B AND I had been friends since we were 15. I had just moved from another school and she was one of the first friends I made in my new school. At the time she was a bit of a tomboy, so most guys didn’t really like to hang out with her.

However, the two of us became really close friends. Because of that, a lot of people thought that we were a couple or that I was trying to go after her. I tried my best to convince them that we were just good friends.

Soon, though, I started to develop strong feelings for her but I kept it to myself because I didn’t want to ruin our friendship. After Form 5, we both enrolled in the same college and were still close. She still considered me a friend, nothing more. She used to ask me to “shadow” her on dates with other guys if she was a bit wary of them.

Other times she would talk to me about her feelings for other guys.

By this time it had already been three years since I started having feelings for her. I couldn’t keep it in any longer so I finally manned up and confessed my feelings to her. She got mad because she felt that I had betrayed our friendship and she completely shut me out of her life.

The problem is that we are still in the same college and I see her almost every day. But whenever she sees me, she gives me this look filled with hatred.

It’s been almost six months since we last spoke. I still feel that I need to set things straight with her. I don’t mind if I’ve ruined our friendship and that it won’t return to the way it was but I can’t stand the amount of hatred she has against me. Even worse is the fact that we have the same circle of friends.

What can I do to fix this? — Confused

Give her space

Don’t beat yourself up for telling B about your feelings and for wanting to set things straight. These are honest and brave actions, but time and situation simply worked against you then. You are right for recognising that you shouldn’t ignore this tension and ought to approach this carefully.

B’s adversarial reactions are a lot more complicated than a reflex against betrayal. Some people really value their physical space and consider very seriously who they allow into this space. Given her less than warm experience with guys during high school, she must have believed you were ‘different’ and allowed you in. However, your romantic feelings are a transgression of this allowance from her point of view, hence her immediate expulsion of you from her life and surroundings.

Understanding the psychology behind her reactions might help you learn how to approach her – that is, honestly and carefully without raising any alarm bells. You could respect her need for space by writing her a note or an e-mail before making an attempt to speak with her.

Explain through written word that she is a special friend to you, but that developing feelings for her does not make you a bad person. Let her know that you will give her all the space she wants and that she has every right to stop being friends with you if she wishes, but do suggest that a conversation should happen first to clear things up.

Very little resolution is achieved without mutual understanding, and in this case, it seems that both of you need to better understand the other person’s position and rationale. Talking is good and honesty is good. But with someone as sensitive as B, execution is everything, so tread carefully! — Su Ann

Let her speak

You might have to wait and be patient until she cools down. She sounds like someone with a strong resolve to keep the present situation intact for a long time. If so, be comfortable with the fact that the healing process needs a lot of time.

She has her own mind, and you have to respect that. If she’s not interested, then you’ll have to let her go on her own path. When you do bump into each other, then be the bigger person and be civil.

If it’s too awkward, take a break from the mutual friends. You can always meet them on your own time, instead of group outings.

In the event you get to talk to her and clear the air, be calm and just explain yourself. There is no sense of betrayal when you have these feelings for her. Both of you are much better off in each other’s lives instead of being separate.

Recall the trust and strong friendship you both had. That’s something that might not happen with someone else. True friendship is hard to come by, and she should realise that her misguided anger could ruin something rare and special.

Let her speak – perhaps you don’t know the full story. Maybe she’s angry at something else. Get to the root of her feelings, and address it. Try your best to patch things up. But be aware that there are limits to what you can do.

If she still refuses to get over what’s done, then let her go. Best to move on and concentrate on people that matter.

A strong friendship can last the toughest of times. This is the chance for both of you to realise that. — Rusyan

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