Knowing When to Stay Just Friends

This is a difficult post for me to write, but I thought I needed to do it for my own catharsis.  Recently, I started chatting online with 40-something gentleman we’ll call Mike.  We met on a popular dating site; he wrote to me first.  He told me that he was divorced and recently moved back to the Boston area.  He is an artist, which I find appealing, since I am an avid lover of the arts.  It did dawn on me that he might not make a good living that way, but I maintained my hope that he, perhaps, had a day job to pay the bills.

Mike has a kindness that I can see shine through in his messages.  He is intelligent and thoughtful, but there was a similarity that started coming through as his messages began to pour in.  For example, for every one message that I sent him, he would write me 3-4 messages. And, as I would read his lengthy messages, I would sense that he would jump from topic to topic and then return to a previous one.  His first message was one large paragraph.  I responded with spaces between my paragraphs and then he mimicked what I wrote.  And then he’d return to the lengthy, running paragraph.

It reminded me of my ex – we’ll call him David – who suffered from bipolar disorder.

And sure enough, Mike came out in his most recent email that he suffers from both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  He also admitted that he hasn’t been able to hold down a job in years.  Again, very similar to David.  Mike’s emails also reminded me of David’s.  Obviously intelligently written but with some rambling and sharp topic changes.

Mike told me that he is now on disability and collects from the government as a result.

First and foremost, good for Mike!  He is taking medication and seems to have his illness under control.   I respect him wholeheartedly for that.

But, I had to email him and tell him that because of my past experiences with David, I wasn’t willing to pursue a romantic relationship with him.  I couldn’t do it again.  David was also intelligent and handsome, but he could also be cruel and heartless when he wanted to be.  I think if I had met Mike earlier in my life and his illness came through once we were already together, it would be different.  However, this is not something I want to take on again.  Part of me feels like a total jerk for not giving him a chance, but at the same time, I have to preserve my own sanity.

Mike might be kicking himself for being so upfront with me about his mental illness, but I already saw it coming.  I did tell him that while I didn’t want to pursue anything romantic, I would be happy to have a friendship with him.

I wish Mike well on his journey and hope he finds peace in his art and life.

4 thoughts on “Knowing When to Stay Just Friends

  1. On the subject of friends, why do dates that go nowhere romantically just end and not segue into friendship? If two people can get along but there’s no romantic chemistry, why not be friends? I always try for it but the other person does not.

    1. I’m with you, Ari. I think it is great to make new friends if there is no spark but you get along well. Maybe the other person is hurt that it didn’t work out?

      1. Example: I recently went on two dates with someone. At the end of our second date, I told her I enjoyed getting to know her better. Crickets, no response. I left her a message a few days later, hoping I’d hear from her and confirming a suspicion she wasn’t interested. She messaged me back she wasn’t interested and to have a good life.


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