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The Coaching Situation

Thanks for the email reply as to how I should begin with my problem. I think that the biggest issue one with me this moment is my relationship with my online friend in another city. The problem arose because of several things;

I was in that city for 6 months. I wished to meet my online friend during that time but she was either working or busy doing something else. I was disappointed that my online friend didn't give me any of her time beyond speaking to her by telephone when I could actually get her because I only had her mobile number, the battery of which kept cutting out. My online friend told me things close to her heart and allowed me to support her emotionally when she began encountering problems with her husband's attitude to her job, which she had already been doing when they first met. They married in a relatively short time from their first meeting.

I was trying to help my online friend to save the marriage from break-up and felt guilty at advocating a temporary separation in which time they could work things out. He moved out and 2 days later he was in a serious road accident, which put him in intensive care in hospital in coma. I wrote to her a lot to give her love and support, for which she was grateful. I cried quite a lot about it when she let me know what had happened. I spoke to my online friend as much as I possibly could, but she wasn't able to talk when she heard me and hung-up crying.

Two months after the accident, I was on a trip and felt uneasy about things even on the day that my online friend later told me that he had died. She told me by email a few weeks later. In the meantime I sent her post-cards as I went along. I had hoped to go and see her as we had planned before I found out. However, she implicitly said no, as in she didn't say anything about it so I visited another city for the next little while. All the while I felt really sad about my online friend.

I went back to the city she lived in and stayed there for 5 weeks in the hope that I would see her. After arranging a meeting before I left, my online friend forgot and stood me up. I tried to get her to commit some time to meet me because I was due to leave soon. I found it hard to accept that my online friend wasn't in that personal space to see me even when I was over for a limited time-frame

Over the next 2 years I sent my online friend quite regular emails to give love and support. In the middle of last year I wrote an email to her and was about to send it to her. However, I waited for a moment and then inserted a hurtful statement rejecting her as the closest friend I have ever had this life. I actually think that it was a self-rejection based on my personal issues. My online friend replied by mobile to say she'd been in hospital and just found the email. Of course, the statement made her feel betrayed and hurt. She cried on the telephone. I heard her on the message on the machine and it haunts me still. My online friend emailed me saying that she felt betrayed and couldn't trust me. She asked me why I called her on the mobile but didn't let her answer me. I was anxious that my online friend would reject me back. I was scared of the outcome even though I didn't know what it would be.

I wrote to my online friend to try and fix our friendship again. I have written to her several times since then and for her birthday I sent a present on which I placed conditions of acceptance rather than as a gift itself. I have asked her subsequently to open her heart to love me and to heal herself where I am concerned and in all else too. I see my online friend in light always when I think of her. I have been getting mental pictures of other lives I have had. When I think of my online friend I also get flashes of times when we have been together as either sex. I don't want to lose her in this life even though I know I continue to have contact with my online friend at a higher level of being. Since I have been working with this person near me I have changed to an incredible extent on the inside.

I trust this is probably enough info. Please let me know if you wish further clarification.

The Coaching Response

One of the most important aspects of a relationship is communication. Most people, tend to make assumptions about other people. We decide that we know how another person feels based on our fears. Yet our perception of a situation may not be right. People have preprogrammed behavioral responses. For example, if as a child, you associated a frown on your parents face with anger, as an adult, you'll experience a frowning person as angry.

The person frowning may be thinking about something else, but you wouldn’t know because you learned to interpret a frown as anger. The more unsure people are about themselves, the more assumptions they tend to make. We interpret people’s behavior off-hand, rather than ask questions about what’s really happening. The fear of rejection stops us from asking the questions we need to ask to ally our fears.

In your situation it appears that there’ve been times of inconsistent and one-sided communication in your friendship. In the beginning, the communication was open, sincere, and intimate, and at other times, especially later on, that changed. You unknowingly made assumptions about the level of interest from your online friend and now you feel hurt that she’s not responding to your attempts to communicate with her. If you look at the beginning of the relationship, the problems started the first time you visited your friend.

 Your online friend was unable to communicate what she wanted and you really didn’t know what she wanted out of your friendship. You did the best you could and filled in the blanks about what she wanted based on your desire to keep the friendship alive. Her actions suggest that she was comfortable having you as an online confidant, but not necessarily day-to day.

People who are afraid of hurting another person’s feelings, don't say how they feel outright, they try to send messages in other ways instead. In any relationship you need to ask questions, and if they are avoided, to ask what they are afraid of. A question you needed to ask your online friend in the very beginning was why didn’t she want to see you and spend more time with you. She said she was too busy, that her career was very demanding, and that was something you needed to question.

Your online friend made many assumptions herself. She may have felt uncomfortable that you had come a long distance for a long time primarily to see her. She may have thought that your interest ran deeper than friendship, and being married, was uncomfortable with the idea and afraid to express her fears. But I'm guessing here. The only way for you to know for sure is by asking all the questions you're afraid to ask.

To avoid possible rejection, it was easier to accept that your online friend didn’t answer you or explain why she didn’t take the time to see you more and hope that her distance from you was temporary. For relationships to grow, you must take risks. If you have fears and you ignore them, they build up out of control. A healthy relationship is based on trust and honesty.

If you were afraid to share your vulnerability and fears, the relationship had little to grow on. It’s easy to share the good times, but the challenge comes when you are faced with each other's insecurities. There is still a chance for you to repair the friendship, but you have to face your worst fear that she may not be interested.

If one person is interested in getting closer and the other side isn’t, the other person will withdraw. You need to find out if you online friend’s still interested in a friendship, and what level she's comfortable with. Ask her what she wants, while you express what you want. Respect her decisions if her interest isn't the same as yours. If she isn’t sure, give her time to decide.

Your online friend may be willing to still have a long distance friendship, but you have to find out from her. She has many overwhelming emotions with the death of her husband and needs to have the space to deal with it. If she decides to end the friendship, let her know that you'll be there if she changes her mind. It hurts when somebody we're close to leaves us.

You have to accept that their needs are different from your own. You've had some wonderful times together and have enriched each other’s lives. Whether or not you'll have more moments together is something you need to find out, one way or another.

In your clarification email, you described another situation where you had experienced a lot of hurt and disappointment. In that situation and the one above, you’ve been faced with many unanswered questions and fears. Personal growth is about safely exploring those fears.

When you identify your patterns and negative belief systems, you can replace them with new ones, your life becomes easier and more full of the positive things that you want. Take the steps to make those changes in your life. Be curious and ask those questions you were afraid to ask.

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