Dear Thelma: He said I was his girlfriend, now he ignores me

  • Family
  • Sunday, 01 May 2016

I am suffering from deep depression and I hope you can shed some light on my situation.

I met M 10 years ago when I joined company X. During the first year, M was very helpful. Every day he would find excuses to see me about some work-related matters.

Over time, we became close friends. He would call me every day, without fail, while driving home from work. He would talk about his son and daughter, his mum and sisters, but he never mentioned his wife.

Being a good listener, I lent a sympathetic ear. I gave him a lot of moral support. I supposed you could say I brought a lot of joy into his life. We maintained our close friendship and did not go out together, except for work-related lunch functions.

One evening after office hours, he came into my office and asked, “Why so hard to open your heart?”

I just smiled in response.

After three years, I began to develop feelings for him. I felt very happy whenever he was around.

When our company shifted premises, he stopped driving to work. We took the LRT to work. Every morning, he would wait for me at the LRT station, and we would go for breakfast together, before starting work. After work, we would wait for each other and walk to the LRT station together. We grew closer. We had so much to talk about and we were very happy together.

Last year, our company offered the staff VSS. He applied for it and got it. He told me it involved a big sum of money, and it was good for his early retirement.

I felt very sad because we would not be able to spend time together anymore. Before he left the company, he told me that many colleagues knew I was his girlfriend. I actually do not know why he said this.

Now I am puzzled over the following:

I have not heard from him since the day he left the company.

When I texted him to ask how he was doing, he never replied. I know he has been reading my WhatsApp messages. (I could see the blue tick which indicated that he had read my messages.)

I feel very hurt by his sudden change in behaviour.

I keep telling myself that a friend like him is not worth keeping, but I can’t seem to get him out of my mind. I keep thinking of him and the wonderful times we shared.

Why is he behaving so differently now? I just can’t believe it. Should I ignore him? How do I tell him that I hope we can continue to be friends? – Forlorn

Dear Forlorn,

It is difficult to tell why he is behaving so differently now. There can only be speculation. From what you have described, the two of you shared a very close friendship. At least, that is what you thought. He seems to have had other ideas.

If the other staff members thought you were his girlfriend, and you were totally unaware of this, he must have either said something that led to this belief or he did nothing to quell any speculation from others.

If he wanted you to “open your heart”, perhaps his intention was for the two of you to have a serious affair. You only saw it as friendship, though.

It is very possible that he has stopped trying now because he knows he cannot get from you what he wanted. He wanted a romantic affair and that was not what you wanted. Perhaps he thought that now that you are not working together, it would be too much work to invest that kind of time and energy in something that is not likely to happen.

It could also be that he viewed your friendship as something to help deal with his loneliness. The things that the two of you did are things that couples usually do. Perhaps he did not have the opportunity to do those things with his wife. If she was not in the picture, then it would also help explain why he needed you to fill that gap.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that he had used you to fulfil his needs. Now that he does not have the need anymore, your friendship is of no use to him.

There is another possibility. If he is reading your messages, it is likely that he still cares for you and your friendship. Maybe he is not replying because he cannot.

Perhaps the situation in his life is complicated. The fact is, you do not know the situation with his wife. Maybe now that he has retired, his activities – especially who he is communicating with – are more likely to be monitored.

Think about it. If he did not care for you or your friendship, would he bother to read your messages? He must know that you are aware that he has read them. He must know that you are confused and probably hurt.

The fact is, only he can tell you why he is behaving in this manner. And he is not going to tell you. So you may never know. Therefore it is best to stop speculating and asking questions for which you will not get an answer.

Instead of asking why he has changed, it will be better for you to just accept the fact that he has changed. People change. Circumstances change. You cannot fight it. Yes, it hurts. Your friendship has ended.

Obviously, for you it was more than just a friendship. Perhaps it was your naiveté that made you not stop and take stock of things and ask him what he expected of you. You enjoyed the attention you got from him. It was nice to know that you were special to him. It was nice to know that you were on his mind.

Now it has ended. And you do not know you are not on his mind anymore.

There is a popular saying – relationships don’t end, they just change. You have memories of your time together. You can still continue to want the best for him. You can think about him positively.

You will miss him, for sure. Once you stop pining for what you used to have, this pain and yearning will slowly change. You will be able to move on and find new significant friendships and relationships.

You must be ready to do that, though. You have to stop sending messages to him. If he wants to talk to you, he will send you a message.

You can continue to hope that he will one day communicate with you again. But don’t let that hope turn into something more and you start yearning for him. You should not be obsessed and consumed by this thought.

Perhaps your last message could convey to him that you hope to resume your friendship, but for now you would have to say goodbye.

A very important, but difficult, thing to learn is to let go. Letting go is important not just to enable you to move on, but also for you to be able to do so with grace.

It is not about blaming anyone. It is just about accepting that things have changed, and that we have very little control over these things.

It hurts, but we can learn from our past and be more cautious in the future. – Thelma

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.

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