Could I have been so, so wrong?
I'm forty-one and literally never been kissed.
This odd predicament has perhaps come about for a combination of reasons.
(1) I'm somewhat shy, though not "publicly" so.
(2) I'm quite short (160cm). I've been dealt the "You'd be the perfect
boyfriend, if only..." line on several occasions. I've never seen
my lack of stature as a shortcoming, however, as I believe I have much,
much more to offer than height. I'm intelligent, even-tempered, humorous
- even handsome and very athletic - and I get along very well with all
my colleagues and friends.
(3) Throughout my life, I've always been very involved with my work or
study, almost to the exclusion of all else.
Early last year, I moved to a new branch of my company. There, I met
a female colleague who seemed to take an immediate interest in me. She
asked me numerous times if I was involved with anyone. She began telling
me jokingly, on a daily basis, that I was handsome. She would comment
on my powerful chest. She would touch and prod me. She once said, when
we were alone in the office, that if I were to ever leave, she would cry.
On my birthday, she gave me a bunch of flowers. On my office birthday
card, she wrote "I love you"!
I'm rather cautious, and at first kept a cool distance. She was eccentric,
and I suspected that she too had had little if any experience with the
opposite sex. But gradually, I grew to appreciate this woman's brilliant,
sharp wit, her vitality, generosity, and warmth. All our colleagues noticed
that we got along fabulously well, and began dropping hints at the possibilities.
At a certain point, however, I perceived a change in her. She seemed to
"go cold". Her behaviour had become at times subtly hostile.
She even began backtracking. Twice, out of the blue, she said: "Remember
how I asked if you had a girlfriend? I was just wanting to give you some
advice, that's all."
This was about three months after I had first met her. I decided it was
time to make a fast move, and invited her out for an ice-cream. There,
I told her as gently as possible that I was quite fond of her. She said
the thought of me being anything but a common friend had never so much
as crossed her mind once! She would need time to think about it. I found
her response baffling, given her previous behavior, but I was willing
to give her that time.
She never responded to my advance until she was finally pressured by
another colleague to do so. She told me that she had no interest in me
at all. I was heartbroken, of course, but hardly expected what was to
follow. From that point, she embarked on a campaign of constant ridicule
and derision. She snapped at me several times in sudden moments of anger
that didn't seem connected with anything.
I realised she was no longer willing to be even ordinary friends, so
I kept my distance, and tried to simply be a cordial colleague, limiting
our interaction to "Good morning" and so on. It didn't work.
Her bullying continued. Now, I've been reduced to treating her as if she's
invisible, even though we work in the same office space. This has minimized
her jabs at me, but it's not a situation I'm comfortable with, of course.
My questions are: Could I have been so, so wrong about her initial intentions?
Can people's feelings change so suddenly? If she did have some initial
interest, is there any chance that anything could ever be salvaged from
this mess? How should I deal with the current situation?
Hard to tell what happened, as your story is incomplete, and looks like
it'll stay that way, as you aren't talking.
Neither of us can read her mind, and we do not know of her previous experiences
... she may have been flirting with you, precisely because she never considered
for a second that you would take it any other way; her cooling off may
have been her fear, when the comments of others (never to be relied on)
made her realise your feelings.
I suspect that in your panic at her 'cooling off' you probably terrified
her with your "fast move" - so obviously out of character.
But, we're agreed that that's conjecture; we'll probably never know.
As to the future, unless one of you leaves, you can only hope that time
will soften the pain and fear. Do not expect, ever, to 'get back to how
things were'; what is possible is an unspoken truce, with a new friendship
at greater distance than before. Give her space, and time - and understand
that for whatever reason, it wasn't mean to be, and ain't going to happen.
I doubt you need to blame yourself entirely, but you do need to consider
the poor judgement in relying on office gossip - everyone loves a lover,
half the office want to be matchmakers. But it's not their risk. Or their
As a shy person, Rules 1 through 101 state "Take it slowly, one
step at a time, no sudden movements" - The Turtle can win the race
- but not if it starts leaping about like a Hare.
Good Luck; get on with your life.