• Other Friendship Advice

A co-worker backs off from a friendship

Published: June 12, 2016 | By | 15 Replies Continue Reading
The writer became good friends with a co-worker (whom she met through her husband) but he become more distant.

QUESTION

Hi.

There is a guy whom I have known for six years through my hubby but in the past eight months that I’ve worked with him, we became good friends.

I text and email him more than I should. We used to banter a lot, nothing serious. But he doesn’t joke with me anymore. It’s been three months. Not sure what has changed. Recently I texted him and thanked him for being a good friend. He didn’t respond. Was I out of line to tell him that?

Signed, Siri

ANSWER

H Siri,

Opposite gender relationships can get complicated. Your note was quite brief and raises a number of questions about this one:

  • What made you think that you were texting and emailing this guy more than you should have?
  • Did he tell you that the amount of communication you were having was making him feel uncomfortable?
  • Was the amount or type of contact you had inappropriate in terms of the workplace setting? Could it have been viewed negatively by co-workers?
  • Or were you contacting him while he was at home? If it was at home, does he have a girlfriend, wife or significant other who might get miffed?
  • Would you be comfortable telling your husband about your relationship with this guy?

I don’t think your last text was particularly out of line but if your friend didn’t respond and has been distancing himself from you for months, it suggests that something about the relationship was making him feel uncomfortable. I can’t guess what it was but you suspect that your communications may have been “too much.”

At this point, it seems like the ball is in this guy’s court in terms of whether or not he wants to remain friends.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Opposite sex friends

Comments (15)

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  1. Jennie says:

    Siri,

    I’m in almost the exact same situation. We weren’t as close as you for as long as you, but it was getting to seem that way.

    We work together, I know his wife, he used to get along great. It felt like we were brother and sister at times. No attraction, but there was a bond.

    Now, he’s been aloof, standoffish and sometimes downright rude. No talk, no warning, no explanation. And it hurts because it feels a lot like punishment for something I didn’t do.

    I know exactly what I need to do, cut him out, move on and enjoy life as usual, but because I see him everyday, I feel like I need closure. But because of the way he’s controlled my behaviour by his freeze out, it makes it almost impossible to discuss it with him outright. It feels a bit like gas lighting to me (Google this if you don’t know what that means). There are times where I question everything, including my own sanity! I feel like I imagined that we were friends, that I imagined that he was a great person and that imagined that he was interested in my friendship. It made me so insecure and I even still find myself questioning if there is something repulsive or off-putting about me that makes me unlikable.

    It takes a lot of effort not to send him a friendly email or try to engage him in conversation as I used to and I beat myself up when I slip up and he clearly doesn’t reciprocate in the way he used to.

    But then I think…

    What the hell??

    I am an awesome person, a great and caring friend. I’ve done nothing wrong. Said nothing inappropriate. I’m taking the time to reach out. I’m doing all the work to maintain a relationship. And if he’s not seeing any of that as valuable or if he’s not taking the time to tell me why he’s pulled back or what is bothering him…

    He’s not the person I thought he was. He’s kind of a jerk. He isn’t emotionally capable of empathy and he has no real respect for my feelings or needs.

    His loss! Not a cliche. Totally true.

    Sounds like you dodged a bullet. Clearly he isn’t worth all this energy. Maybe it seemed that way. But when all is said and done, he didn’t pass the “good friend” test by giving you the respect you deserve. He has had many chances, it seems, to tell you kindly that he needs space or why he’s pulled back.

    I say, tell him you are disappointed in him and when he’s ready to talk about why he’s freezes you out, he can count you out of his life.

    Done and done. You deserve better friends than that!

    • Jennie says:

      Sorry, what I meant to say was that UNTIL he’s ready to talk… Not WHEN.

      Another thing: it’s okay to feel what you feel. I tend to agree that men and women struggle to find that sweet spot in friendship where they can be intimate but not cross the line.

      Likely, he doesn’t know what you want from him. Men aren’t as intuitive as women when it comes to socializing and relationships. They also don’t really work as hard at friendships and will do the least amount of work possible to maintain them.

      You’ve been working your ass off to keep him in your world, but he’s giving you crumbs. Those crumbs are keeping you around but they aren’t making you happy.

      I say “accept no crumbs”. Be strong. Cut him out completely. Use all the free time and energy you’ll have from not thinking or obsessing over him to do things for yourself. Find new fun things to do. Try new things. Meet new people. Join some social clubs on meetup.com. Learn a new skill. Take a class. Be good to yourself. You are worth something and you matter!

      They say the sweetest revenge is having a great life despite it all!

      Good luck!
      Your not alone!

      • Siri says:

        Wow. You truly understand. You took a lot of words out of my mouth. Do you have an email ? Just because I think it’s easier to write to you instead of here on this blog. If you don’t want to give it that’s ok I understand.

        I have so many comments and same stories as you . You are right it’s harder not to talk to him. It’s been two weeks and everyday I am unhappy because I have only memories of what he gave me and I do wonder if it was bull shit but he certainly is not the guy I thought of before all this. I thought the world of him before . I feel he started this his way , and now that things have became more fun he left me hanging . I thought of him as a best friend. He was my buddy. I do feel I’m being punished actually. It’s weird you said that bc I said that to myself that I feel he is punishing me . I would love to talk more about my feelings and comment on yours through email. Thank you for the kind words

        • Jennie says:

          I’d love to give you my email, but not sure how to give it privately.

          Any ideas?

          • Siri says:

            I have an idea. I’ll make a dummy email and send u it here. It will b an yahoo account . Give me a sec

            To protect posters against spammers, please do not post any email addresses here; you do not know who will be responding. If people want to connect, I’ve set up a Facebook page for that; there are nearly 700 members and an opportunity to make friends or pen pals—-or merely post: https://www.thefriendshipblog.com/something-new-check-out-friendship-blog-connection-facebook/. Thanks for your cooperation!

          • Siri says:

            Jennie, hi.. I set up a fb account (not with my real name) just so you can retrieve my email address . If you don’t want anyone knowing u go on this site make a fb acct without your real name . Then once I can get you my email you can delete it

            • Irene says:

              This site isn’t intended to match people for friendships, either platonic or romantic. There are other websites that do that. Thanks for your cooperation. Irene

        • Brooke says:

          Hi Siri.
          How are you doing now?
          I’m in a situation similar to yours but my friend still texts me but not like he used to. The texts are VERY brief. We last saw each other June 24. Since then I also feel that he doesn’t want to hang out anymore. He has been working more and is still in college. But this was never an issue before. We would always find time to hang out. He has said that we WILL hang out again after his schedule becomes more free. I feel like a bother and I’ve told him that many times but he says he would tell me if I was a bother. I ask him “Are you upset with me? I’m sorry for whatever it is I did. I wish we could meet so that we can talk. Can I call you if we can’t meet?” I asked him this twice and he didn’t respond. Finding time to text/call/video chat was never an issue before. Then I texted “Are you/Will you please answer my questions?” twice then he finally said “I have several times. You know I’m very busy right now but when things die down we can meet” – that was the only time he answered my question. He used to reply immediately to my texts and now almost a day will go by without him replying. I miss him. I’ve had a terrible year and he helped me through very tough times with work – in a way that my husband couldn’t. (My husband knows about my best friend). He has been my best friend and I am feeling “lost” because I don’t have friends that I am this close to. I hope you can help me especially because you have or are going through a similar situation.

    • siri says:

      hi jennie, i created a user name for fb so you can look me up. my name is mel john. i didnt put a profile pic on but mel john has a space in between mel john. once you find me message me so i can give you my email address. i know some people dont like fb but if you just create an account with a name that isn’t yours and not put anything on it just to connect with me then we can remove the account and just email back and forth.

  2. Lisanne says:

    I don’t think you are being honest with yourself about this. You have affectionate, missing you feelings about a man who is not your husband. This friendship crossed the line along the way and this man knew it and addressed it the best way he knew how … retreat.

    For the last 20 years it’s been pushed on us via “Friends” and other media that men and women can be friends and that it’s the same as same sex friendships. That’s a lie. Men and women are different.

    Also, when men and women are a suitable age, attractive and like each other … what do you call that? A likely romance.

    Focus your affection and energies on the man you promised to forsake all others for.

    • Siri says:

      I am honest with all parties. There is nothing I am doing wrong . I miss talking to him, he is just a good friend. My husband even knows I miss working with him. Can’t get any more honest then that

  3. Siri says:

    clearer punch line : at that time I was friends with his wife. We hung out as couples do, also two years in a row we were invited to their summer condo, so yes both spouses knew of the joking around communication as well vice Versa with my husband and his wife. I say it was too much texting because it was. we texted back and forth every day or a few times a day. For awhile the four of us would play words with friends. We sometimes chatted on fb , left a lot of comments on fb and emailed, but as of now things have changed because I stopped texting and emailing . I want it back like before last year we only saw each other twice a year and we never had a close friendship. I would only now text if he texted me. I have controlled it well. Before I felt like I needed him to talk to but I sensed something and finally I’m at a point where I don’t feel the need to text him. In fact now I have nothing to say to him. 2 months ago I asked him to go to lunch. He forgot he said. He never rescheduled. I took that as a big hint. I even told him it was ok if he just told me no but he said he forgot. My husband had known him for over 10 years so he has no issues. I don’t know if his wife said something. I’ve asked but he didn’t answer really the question. anyways thanks to you all who responded

  4. Amy F says:

    Seems to me that through your text, you had an indirect message that you wanted him to respond to your email banter the way he once did, at least that’s what I would have thought if I received the text after I tried to pull back from the relationship. You already know you text him more than you should. He’s sending you a message through his radio silence. Respect his boundaries.
    The more important question I think you need to ask yourself is why you are texting/messaging more than you should? What are you missing from your life or your marriage that caused you to cross lines and how can you get that from yourself or other areas in your life. One of my best friends is a guy and we do the joke/banter thing all the time at a level which we’re both comfortable. I’m also good friends with his wife and would be comfortable with her seeing every communication my friend and I have ever had, but there would be no need, because there’s never been anything inappropriate or uncomfortable.

  5. Sandra says:

    I agree with Irene. Friendships with the opposite sex, whether it’s a work or otherwise, are complicated, especially when you’re married. When you say you “text and email him more than you should”, I wonder if you need to ask yourself what you’re really looking for (or expecting) from this relationship. Maybe you need to have other friendships in your life if you’re too focused on this one?

    I’ve formed some great, lasting friendships with male coworkers over the years, and a few have remained strong to this day. The trick to making them work is that these guys have also become friends with my husband — and I enjoy the company of their wives as well. In fact, one of my best male friends from a former job is now one of my husband’s best buddies, and his wife is one of my dearest friends.

    If your friend is married, and you are truly concerned about keeping his friendship, you might invite his wife or girlfriend out to lunch or dinner with you and your husband. But as Irene said, I would also consider the other implications — and how this is impacting both of your jobs, first.

    • Siri says:

      Hi Sandra

      I was also friends with his wife .. Now I think we r just acquaintances. I was never really sure her intake on everything other than she voiced once that we act like siblings (always picking on one another) but I had asked him if anyone said anything and he never really answered the question. I guess honestly it was just fun . My husband is also a jokester and I have seen him act goofy around others he is comfortable with and I felt comfortable acting like that as well with his friends. It seriously took me 5 years. I guess I shouldn’t have took it to that level, but I never thought it would turn this way. I feel like now we are strangers and I now don’t want to see him or his wife so I am hoping for a long time that no one in their family passes bc we have as good friends gone to their other family members funeral. Out of respect of course. I am feeling a little embarrassed lately also with that whole thing and sometimes my mind races regarding how something seemed so innocent turned into awkwardness. I was blunt at one point about two months ago asked him if he wanted to meet for lunch. My husband knew. He didn’t care. Anyways apparently he said he forgot. I didn’t believe him. I told him if he didn’t want to it was okay but he could have just told me. He swore he just forgot. I don’t know. Maybe he liked me or maybe my too much texting habit sent a signal that I didn’t mean. Either way I feel ashamed and embarrassed. they used to invite us to their summer condo that’s I guess how good friends my husband was. I feel now I won’t be invited or asked anymore. I truly want my husband to go and be in his friends life the way he was before me because I would never want his friendship to dwindle because of me. I just feel so awkward. The state I am in right now I have control unlike before I used to couldn’t handle the fact of not texting him bc we used to work together and it was just fun to have a buddy and I’m sure at first he was just showing me respect bc I was his friends wife but now that we are not working together maybe he feels weird being my friend as well. I know if anything bad happened I could count on him to help if I needed but now I think I would hesitate because well recently in the past week I told him I missed him . He didn’t respond. He just put “you must be bored” so I’m guessing in translation he didn’t care or he has put me in a different category that I can never make up . He used to respect me and thought good things about me, now I’m not sure how he looks at me. So what I miss him. I miss a lot of people in my life. I’m not ashamed of that . It’s frustrating that a man and a woman can’t be friends but he has a ton of girl as friends and I think that is why it’s aggravating for me . I told him I miss him because I saw another girl he has known longer than me she told him she misses him on fb. I’m not jealous of her just the fact it was ok for her to say it. He responded to her not like I miss you too, just some inside joke they had or something I didn’t know what it meant. I mean it was his old boss so maybe that is diff not a best friends wife scenario. I don’t know. I was craving to tell him that I missed teasing him. I don’t think that is bad but I know also given the silence a few times he may think different. Not sure. last summer we hung out with them a lot , this summer I don’t think we will be seeing them at all so it will be an adjustment.

      it’s been over a week and a half since we have texted but feels to me like a long time. I keep busy and I’m letting it go . Finally I feel it can be let go although I just hope he doesn’t ever text me again bc it will be hard to not feel awkward.

      Thanks

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