After attending a college reunion, a man tries to reconnect without success to someone he knew.
Hi Dr. Levine,
I recently went to a 35-year college reunion and met a friend that I have not seen in 38 years. She was someone that I deeply cared about but I was never able to tell her or get to know her well because of circumstances.
When I saw her again and spoke to her briefly, she told me she was divorced, showed me pictures of grandkids, and talked to me about some personal family things. I related my current circumstances, showed pictures of my family, told her I was married, and related other personal family things. When we spoke, it seemed as if we really connected after all these years as if no one else was there.
This was great for me because I had never thought I would ever see her or speak to her again. She gave me her email and I sent her some information she was interested in, and tried to contact her periodically with things going on in my life and wishing her greetings for the holidays. If she would respond, her responses were very terse. I expected her to be a bit more chatty than that but accepted it.
In the last 3½ months, I have not heard back from her in any way at all. I am worried about her because she has not responded and am not sure how to interpret her silence. I do not know if she blocked me or if she is just ignoring my emails. While I have strong feelings for her I know that I am married and am just trying to stay in touch and be friends with her.
In the past she influenced my life in very significant ways as an unintended consequence of our interactions. I will always be grateful to her for her inspiration but never told her. That is one of the reasons why she is so special to me and why I am worried about her and her silence. I was hoping I could build up a strong enough friendship to be able to tell her how she helped me and what it meant to me but feel like I will never get that chance. I don’t know if she sees me as a pest or maybe she cares for me and is just trying to respect my marriage. At this point I just do not know what to do or what to think.
It is very personally painful to me as I feel like I have to tell her about the good things she did for me, and to be there for her to help her in anyway that I can. While I used to think and hoped that she got the fairytale, she didn’t and as it turns out I did. Her life was much more troubled that I could have imagined. While I know she had some happy times, she also had a lot of problems that were serious that I will not get into for privacy reasons.
Part of me wants to send her a snail mail letter and tell her how I feel and what she meant to me. Part of me tells me that she would not be able to handle it. We are both 58 years old and I feel like the adult here dealing with someone who has the emotional quotient (EQ) of an 18-20 year old. (I have six kids so I know about this).
What I am hoping for is your perspective on this. How do I need to handle this? Should I write her a letter and just get it out there? Should I take it slowly and reveal only enough to get her to open up? Should I do nothing? This is really keeping me up at night and actually causing me emotional pain and anxiety. I have so much going on that I need to attend to but cannot seem to bring this to any type of reasonable conclusion. Can you please provide some guidance her? Thanks in advance.
If this woman hasn’t responded to your post-reunion emails in the way you wanted or expected, it suggests she’s just not that interested in you and wants to move on. While you are searching for ways to “interpret” her behavior, the message seems clear. She has no interest in maintaining a relationship with you.
It’s common for people to meet at reunions and only have not much more in common than the past. You mention, too, that you barely had a relationship with each other while you were at school.
Most striking was your mentioning that that this once-friend seems to have an emotional intelligence of one of your children. At this point in your life, why would you be interested in a relationship with someone who seems in your own estimation to be so limited?
Your strong feelings and one-sided interest in this woman certainly borders on being obsessive. That you can’t achieve closure on your own—and that this situation is making you anxious and keeping you up at night—suggests you might benefit from speaking to a mental health professional to help better understand your feelings.
Hope this helps.