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Old work colleague desperately trying to be my friend

  • 13-06-2020 10:39am
    Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭

    I have know this guy for about 6 years now. He worked with me in an office setting and sat near me for about 3 years until he left. I would like to think I'm the friendly sort and spoke to him about random things everyday. We had a couple of common interests so it was relatively easy to talk about something.

    The conversations weren't exactly the most riveting as he was a slightly odd person. It always felt uncomfortable talking to him. I don't know how to describe it, but everyone that knows him have said the same thing. I've only ever socialised with him on a small number of occasions in a work setting, like Friday drinks. While he is a nice guy, he doesn't exactly have a personality that I can relate to.

    Fast forward a bit and he has left the company to do his own thing. He has continued to keep in contact with me via messages. I would always politely respond, but would try to limit my interactions to brief updates on life and ask him how he was. He's not my friend and never has been, but he regularly messages me as if he was. I know that sounds cruel, but there are just some people out there that you don't connect with. I've known many people through work that I would have gotten on very well with, but contact has been very limited and many times non-existent once you part ways, even with the people I was closest to. It's not out of badness, but people tend to move on with life once you change jobs.

    Ever since he left he has been regularly messaging me to meet up for a drink or coffee, but to be honest it is the last thing I want to do. I feel like any sort of interaction would reaffirm to him that we are friends. I, somewhat cruelly perhaps, went radio silence for a while to see if he got the hint. Bizarrely he sent maybe 8 messages over a period of a couple of months asking how I am, or asking to meet up. I didn't reply to any of these, but he continued to send them and didn't even acknowledge that I had ignored all of his other messages. I thought this was very strange in of itself! I was feeling really guilty so I eventually responded with an innocuous message to see how he was and he's been messaging me daily ever since.

    I really don't know what to do. I don't want to continue to "lead him on" as such, but at the same time I don't want to have to come out and say that I'm not interested in a friendship, which I never thought I would have to consider saying in my lifetime. How do I politely step away from this guy without hurting his feelings?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,703 ✭✭✭Xterminator

    Hi OP

    Be clear, firm and kind. Dont mislead him as to your status or intentions. Let him know where he stands and that you dont intend to change your mind.

    you know he probably doesnt have many friends im guessing? Its absolutely your right to choose who your friends are, but just dont make it any harder for him than i needs to be. It needs to be a clean break, and unambiguous.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭Mongfinder General

    Make yourself as uncontactable as possible. Change phone number and no social media.

  • Registered Users Posts: 190 ✭✭Dog day

    This is a really tricky one OP.

    There’s simply no way to politely cut contact in this situation. Ignoring him hasn’t worked & to be fair you sound like a nice person feeling guilty for already having done so.

    The fact is that a person like this either simply won’t take the hint or is choosing not to. Given that others have found him odd it’s likely to be the former as he may have difficulty reading normal social cues.

    He’s probably very lonely & I’m guessing he doesn’t have many friends.

    As I see it you only really have two options:
    sporadically engage with him & meet him a few times a year for a coffee/pint if he’s that lonely & in need of company or tell him straight out that you wish him well but don’t wish to remain in contact.

    I feel for you as I’ve been in similar situations but I’ve never had the heart to basically tell someone to go away.

    Incidentally, depending on the platforms he’s using to contact you there may be an option to ignore his messages so they go to spam rather than blocking him as I’m sure some people may advise. Either ignoring all messages or blocking would be last resorts. I’m a bit of a softie & hate hurting people’s feelings & you sound very similar!

    Sorry I can’t be more help.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Block his number. Simple

  • Registered Users Posts: 190 ✭✭Dog day

    Block his number. Simple

    The OP has asked how to politely sort this out, that’s a key detail here, blocking him is neither kind nor polite. If it was that simple for the OP they surely would’ve done this already.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,396 ✭✭✭Montage of Feck

    He obviously hasn't got the message, blocking his number or just ignoring him won't work, he'll probably just rationalise it as you losing your phone or something else.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭Upforthematch

    If meeting up for drinks or coffee is the last thing you want to do, then don't do it.

    An occasional text is fairly harmless Op and is polite, especially if you dont want to offend someone in your work network.

    A simple 'thanks but I've a lot going on at the moment' says no to any invitations.

    Don't respond every day or use whatsapp that shows you've read the message but ignored it.

    Keep it to a limit of a simple text or two once a week or month. Never initiate if you're afraid of leading him on.

    It's nice to be nice, but keep to your limits.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,814 ✭✭✭Augme

    Originally if it was just a couple of how are you texts I would have just continued that. Sounds like a fairly harmless situation and as mentioned above, it is nice to be nice.

    Ignoring someone completely is passive aggressive and childish tbh. As an adult I think handling the situation like that really isn't ideal.

    As for what to do now. Either be blunt and say you have no interest in talking or say you don't have time to meet and cut back to texting sporadically would be my two sugestions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,035 ✭✭✭chicorytip

    no need to quote entire post.
    Are you male or female?

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,250 ✭✭✭✭road_high

    Maybe he fancies you?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 19,250 ✭✭✭✭road_high

    If it was me I’d just continue as is, text them back a week later and keep it casual. They will eventually get the message, no need to be cruel or overly blunt I don’t think

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,250 ✭✭✭✭road_high

    Is it possible he wants to come back to his old job and wants to meet up to suss things out?

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,203 ✭✭✭Tork

    I think cutting back on texting and saying you're too busy to meet up is the least hurtful way to deal with this guy. I like the Whatsapp idea - seeing those blue ticks but not getting a reply. This guy sounds like he's lonely and doesn't have the emotional tools to read the social cues. Being blunt is one way to solve this but do many people actually do this? Being on the other end of a conversation like this would wound even the most robust of people. Imagine what it'd do to this guy? He hasn't actually done anything wrong, apart from being annoying.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,377 ✭✭✭Airyfairy12

    Going against the grain here but would it really be the worst thing in the world if you met him once in a while for a coffee? He sounds lonely and like he's trying to make friends, you dont have to be best mates with him but is blocking him out of your life necessary?

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,799 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    Mod Note

    Chicorytip, you've already asked the same question further up the thread so I've deleted your second post.

    Could you also bear in mind that we ask posters here not to quote an entire post, particularly long posts, as some are finding it clogs up the thread on the touch site.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18 purple puffin

    This guy is obviously very lonely. You have said that you had things in common so it wasn't a big effort to talk to him. Would it therefore be an option to meet up with him for a quick coffee once every 2 or 3 months? Maybe agree the date weeks in advance so he'd have no reason to contact you in between. It would only be maybe 4 or 5 hours out of your year but could be a good deed that would really make a difference in his life.

    This advice is based on the assumption you are two straight men. If it's a situation where he potentually has romantic notions then it's a totally different scenario and I'd just say I can't meet up as my other half wouldn't like it, as in this case meeting up would be leading him on.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,035 ✭✭✭chicorytip

    Mod Note

    Chicorytip, you've already asked the same question further up the thread so I've deleted your second post.

    Could you also bear in mind that we ask posters here not to quote an entire post, particularly long posts, as some are finding it clogs up the thread on the touch site.
    Alright. I was simply trying to elicit an answer to what I thought was a pertinent question.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,717 ✭✭✭pgj2015

    I have had oddballs text me like this throughout the years, I just block them and ignore all texts and calls, eventually they get the message. its not like this person is nice, you said they are someone who is strange and someone you don't want anything to do with. sometimes it can take a year or two for them to give up.

    They may be lonely but you cant force anyone to be your friend.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,202 ✭✭✭hoodie6029

    Hi OP. I feel for your situation. You don't want to hurt this guy's feelings but likewise you've nothing in common with him and no obligation towards him. He is an intrusion into your life and I don't mean that as 'he is a petty annoyance I want to be done with' but he takes up your time and thoughts. Time that should be spend on yourself and those that matter to you.

    This guy will never go away.

    My suspicion is with a person like this is that you are not the only person he is contacting relentlessly. He probably has a few others on the go.

    I think a polite but clear end to the friendship is what is needed here, as uncomfortable as that will be in the short term.

    Cui bono?

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,915 ✭✭✭✭Purple Mountain


    The fact that you've taken the time to start this thread shows you are sensitive to the situation.
    I sense you are frustrated by this situation and person, can't say I blame you.
    You also seem conscientious not to do anything unkind.
    First off, don't feel guilty. He's not your responsibility.
    You are entitled to be friends with whoever you choose.
    So acknowledge that to yourself firstly.
    I don't think you're the type of person to be blunt and tell him to pfo.
    So, what I'd recommend is pulling back bit by bit.
    Another poster up above suggested you meet him on and off for a coffee.
    You don't need to do that, you know you don't want to be his friend and he also deserves a friend who wants to hang out with him.
    So, let him continue to text you. Then maybe in 2 weeks, no matter how many texts he sends, reply and say 'hi X, all good here, smashing weather, hope you're enjoying it' or similar.
    Next time leave it a month to send the next similar text, small talk, minimal engagement.
    If he suggests a meet up, just say, you have a lot going on at the moment, it's not possible. Don't say maybe some other time.
    Push the next text out (only if he still continues to text) to 2 months etc.
    It's kind of like a weaning process but you're not leading him on and you're not being a cruel boll*x either.

    To thine own self be true

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  • Registered Users Posts: 152 ✭✭vikings2012

    OP you seem to be a nice person who is sensitive about not hurting this persons feelings.

    You have the right to delete or block this person at your will.

    However, I reckon this person has very few friends or may be struggling with making friends. In an era where we promote ‘be kind’ and ‘it’s good to talk’ initiatives I would advise not to block or delete him.

    I wouldn’t meet up with him either however I would acknowledge his messages but maintain boundaries. Respond with brief but friendly answers.

    These messages mean nothing to you but could mean everything to him.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,176 ✭✭✭✭ILoveYourVibes

    kawallace1 wrote: »
    This guy is obviously very lonely.

    I doubt this.

    People who are lonely etc. Often are the sensitive types who perceive slights even when they are not even there. They pick up on the slightest thing.

    Even if the above is NOT true. Lonely people don't make a nuisance of themselves.

    It sounds more like a dependent personality type. Or draining.