Please help me phrase an uncomfortable but important email.
January 16, 2013 8:46 AM Subscribe
I thought he was attracted to me. I'm really attracted to him. Turns out he's just really excited about my creative work. Help me find the words to be honest about the attraction and the fact that I'd like to get past that imbalance so we can do all the collaborations we want to do.
I had a misunderstanding with someone I contacted on an online dating site. I thought he and I were getting excited about each other romantically as well as getting really excited about each other's work (we're both accomplished pros in the same creative field). He just thought we were getting really excited about each other's work.
I was under this wrong impression for long enough to develop plenty of fantasies about him -- definitely sexual fantasies, and more importantly creative fantasies (about the potential for working together specifically in ways inspired by our feelings for each other). That kind of mutual creative+romantic inspiration is what I'm most looking for in life, so it's logical for me to have projected it onto someone's purely platonic excitement.
I don't know whether this was a miscommunication all along (i.e., he was never considering a romantic relationship and assumed I contacted him on a dating site just because we're in the same fairly obscure field) or a situation where he needed us to spend more time together in person before he could decide whether he was attracted to me. I am guessing it's the latter, which of course also stings on a surface level beyond the deeper disappointment.
So, now that he's been clear that he's extremely excited about my work and thinking, and certainly wants us to be good friends and collaborators, but is not interested in anything "more intimate," I need to communicate to him the following (which I was not able to communicate in the moment when he said that; my best guess is that what he sensed was some disappointment but not my actual level of surprise or disappointment):
- I misread the situation and was really attracted to him;
- although I'm disappointed and kind of embarrassed, my best guess is that this won't be a long-term issue, that I'll settle into being quite comfortable with being his friend and collaborator, if that's also comfortable for him.
This is hard in part because I've never been in this situation before. Pretending the attraction never existed is not an option - transparency's always important to me, but it's especially crucial if I want to do any real work with someone else.
He and I are both mid-30s, mid-career, each working at a level where collaboration would clearly be mutually beneficial beyond our admiration for each other's work. (Also: I'm female, just so nobody has to assume / reach for pronouns.