Getting the Cold Shoulder

I am a happily married man with a large family. I met a nice young lady through some volunteer work. She is a fellow parishioner. She asked me to take on some projects, which I did. I worked hard at them and we had some successes. One of the projects was quite involved and lasted over a year. I made a lot of personal sacrifices for this project. We worked together on it, and I thought she had become my friend. Not a close friend because I will only have my wife as a close female friend, but a friend. A friend like the friends I have at work. We got a lot of stuff done and I enjoyed working with her.

When the project ended, she began to give me the cold shoulder. Shortly before it ended she backed out of it without explanation. I invited her to have dessert with my family and she looked very uncomfortable that I asked this. She declined with a lame excuse. She won’t say “Hi” back if we run into each other after Mass and I say “hello”, and acts as if she dislikes me. It’s very confusing to me, and I have no idea why she’s doing this. At any rate, since she seems to have developed a dislike for me and is uncomfortable I resolved not to try to initiate a conversation if we run into each other. But on Sunday I ran into her again, and without thinking I gave her a wave. I’m a personable guy and I wave and say hi whenever I run into someone I know. I got a scowl back, without her even making eye contact. I said a prayer for her in my heart and went on my way.

Now I realize not everyone is going to be my friend, and no one owes me anything. If that’s the way she’s going to be that’s her prerogative and I don’t want to be friends with anyone who doesn’t want to be friends with me. But it still hurts my feelings a bit, and I feel a bit used for having worked hard on a couple of projects that she asked me to work on where she acted friendly when she wanted something.

Why do people do this? Is it because I’m a married man and she’s a single female? Because I’m older? Or is it just that ultimately it doesn’t make sense so I should just forget it? Other people don’t do this to me, and I didn’t do anything different with her than I do with anyone else, with the exception of working on an important project with her. What are your thoughts?

My immediate impression was that perhaps she was interested in you, found out later that you were married, and either felt A.) awkward or embarrassed at this misunderstanding (especially if she was being flirty) or B.) irritated because she may have perceived you flirting back. If neither of these scenarios seem plausible, then perhaps there was some small thing that you said or did that rankled her. Often, things that seem like a small deal are amplified for other people and vice versa.

You may be a near occasion of the sin of coveting someone else’s husband for her. There be something going on in her life that you cannot and should not know about that is causing her odd behavior. Wish her the best, but let her have her distance.

I too think the possibility she has a crush on you exist in which case, there is nothing you can do.

However, given the circumstances, ie you are married and she is single and you do not HAVE to work together (like in an office), it would be very inappropriate for you to ask her what is wrong.

So you are just going to have to accept you have no idea what happened and move on


She’s always known I was married. I’ve known her about seven years, and my name was given to her for a project by one of my wife’s friends. Topics of conversation always included what’s been going on with the wife and kids. I’m probably 20 years older than her, overweight, and going bald and gray. I have a lot of kids who are usually underfoot. I would have a hard time believing she would be interested in me. Yes, I’m wishing her the best and giving space. Anglewannabe, you are correct that it would be inappropriate to ask what’s wrong. But it still has me scratching my head. I just hate to think I might have inadvertently given offense and not know what it was.

That has to be frustrating :frowning: But I sincerely doubt you gave offense at all - if you had, you’d most likely have some idea what might have provoked the change. :shrug:

I wonder if maybe someone saw you two interact together and THEY made comments to her regarding your friendship. And being younger (less experienced, perhaps?), she is now trying to make it clear to this third party (or whomever she thinks might be watching) that nothing inappropriate is going on.

At least that’s what it sounds like might have happened based on what I’ve read and some personal experiences in the past. :wink:

I confess that I have acted like the woman you described. I worked as a professional engineer with many men before I became a stay-at-home mom. I have experienced sexual harassment. I have often misread married men who have been friendly with me in parish environments - wondering if they were going to be like the men I had trusted in the past work environment who eventually did try to take advantage of me sexually. I have a hard time judging an opposite sex relationship accurately. It’s about her and her issues. You know your motives, just let her be and be at peace. But if you are a “toucher” - like many men are, who will go up to a woman and give her a shoulder rub, or a hug, that could trigger her. Don’t touch, it confuses women a lot.

In the USA, all she has to say is that you “make her feel uncomfortable” to HR and you’re in the firing line for a hostile work environment disciplinary action. Therefor, unless you would like your next conversation to be with the HR manager telling you that the company wishes you luck in future endeavors:


  • Keep a professional distance from her starting right now.

  • Do not interact with her at work without someone else around that you would trust with your professional career.

  • Same thing in your personal life, and that second person isn’t anyone in your family.

  • If you are assigned another task with her, make sure to ask for a third person for the team. Publicly it’s for diversity, then privately discuss this situation with your supervisor - “Hey, Joe, gota moment, — After LL and worked on project Y, I’ve gotten the vibe that she’s has some issues …” or something along that line and it’s a fine line between doing the “team thing” or being the “speed bump”
    Dilbert comes to mind here.

More than likely you will never find out the cause of the cold shoulder. It could be with your project, how the praise and credit were “given out” caused your young lady friend to feel slighted. Something said to her directly or from overhearing gossip. Even something you said in passing without intent of harm. However, what I’ve found is that the younger generation has a few issues, a few of them being the “I want top shelf without paying for it” and another being “I have no coping issues and take offense easily at the slightest whim.”

[edit] Cross posted with chaplainmom
I’d pay close attention to Everything she says in that post!

I must say I’ve wondered about that. I know that there are men out there who do that sort of thing. That said, I don’t touch people who are not family other than a firm handshake. I do tend to be very verbal, and I share a lot verbally, but I keep my hands to myself. She did touch me exactly once, on the arm, when she told me she had to withdraw from the last project. I did not reciprocate, and I was a bit uncomfortable with it, but did not show discomfort because I don’t want to embarrass others. She once gave my wife a hug, which surprised me because they haven’t talked a lot.

I am aware that sometimes older men can come across as “creepy” with younger women. I keep topics of discussion to politics, religion, and family to be non-threatening. I probably do tend to over-share verbally. She knew when my wife was ill with a life-threatening medication reaction (I asked her for prayers), and when she got pregnant, and when we had a miscarriage. I’m rather extroverted and talkative. I had texted her a copy of the positive pregnancy test because I thought it was a cool picture. After we miscarried, my wife was going to be at the church at the same time as her, and I was afraid she might congratulate my wife not knowing we had lost the baby. So I let her know beforehand to avoid a potentially embarrassing exchange. I would hope that would let someone know I’m not a threat.

You are correct that it is about her and her issues. I just wish things didn’t need to be complicated. When I make friends, I like to keep them. Heck, I still like people I made friends with in elementary school. If you “click” with someone, then you should just be able to appreciate them as people, forgive things and cut people plenty of slack, and deal with things in a straightforward manner. I don’t have to worry about all this stuff with guy friends. To quote Sir Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” :smiley:

In addition to what everyone else said. it could be as simple as you made a remark about the president, about gay marriage, about other faiths, about a mutual friend, about a baseball team, about the weather, about ANYTHING and it set her off. She may have heard something unkind said about you and believed it. You’ll never know.
Don’t worry about it any longer. If she goes out of her way to diss you, then she really has a problem and it’s best that you not interact with her. It takes a lot of effort to snub someone. Thank the Lord that you are well adjusted and at peace with your life. And be glad you are married to a lovely wife! :thumbsup:

We don’t work together. I was an unpaid volunteer in an advocacy issue. She came to me looking for my help, which I gave because I believe in that particular cause.

Could you possibly just ask if you’ve done something that upset her? At first, I also thought that maybe she liked you a little too much and wanted to distance herself, but now I’m thinking that it might just be a misunderstanding. Perhaps she heard something false about you or misheard something that you said.

Yes, it does take a lot of effort. I feel bad for her because she seems to be making herself unhappy. Anyway, I just need to let it go and not worry about it. But we go to the same parish and I’m going to keep running in to her. My presence seems to make her uncomfortable, and then her reaction to my presence makes me uncomfortable. Well, the problem is hers. I didn’t do anything wrong. At the same time, though, because she was a friend I’m concerned about her happiness and well-being. That’s what friends do. But obviously, I can’t do anything about it so I should offer some prayers periodically but otherwise done with it. I just wish men and women could be logical and mature and not do this sort of thing. We are all human beings. I like for things to make sense. Oh well. Sometimes they don’t.

I was on your team until you quoted that song. :smiley: You must know that some men can be touchy and irritable and some women can let water run off their backs.

People, both male and female, are very sensitive, fickle, influenced, and moody. The tough part for any of us who are wondering why someone has cooled down or changed their stripes is that we can’t usually approach them without feeding their demons or false presumptions.

I would say to offer it up. Seek less to be misunderstood and more to understand. Maybe you will find out what happened one day, maybe not.

You sound like a good man. Question your own behavior and then let it go. Not good to worry too much about people. Always good to pray for them.

Obviously, Sir Henry Higgins was much perturbed by Eliza Doolittle even as he was pretending to be logical and imperturbable, and Ms. Doolittle had a logic all of her own. But no, I don’t think I’ll ever figure it out and it would be an exercise in futility. I just need to accept that.

I once visited my best friend from high school when I got out of basic training and he had totally changed. He was the first person, after my family, that I went to go see. He had gotten into drugs in my absence, and he ditched me to find some pot. That was the last time I saw him. I never understood that, and it grieves me to this day even though I accept that he’s no longer my friend and I’ll never see him again. That was 26 years ago, and I still miss him. If you really do love your friends, that’s what it’s like. I have to wonder if that’s what it’s like for God, albeit on a human scale, when we reject His friendship and sin. It is a strong reason not to sin.

I think she’s trying to keep her distance, because she’s a single female. You’re married.

Not only well put, but you also brought up one more explanation that has influenced many exits and odd behaviors of others: drugs and alcohol…talk about the demons pouring in. How does a nice guy have a chance? My lifelong friend walked out with some statement about old friendships getting old, but I knew she was actively drinking and drugging and tried to intervene. Of course I had became the bad guy in her life because of my sobriety and concern.

Sometimes being nice or kind is reason enough: we are easy targets and won’t retaliate.

Off the top of my head, with its receding hairline and premature loss of color (some of us can’t admit to going bald and graying as readily as you… and I maintain that overweight and middle aged are just relative terms anyhow :D), I get the impression that even though you worked together on projects as volunteers, she considered it to be and wanted it to stay on a professional level and sensed that you had now moved beyond. In otherwords, she was comfortable with a work relationship but not so with a social relationship. Co-workers can be friendly with each other without becoming friends.

As others said,I don’t think it has anything to do with you personally. Some people are task oriented. The task is done. She did not come to you to become friends, she came to you to help with some work-and she wants to define it as that.

Even though you are a social person, she’s not. A hello would be nice but she sounds socially inhibited. Please don’t take it personally, as I am sure she does this to others too.

I wouldn’t take it personal. It is quite possible that the young woman feigned friendship with you simply to make working together on the projects go more smoothly and once the project work ended she no longer saw a need to keep feigning friendship with you.

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