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Ask Ellie: Take break from friendship if it doesn't lead where you want it to

If she’s uninterested in a relationship, ask why and consider a pause so you both take time to reconsider

Dear Ellie: I’m 38, my female friend’s 27. We no longer work together, but remained friends over four years.

Despite an age gap, we have a lot in common. I heard from a mutual friend that she had been very interested in me until she learned my age.

We now keep active together, have attended a few sporting events, she invited me to her last birthday (I brought her a small gift), and she baked me cookies last Christmas.

She also asked me to help her with a small side business. We really enjoy each other’s company.

She politely declined accompanying me to a friend’s wedding. Yet lately, she’s wanting to do more activities alone with me. I’ve met her sister, and her family now knows of me (unlike before).

Is she possibly changing her mind?

Need Advice Please

Let things unfold naturally. If you’re alone together more often, greater closeness becomes natural. Or, she’ll say outright that she only wants to remain as friends.

Be natural, don’t pressure her. Her current signals are that your connection’s more positive over time.

But if she’s uninterested in a relationship, ask why and consider taking a break from the friendship so you both take time to reconsider.

Reader’s Commentary Regarding whether a husband and his “gay” female co-worker were playing his wife for a fool (March 9):

“Perhaps there’s no “affair” there, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing detrimental to the marriage.

“I learned the hard way that not all extramarital relationships must be sexual to destroy the marriage bonds.

“My husband began spending time with a mutual, female friend, starting with one or two downhill ski daytrips.

“I no longer ski so didn’t object and was happy my husband had a companion to continue the activity he loved.

“Eventually, outings with this person became more frequent and extended to other activities, including many activities my spouse and I had previously enjoyed together.

“I felt hat their friendship had become too intense and was lessening our ability to spend time together and connect physically/emotionally as a couple.

“I started objecting to their relationship. The conflict eventually ended our marriage.

“My now ex-husband still maintains that his friendship with this woman wasn’t sexual, so he did nothing wrong. He considers my objections mere jealousy.

“It’s taken two years and a good therapist to name his behaviour, an Emotional Affair, plus two years of therapy for me to fully comprehend how it ruined a 30-year marriage.”

Looks/Feels Like an Affair

When an ex-spouse argues that they “did nothing wrong,” ask what they did “right” besides doing whatever they pleased.

Perhaps he could’ve told you that, with skiing so important to him, he’d like to have you occasionally join him (and his co-worker too, if it’s so innocent).

Perhaps you could’ve tried harder to help him see you were left on your own, and still not invited to do other activities you had liked together.

Unfortunately, it seems apparent that by the time you were upset enough to object to their activity as a twosome (and be labelled “jealous” by him) his emotional affair had taken hold.

Your therapist’s explanation was right on, yet I have another everyday phrase to add: Your ex placed his own self-interest as Number One in his life… making this a “selfish affair.”

I suspect he ultimately could’ve engaged in a selfish/emotional affair at any time one happened along so conveniently, without worrying about its impact on you.

FEEDBACK More regarding Sex for Seniors (Feb.19/Mar.10/ Mar.29):

Reader – “I’m a widow of six years after a very happy 39-year marriage. I wanted a companion to share dinners and travel together, so went online to a site for people over 50 (I was then 64).

“I met a wonderful divorced man with lots in common - including a good sex drive! We’ve been together four and a half years, living common-law the past three, have travelled together all over Ontario, and overseas.

“He’s my best friend whom I love dearly. We’re getting married this fall! There ARE dating sites for our age group, just keep looking!”

Reader #2 - “I’m also a widow, and have used two dating sites aimed at seniors - SilverSingles and Ourtime.

“I met a wonderful guy through the latter site. We’ve been living together during Covid and doing great (and having great sex too). So, not all hope is lost for widows out there!”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Call greater interest in a “friend” than being with a spouse, an affair - emotional/selfish/unfair.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].