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We could be great platonic friends, if only…

Published: February 17, 2013 | Last Updated: February 17, 2013 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading
Whether a relationship is platonic or romantic, for it to work, everyone needs to be on the same page.


Hi Irene,

Okay, so I have a kind of weird situation going on. I’m not sure about my…’friendship’ with someone, and I don’t know where to go from here.

I recently graduated from college and I’m 21 years old. I worked in the Peer Tutoring Center at my school for the last two years, where I became acquainted about six months ago with the IT Guy (He’s 31, and I’ll just refer to him as IT Guy) who worked next door to me.

We get along pretty well and have a ton in common, so I’ve told him that we’re pretty much twins. He’s done various computer things for me (that he really wasn’t supposed to, working for the school and all), and I’ve tried to be a good friend to him with gifts and whatnot. But I was never really sure whether we were friends or not. Sometimes he’d be receptive to my initiating contact but then there’d be periods where he barely acknowledged my existence.

I will admit now that I did have a strong infatuation with him before, but I’ve grown to look up to him more in a brotherly way, and he reminds me a lot of my dad. But things got weird when I inquired about his Facebook. At first, he claimed he didn’t have one, but then admitted he does and just hides it so that the teachers don’t add him and bother him.

Eventually, I asked to be Facebook friends with him. And he agreed at first, but it never happened. He eventually said it was school policy that he couldn’t be friends with students.

We communicated in person and occasionally through e-mail. And after I graduated, he asked what my personal e-mail was, because he had my school one. But he didn’t want my phone number because his girlfriend (who works next door to him on the other side) wouldn’t be happy about it, so we would just continue e-mailing. I thought it was lame, because most of my friends are guys, but I left it alone.

But he still wouldn’t add me on Facebook, and when I asked about it this time, he said “She would kill [him].” I thought it was kind of ridiculous, since Facebook is such a whatever thing, and I have lots of friends on it. But once again, I left it alone.

We both like South Park, and my friend and I have tickets to see The Book of Mormon, but my friend wasn’t sure if they could still go. I had asked IT Guy if he would want to come, figuring he would say no. But he said he might be able to. Then my friend officially couldn’t go, but I didn’t ask IT Guy again about it, because I just figured he wouldn’t be allowed to. But I happened to bring it up again today, and he said if he went, it’d have to be a covert operation.

I just feel weird about having to do it in secret. It makes it seem like we’re doing something terribly wrong, but we’re just gonna see an awesome musical, Ha ha. Even the e-mailing and IM-ing seems so secretive. And his girlfriend could even keep an eye on us on Facebook if she’s so concerned. I have nothing to hide. I’d be willing to be friends with her, too, just in general. I think we have stuff in common, and we’d get along.

So, does this kind of behavior seem weird? I know they’ve been together for 4 or 5 years now, so he must really care for her. And she obviously cares for him to be so concerned about his life with other people, but it just seems to be a bit much. I really like him a lot, and I think we could be really great friends if we were allowed to be.

I have plenty of friends in relationships, even engaged and married, and we’re still able to hang out. And one of my best friends here is male and almost 33, so gender and age difference means nothing to me.

I do understand where IT Guy’s girlfriend is coming from. I am also a jealous person, but I just feel like there should be some kind of limit. It seems a little controlling. And it just makes me really sad that we’ll never get to be real friends.

So, is there any real point in trying to be his friend anymore? It doesn’t seem like we’ll ever be able to hang out and be friends. And I wanna be happy for him, as long as he’s happy, but I just can’t help but feel bad for his situation. I just know I would never want my significant other telling me who I could and couldn’t be friends with.

Signed, Amy


Hi Amy,

It takes two people to nurture and maintain any friendship. I can understand your confusion about the course of this friendship because it seems as if the IT guy has been acting ambivalently about his relationship with you: Sometime he wants to be close and, other times, he seems to back off.

Moreover, your feelings about IT guy have vacillated too. At one point, you were infatuated with him and later on, you decided he was more of a brother or fatherly figure. And although you see him as a potentially great friend of yours—that is followed by a big IF…

This is a tricky relationship.

You need to have a frank talk with IT guy, be honest with him and yourself about your feelings, and let him know that you don’t feel comfortable doing anything covert behind his girlfriend’s back that would have negative repercussions for him (in terms of her jealousy) and you (in terms of your self-esteem).

If you both want a friendship, as opposed to a romantic relationship, this is something that IT guy needs to work out with his girlfriend. Whether or not she is too controlling of him is his business, not yours.

The only way this can be a great friendship—between you and IT guy, or among the three of you—is if everyone is on the same page. If he is unwilling to go there, you may have to look for a new, and less complicated, friendship.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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Comments (3)

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  1. Suzanna says:

    If IT guy is willing to hide an outing from his girlfriend, then he is planning on getting something out of it…and guys don’t care that much about friendship(at least when it comes to 21 yrs girls)…he knows how you feel about him, it is so flattering to him that he can’t resist..but he has tried…To be honest the guy is willing to sneak around, he is not trustworthy, he helped you in ways the school would not have approved, he is not trustworthy at all…this might be hard to understand but, lots of ladies over 30 do not want their husband /boyfriend having a 21yr old girl for a friend…save yourself alot of heart ache, move on, if/when he gets caught he will blame you.

  2. Amy says:

    Congratulations on graduating from college!
    The way I read your letter, you seem to be pushing the relationship and he’s setting, and you have difficulty with that. I think you’re asking too much from him, since he’s been open about the limits he wants. Quite honestly, IT guy and his relationship aren’t yours to analyze and judge. The interpersonal and romantic relationships you’ve had at age 21 will seem much more limited when you look back on them in another decade. A lot of personal growth happens once you’re out of college and on your own.
    If you want to be a good friend, you’ll have to be respectful of the limitations on what others have to give. Adults can have all type of stressors on their time and energy; caring for sick parents, other friends, kids, marriage/partnership, interpersonal problems. Not everyone opens up at the same level, so this probably isn’t personal.

  3. Bronwyn says:

    Are you certain your feelings have changed to a platonic status? This seems to be consuming a lot of energy on your part. You could try to have a frank conversation with him, but I’d be very surprised if you didn’t end up getting sidetracked. Nothing he does or says seems consistent except that he has a jealous girlfriend. Maybe he likes the idea of the “covert” friendship with you.

    When someone’s answers, explanations keep changing, I think it’s a major red flag. Do you really think you could ever count on this person to be honest? You can’t even be completely certain that he’s being honest about this girlfriend’s jealousy. But if it is a factor, he has chosen to be in that relationship under those terms. The control issue is something between he & the girlfriend, even if you consider it a barrier to your being friends openly. Maybe he’s given her reason to be jealous. You’re only 21 (therefore have time to make many more new friends), and you say you have lots of guy friends, so why is this one so important?

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