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Help me understand why this is so painful, and move on

(17 Posts)
theabysswithin Thu 08-Jun-17 23:06:22

I had a very brief situation with a colleague. It was barely even a fling, let alone a relationship, more a flirtation which got out of hand a few times. It was obvious that it couldn't go anywhere, for numerous reasons which I won't outline for fear of outing myself (although both of us were and are single so there weren't any injured third parties), so this wasn't ever really discussed. As far as I know it isn't known to any of our colleagues. This all ended over a year ago and I am still really upset about it. I've dated other people and am generally busy and distracted. But it still feels like a real loose end in my life.

The person in question was a good friend and now isn't. We haven't fallen out as such, but our relationship, which was really warm and flirtatious and intimate is now mainly civil but distant, occasionally cordial but with a heavy veneer of suspicion and mistrust on both sides. We don't socialise together any more beyond situations where its more or less obligatory (i.e with lots of other colleagues). I know that this is how it had to be and at the moment there's no alternative and yet I'm devastated about it.

I find the daily business of having to keep a stiff upper lip and be fake friendly but never too friendly or never genuinely friendly with someone I once felt a genuine warmth with absolutely soul destroying. I have lost a friend and it makes me desperately sad. I know it can't really be otherwise at the moment but it feels really counterintuitive and wrong. It makes me feel paranoid, and a failure, and hated. I know my feelings are irrational and I am probably projecting - I have no idea how he feels except that he is clearly also uncomfortable with it. But I just really struggle with it.

Before anyone suggests changing jobs, this is not an option at the moment, and nor would I want to if it were. I love my job, like the people I work with and am well paid and I know it would be very hard to find something that suits me as well as this. I am able to manage this situation, it's not causing problems for me professionally or drawing attention from colleagues and on a day to day basis its OK, it has just robbed me of one of the sources of joy of my life and made me quite unhappy.

I would just like to hear from others who have been in this situation. Has anyone been in a situation like this and managed eventually to regrow the friendship after the emotions have become less raw? Or do I need to accept that we can't ever be friends. Will we grow to hate one another? or will we eventually just become indifferent?

theabysswithin Thu 08-Jun-17 23:54:27


KeyChange Fri 09-Jun-17 00:03:23


Hard to say without knowing why the relationship cannot work.

Sometimes it's easy to be infatuated with someone you can't have - it's a safe fantasy that you can control. Ultimately it damages you cos you can't move on with a reciprocal relationship.

If you want your friend back you are going to have to talk to him. That would spare you all this time guessing and being worried about his feelings.

MissSmiley Fri 09-Jun-17 00:03:38

Why couldn't it continue if you both liked each other and are single?

theabysswithin Fri 09-Jun-17 00:13:37

KeyChange I can't talk to him. Too much water under the bridge, he would be too disturbed by having it all raked up again MissSmiley can't really go into this without giving too much detail away. But to the extent that it was discussed at all (which wasn't much) it was decided, mutually, that it wouldn't work because we worked together. There were and are other factors but that was the most significant one. Ironically it could hardly be more awkward and difficult than it is now.

MissSmiley Fri 09-Jun-17 00:20:21

It's a shame as a lot of people meet their long term partners at work. I did. We kept it quiet for ages and used to sneak off and have lunch together secretly. In the end everyone was really happy for us.
Do you think the chemistry between you two is what's making it awkward?

MissSmiley Fri 09-Jun-17 00:21:59

Sorry couldn't make it out...did you discuss whether it would work with him? And decided it wouldn't?

KeyChange Fri 09-Jun-17 00:22:31

Which bit feels like the loose end?

Is it cos of the way it ended (caused hurt and you want an amicable split)?
Cos you've lost a friend?
Cos you've lost a potential partner?
Cos work is now awkward?

I do wonder how much of it is in your head, and he might be oblivious. I say that cos I overthink EVERYTHING.

theabysswithin Fri 09-Jun-17 00:31:52

KeyChange It's a bit of all of the above. It may well all be in my head and he may be oblivious to it.

But there's definitely been a shift in our behaviour toward one another.

He did a couple of things in the immediate aftermath which I thought were tactless and unkind - nothing huge, just low level insensitivities -- and I felt was trying to put distance between us. I had thought we had left things on an amicable footing and I didn't understand why it was necessary for him to be unkind to me. I wasn't demanding anything of him or putting him in an awkward position. I tried to pull him up on this in a non-threatening way and asked him just to treat me normally and he seemed to just close up on me. Maybe he was embarrassed, maybe he bitterly regrets it all, maybe he hates my guts. Who knows.

I realise I'm probably massively over-thinking the whole thing and wish I could stop. But I can't.

scottishdiem Fri 09-Jun-17 00:45:52

To be honest I think you need some counselling to untangled whats going on in your head. One of the problems of friendships going to far and then ending fairly abruptly can be the ending of the friendship as well. But since this was over a year ago and you cant let go, you need help to resolve it.

MissSmiley Fri 09-Jun-17 00:45:53

You poor thing. You do seem to be suffering. Did you really think there was a future for you and him? It's hard to give that up.
Can you focus on the things you don't like about him? I often find this helps and makes me more realistic as I have a tendency to fantasise and make things better in my head than they really are.
Other than that maybe concentrate on meeting someone new.

anxiousnow Fri 09-Jun-17 00:53:34

I am not excusing his unkind behaviour but do you think he was embarrassed or hurt too but handled it badly? Could you try and talk about some if things you used to talk about? Not the relationship just a common interest or something you used to joke about. Giving him the green light to let go and try and regain the friendship at least? Or is he the type if guy that if it isn't a relationship or sex he isn't interested in just friends?

theabysswithin Fri 09-Jun-17 06:44:03

anxious I'm sure that's partly true on his part as well. To be honest I sort of shut down at work after it happened and I think he did too, it was the only way to manage it without putting myself at risk of having it happen again or making things upsetting.

We do still have an OK relationship and chat about this and that. But the trust and the closeness has gone.

I was having counselling at the time this happened (for something unrelated) and talked to my counsellor about it. Their view was that I was too hard on myself and him. But its the only way I could cope with it. I think maybe I need to go back

KeyChange Fri 09-Jun-17 08:48:45

Every time you find yourself thinking of all this, remind yourself of why the relationship didn't progress. Try to make peace with that decision instead of dwelling on the dissatisfaction with how it's played out.

springydaffs Fri 09-Jun-17 08:55:11

Really feel for you op. I hope you get some peace around this flowers

theabysswithin Fri 09-Jun-17 09:08:32

Thanks everyone... KeyChange I have made peace with the fact the relationship didn't progress, just not with the loss of friendship that has ensued. I expected things to have to cool off for a while but not for there to be this sense of total estrangement.

I am grieving this more than I grieved the end of my marriage.

Yellowaardvark Fri 09-Jun-17 11:03:50

I understand.

I think that with good friends you have a certain emotional intimacy, then if you also have physical intimacy also it's like they've seen all of you and it can make things not working out even harder. One of the most hurt I've ever been when I slept with a good male friend and when he didn't want to be my boyfriend afterward the rejection was that much worse as we'd been friends also. And you are also losing two things - the possible future together as well as what you had.

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