How to go to bed with your best friend:
Make sure you’re still in a quasi-relationship with your ex-boyfriend. You know you won’t get back together but neither of you can quite cut the habit of talking every day. You insist on the caveat of being able to see other people though you find yourself unable to do so after spending the last year sleeping with someone you loved.
Enter your best guy friend. It’s perfect, because you love him too, even if it’s a different kind of love. You’d already slept with him before- the day before your first date with your now ex. Still with a hangover and fresh off a plane from visiting your best friend, the first time you officially went out with your ex he’d put his hand on your back as you looked over the menu at the bar and you instinctively knew this was something more. At the end of the night he’d told you in his soft Spanish accent that you had a beautiful smile. You gushed and pretended to walk inside to your apartment. Instead, you waited a few minutes in the lobby until you left again to go to the nearest pharmacy to get the morning-after pill. This was no romantic comedy and you would not be having a baby with your best friend if you could help it.
But that was a long time ago and you and your ex had had an entire relationship in between then and now. His family had met your family and you’d even talked of marriage and future children’s names. Now you had moved 3,500 miles away and the inevitable end was coming. You were an ocean apart and you felt alone. Your best friend comes and your ex predicts that you’ll sleep with him. You genuinely insist that there’s no way that would happen. The last time had just been a drunken fluke.
You were wrong. He comes and he’s so familiar. Make sure there’s still the lingering of sexual tension built up between you. Go to dinner and drink too much wine. You’ve done this a hundred times before with him. You’ve slept in the same bed, traveled the world together and, despite a few make out sessions, you’d always managed not to cross that line. But the curiosity eventually got the better of you both and, a year earlier the invisible line had been traversed.
Your best friend knows you in a way that your ex never did. While you loved your ex differently than you love your best friend, your best friend is American and therefore understands you somehow better than your Spaniard ex ever could. You realize you’ve done everything two people could ever do except go on an actual date. You decide to call this your first date. On the walk home, you take his hand and he doesn’t resist. It feels funny, your hand in his- so natural for unchartered territory. You stop at a bench and stand on top of it to meet his eyes, slightly blurred as the cabernet hits your bloodstream.
“So if this is a date, are you going to kiss me?” you ask him.
He does. After, he smiles slyly and says, “That was our first date kiss. Do you want to go on a second date now?” and kisses you again.
A second date kiss. And a third and a fourth, all wrapped up together on that bench on the bridge on the way to your house. You sleep together that night and the night after and the one after that. It’s good and somehow familiar even though it’s new.
You tell your ex and he says he knew it would happen. Six days later you break up for good. Your best friend comes again over the next weeks and you fall into his arms and into your bed with a knowing comfort.
How to go to bed with your ex:
A week after your best friend’s last visit, be in Spain on the ticket you’d initially bought when you were in a relationship. Your ex has a new girlfriend now and knowing this kills you, even if you don’t exactly regret having ended things with him. You’ve seen him twice since you arrived and you’ve already kissed three times. The first time was your doing. Seeing him had made you start to cry, as much as you hated doing so in front of him since now you wanted to hide all emotions from this person with whom you had once been so comfortable being vulnerable. He holds you and dries your tears and you couldn’t stop yourself. You knew he had a girlfriend but he felt so warm and the last time you had been there you were his and he was yours. He kisses you back and then pulls away saying that he can’t. He walks you home and when you go to say goodbye he takes your face in his hands and kisses you suddenly. Clearly torn, he starts to walk away before coming back to kiss you again. As you turn to finally go inside, you wonder how something so familiar can feel so strange.
Meet again and go to the same cafetería where you went on your second date. Be seated at the same table and wonder if he remembers this fact. Sit on the opposite side. Recall how you’d talked about soccer and Disney movies that first time and how he’d reached out to hold your hand across the table. Resist the inclination to do so now. When it almost happens, look up just in time to see his brother walking by the restaurant window.
Go to his house to collect some of your things. Offer to wait outside but be invited in. Ignore all the items that were once yours. Not just the blankets and towels and the chair and printer, but also the tea on the counter and the candy you’d gotten together on your trip to the States. Wonder why the teddy bear he’d given you that you’d left there for safekeeping is still on his bed. Breathe a silent sigh of relief that nothing too obvious from his current girlfriend is on display except the second toothbrush in the bathroom, which you quickly ignore. Wonder if he still associates you with any of these material items or if he’s just become used to their presence the same way he so quickly seemed to become accustomed to your absence.
Pretend that you don’t know what he’s doing when he reaches out to stroke your leg. Try to laugh it off since you know this is headed towards dangerous territory. Look at him and remember when you were the only one he ever wanted there in this apartment, in this chair just feet from the bedroom. Eventually give in to his provocation since, after all, you’re not the one in a relationship and you have nothing more to lose. As you move to the bedroom, tell him you need him even though the words don’t come naturally out of your mouth the way they used to. Realize you don’t, in fact, need him. When he finishes early be simultaneously annoyed and satisfied since you are happy to still feel desired by him yet you know it will be fleeting. Allow him to touch you the way only someone who has done so before knows how.
When it’s over, watch him pack to leave for a trip to his family’s country town. Observe his face as he slowly processes what he’s done. Don’t allow yourself to question too long if he’s so capable of cheating on this new girl, if he could have done so with you. Reassure yourself unconvincingly. Take a picture of yourself in the chair that used to be yours in the apartment that used to be your home with the man and the things that no longer belong to you. Know that it is most likely the last time you’ll ever be there.
A few days later, arrive back at your apartment where neither your best friend nor your ex is waiting for you. Know that you will see both of them eventually- these two men whose stories were once so intertwined with yours- but that it will never be the same with either of them.
How to go to bed with your best friend and your ex in the same week:
If you could do it all again? Don’t.