While I have tried to support her to be the best person she can be—to build her up rather than tear her down—it often feels unbalanced. And while she occasionally call/FaceTime during work once a week, we usually talk about mundane things. I’ll often chat more about my life with my other coworkers than I do with her. And I certainly do not have the same relationship I have with them as I do with her.

    This relationship may have run its course. I know she’ll meet someone or move further away, so I should continue to let any amorous ideas go. I hope that I’m eventually able to see her from a platonic level and not care as much as I do. I see something in her—her potential—but I don’t know what she has hidden that may hold her back. While I had wished that we could have talked of hopes and dreams, or build a deeper friendship, she seems unwilling or unable to do so with me. I will continue to support her but will refrain from asking her out for dinner or inviting her over to my place for dinner. I think that she is still working to figure out her life—through both counseling and alcohol—and she cannot allow anyone to be an impediment. Or, as the saying goes, she just isn’t that into me.


    Thank you, Anita. I did not ever connect my childhood experiences to social cognitive deficits, or rather that they would lead to a “deficit.” Hopefully, the therapy and my work help to fill this void inside me.



    Dear Anita,

    Before I wrote here this morning, I serendipitously, stumbled upon this clip from the Matthias Barker podcast via TikTok, and heard this quote by John Mark Comer:

    As long as you live in the prison of where you have to get what you want to be happy, no person, no marriage, no job, no life, no identity, no sexual experience, no income bracket, no travel experience, no passport. Fill in the blank. Nothing will ever be able to always give what you want, and you will run over people. Sabotage people. People will become objects by which you try to self-gratify and feed your narcissism. Even if it masquerades as ‘I’m falling in love. Or this is great. I love these people!’

    His words hit me hard due to their accuracy. This was often how I spent my life: Trying to find people or experiences to fill the void inside me. While I didn’t want to believe that I was narcissistic, I realized in the last few years that narcissism was a core trait. This may have partially originated from the distance my mother kept with me, which may have fed into my feelings of low self-esteem as I grew. (Low self-esteem was something I worked hard to overcome, and it wasn’t until my late 30s that I finally felt that I had a handle on it.)

    I feel this quest for happiness—and my work in therapy last year to work on connecting and being vulnerable around people—made for the relationship with my coworker friend to be more stressful than it should have been. As I’ve written, perhaps I jumped in too far too soon without understanding the nature of the relationship? Perhaps I forced things (e.g., the kiss on the first date, the cabin, the little gifts, etc.) without appreciating that she was solely focused on her growth and evolution since her divorce and recovery from her eating disorder? Perhaps I imagined something there—that “connection”—when there truly was not one?

    I haven’t heard from my coworker friend since the days before she left for her trip. She returns today and I imagine I won’t hear from her until we return to work in the morning. While I don’t embrace social media as many others do, we are “Facebook friends,” and she has not posted there since before she left. I believe she needed a break from life here and just wanted to focus on her time there with her best friend.

    Her time away was good for me too. The physical distance between us allowed me to divest a bit from the relationship. Something had changed in her since we returned from the cabin. Yes, there her explicit declaration that there would be no “long term relationship,” and that anything physical would extend only as far as hugging. However, there was an emotional retraction as well. She would not text unless it was something work-related or something that concerned her, and the week before she left was the really first week we had not hung out since we began hanging out in mid-November.

    I may be wrong, but I feel like she may have felt the beginnings of something for me but cast those feelings aside to be practical or to protect herself. She may enjoy my company and like me as a person but does not see a chance at a long-term relationship and doesn’t want to put her heart through the pain of another relationship that will not go the distance. The long embrace as she was leaving after dinner here (the night of her Pap screen) may have been her way of saying both thank you and goodbye, as we have not hung out since. I don’t know. I enjoyed our time together, as I think she did too, but perhaps she needed to take a step back.

    I guess the point of writing today is to say that her week away has given me a chance to reflect and reframe things. While a part of me does hope that we can remain friends, and possibly grow closer as friends, I need to continue to focus on moving somewhere else and finally putting down roots.

    I am happy to have met her when I did, as someone else may have been seeking a companion, which I don’t know if I’m ready for that. Yes, companionship would be fantastic, but can I be a good partner while I’m still seeking my place in the world? This person, as I believe my coworker did, would feel my narcissism and I could sabotage the relationship as I often did in the past. My coworker friend is beautiful, intelligent, driven, and many other positive qualities that fed me. And while I overlooked her negative qualities, I may have sacrificed too much of myself at the chance of a relationship with her. Especially if/when sex may have become involved and muddied the waters.

    She mentioned in our FaceTime chat the Friday before she left that she had plans to quit her second job now that she has received a pay raise and paid off her debts. That her second job exhausts her and leaves her with little free time—especially now with Spring right around the corner. That working in a brewery causes her to drink too much, and as I wrote here before, the nature of the foodservice industry gives her access to marijuana. The text from her I shared here before:

    I haven’t been really partaking much – I don’t like the people I have to get it from. They creep me out. Oh, the joys of being female 🥲 and the joys of suppressing something that doesn’t need to be suppressed so it gets pumped in with unsavory characters.

    At least for me, there was an unusual connection to her, and I’d like to see her live a cleaner life and live up to the potential I see in her. I wish that we could have gotten to know each other better and grown closer and maybe we will. Or maybe we won’t and that is okay too. I need to continue to work on myself before I jump in with someone.


    Dear Anita,

    Yes, your observations are sound, rational, and logical! I do tend to overthink (hyper analyze) in life, rather than let things just continue down their obvious path. And, yes, a part of me is miffed that she did not return a text. She mentioned early in the relationship that she is bad about returning texts, and I suppose that I got a bit spoiled because she would often return mine in a timely manner. Her recent reluctance to return my texts certainly feeds into my insecurities. And I wasn’t bothered by her 8-word response to my “thoughtful text.” I appreciated that she felt the same.

    I agree with your reply regarding the commenting about my “trouble connecting and staying connected with a person.” Yes, if I feel that illusive connection with someone, I have (in the past) often pushed them away. Then, I feel guilt and loneliness and the lost connection. Guilt from the self-imposed idea that I was stringing them along, and loneliness from the feeling of them “seeing me” but not really seeing me. (Obviously, they could not “see me” because I never allowed them to.)

    I read something after I made this last post was about loneliness. That one of the strongest yearnings people have is to be known and to be seen. The comfort and the affirmation that comes when someone really knows you, or sees you, and gets you. It’s me feeling “different” and never feeling validated. With my coworker, it felt like she both saw me and accepted me immediately. This was due to me not being afraid to be vulnerable and her empathic nature. (Her, as an empath, may explain her emotional distance as closeness and intimacy can be overwhelming.) And allowing her to see me was exciting and I chased those feelings—even as she chose to keep me at a distance (or control the nature and level of emotional intimacy).


    Morning Anita & Brandy,

    First, I want to again say thank for all your advice here. This is a tremendous space and I truly appreciate you taking the time to counsel here. Not sure how I stumbled upon TB but I am thankful that I did.

    I have decided to abandon the notion of any type substantive relationship with my coworker. I feel that I invested in it far too quickly, and her words and actions have made it clear that we will likely remain rather casual friends. While it felt as though we were growing closed, she began distancing herself—both in communication and socially—since we returned from the weekend getaway to the cabin. Learning that her divorce was only finalized the week before the getaway made her detachment a bit more logical. The emotional (and slightly physical) intimacy may have been something she was not ready for so soon after becoming officially single. I’m not quite sure but it would make sense.

    She left yesterday (Sunday) afternoon to fly south for the week to visit her best friend for the week. I wished her save travels when I awoke in the morning but never received a reply, which did irritate me. I asked her last Monday if we could grab dinner some night during the week since I knew she’d be gone, to which she replied, “I’m sure we can ☺️” She never really had time during the week, so I asked her on Thursday morning if she wanted me to come by with some food while she packed, to which she replied, “I’m not going to be much for company I’ll just be running around and doing chores so there’s nothing left to do over the weekend when I have to work.”

    I ran a few errands after work, so I packed a few sliced of homemade banana bread and a book she had wanted when she came by for dinner and ran it by her place since I was out. She wasn’t home so I left it on her door and texted her. She replied, “Ahhh. Sorry I had some errands to run. I’ll be home here in a little bit tho. :)” She ended up texting “Thank you!” a few hours later. I figured she was out—possibly on a date—but she had later said a girlfriend had come by after she returned from errands. Not that it matters.

    As I said, I think that I invested too quickly in the relationship. The first “date” in late November was so effortless, and the five hours flew by, that I did not consider her feelings. Afterwards, I was left wondering, “What will she mean to me? And what will she be in my life?” After the year in isolation due to the pandemic and being new to the area—and the work I did in counseling in late 2020 to work on being more vulnerable and connecting with people—left me hungry for companionship and the connection with another human. I chose to ignore the difference in ages, the fact that she was newly single, her battle with her eating disorder and her addiction to nicotine. Even after her text before our second “date”—about “just dipping her toes back into dating” and not feeling certain dating a coworker is the best choice for her—it felt like at least our friendship was deepening. And perhaps it was?

    Her week away will be beneficial for her, as she wasn’t able to travel last year and hasn’t been able to see her best friend since 2019 I believe. It will be good for me too, as it will give me time to reframe things in my mind, as I won’t have the opportunity to see her this week. It’s been a rather emotionally taxing relationship: The of the first “date,” to the return to Earth before the second, to the feelings of growth as the weeks went by, to the intimacy of the weekend getaway, to her aloofness and telling me that she sees nothing “long term with us,” and her broadening expanse that has followed.

    It’s certainly made me a bit melancholy, but I should not find it surprising. I’d, on occasion, but her little practical gifts, and while appreciative, she’d often ask if it was something I had lying around or if she needed to repay me. She has never really let me know the real her. She has always kept me as an emotional distance. For example, last week, I asked if she was still smoking weed. She replied, “I haven’t been really partaking much – I don’t like the people I have to get it from. They creep me out. Oh the joys of being female 🥲 and the joys of suppressing something that doesn’t need to be suppressed so it gets pumped in with unsavory characters.” I was going to ask what she is “suppressing” the next time we hung out, but the prospect has not yet presented itself. As she is soon leaving her second job, it is my hope that she will continue to distance herself from the “unsavory characters” and the drugs.

    The phase of infatuation and teenage butterflies has passed, and I am hopeful that the emotional warmth will soon pass. It’s unfortunate but it is necessary. I need to refocus on finding another job out of this isolated area, and possibly meeting someone who wants to let me in. Someone of substance who isn’t afraid to let me in.

    She reminds me of the character Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and her quote:

    “I’m not a concept. Too many guys think I’m a concept or I complete them or I’m going to ‘make them alive’…but I’m just a fucked up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind. Don’t assign me yours.”

    It was confusing for me because it felt like we were close when we were together or spoke on the phone. However, once we were apart, the chasm opened again, which certainly messed with my emotions. For example, we spoke via FaceTime for about an hour on Wednesday. I texted her afterwards to say, “I like that we can have these deep conversations without the awkwardness. Serendipitously crossing paths with you is something I treasure immensely, and it’s brought me some comfort peeling away the layers with you.” She replied, “Aww me too! For all of the above ☺️” It has never felt like I was being “played,” but more so that she enjoys the intimacy on her terms and parameters.

    I do not regret this relationship. It was coincidence or a blessing that we met when we did, or that I felt comfortable enough around her to be vulnerable. After being alone for so long, it was nice to find someone beautiful, intelligent, and intriguing that I connected with. (I know she felt the connection too even if she is unwilling to acknowledge it beyond the superficial.) While I hope(d) that our relationship can deepen, I am not willing to invest any more of myself in it when she too does not want to invest more of herself in it. It has often felt one-sided, as she was unable or unwilling to connect. I thought that I could be a good influence in her life, and maybe I was/am? While disappointing, I know that it would/will be an even more difficult transition if/when she meets someone and her time available for me would stop. It’s one of the perils of being in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Well, a relationship that felt more emotionally substantial than a simple friendship between coworkers.

    It is a difficult pill to swallow but one I must choke down…


    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for that information! I will do some reading after work…

    She has been dealing with this for years now. She said this morning that it had “been worse” in the past, but at least now she doesn’t need to worry about surgery at least for the next few months.

    It’s awful when ones body betrays them (in a sense).



    Dear Anita & Brandy,

    Her doctor’s office just called. Her precancerous cells haven’t gotten “any worse,” so they’ll see her again in 3-months. At least she can breathe a bit now.



    Thank you, Brandy. I am hopeful for good news too.

    Going to text her in the morning to see if she needs to get out of her home (and out of her head) for a bit.



    Hi Brandy,

    Thank you for replying and thank you for taking the time to write…

    Yes, as I wrote before, I think the combination of being largely alone and isolated in 2020–combined with the counseling and work I did there and on my own–meeting her and instantly feeling comfortable and vulnerable with her pushing me to put the cart before the horse. I was willing to ignore some probable red flags for me (e.g., excessive drinking and vaping), and jump into wanting to have a serious relationship with her.

    While I probably was ready, she certainly was not. We tended to act on our primal needs (to an extent) while ignoring that we may not be compatible in the long term. However, I feel we both are working to keep things light as they have usually been and enjoy the ride.


    P.S. I completely forgot about this when I wrote about the evening’s events. First, while she had spent 2020 separated from her husband, her divorced was not finalized until the week before we went to the cabin for the weekend in mid-January 2021. It’s no wonder she wasn’t wanting to jump into anything serious. Second, she revealed that she and a girlfriend had gotten a hotel room together a few days before Christmas and spent a day and night drinking and doing coke. I kept my physical reaction to a minimum, but this was certainly a shock. I am not sure why they felt the need to get that crazy, but thought that whatever stressors she was/is dealing could be mitigated by a alcohol and drug binge with her girlfriend. 😐 As I said before, I see so many parallels between here and my friend who committed suicide years ago. Not that my current friend has suicidal tendencies but there is a battle raging inside her.

    • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Ry.

    Dear Anita,

    Yes, I think you’re right. For now, I am comfortable with things as they are. I said what I needed to say in my email to her, and her response of knowing that I “spoke from my soul” meant as lot. I think she has been hurt a few times in her life and she is cautiously working on a friendship with me. While I tried not to overanalyze our hug goodbye last night, the fact that she did not let go of the embrace for some time spoke volumes. I feel that my email, the easy conversation, a home cooked dinner, and time out of her own mind last night was what she truly needed.

    As I’ve written, I truly enjoy her company and would like to continue earning her trust and building the friendship. While a part of me wants “concrete,” a piece of me takes comfort in the fluidity of our relationship. We can be “friends” or “close friends” without having to define it or label it. It is more important that she know that she is not simply a friend from work, and my actions during our time together have demonstrated that I may be someone she can trust not to hurt her.

    Thank you, Anita.



    Hello Anita and Brandy,

    Well, last night went rather flawlessly. And I didn’t want to cause her any more stress with the day she had…

    Yesterday afternoon, she had blood work and what I assume would be called a “Pap screen” to detect any cervical cancer. While she has had the HPV vaccine, her doctor has found evidence of precancerous cells in the past during her yearly exam, which necessitated more regular screenings. The had recently found some precancerous cells, and not they had to do what she called the “scrape” yesterday. Needless to say, it was a stressful day for her and I’m glad she did not have to be alone—and told her such.

    She finished her appointment around 3:30 yesterday but went home since I wasn’t off until 4:30. She tried to put a positive spin on it by saying something like, “At least I won’t have to worry about periods if they have to take my uterus,” but I knew she was hiding her fears. We talked for a few and she said that she just wanted to have a drink and sit with her cat for a bit. I did not want her to sit and stew in her own mind for too long, so I texted her at 4:30 to say I was starting dinner. She replied that she was ready to head out.

    She offered to help with dinner, but I put her to work tweaking a job application I’d been working on. She was a literature major and I knew that would keep her mind focused on a task while I cooked. After a bit, she finished up and she helped me finish up cooking dinner as we chatted. It was then that I asked as she stirred a sauce that we were awaiting to thicken.

    “I’m not sure if you saw my email but I wanted to talk to you about last week,” I opened with. She teased me a bit about letting her know when I send an email because she has “500 unread emails,” but that she did see it and “knew I spoke from my soul.” I explained that I wasn’t upset that she didn’t see us as long-term partners, as I truly didn’t it, but that I wanted her to know that she was not just a casual work friend that I hang out with on occasion. That I definitely feel a connection and she is special to me. She agreed and said that the cabin was a relaxing getaway that provided a “type of intimacy” that did not need to involve sex. I also mentioned that with all the work I did in counseling last year, that it was luck (or something bigger) that I met someone so receptive to me being open and vulnerable. It was a quick conversation, but it felt good to clear things up a bit. I felt it was important that she knows that she is not just a causal work friend.

    After dinner, we rinsed off the pans and dishes and retired to the sofa. She was full and sleepy and I said she could stay here if she dozed off. I put on the Star Trek movie and she perked up as she anticipated the plot and critiqued the plot holes. However, she did enjoy it and I think it kept her mind focused on something other than her own body.

    After the movie, we chatted for a bit, before I walked her down to her car. We hugged goodbye, but it wasn’t her usual hug of a few seconds, but she embraced me for a bit. I kissed the top of her head and held on until she was ready to let go. It was unexpected and I don’t know if she feels a deeper connection to me after my email letter, or if it was nice to have a night away where she felt safe and peaceful. Either way, it does not matter. I’m happy that she was.

    She works her second job tonight and tomorrow night, so I’m going to reach out on Sunday morning to see if she is doing okay or if she wants me to pull her out of her place for a bit. She will be anxiously awaiting the results of the test, and I hate to think of her sitting alone in her apartment all day hyper analyzing.



    After I wrote this, I logged into Facebook to see she has posted a few pictures of the dinner I made last night and these two poems from L.E. Bowman:


    When she softens against you for the first time,
    don’t pull her closer.
    Don’t wrap your arms around her like you
    feel it too.
    When she is high on your skin and ready to open,
    don’t help her unfold.
    Don’t pull back her petals like you intend to watch
    her bloom.
    When the walls feel too restricting and you
    stop calling.
    don’t say that you’re busy.
    Don’t tell her she’s crazy when her instincts tell her
    the truth.
    When the night is long and your body is lonely,
    don’t wake her.
    Don’t give her another piece of false hope to
    cling to.

    “More to Life”

    You’ll find someone better, they’ll tell you.
    An earth-shattering lover.
    A so-good-the-rest-don’t-matter kind of love.
    And maybe you will, or maybe you won’t,
    but I want you to know
    that there is more to live than lovers.
    All your hope, all your betters
    don’t have to exist around love.

    There’s so much pain inside her that she has worked on in counseling and on her own through journaling. She has walled up her heart and worked to better her life on her own. Think my fascination with her lay in the mysteries?

    • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Ry.

    Thank you for chiming in, Brandy. I appreciate it.

    Yes, I’ve thought a a great deal about what to say to her–based on Anita’s feedback and my own ruminations. I like your approach as well and will probably take a mixed approach that integrated both you and Anita’s points.

    I’ve grown more accustomed to the fact that there is not a romantic future for us. While the lines have blurred on occasion, which led to making out and holding each other, the fact is that she does not see me as a potential romantic partner. And, honestly, that is probably for the best. You’ve seen my conversation here with Anita: My coworker friend battled an eating disorder, has quite the nicotine addition and vapes often, tends to drink more than she should (and has a recovered alcoholic father), and recently became divorced through a mutual understanding that they were merely good friends. The smoking and drinking would have worn on me as time went on, and I would have grown frustrated (and felt guilty) in my attempts to change her. We may have had a lovely few months/years together, but there likely would not have been a lifelong love affair.

    I know she is excited about dinner tonight, as she already messaged me, “I’m ready to be dazzled. Are you ready, master chef?” I would like to have a lovely, relaxing night with her, as I’m sure she is anticipating the same. However, the only burning question I have is what kind of casual friendship will we have? I have mentioned that I felt we really connected/clicked, and I’m curious if she felt the same. While I have enjoyed, and would continue to enjoy, our hanging out and dinner “dates,” I would like to know her better than just a work friend that I hang out with. Not in a romantic sense, but I’d hope she’d drop her walls a bit so I can know her better. Obviously, being coworkers adds a risky layer because feelings could/would get involved; however, I’m not seeking a romance. I feel that I am a positive and calming influence in her life and I would like to continue to be. I’m just not comfortable doing without knowing her better.

    And I realize things are in flux. She is a coworkers and is single and attractive, and she will inevitably meet suitors, date, and possibly enter into a relationship. And I may do the same as well. Also, I am working to find another job that takes me away from here, so I am hopeful that I land something soon.

    I want to me more than just some work friend she occasionally hangs out with, but I don’t know if she’s willing to take that leap. The unknowing, and knowing what I think she may say, certainly added to my anxiety. Yet, as Anita said, I need those grey areas colored.

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