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Ask Ellie: Sometimes, line between friend and lover can be blurred

Can platonic friendship last if there is unrequited love?

Dear Lisi: I’ve been friends with this guy since high school. He’s a few years older, but we spent time working together one summer at the same community centre, so our friendship grew. We both had partners at the time.

Over the next few years, our friendship stayed strong while our partners changed. As he was older, he had a more serious girlfriend for years. She never wanted to hang out with me.

My boyfriends weren’t serious and came and went; some met my friend, others didn’t.

After university, our friendship was still strong and we both found ourselves back in our hometown working for the summer. He and his girlfriend were on the rocks; I was single.

One night he came on to me really strong. I was shocked! I shut him down and left. The next day I went over to his house and let him have it. I was so mad at him for jeopardizing our friendship! I left fuming.

Later that day he came over and apologized. He said he did have feelings for me but knew that I didn’t feel the same way. And he was foolish for risking our friendship like that.

I can’t decide what to do now: distance myself until his feelings go away? Or end the friendship?

Hurt and Confused

Don’t be hurt, be flattered. Your friendship obviously means a lot to him and he clearly likes you a lot. You’re both young with years ahead of you for making mistakes on the road to finding your life partner. Sometimes, the line between friend and more-than-friend can be blurred..

If you want to keep the friendship, let him cool off for a day, but then tell him so. Tell him you’re flattered, but your feelings aren’t mutual. Then tell him that his friendship means a lot to you and you’d like to stay friends, if and only if, he can stay in that lane.

If he can’t, it will just cause trouble down the road. But if he can, you two could have a lifelong friendship. At the moment, it’s up to him.

But don’t be too hard on him … you may find that your feelings change down the road, and if he doesn’t reciprocate, you’ll want him to be as understanding and forgiving as you are now.

FEEDBACK regarding the mother who was worried about her child changing schools often (Nervous Mama Sept. 14):

“I raised a special needs child who changed schools frequently until we found the right program for their needs. The schools attended were not in our home community.

“Three things I did to connect my child to peers:

“1. Participate in community activities after school that meets the child’s interests, e.g., sports, the arts, Guides/Scouts. Many activities are not expensive or can be subsidized by the organization if there is a need.

“2. Volunteer in these activities as your skills and time allow, e.g., coach, leader, organizer.

“3. I organized and drove my child to visit with children who attended the same class, or picked up other children to bring them to my house or a mutually agreed upon activity. It was a lot of work and driving, but it gave my child a social platform. I wish ‘Nervous Mom’ the best for her and her child.”

Reader’s Commentary: “I’m really enjoying reading some of Lisi’s and some of Ellie’s columns. I try not to look at the name at the top and see if I can guess which one wrote the column.

“I’d love to see a question that’s then answered by both.”

Guessing Game

FEEDBACK regarding the response to “Healthy and Happy” (June 7);

“I was so disappointed. I am happy for 60-something ‘Happy’. She is one of the lucky ones to emerge from this pandemic relatively unscathed.

“Many have not been so lucky. With gyms shut down and only virtual doctor appointments, many of us may have survived the virus but never recovered fully. Others, unfortunately, did not survive.

“So perhaps staying healthy and in a loving relationship isn’t a ‘personal choice.’

“Please try and be more empathetic towards those less fortunate than yourself.”

A COVID Survivor

Lisi – Yes, “Happy” is a very fortunate person and many were not so fortunate during COVID. I also got COVID after taking extreme caution for two years. I couldn’t get out of bed for nearly a full week, and was very weak and tired for several weeks afterward. But like you, I survived, as did my family, and we are grateful.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected].