If you take action, your feelings will change with the action. Consider the following story as an example. A man and woman have worked together for years. They are casual, but friendly at work and during some social occasions. She has worked with him through charities, supported him through a divorce, and wrote to him when he worked out of the country. Then, one day, out of the blue she stops in to say good morning, like every day before, but something new is in the air. Suddenly, there is something electric, when had he become so handsome? She wanted to share more than an old table in the cafeteria in that moment. He too was sending signals, but they were at first encouraging and then somewhat confusing.
Things like a promised lunch that had to be cancelled due to illness and then a lingering smile that turned into a rushed exit for a made-up excuse. Just when she was ready to keep things friendly, he would come back and send another signal. When something rough happened in his life, she would offer a hug, nothing more was ever said. They were stuck somewhere between work friends and acquaintances outside of work. When he started dating a woman he met out of town, she avoided him, but months later, their friendship was back in tact, but only as a friendship. This was disappointing, but from that, growth and healing can occur. Here is how.
Take the Time You Need
After a long time of feeling more than we are willing to acknowledge, it can be tough to let go. We may experience insomnia or appetite loss, possibly crying and depression. Take a break from the person that led to this pain. Limit contact as much as possible without being mean. Do not let yourself dwell on what may have been. Take time to reconnect with yourself and friends through volunteering, getting out in nature, or whatever helps you heal. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life while showing yourself some tenderness and compassion.
Realize that Feelings Fade
Get your thoughts under control instead of playing the what if game and imagining a future you do not have with the person. Don’t ignore the disappointment, but know it fades over time. Feelings, and even relationships, are fleeting. We need to focus on moving forward even when it hurts.
You may mourn certain things when not around your friend, like how well they care for others or mindfulness, but those qualities do not belong to a single person. Someone else with the same qualities can be found if you can move on. In fact, when we stop focusing on one person, we may just meet the right person. Enjoy and live life.
As easy as it is to focus on rejection and injustice, we have all been on the giving and receiving end. The person you thought you loved did not mean harm because there was never anything going on. Have enough respect not to assign or take on blame. When you do have contact again, find something else to do to take your mind off of lingering feelings. Let the feelings pass.
New Boundaries and Understanding
Everyone we meet serves a purpose in our life. Some teach us lessons when we need them, others will teach us something that is hard in the moment, but still necessary. We must learn to adjust our expectations and know that not all is as we want it. Sometimes a smile is just a smile. Find value in rebuilding a connection as friends, but set clear boundaries and stick to safe topics. This is an adjustment, but it is far from impossible. Whatever the future holds, you still have a friend.