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Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:
While working in Riyadh, I met “Ioannes.” We both worked for the same family. He’s my first male close friend, my best friend, and the brother I wish I had. When we were still in Riyadh, we were close: talking in between our shifts, sharing interests, problems, and frustrations both with work and in life.
In February 2022, he went home. I felt a sudden change in his reception towards me. He used to respond in chat as quickly as me, sometimes even quicker. In Manila I can only see my messages being delivered but rarely see his messages. Probably he’s enjoying his family which he missed so much.
I also went home this Feb (2023). The few times he chatted with me, we agreed to both take the nursing board exams again. I passed, he didn’t. When he passed May 2022, according to him, I was the only one who supported him besides his special someone.
Every time he asks for help I’m always there. Sometimes, I lend him money even from my own debt. I did it to keep our friendship alive.
His responses to my messages take days; and often, his messages are irrelevant to my last chat. But I reply to his messages ASAP.
Fast forward to 2023: I already have a year of experience and passed the IELTS exams. He is about to start his RN journey. I’m trying to convince him to come here to Manila to gain experience as a bedside nurse. But regardless of the generosity and commitment I’ve shown to keep our friendship, he doesn’t want to work and be with me.
When we’re still in Riyadh, we always used to talk about working in the UK as nurses. It’s what I’ve been holding on to, despite how my family speaks to me about the matter. I want to wait for him so we can go to the UK together as friends and brothers.
Should I keep his friendship or move on with my life without him? I’m terrified thinking we had a fallout. I don’t know what I’ve done wrong.
Please help me decide.
When working abroad we are often deprived of any social support system – like family or long-standing friends or church/club groups – and so friendship tends to be opportunistic and we simply make the best of what is available. This can lead to relationships, romantic or otherwise, that might have been less likely back home.
When our contracts end, we generally pick up our old lives and often realize that some of the connections we made abroad simply do not stand the test of time – so we leave them behind.
When Ioannes returned home, it seems likely that once he was back in the bosom of his family, his relationship with you took a distant second place to the routine of his reconnection with all the old familiar friends and faces.
That the same did not happen in your case suggests that you were much more invested in the friendship and your mutual plans for the future than he was.
His lack of communication and refusal to join you in Manila seem clear signs that he is not longer interested in the type of friendship you are offering him. In addition, his failure to match your progress towards the necessary certification to take up a nursing post in the UK is likely to hold you back.
Given this, it is time for you to recognize that your dreams are unfortunately not shared and to move on.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. In my opinion, Mr. Baer hit the nail on the head when he said you were much more invested in the friendship…than he was.”
I am so, so sorry, Phineas. You considered him not just a close friend, but the brother you never had. One day you were best buddies, fighting against the world together and the next you were on your own, about to brave the UK cold weather and meet new people all alone once more.
Because that seems the smarter, more logical choice, does it not, Phineas? To continue with your plans for a better life? If it meant a delay of just a few weeks – perhaps even a few months – then yes, waiting for him might be a viable option.
But to wait for him more than a year is a lot, especially for someone like Ioannes, who does not have the same sense of urgency, commitment, and, perhaps, smarts as you do.
However, even all of the above might not be considered vital (important, yes, but not a critical factor) when making decisions involving our loved ones. Many of us can persevere as long as we can count on the person we’re with.
You cannot count on Ioannes, Phineas. You have given him many chances to do what he says he would when you were in Riyadh together. He has not kept his promises.
Thus, “I think you should cut, and cut cleanly. I think the time has come.” These words were US Senator Laxalt’s answer to the late President Marcos who asked if he should step down (as President).
You also said: “Should I keep his friendship or move on with my life without him? I’m terrified thinking we had a fallout. I don’t know what I’ve done wrong.” It is very possible you have done nothing wrong, dearest Phineas. It is just as possible that all this means is that the relationship, as far as Ioannes is concerned, has run its course.
Should you want to explore your terror about having a fallout with Ioannes, please write us again. You will probably have to share a lot more about your family, childhood experiences, resources, and vulnerabilities, but I am fairly sure we will be able to answer a few more of your questions. This might also help you realize why you choose the friends you do, which is knowledge that can come in handy time and again.
All the best,
Please send any comments, questions, or requests for advice to firstname.lastname@example.org.