Online friendship and mental health
For the past year I have been talking to a new friend online (from another city, we have never met). At first we were very close, messaging all day every day, however in the past few months it has decreased more and more. When I asked him about why this was happening, he claimed I was hung up on him, that I have my own life and I shouldn't worry about him. I felt extremely hurt by this because I thought we were close and had a good relationship, but hearing it was a big "F off". We continued talking, but a bit less, and a few weeks later he told me he finds socialising tiring, he is a social recluse and doesn't want to talk to me as much. I felt bad for making him talk to me so much, but also a bit confused how he could talk to me so much at the start but only now it is a problem. And so, we have continued talking but even less as I feel I will be bothering him. This past week I've found myself sitting around, constantly checking my phone, hoping he will message me but he hasn't. I don't properly know him so don't know what he is like or experiencing in his life. But at the same time, this friendship is not good for my mental health. It's affecting my ability to engage in day to day activity and I can't get him off my mind. At times I so badly want to delete him from my life because it hurts too much, but I can't bring myself to do that.
I don't know what to do and was hoping for some advice.
I am sorry you are feeling rejected by your friend. It's awful when things change like that for no real apparent reason.
However, it's also important to remember that people may not always be what they appear to be, especially in an online environment. Take me for example; you may imagine me to be anything from a 25 year old male, to a 75 year old female ...... of which I am neither. What I am is a woman in my very late 40's. But you only have my word for that, and no evidence to suggest otherwise.
There could be a whole world of reasons as to why he has cooled off, and maybe none of which you will ever know. Things change in peoples lives and when we have an online-only relationship with them, we just don't get to see that change, or know anything about it. And sometimes too, people don't want to discuss that change online.
My suggestion to you is to get out there into the real world, face-to-face with the family and friends in your life. Make some dates for coffee and/or dinner and reconnect with people that you can see and hug.
Yes you will grieve for this online friend, but it will get easier over time. Who knows, there could be a brand new face-to-face friend out there, just waiting for you to meet them; at the gym, in the supermarket, in some community group somewhere ...... there are loads of opportunities out there to meet real people in the real world.
I do hope you can start to move on from this person soon, and that you find, or reconnect with others already in you life.
Take care. Hope that helps a little. xo
So sad to learn your friendship has not turned out in the way you hoped. I see your friend says he is a social recluse and is tired by the effort of talking. This may well be true and his initial enthusiasm gave him the impetus to write. Now the excitement of a new friend has died down he has gone back into his shell. And of course there are heaps of other reasons why he has pushed you away.
One thing I urge you not to take on board is that you forced him to talk to you. It was always his decision to talk or not just as it is your decision. Whatever the reason for his desire to stop talking with you it is not your fault.
I understand the disappointment of not being able to pursue a friendship that appeared to start out so well. Unfortunately this happens in life. What starts out as an enjoyable friendship can fade away just as quickly, which is what seems to have happened here. The distress for you is the unrealised expectation of this friendship continuing. It is disappointing. I suggest that continuing this correspondence will only bring you more disappointment and hurt. Clearly this person has moved on and all you can do is accept this and find different friendships.
It's not easy I know and especially after an online friendship which is much easier to manage than a face to face relationship with the added bonus of not having to work very hard to meet someone. Why not stop corresponding? I believe you will not continue to be hurt again because you know what sort of person he is. Spending your day looking at your phone every few minutes is a waste of your time. Your body reacts to every disappointment by leaving you feeling flat and racking your brain to understand why. As you say, it's not good for your mental health.
I suggest you take a deep breath and stop talking. No need for explanations as it appears to be what he wants anyway. Let him go and find some real flesh and blood friends. I think you will be happier with the results of relating face to face. You are worth more than a casual chat whenever someone has the time and inclination.
Keep posting in here.
It's me again - a year and a half later and I still haven't learnt my lesson.
This is one of the most emotionally tolling relationships I have had, and yet I still can't pull away. I have never figured out what allows me to put up with this. When we talk, it's like magic. I feel so alive and happy, it's one of my favourite feelings. But those periods in between are torture, they leave me feeling extremely low. I wonder if I have put him on a pedestal, or maybe it's the intrigue of the unknown since we have never met. Truthfully I feel it is the hope for him to want me, to go back to the start where he couldn't get enough of me - the feeling of being desired.
It's hard to say how he feels about me, and I spend my days replaying our conversations over in my head, each time analysing a new aspect or taking a different perspective. Some days I talk myself into believing that I am a light in his life, while others I determine his distance as the lack of interest. I find myself wondering what it would be like if we were to hang out in person so then I can properly understand how he feels about me.
When he is free, he will talk to me heaps and that was present over the Christmas/New Year period and during the start of COVID-19 where we got extremely close. This closeness makes me thrive off his attention and makes me daydream about being more than friends, even though that will never be possible. Then he got busy again and the talking died off. I told myself I couldn't put up with this pain anymore and stopped talking to him.
I felt great while we were apart and enjoyed focusing on my life. My overall mental health improved and I felt stronger than I had in a long time. However, after 5 months of not talking, I had the idea it would be nice to have him in my life again so I messaged him. We messaged all last weekend, it was just like old times, I was back on my high. But it's been a week of no contact now and I have not coped well. I have been feeling low and wondering why he hasn't messaged, what about me is not good enough. I have even made myself physically ill with guilt and the desire for his attention. I have let the cycle occur again.
I desperately want to be close friends with him, and yet I set unrealistic expectations for our relationship and struggle to get him out of my mind in his absence. I want to live my life and feel good about myself, instead of spending my free time dwelling over what somebody thinks about me.
What should I do?
Perhaps the issue is exactly what you said in the statement: "I set unrealistic expectations for our relationship" and therefore, so is the solution, that you also stated before that: "I told myself I couldn't put up with this pain anymore and stopped talking to him. I felt great while we were apart and enjoyed focusing on my life. My
overall mental health improved and I felt stronger than I had in a long time."
I know that when I stopped drinking, I went to a convention where I heard someone read out the questions from a flyer, that asked about drinking habits .... except that when he read it out, he replaced the word 'drinking' with the word 'thinking' and so it read like this:
'Have you ever decided to stop thinking for a week and only lasted a few days?'
'Have you even found yourself wishing that others would mind their own business about your thinking?'
'Have you ever lost time at work because of your thinking?' .... etc.
I remember that I was both astounded, and felt like he had NAILED the problem. My problem was my thinking, which came out in my drinking and, when left to my own devices - whether it be for a week, a month or a year - I was unable to stop myself from keeping away from the idea of that first drink. That is how the 'obsession' was defined to me: obsession being that of an idea that (eventually) overtakes all other ideas, and when left to try and deal with it alone, it is too much for us.
I know that you are not 'drinking' this guy (!) but perhaps the thinking that surrounds him is something that is to much for you to handle alone - whether it be walking away from him for a week or a month or a year - and that maybe therefore it is time for some counseling help? Do you think that is something you could consider? It certainly sounds to me that this is something a bit bigger to deal with just on your own. And there is lots of help out there, if you want it?
Anyway, that's all I got for now. Don't know if that helps much? I hope it does.
Take care. xox