June 22, 2016

My 50-yr-old ‘admirer’ buys me expensive gifts, but I’m in love with a younger colleague

My 50-yr-old ‘admirer’ buys me expensive gifts, but I’m in love with a younger colleague

Dear Bunmi,

I work in a small office with a staff of 12. We’re all very friendly and I’ve been with the company for 12 years. Five years ago, a man in his 50’s joined us. He lives on the next street to mine and didn’t have a car. I gave him a lift from time to time. At Christmas and Valentine Day, he would buy me small gifts to thank me.

Two years ago he bought me an impressive gift that I helped him to pick out as he said it was for his daughter. Over time, he kept buying me more gifts, saying they expressed his gratitude. I had always felt sorry for this man because he lived alone. Then, some months ago, he told me he was in love with me. I told him firmly, but kindly that there was no way we would get together, but he started trying to give me money for my rent and car. He also began asking me personal questions. I know now that I should have put a stop to this, but I still felt sorry for him as no one else had much time for him.

A few weeks later, he started saying that he wanted to touch me and couldn’t control himself much longer. He said I should move in with him and have his children. He said I’d be free to do whatever I wanted as long as I was with him. I decided to avoid contact with him and stopped the lifts. Someone asked me why I wasn’t giving him lifts any more and all hell broke loose. Everyone at work supports me and a few had told him off. I’ve recently started a new relationship with someone my own age, who works for the same company. He knows a little about this man and has offered to have a word with him. But that might start trouble.

This older man keeps putting my boyfriend down, especially regarding money. I’ve told him I can’t be bought, but he seems to think his patience will pay off. He also says things in front of strangers that imply we’re a couple. This is all starting to get to me. He retires at the end of the year, but what do I do until then?

Dora, by e-mail


Dear Dora,

You need to tell your ageing admirer the simple truth. In other words, you have to be cruel to be kind. The man sensed your gratitude when he gave you gifts, allowing himself to believe his increasing generosity might make you love him. He’s obviously lonely and hopes you’ll be his soul-mate and he feels somehow cheated when another man cuts in.

You need to let him know you like him a lot as a colleague, but you don’t fancy him and never will. He currently feels confused, hurt and embarrassed by the sudden rift that has emerged between you. But he needs to build a new life for himself with a partner near his age.

Don’t be hostile to him, however, and let him know you’re still his friend. Fear of retirement and loneliness is obviously making him desperate. Encourage him to go out with both male and female friends so as to boost his social life. If you can, seek out his daughter to help. Friendship is something we all need as long as it’s not taken to mean something else.