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Ask Ellie: Platonic friend may have caring reasons for distancing

When a very close friend distances from personal contact with you, for reasons unknown, don’t jump to conclusions.

Dear Ellie: I’m a single lady, 70, active, with many girlfriends but with only one same-age male friend. He and I met five years ago and our relationship changed over time, from an intimate to platonic one.

I moved into an apartment a year ago and due, then, to pandemic restrictions, he and I didn’t see each other in person, but we talked regularly.

Recently, I learned that he’s been intimately involved with another woman for several months, which he didn’t share with me until now.

I’m devastated. I feel that my friendship doesn’t mean anything to him and that he’s now still reluctant to meet with me face to face.

He says that his intimate relationship is casual, and uncommitted.

My struggle is this: I feel hurt, that I was used and discarded. I realise that we were only platonic friends, and that he has the right to look for intimacy elsewhere. But he had called me his “best friend,” which meant a lot to me.

I enjoy male company, and discussions that are different from those with my girlfriends.

I fear that I’ll stop communicating with him if he won’t meet with me in person even occasionally (I’m not talking about resuming an intimate relationship). I just want to feel valued and not just used for a sounding board through email or phone.

Especially at our age, we need to nurture our friendships and not to prevent new ones being built. We’re here today and might be gone tomorrow… BUT I don’t want to be where I’m unwanted, and I don’t want to lose a friend due to my possible overreaction.

How am I to navigate this painful situation, at a time while I also feel depressed due to many other family and world-related issues?

Feeling Cast Aside

Feeling depressed on such important levels — from family issues to world-related concerns — is possibly causing you to feel more deeply upset and overreact.

Whatever his reasons, he’s distanced. He knows you well enough to have recognized that too much information might upset you.

Your self-description is an outgoing, active, and well-liked woman with positive attitudes and many female friends. So, you have the inner self-confidence to reassure yourself that he’s previously been a good friend.

Yes, he held back on his intimacy with another woman. But your hurtful reaction has you turning against yourself.

You can surmount this situation by spending more time with your nurturing friends.

And give your male friend another chance. He may have had a caring reason for not sharing everything. Take care of you, for your many years ahead.

FEEDBACK regarding the man’s “clinging mother” (Feb. 17):

Reader: “I’ve always advised people to get to know their grandparents, especially their health issues. I was fortunate to know my grandparents and their siblings.

“I’m now experiencing my own health issues and can trace some back through my family trees. I find fascinating that my family has health issues from my grandmother’s side, but my uncle’s family have health issues from my grandfather’s side.

“As more links become known, there are sudden “light bulb” events regarding one’s own health. Such knowledge might eventually help the children’s own health treatments later in their lives.

“Also, as the children get educated while growing up, new treatments may be uncovered for their grandparents’ health issues. What a bonus that could become, for both their grandmother and their dad!”

Reader’s Commentary regarding the widower who kept his late wife’s photos throughout his house (March 15):

“My father had been twice widowed when he married my mother. Among several pictures on our dining room wall was a photo of each wife and my married half-sister. My middle name was his first wife’s name.

“I knew by age four that many things in our home had been purchased or made by his second wife. To me, and I think my mother, “Lizzie” was a respected family member. Yet my mother was never second-best.

“This widower’s late-wife’s scarves can come out of the closet if this couple ever lives together. But they should be kept respectfully if the husband wishes. Or given to children and grandchildren.

“Photos can be placed in albums or displayed along with other family members, including the new woman. But not yet. As you say, give it time.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

When a very close friend distances from personal contact with you, for reasons unknown, don’t jump to conclusions. Give him/her the benefit of the doubt.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

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