How can I not mess this up?
March 3, 2014 5:17 AM Subscribe
How do you have a platonic relationship with someone who has expressed non-platonic interest in you? Is this possible?
posted by outoftime to Human Relations (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have a long history of platonic friendships ending up not very platonic at all. My personal life is currently in a shambles due to this very thing (the last time I had feelings for a “platonic” friend I told him in an attempt to “clear the air” and see previous questions as to how that turned out).
Currently at work there is a man who I get on with really well, but there’s never been any hint to me that it was anything other than a connection based on our work and a similar outlook on life. We’ve never really talked about anything personal and have never been alone together. I had emailed him once or twice about a work-related thing but there were no flirty overtones or anything. I like him a lot and look forward to talking to him and was glad we had met, but hadn’t thought of him ”like that”.
Then on Friday we had a work night out and it ended up just the two of us. He knew that I was separated and was asking me about things, and I told him everything (he’s very easy to talk to and also I had had a few drinks) and then I asked him about his own situation. He said ‘never mind, you already have two men in your life, you don’t need another one.” I was a bit shocked, and thought he was maybe joking so I didn’t really respond, and then he said “I think it’s better if we just stay colleagues, but I think we were always going to have this conversation.” I took that to mean he had maybe thought we had both felt something. Then he said some very complimentary things, and said he hoped I’d be happy because [nice things]. I didn’t really know what to say as it genuinely took me by surprise. We continued chatting and then we left separately. I text him the next day just to say I hoped he got home ok, and that I hoped we’d be ok because I wanted to keep him as platonic friend. He replied, “Please don’t worry, I know a thing or two about Plato, and we’ll be fine. Good luck with everything and see you next week.”
Now I’m a bit worried about how to be around him. I know he has been single for a long time and from things he has said in the office I know he isn't a player type, and isn't interested in people very often and I don't want him to feel bad in any way. I’m not sure what it is that I do that this happens but I swear I wasn’t giving out any signals. He’s a nice and very intelligent man and I don’t think he’ll be off with me – I hope – but I’m nervous about seeing him this week (we only work together once a week). Previous to this I had been thinking about asking him for a coffee sometime, but now it feels like I can’t because it would look like I was leading him on. I don’t know whether to never speak of it again, to make a light hearted joke about it, to be more cool with him or what. I’m afraid that he’ll be embarrassed and the balance of power will have shifted or something. I just don’t want any awkwardness and I think he would be a good friend to have as well as a good professional contact (we share an outlook on our work that not everyone in our field does and it’s rare to find it).
So I want to know how best to proceed so I don’t create some other mess. Have you been in the same position and how did you glide past this to remaining friends with no hard feelings? Or is it impossible? And if you were him, if you have been in his position, how would you want me to be from now on? I realise I’m maybe worrying about nothing, but given how much I’ve messed this sort of thing up before I would like some advice because clearly I’m not capable of managing it myself. Thanks.