Over the last three years of school I’ve developed an incredible friendship with a guy who at first appeared to me as very awkward, closed off and shy. I was never sure whether to approach him to say hello (as I would see him on the subway going home often standing on his own) and always wanted to say something but never sure whether he wanted to talk.
It wasn’t until one of our classes when we were given a partner assignment and by chance happened to get each others names. Since then over the last three years I have seen him slowly grow out of his quiet, awkward shell and we have become so close that we can talk to each other about anything. We can relate on levels that others may not be able to understand due to our past and we both value each others friendship more than words can say.
Since last summer I noticed a change in his behaviour. The way he acted around me, his constant fidgeting… I could sense he was battling something internally that he wouldn’t share with me. Up until recently I remained silent as it was never anything extreme and I still felt at ease in his presence but this past week things changed dramatically. When we were together working on an assignment it felt very formal and tense talking to him. He was fidgeting more than usual and when I looked into his eyes I could tell there was something wandering in his head that was trapped. It was as if whatever was on his mind kept growing and trying to get out but the more he kept it in the more violent it became.
After our class this past Friday we rode the subway home together and before he got off at his stop, he turned to me and said…
I really want to tell you something. (pause) I’m just too afraid.
Then he walked off and I was at a loss. I reflected on our friendship over the last three years and what may have caused it to change. I had always sensed how much he cared for me; through his actions and harmless flirtatious comments here and there but I never knew exactly how he felt towards me. I never talked to him about my relationships out of fear he did feel something towards me and if that was the case never wanted to hurt him.
However, I knew it was time he told me how he felt whatever may happen as a result of it. I composed a heart felt email to him Friday night when I got home explaining how I genuinely cared for him and I could sense something wasn’t right. I told him that nothing he would say would jeopardize our friendship.
The next day I got a new notification in my email that he had responded. As I read it, I started crying as my prediction was right. He did in fact have stronger romantic feelings for me that had been growing since the summer. He was always afraid to tell me how he felt as he never wanted things to be awkward if I didn’t feel the same, especially because we are working on several projects together this year.
After reflecting and organizing my thoughts, I sent an email back to him. I explained how honoured I felt that he cared for me that much. I was also so happy he finally expressed his feelings which I knew was hard for him to do as I am one of the only people he feels comfortable talking to, and since the subject was me he had no one else to turn to. I told him that I value his friendship so much and it means the world to me, but I didn’t feel there was a romantic connection that could develop. I would also never want to sacrifice our dynamic work relationship, especially if we were to go into business together post graduation.
I know that it will probably take him some time to process my email response and it may be a bit awkward at first when I see him, but I really hope we can get back to how our friendship used to be.