Earlier this year, I made the mistake of misinterpreting a coworker’s behavior for affection and told her I had feelings for her. She shot me down after 2+ months of silent treatment. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and must cope with social anxiety. So, I’m in the “Friends Zone” or some other form of limbo, which a part of me can accept. But that and just the stress of having a high-anxiety job and trying to interpret others’ behavior made me sort of “shut down” and defriend her and other coworker/friends on Facebook. She’s kind of high-anxiety, too, (though not an “Aspy”) and understands.
You’re a doctor of love and not psychology, but I was wondering what tips you have for dealing with the stress of interacting on a regular basis with someone you had feelings for. Especially when you’re in a situation when you’re forced to rely on each other to succeed in a 60-hour a week job. Other than finding other prospects, which I’m in the process of doing.
Or, what advice do you have to suspend that part of yourself that makes you question your behavior/ perceptions and the behavior of others?
Any tips for relaxation you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Before I get to your question (and this isn’t directed at you, by the way) , I’m going to take a quick aside:
Asperger’s Syndrome is one of the most commonly given excuses for being an asshole on the Internet. Sometimes people honestly think they have it thanks to a checklist they found on a website. Others use it as a “get out of trouble free” card when they get called out on being a dick.
Unless you have an actual diagnosis from a licensed medical professional whom you have seen in person, claiming Asperger’s as your excuse for being awkward, a little off or an all-around ass-hat makes things more difficult for the people who actually do have it.
Ok, back to your letter.
Hey, I’ll be the first to tell you: getting shot down can be humiliating. Getting shot down when you were completely misreading the signals can be even more so, since now you feel like an idiot on top of things. And when it’s a co-worker… yeah, I can understand why you’d be dealing with anxiety. Although as much as the humiliation can sting, taking the nuclear option on your crush and your fellow co-workers is a bit on the extreme side. Unless there was some great breach of trust rather than just a moment of social awkwardness, you really don’t need to go as far as have. While I know – oh, believe me, I know – that it can feel as though the world is crashing in on you, it really isn’t a big deal in the greater scheme of things. It will pass and unless you’re working with assholes, it will end up being a case of “…and we shall never speak of this again,” assuming that you aren’t able to laugh at it later.
In the meantime, you are working at a job that requires trust and coordination with your co-workers. How do you continue working with someone you had a crush on and shot you down? Well, you be a professional. You focus on the job at hand and, if necessary, keep your interactions on work subjects.
For your anxiety issues, you may want to look into yoga and meditation techniques, especially ones that involve learning how to control your breath. As a quick and easy way to help calm yourself down, slow your breathing down. Take a breath in through your nose for a count of four, hold it for a count of two, then breathe out through your mouth for a count of eight. As you do so, you should feel your heart rate start to slow and your muscles start to unclench as you convince your body that no, you don’t need all that adrenaline just now, thanks.
I need your help on something that I think is causing me a lot more stress then it needs to. My girlfriend and I have been going out for almost a year. Before this, we were best friends through our freshmen year of high school and we just got together last November. She had moved because her father is in the navy and for most of this year shes been living in San Diego – a 6 hour drive from where I was. I was fine with the long distance relationship at first because she was coming back in the summer.
A month ago though she told me that she’s moving again (this time to Iowa) for the school year and promises that she’s coming back next summer for good this time. The problem is I am not sure I want to do the long distance thing anymore because of how hard and stressful it is and I kinda want to break up with her. The big problem is that I’m afraid of breaking her heart and feeling really guilty about it. She’s really in love with me and she gets really emotional whenever something like this happens and umm starts saying shes going to hurt herself. Shes my first girlfriend and I really need your help getting through this. Please help.
Long distance relationships suck. There’s no getting around it; they suck even more when you’re young and have no agency of your own to go out and visit. Having to go through that cycle several times can be incredibly frustrating and, yes, stressful. So I can understand why you might want to make a clean break of it and start over.
Breaking up ain’t easy if you have half a heart, and it’s commendable that you want to avoid hurting her. Unfortunately, the cold hard truth is that there really is no way to dump someone and not hurt them. You’ve already made up your mind, so there’s nothing left but to do it Ultimately it’s best to treat it like ripping off a bandage: do it quickly and get it over with. It’ll hurt like a son of a bitch, but the short sharp pain will be infinitely preferable to slowly dragging it out over time. It’s better for you and it’s better for her.
And make no mistake, she knows this is coming. Her threatening to hurt herself if you break up is part of how she’s trying to cling to you. And that’s one more very good reason why you should end this: it’s no longer a relationship, it’s a hostage situation. And you’re the hostage.
Again, it’s commendable that you worry about her really hurting herself; it’s a sign that you do care. However, you can’t be responsible for other people’s actions. Even if she were to hurt herself (spoiler alert: she won’t. It’s a bluff. At most there will be some attention-seeking drama) you aren’t the one who made her do it.
Make a clean break of it. Be quick, be firm. Don’t argue with her or reason with her; that turns it from a break up into an ongoing negotiation. One that you will ultimately lose. Just tell her how you feel, why you’re ending it and then end it and walk away.