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Destroying his battered world


PolarWinds
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This is my first post. I don't know who I can really talk to about this, but I really need to know what other people think, and what you might do in my situation.

 

There's this guy at my work who is about my age, and we share similar job descriptions. He's been coming into my office every day since I started there (7 yrs ago), mostly being annoying by trying to be cool so I'll like him. He's a sweet guy, but I have never felt even remotely attracted to him. Things have come to a major head recently.

 

This guy has Multiple Sclerosis that has recently gotten to the point where he is now confined to a wheelchair. Recently, he wrote me a letter declaring his love, even though I have a boyfriend (2yrs) already who I love very much. The reason he thought it was a good idea to write the letter is that he really believes that he and I are destined to be together, and I guess he just doesn't take my relationship seriously.

 

So, I decided I had to be honest, and tell him that I just don't feel that way about him. He just can't believe it's true. He feels like we really connect, but we don't at all from my perspective.

 

But I'm totally wrecking his whole world view. The poor guy is starting to loose feeling in his hands now too. He's depressed and desperate. I told him he won't loose me as a friend ever, and that I think of him as a brother. But I keep getting long letters from him. He wants to know why I don't feel the same. (He knows it's not the MS.) He goes on and on about the ways he imagines he screwed up when we were first getting to know each other.

 

I don't know how to deal with this I can't just walk away, but I don't know how to help him. I don't know what to do. There's nothing worse than being lonely and desperate. It's really hard being the target of it too, though.

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He's in the office right next to me. There's no escaping him by any real easy outs. He will continue to come in everyday, hoping that I will change my mind, and decide to be in love with him. Oh man, it sucks. He is trying to absorb what I told him. He's trying to pretend he can just be friends... he'll do that for awhile, and then out will pop another letter. "It seems like you love me now... ? "

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I've been in a simliar situation. The guy declard his love and I just didn't feel the same way about him. I didn't intend to give him any signals that I felt anything else but apparently he thought I did. We worked together as well - and he was MY manager! It ended up being that he resented me for not liking him back and he started treating me rudely...after a few months though I was able to transfer to another deptmart and not see him on a daily basis and eventually we just lost touch...I still wonder about him but I still feel bad about the whole thing.

 

I suggest you talk to your HR department and discuss the situation because he does not seem to want to take the hint. Even if he didn't have MS I have a feeling he'd still act this way - so the MS can't make you feel more guilty. And try not to feel guilty...everyone has to deal with rejection sometime in their life...he needs to learn to deal with it. It's not your fault he can't move on.

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Here's another part of the story. Back a few weeks ago, just before the first letter, he started coming into my office 3 or 4 times a day and staying awhile each time. I was being exceptionally nice to him just before this started because I'd been away from the office a couple weeks, and was recovered from my irritation of him, and felt bad for letting it show before. These visits were occurring while my boss was out of town. I emailed my boss and told him I needed to work from home while he was gone because there were too many distractions at work. He knew what I meant. I think he emailed his fellow PIs, because they started stopping by in droves suddenly when this guy was in my office... "ah... there you are...could you help me with this or that?". But, now I feel like I'm getting funny looks from them, like I shouldn't have told on the guy, or something. Sigh. I'm the bad guy. Girl.

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Hey Jennster... I think sometimes men will hire a girl with the idea in mind that they might luck into one of those "she's sleeping with the boss" situations you always hear about. Then when it doesn't work out, they're all disappointed, and feel rejected. That's just a drag!

 

I've been wondering about finding a new place to work. I like my job though.

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Sounds like a situation that could build up a lot of tension and stress. I know that we all should be good to the people that come into our lives, but there is a point where if they are disrupting your life you have a right to put yourself first. Not only that, having you as a friend is probably just causing this guy a lot of pain as you are a constant reminder that he cannot get what he wants.You should not feel guilty about backing off your relationship with this guy in any way, and that it is important not to give in to any of his wants that disrupt your life out of guilt pity etc, for the good of you both. No false hope. This guy is acting very irrational and living in his own world where he perceives some kind of magic bond between you 2 that just isn't there. His situation is unfortunate, but you have nothing to feel guilty about, you have been this persons friend and that is a nice thing to have done.

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Hi Polarwinds,

 

I am not trying to support this guy.. just trying to look at this situation from his perspective.

 

Did you by any chance knowingly or unknowingly behave in a way that made him think you are into him? May be you complimented him a lot, as colleagues you did lot of lunches/coffees (just the 2 of you).. something like that? Because I cannot imagine someone being so persistent when there is absolutely no hope whatsoever.

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Thanks Polarwinds I try. This isnt a blame game its about what is the right step now. It seems pretty unlikely that Polarwinds would have led him on by most people's definition, as he is obviously not interpereting her very direct signals now incorrectly. Either way the guy is acting irrational, and it is not hard to find reasons why. MS is a serious disease that is known to cause depression, and if the guy is seeing what he wants and not what she is telling him... then it makes sense that he would be persistent. It sounds like this person may benefit from counseling (even just short term) and may be a little obsessed, if you ask me for the most part kindness from you is mainly going to fuel the obsession. And by counseling I just mean that perhaps if he can talk to someone about it all he can get more of a perspective on things. We obviously all agree that this guy needs and wants something good in his life, but he has to realize that this is a dead end because you dont return his feelings, and the sooner he can forget about it the sooner he can find happiness somewhere else. I dont think that it is fair for you to have to leave your job over this. I hope you can reach some kind of compromise, and that nothing bad happens if his mental state changes. Dont be afraid to PM me as the situation develops or if you just need to discuss Polar.

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OMG fisch's advice is freakishly dead on and insightful for one so young! That is exactly the way I feel about it. And I will add another element. I believe this guy is also acting out of a somewhat controlling and masogonistic need to make you feel bad. He is indeed being irrational. You owe him absolutely nothing, and yet he's got you all bent up, and everyone else too, because of his 'unrequited feelings'. Please. Enough is enough.

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You guys are hitting the nail right on the head. This guy is depressed. He changed his depression medication a few months ago, and he seems to be spiralling downward since. He's going around and around in his head about why he is the way he is. He's not happy with the way he's behaving. I've shifted our talk to this issue. I understand depression pretty well, so I told him that it seems like he's in a bad cycle, and should go back on prozac to see if the world seems better. The MS can affect a person's brain, too. I've noticed it in him to some degree, though he can still work alright. His ideas are sticky. He gets a wrong idea about something in his head (little things), and when I correct the missperception, he doesn't remember it the next day. He'll say the same thing again. And again and again.

 

About making me feel guilty. Yes!! I definitely feel like he is trying to make me feel bad for him, to get me to want to step in and save him. He has told me in the past that he liked me (when I indicated that I was gonna start seeing someone else), and included in the message that he doesn't have any options, that pretty much, if I didn't get together with him, that was it. He would be alone for the rest of his life.

 

Here's the latest note he sent:

----------------------------------------

I am not getting scary crazy on you.

 

I have never had a break in my life, before or after I got this disease, and in the couple of times I have ever fallen in love with someone, it has always just ended...even if it never started. It is just harder and harder to pick myself up, knowing that I am only ever going to be able to imagine living in love with someone, and what it feels like.

 

You are just getting caught in the debris from my wreck and I'm sorry.

---------------------------------------

 

 

But part of the reason I am so unattracted to him is that I really have no idea what goes on in his head. He is always just doing and saying things he thinks I want to hear. He's just acting.

 

Oh man, it helps talking about it! Thanks guys.

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About accidentally leading him on. Well, I'm nice to him. I smile at his jokes. We have hung out outside of work before. There's a place to rent kayaks nearby work, and we'd do that after work a few times way back when. I figured it would be a good way for him to get some excersize since it's his legs that don't work so well. But I've always talked about how crazy I was about some other guy when we were together, so he'd kinda get the idea. I've tried to be a supportive friend. I've never been attracted to him, so I haven't ever flirted with him at all. It hard for me to think of him that way.

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Okay so looks like you have only been a casual co-worker and a friend to him.

 

If you don't mind me asking, how old are you both? How long do you know each other?

 

Also, in one of your posts you have mentioned this:

 

He has told me in the past that he liked me (when I indicated that I was gonna start seeing someone else)

Can you expound on it a bit more? What exactly happened?

 

Did this guy tell you that he likes you after you told that you were interested in someone?

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We obviously all agree that this guy needs and wants something good in his life, but he has to realize that this is a dead end because you dont return his feelings, and the sooner he can forget about it the sooner he can find happiness somewhere else.

 

That is right on!

 

Your insight is great Fisch

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I'm 34 years old, he's uh... 37ish. We've known each other since I started working there almost 7 years ago. I was involved in an unhealthy on again off again type relationship when I first started there. I kept this to myself. When I started this job, the official word to anyone who asked was that we were just friends (because we were trying to break up for good). When the break up didn't take, we decided to try to just make it work then, and we moved in together (along with a couple of other people). That's when I told my co-working I was hooking up with this guy, like it was something new. He didn't know about the past history, because I wasn't interested in sharing the dysfunctional nature of the relationship at my new job. I did talk about him quite a bit though. The day after I told him I was getting together with this guy, the MS guy sent me a short email saying that he really liked me, and hoped we could get together. And he basically said I was his only hope. I don't remember the exact wording of the email, but it sounded like a guilt trip, and I didn't appreciate it. I do try to help folks in need (though I think I've lost some of my compassionate nature over time). I have the idea that he may have been (and still is)trying to take advantage of my nature. Or what used to be my nature.

 

Anyway, things didn't work out with the guy I moved in with, but moving in together was a really good move in this case. We both split willingly and on good terms. Of course, I have a feeling he expected I'd still cave once in awhile so he could have the best of both worlds (sleep with me, without being committed). I never looked back though.

 

I met my current boyfriend shortly after that breakup, which I know is a dangerous time to get involved, but it's been working out fantastically. We've been seeing each other for 4 years, living together for 2 of those.

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I had a friend like this too, whom persisted even when I was with someone, long term. Even saying things like "well, when you break up...." or "when you are single again" and it TRULY offended me.

 

I actually terminated the friendship because I found it VERY disrespectful to me, my partner and my relationship. And the truth is, he thought we were "meant to be" too, but he forgot part of the equation - I did not think that! I had NEVER led him on and always been VERY clear I was not interested in him that way, boyfriend or not.

 

It was very hard, but necessary and after I ended it I breathed much easier because I was not dealing with that stress anymore or feeling that unwarranted pressure. It was a shame as we had been friends a long time, but clearly we had different goals for the friendship.

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Telling me he liked me in the email, I think that was ok. He just wanted me to know in case it made a difference. I don't mind that so much. Especially since he did just drop the issue altogether when I didn't respond. It was the laying of the guilt that bothered me the most about that.

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Wow... that's very much the same situation! He's just waiting for my current relationship to end, and he's sure it will! He's always saying stuff like, "oh... he's down visiting his family without you... that's terrible.", and other things, trying to make him seem a bad guy. I think he's convinced himself that I can't possibly be serious about my boyfriend.

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Wow... that's very much the same situation! He's just waiting for my current relationship to end, and he's sure it will! He's always saying stuff like, "oh... he's down visiting his family without you... that's terrible.", and other things, trying to make him seem a bad guy. I think he's convinced himself that I can't possibly be serious about my boyfriend.

 

Sigh, yeah, been there and heard that!

 

I know YOU feel really divided about it as you are so close to this situation...but, put yourself in your boyfriends shoes if he knew your friend was saying things like this....and after putting yourself in his shoes, maybe you will see why you may need to be more firm with ending this behaviour, meaning ending the friendship.

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