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I ruined the best friendship

Eric wrote:

My friend of many years. Sally, has had a hard time recently (boyfriend trouble et al)

I kind of looked out for her but recently, when I thought she was feeling down, I told her by e-mail, that I loved her.

And I do, but I meant as if she were family, She took it the wrong way and has cut me off.

I tried to explain, but she won't talk to me.

I am crushed, I know its my fault and I am over protective at times, but had no idea that she thought I was interfereing. My heart is genuinely broken. I feel the same way about losing this friendship as I did when lost my Mum and Dad.

My wife says I am over sensitive, but I just used the wrong words, other than that she agrees with my friend.

Some of the very reasons why she loves me so much!

There has been a knock on effect from this, in that two other friends have ostracised me as well.

Could it be the age difference (I am 45 and they are in their early 30's)

Either way I feel really bad about myself.

What can I do to put things right?

Dear Eric

You talk about the loss of friendship as though you had lost a lover, and yet the row was about you declaring your love 'as if she were family'.

I suspect she knows - and your wife knows - more than you.

Friendships with an age gap often exist on a delicate balance; the age gap is ignored so long as no-one points to it, rather like the emperor's new clothes.

You said something that was misunderstood, and, in trying to put it right, dug a deeper hole.

We'll never know how much you (subconsciously?) cared for her - and we'll never know how much she cared for you.

But we do know that in an instant, you went from friend to father substitute, and these things can often not be reversed. I suspect that in your anxiety to sort it out, you have embarassed her, which is why her friends have joined in.

Sometimes things are best left unsaid; once said, it's too late.

Step back, calm down, and see what happens; but be prepared not to reclaim the magic.

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