When You Date Someone In Your Group Of Friends (And It Doesn’t Work Out)

Flickr / Carol Fernandez
Flickr / Carol Fernandez

He and I had been crushing on each other for almost a year. All of our friends could see that there was something between us, but neither of us had gotten up the courage to say anything to the other. In the meantime, we made eyes across the room when our friend group hung out, made a habit of talking only to each other at parties where we didn’t know many people, and let our platonic hugs last a little too long. Then, when I was about to give up hope that anything was going to come out of this (and deciding that I was probably better off that way)- a drunken confession by him followed by a sober ask-out lead to our friendship turning into something more.

We dated for about six weeks. Six weeks of dates, texts, making out, and talking. It was six weeks of both of us being so happy that we were finally doing this. They say that good relationships start with friendship, so I couldn’t have been more excited to start this “good relationship”. Admittedly, the transition from friendship to dating was a little tricky, as it usually is, so I’ve heard. However, we wanted it to work. Until one of us didn’t.

It doesn’t matter what he said when he ended it. I never know what words in a break-up conversation are genuine and which ones are bullshit. The take away for me was that he didn’t want to try and be in a relationship, but he made it perfectly clear that I meant something to him. That wasn’t easy for me to hear. After almost a year of build-up, getting so close to the serious part of a relationship- I had been let down by someone who knew me so well, someone who already knew my quirks and flaws before he had even asked me out. I made it clear to him that I had really wanted this, but people don’t really change their minds just because you don’t like what they have to say.

I let myself be publicly sad for one day, after that I decided to swallow my pride and disappointment, and show him that I didn’t care. I didn’t care that he had backed out, and I wasn’t going to let it ruin the dynamic of our friend group. The problem is, the decision not to make things awkward has to be a mutual one, and I appeared to have been the only one that made that decision: for a while. He avoided eye contact with me and speaking to me directly, at first. As more time passed, he and I started to warm up to each other in a group setting, but we had yet to be alone together. Then, eventually, over a month later, we found ourselves sitting next to each other on campus of our university. We talked for a little while, about school and stuff, and it was externally normal. And that’s when I realized, that was the best that I could hope for: externally normal. As much as I wanted to erase everything from memory, I couldn’t eradicate what had happened between us. I couldn’t dictate how he felt in the aftermath, as much as I tried to control the vibe. We had agreed not to bring it up, but that didn’t stop it from existing. Which may not necessarily be a bad thing.

What I learned from this whole thing is that connecting with people is an important part of life. Some people it isn’t always clear what kind of relationship you’re supposed to have with them, but there are some people you know that you’re supposed to have some kind of relationship with. My friend and I, we tried a few things. We tried the unrequited love, the dating, the exes, and now we’re making attempts at being genuine friends. And I think after trying on all of these different hats, the one we’re in right now is the one that fits. Sure, it’s gonna take some time for it to fit just right, but I think it will. I get the sense that he agrees about that. I’ve always been able to tell what he’s feeling, which is too significant to be ignored, in my opinion. TC mark

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