If you’re like me, you probably had/have a guy who, from time to time, looks you up online because he might have some long-ago sort of crush on you and never had the chance to date you. You know the guy I am talking about – the one who suddenly sends you an email asking how you are, and then ends up talking about the times you two hung out, and eventually asks you what your relationship status is. And no matter how many times you tell him you have a partner, he persists, asking you how really serious the relationships is. Then, he changes the subject by making jokes that only he finds funny.
Let me tell you how I (accidentally) handled such a situation.
There was this guy I met at an old job. He was a vendor who visited my company frequently. Let’s call him S. One day a colleague of mine let me know that her friend, S, wanted to meet me. He found me attractive. I said hello, just to be polite, and then we both proceeded with our jobs. S knew I had a boyfriend, but he insisted he wanted to be my friend. Although I had no interest, it just happened that we ended up having lunch with our co-workers one day and developed what I consider a casual friendship. We became friends because we both disliked our jobs and enjoyed venting at each other.
Once in a while, he would ask me how my boyfriend and I were doing. I would always tell him things were great, whether they were or not. I didn’t want to give him false hope.
There were times when we went without speaking for months, but then he would check up on me. “Are you single yet?” This went on for years.
Then, about two years ago, I received the usual email from S, once again, asking how I was doing and if I was single. Instead of repeating the same story I always told him, I decided to give him something much juicier. I told him I had been diagnosed with cancer.
At that point, I could swear that, even through email, I could hear his mind racing.
S was in shock. “OMG, so young! What kind?” I told him, “breast cancer.”
S proceeded to ask questions about my prognosis – if I was still in remission and if I received any chemo. I told him I received every treatment that was available.
“Did you lose all your long beautiful black hair? I bet you still look fabulous like I remember you.” S wrote.
“Yes, I lost all my hair! All gone.” I replied.
And then I was surprised to read his next question.
“Are you single now?”
“I am with a wonderful guy”, I said.
“No, this is a different guy.”
“Was he there for you during cancer?” he asked.
I told him he was and continues to be there for me.
S went back to the cancer topic.
“You’re cured now, right?”
“Oh no, I am not.” I said. “There is no cure for breast cancer and it can come back any time,” I said, followed by a breast cancer facts link.
S went back to the chemo topic.
“But how was chemo? How did you feel? I can’t believe you went through that.”
“I had the worst constipation you can imagine, S,” I replied.
S changed the subject, saying how free I must feel now, post-treatments.
I said, “S, when it comes to cancer, you are never really free. Cancer haunts you forever. You are never done with medical appointments. There are often scares. There are often recurrences. And sometimes there is death. You. Are. Never. Free.
“I’m so glad to hear you’re in remission!! You deserve the best,” S wrote back.
And that was the last time I heard from S.