We met a few times and emailed a lot. He seemed convinced that women hated him but he could never tell me why.
It seemed like he would perceive cruelness or hatefulness when in fact, I suspected, he was just being ignored.
I remember giving him an assignment once so he could try to establish some kind of dynamic with a woman.
I told him, “When you see a woman next time you’re on campus and you like her hair or sunglasses, just pay her a compliment.”
I told him, “It’s a freebie, something in passing, you’re not trying to make conversation. Keep walking, don’t make any long eye contact, just give the free compliment.” The idea being you might make a friend if you make someone feel good.
I said to Elliot, “In the next few weeks - if you see them they’ll likely give you a smile - and you can smile back and eventually turn this into chit-chat.”
I got in touch with him a few weeks later and asked if he did it. He said “no”. And when asked why not, he said “Why do I have to compliment them? Why don’t they compliment me?”
At that stage, I realised he was very troubled."