A young man I worked with asked me out. We had spent quite a bit of time together, and I may even have flirted. But deep down I didn't believe this could develop into a long-term relationship. I stated we were friends and colleagues, and I just wanted to remain friends.
The next day I reconsidered and thought I'd go on one date to be "nice," since he had the courage to ask. Thing is, the date never happened. This bothered me, or my ego, and I asked him about it months later. He said he didn't follow through because he wasn't sure he asked the right person. I was hurt.
Months passed and I kept my distance because I was embarrassed. But since we work together, I decided to start communicating again. After a bit of time, he said he wanted a second chance. He gave me gifts and kept calling and asking even when I turned down his physical advances.
I was in a state of tension as I had to work with him every day. Following more months of avoidance I convinced myself to give it a go. This time intimacy did occur, and it left me unhappy. He kept saying he loved me, and I could not respond as I couldn't say those words truthfully.
I've since left that job, and the distance has helped. I know now I need to keep physical intimacy to the confines of a proper commitment. Still I am left with guilt and question whether I need to explain myself to this man.
He still contacts me and says he loves me, and I still cannot respond. He's told mutual friends he has stayed in this town for me. He is a good man, but I don't know if I could be happy with him. I'm wondering if I'm the problem and if this would happen regardless of which man approached me.
Casey, a few years ago there was a popular antismoking poster featuring the face of a cadaverous woman with a cigarette in her mouth. Under her head were the words "Smoking is very glamorous."
Do you think the tobacco companies were worried about that poster? Not at all. They know that extreme examples of health risks don't make people reform their behavior. Just the reverse. Because people can't identify with extreme examples, posters like that make smokers even more confident "it could never happen to me."
In the same way, if we painted a picture of a bickering couple whose marriage ends in divorce, you would not recognize yourself. But your picture could be on that poster, not because you are a cantankerous person, but because of a small error in your thinking.
From the beginning this man felt wrong to you. To be "nice" you overrode those feelings and ended up feeling snubbed. That snub led to embarrassment at work, physical intimacy, and now, a lack of belief in yourself and your own judgment.
A snub is like a scab we can't resist picking, but picking at a scab turns it into something worse. That is why pet owners put an Elizabethan collar on their dog or cat, so they can't bite or scratch the area which needs to heal. You have an area which needs to heal, and that is why you must stay away from this former coworker.
This whole chain of events started with an innocent decision to overrule your best instincts. But your instincts were correct. Deep down you know your desire for a relationship can never turn the wrong man into the right man. We get many letters from people who end up married to someone they didn't even want to date. It starts with one small step in the wrong direction.
Don't question yourself. Don't let second thoughts make you a poster child for unhappy marriages.
Wayne & Tamara