I had a falling-out with my closest friend at work and it’s really getting me down. We spent all our time together — and then one night, out of the blue, he kissed me. I recoiled. I’ve never once thought of him in a romantic way. Now he won’t even look at me, and a co-worker told me he’s saying that I led him on. What do I do?
First of all, being friends with someone is not leading him on. Just because you sing in the shower doesn’t mean you want to cut a record deal. Second of all, it is never permissible to kiss someone “out of the blue.” Your friend probably feels ashamed and is nursing his wounds. Give him some time.
In the way of the graceful adult, keep things between you professional and civil, which should slowly erode the awkwardness of going at lightning speed from close friendship to radio silence. Then, once you are on speaking terms again, clarify a few essential points about male-female relations: Intimacy is an invitation-only affair, and friendship is not foreplay. He crossed a line. Teach him about lines.
I presume that, given your friendship, he’s a kind and decent man, and that his advance was not ill-intended but the result of an overzealous crush. Still, it will likely make it difficult to return to platonic closeness. How to manage your disappointment and his lingering feelings? The near cure-all we call “empathy.” Try to understand his position and offer wise counsel, but remember you owe him nothing. In the meantime, ask your co-workers to stay out of it.
Claudia Dey is a novelist, columnist and Governor General’s Award–nominated playwright. She is the author of How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier.
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