Ben* and I were so inseparable that many common acquaintances would ask if we were dating. However, if you paid attention at the end of a night out, you’d see us leaving with other people. We continued on like this for about two years. We would have “fake date” nights where we would try out new restaurants or order in Thai food, sometimes I would even try out my limited skills in the kitchen. Things always remained very platonic between us, it felt like a real relationship in every way except for there being no intimacy. He even came with me to dinner with my parents one random night to meet them. He would text me “goodnight : )” every night followed “good morning” hours later. When he needed to get rid of the girls who hung around too long the morning after a drunken hook up – I was his perfect excuse. I would even enlist him in being my ride or excuse when I needed to end things after a drunken night out. Our Saturday lunches became a recurring weekend habit where we would dish on the happenings of the night after we had parted ways. Ben would even randomly stop by my house during the week eat his Jimmy John’s and say hi.
Of course things didn’t start out this way. I don’t believe that a man and woman can be so close and remain strictly platonic friends. I met Ben through mutual friends at a bar and then he got my number and began asking me out. I went out with him a few times but he has a very strong personality which turned me off. He grew up very privileged and his personality was a direct reflection of this. There was no middle with Ben: if you knew him you either tolerated him or you couldn’t. As I got to know him I learned that he has trouble being alone. He needs constant interaction with others and the sales work he does feeds into this, but when that’s not enough he looks to anyone (most often a girl) who will entertain him. He even went as far as allowing his friend to live rent free in the condo he owned so he wouldn’t have to live by himself.
One typical summer night, no more or less special than any other night, we finally crossed over the friendship line. After what had started as me inviting him to dinner with my roommate and me, we found ourselves at the local piano bar drinking much more than anyone ever should drink on a Thursday night when work follows the next morning. We didn’t really talk too in depth about what had happened but decided to give dating a try. One thing that struck me as odd was that he didn’t want me to tell anyone. He had gone to high school with some of my best friends I had met in college so we had a lot of mutual friends that he didn’t want finding out about us. I should have seen this as a red flag but I ignored it because I was so happy to be officially dating Ben after almost two years of “fake dating” him. About a month later he slept with one of my best friends while visiting Chicago.
In her defense – she had no idea that we had started dating. I was never allowed to tell her per Ben’s request. He used to regularly hook up with her when she was home and I guess he wanted to keep that avenue open in case things didn’t work out between us. I was really hurt by this and ignored him the best that I could, but that didn’t last long. We decided to move past this and continue our relationship. Here’s where I ignored the second red flag.
Our relationship ended up lasting for about two years. This two years was filled with many fights, extravagant trips, frequent flights to Chicago from Detroit, family dinners, but towards the end began to take its toll on me and left me feeling very broken. I was able to make the switch from thinking of him as a friend to my boyfriend but I don’t think he was ever able to. I still felt like the best friend and not the girlfriend even though he did try…somewhat. I never was able to fully trust him while he was out drinking, with or without me. This could have been because I knew what he was like as a single guy. While we claimed that we were in love with each other I’m not sure if we really were or if we were both just lonely and needed each other to fill the void. We both brought a lot of emotional baggage to the relationship and I don’t think we were ever able to fully let go of how we saw each other when we were just friends.
It’s been almost two years now since our terrible break up happened. Our break up was definitely harder than most but I won’t get into details. Let’s just say we were both left feeling completely blindsided. Losing my best friend is something that still makes me tear up to this day. I have plenty of close girlfriends but not one that I would consider my best friend. Ben became that person for me, and even though he is a boy, he had many of the same interests as I did. We would get together on Mondays for The Bachelor and also shared a deep love for anything on Bravo and Teen Mom.
In hindsight I can see that this relationship was extremely unhealthy. I lost sight of who I was because I was trying so hard to be what I thought he wanted. I even told him I would give up Christmas to celebrate Hanukah if we ever got married –clearly I had lost my mind! When in all honesty, I think he was way too caught up in his job to ever have any free time to think about what he wanted. I’ve had to unfollow him on social media and even went as far as blocking his phone number – which is still blocked to this day. Seeing that he could go on with his life without me was hard for me to accept for a while. I’ve tried to date a few guys since our break up but the scars are still fresh from all the emotional pain I experienced. If an issue surfaces in a new relationship that reminds me of how Ben had made feel I immediately get defensive and self-righteous. Just recently my current boyfriend was working on his computer while we Facetimed and I didn’t feel like I was getting his full attention, which made me feel like I wasn’t a priority in his life – something I almost always felt when I was with Ben, so I kind of lost it on him. Luckily he is a lot more patient and understanding with me and knows how to handle himself when differences occur between us and doesn’t shut down or ignore me- which Ben was did too well. He was incapable of ever talking about anything serious that needed attention, which is the perfect route to sabotage any relationship. Old wounds take time to heal and mine are clearly not healed yet. I know I’m making progress in the right direction though. Just this last week I sent an email to Ben telling him that I forgive him for everything and he responded saying that he hopes I’m doing well. I never thought we would be in a place where only a few words are exchanged between months of silence but having him in my life doesn’t work for me.
I never thought that dating my best friend would have such a life altering effect on me but now it’s just a chapter in the book that is my life. I’m not sure if fairy tales do exist, but in my experience – dating my best guy friend did not have the fairytale ending that most of us hope for.