A coworker and I started hanging out after work to play trivia at a pub or have a game night. After something happened with another coworker, I reached out to him for advice. We started texting and calling for hours every day. He became my closest friend. Then I realized I had feelings for him. I’ve never dated before, but my therapist encouraged me to ask him out. I did. He was very kind, but didn’t think it would work. I couldn’t tell if he turned me down because he wasn’t interested, or if he felt he was doing me a favor. It’s been a few months, but we still text and call all day and I’m still enamored. I’m hoping he will change his mind. If he doesn’t, it’s going to be immensely painful for me when he starts dating someone. But if I cut him out of my life, I’ll lose a valued friend. Advice?
Surrender your heart to yourself. At the moment, you allow it to swing between fear your friend will fall for someone else and hope he will reverse his “no” and fall for you. Neither extreme allows you to be centered, calm or present.
Living in the past causes pain. Living in a fantasy about the future pushes you away from reality. If you want to shift toward serenity, release your wish that your friend will change his mind. Dismantle your hierarchy of love. Romantic love isn’t necessarily the best, most important expression of love. Learn how to love a friend without the expectation that the friendship should become a romance. Play with other forms of love. Find ways to selflessly love the world. An expansive perspective about love is essential to spiritual health, despite the cultural dependence on romantic connections.
If you choose the path I’ve described above, it will lessen your grief, but it won’t take it away. You had hopes for this relationship and now you must abandon those dreams, tuck your feelings in and be grateful to have a wonderful friend. You may still find yourself overwhelmed by sadness that the relationship isn’t what you hoped it would become. Recognize those feelings for what they are—residue from a fantasy. Embrace the meaning behind those feelings: You are ready for a real connection with a partner. That is very good to know about oneself. Be open. Someone who is as ready as you are will come your way. If you begin this process now, you won’t be leveled when your friend begins to date someone else. You will be as happy for him as he should be for you.
One last thing: Instead of sitting too long in the idea that you have been rejected, do something sweet to celebrate yourself. You opened your heart and expressed your desire for a committed relationship. You asked someone you like on a date. You didn’t run from him when he said he didn’t think it would work out romantically between you. Honor your courage, strength and openness. Do yourself a favor. Love yourself as generously as you love your friend.