friendship confusion

Dear Paulo, I’m troubled over a friendship matter. It’s confusing, as this friend seems to be loving one moment then turns into an iceberg the next, and always fails to reply to my mail. But whenever we meet up during gatherings (twice yearly) he’ll shower me with tenderness. The thing I wish to find out is whether he has any interest to develop a stronger bond of friendship. There is a big age gap between us; besides this, both of us are from different walks of life (career wise) and different countries in Asia.

I wrote him back tonight seeking for a clear answer whether he truly accepts me as his friend. I haven’t received any response yet. I care a lot for his well-being and wonder if he feels the same too.

-– Tan, Selangor, Malaysia

Dear Tan, what is a ‘friend’? Perhaps your mind is overwhelmed by the memories of the ‘tenderness’ you felt in his presence. His attention stimulated your feelings and you would like to think that means he cares, but maybe not. Charm is one thing; emotional connection is much more of an effort. (Is there any possibility that he never received your messages?)

Who knows? If he did get your emails, he could be a narcissist, who turns on the charm when he feels like it, but lacks real feelings. There are plenty like that in the world, who believe they are the center of the universe and everyone else is an object for their use (when they are in the mood).

Communication is the lifeblood of friendship, and actions (or non-action, in this case) speak much louder than words. You have evidently given him plenty of invitations to communicate. His refusal to respond when you reach out to him, demonstrates lack of interest. We don’t know his reasons, but it sure seems that he is not available to be your friend.

You have done enough to invite him. Unless you need to learn from more suffering, do not pursue him further — out of love for yourself, which is where all adult loving begins. Good friends come to those who have self-respect.