Lesbian Life/From mentor to lover
QUESTION: Hi Lena,
I am 30 yo, soft butch, living in Asia. My problem is I have fallen in love with a co-worker living in another Asian country during one of my trips to the the branch office she is working in. She is 40 yo, andro looking and much higher ranking than me in the company (she is the branch manager of the other office). This happened 6 months ago when I was sent to this branch office for the first time for a 1-week job assignment. When I first saw her, I was very attracted to her personality. She was stern, no-nonsense, highly intelligent and quiet.
I observed her from afar for the 1st few days and finally had the chance to bump into her in the ladies washroom where I picked up the courage to start a conversation with her. Since I was just another visitor from another branch office, she just answered my questions (which I was trying to joke with her) in single-word answers.That did not deter me as I think luck was on my side for me to bump into her in the ladies washroom almost every day after that incident and our conversations lengthened a bit, but was still revolving around my assignment in her branch office.
One fine night, a heavy thunderstorm left us both alone in the office with no other employees around. I picked up my courage again to talk to her this time after office hours and the conversation went on for 2 hours comprising details of each other's background. To my surprise, she happened to have studied the same Bachelor's degree as me and is also an expert in a work area which I was having problems with for the past few years in my branch office. On top of that, a very special thing that happened was she actually confided in me her greatest fear in her current job which I was very amazed as I never imagined that coming from her as we barely knew each other and she was very much ahead of me in our careers. Also, she thinks that I am very young as I had a baby face and she tells me I remind her how old she is. Little did she know my true age and experience.
Towards the end of our conversation, she told me she had to leave the office to head home but was hesitant to send me back to my hotel because she lived in another direction. I told her I was OK to have a taxi pick me later which I will call but she insisted that if there was any issue for me to get a taxi, I should get the security guard to call her mobile phone. Naturally, I cracked another joke as to what she was thinking in her head as it would have just been easier for her to send me back to her hotel, which she laughed off.
The next day was my last working day in her branch office before the weekend for me to head back to my country. The first thing in the morning, I asked her out for dinner that night since it was my last working day in her office which she told me she would consider and reply me later. Towards the end of the day, she was very persistent to have one final work meeting with me to find out my perception of her branch office and improvements that I can highlight to help her out. I realized that she was very different from the other branch office managers in other countries as she looked upon me not only as a young visitor from another branch office, but also as a highly intelligent individual who can help her out with my perspective of things. I also checked with other colleagues from my office and they did not get the same treatment as me when they went on a similar visit to this branch office. After the work meeting, she walked me out and told me that she had other commitments that night and also for the weekend which means she won't be able to spend time with me on a personal basis. She quickly assigned another younger lady subordinate closer to my age to accompany me which I immediately declined. Before I left, I managed to ask her to be my work mentor, which she agreed to immediately. We took a photo together before we left.
Upon returning to my country, I could not get her out of my mind and emailed her again to follow-up with my request for her to be my mentor 2 weeks later. When she did not reply, I made a phone call to her to follow-up with the email which surprised her. She replied my email and I went on to make arrangements with her on her preference for us to communicate; the frequency, mode of communication (email,phone) and also time allocation for communication.
Our communication is via email all the time. This went on for the past 6 months with her playing the role of a remote mentor who coached me in areas of my work where she was an expert and also motivating me in terms of my personal wellbeing. It was a great experience knowing that someone like her from another country is looking into my wellbeing though we had problems like her very hectic schedule and long delays in her replying my emails. I soon realize that I am starting to fall in love with her as she also had many similar Asian values like me (we are both Asians but living in different countries). After looking at the photo we took together, I also realized I sometimes fantasize being with her in bed which actually surprised me as I was never attracted to andro-looking women. Being butch, I had my masculine instincts of being attracted to feminine looking lesbians. I have all my life been attracted to and dated women much older than me, but an andro-looking (slightly butch one) like her was the first on my list of attraction. In fact, I also missed hearing her voice on the phone and the fact that she is such a busy lady with so many meetings and very little time to talk on the phone makes me miss her more.
I was also surprised to have all these feelings as I thought I would never fall in love with another woman as I am currently casually dating another older woman who is 48 yo. However, I do realize that I was having problems being on the same intellectual level with this 48-yo and our 1-year relationship revolved around only on sex. I did not consider this 48-yo my girlfriend as I tried connecting to her emotionally and mentally but failed. This was when I realized that the intelligence of a woman was far more attractive than mind-blowing sex.
My problem now is I do not know how to approach this mentor of mine in the other country. I am trying to get to know her personally but each time my email touches on something personal, she will just ignore my personal question and only answer the work-related ones. I am also unable to confirm her sexual preference. I am only taking a wild guess from her andro (slight butch) looks and also confirmation from her colleagues that she is not married or dating anyone.
I am feeling down now because I do not know how to:
1) Confirm her sexual preference
2) Migrate from the mentor-mentee relationship to a personal friendship
3) Determine how long should I wait before telling her my feelings of wanting to pursue a relationship with her
4) Find out if she has similar feelings for me
ANSWER: Dear Friend,
If you invert the order of your questions (above) and consider asking the last question (#4), first. You will have your answer.
Ask her if she has feelings for you? If this question seems too far fetched to actually pose it directly to her -- preferably over the phone or face to face -- then follow your gut feeling on that.
If it seems like a perfectly natural question to ask, considering the sequence of things, then questions 1, 2 and 3 will be considered moot points.
By delaying things, as in asking, the first 3 questions, you are wanting to see what hand she would deal, before you put your cards down. This might be considered unfair play, on your part.
Also, keep in mind that doing things in the right order entails, telling your current partner, what you are doing and what is going on with you in terms of your feelings (not for this other woman), but your lack of feelings toward her.
Remain considerate of your mentor's space and of your partner's best interest. Always lead with the example of kindness. You'll be fine.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi Lena,
I will first like to thank you for your 1st answer. I think you really hit the nail on its head by pointing out what I feared most: confrontation. I have to admit that this is my greatest weakness in life.
My follow-up questions will be:
1) Will it be too early to confront her on her feelings for me? It is barely 6 months of us knowing each other with the occasional 1 email every fortnight and the emails are mostly work-related. I understand that older women like younger potential partners to take things slowly with them. If I confront her immediately about her feelings, would that indicate that I am immature and impatient?
2) As I mentioned in my previous email, she has been trying to ignore personal questions from me in my emails to her. What does that mean? I always felt it is "normal" to know about each others' background, family and other details even for casual friends or colleagues. I don't know why she is "denying" this info about herself from me but we can talk about so much when it comes to work and office relationships. Other than getting the info from her personally (eg: likes/dislikes) during my one-week actual work experience with her in her office, I only got info about her through colleagues who work in the same office as her who happen to be my friends.
3) I fear losing her as a mentor if she does not reciprocate the feelings I have for her. How do I deal with this fear and manage it to a win-win situation for both of us?
I feel depressed whenever she takes a long time to reply my emails, even for work-related ones. My other friends think that I am crazy about her.
Appreciate all the advice that you have rendered.
The idea that, "older women like younger potential partners to take things slowly with them," sounds to me like one of many urban myths at best. At least I, have never heard of or witnessed this. Some people like to take the process of starting a relationship, more slowly than others.
Just as some people take longer to shop for an item they need, than others. This tendency varies by individual, regardless of age group.
You run the risk of being rejected, if you ask her now or you can be rejected, if you wait and ask her later. If it were me, I would be thinking that later -- I can become more attached and rejection may hurt even more if I knew her better. If she has a certain opinion regarding your character, for instance: Immature and impatient -- knowing her longer, may not remedy this.
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "You must do the thing you cannot do." Doing this, will bring you personal gain, whether you get the person you want, or not.
For her, ignoring your personal questions may be a matter of guarding her status, her career, the respect that others have toward her as a professional and an effective leader. While it may be considered "normal" for colleagues to know personal details about one another, this is not usually the case between subordinates and superiors.
She has a lot to lose, in becoming involved with you.
Bottom line: To someone in her position, it may come across as manipulative, for a subordinate to try and become close friends, with someone like her, who is this high up on the corporate ladder. In addition, and I realize this may be painfully honest -- You only asked her to be your mentor, so that you could get closer to her, beyond friendship as I understand it. So losing her as a mentor comes with the territory. Once you reveal to her that your interest is of a romantic nature, she will know that you were trying to accomplish your real goal, via false pretenses.
I say, tell her the truth, but only with the intention of cleaning up your conscience and retaining your own self-respect.