In high school, I won an award in my creative writing class for “Most Likely To Write a Happy Ending.” At the time I laughed about it, simply attributing my knack for closing stories on a positive note for simply wanting things to work out in my favor.
Over time, though, this “happy ending” notion became an obsession. When it comes to love, despite trying to deny it, in the back of my mind I’ve always wanted a fairy tale story that involves defying odds and ending up happily ever after.
So far, it’s sabotaged every relationship I’ve had, because – let’s face it – in reality things don’t play out how they do in a fictional world. But, when this obsession with creating my own “happy ending” story nearly sabotaged a friendship as well, I knew it was time to reevaluate my mindset. Let me explain:
The first time we met we hated each other.
My best guy friend and I have had the most platonic friendship imaginable since we met many years ago. When I was first introduced to him I found him to be one of the most annoying people I’d ever met. He was always out making a scene until the wee hours of the morning, was generally super loud, and had a horrible habit of playing Cee Lo Green songs on repeat for hours.
I’m sure he didn’t think I was the most pleasant person, either. I talked a lot (like, A LOT), cried about men on the regular, and drank way too much.
But, friendship came soon after.
After a while, though, we made it over the hump. Suddenly we were the closest of friends. It’s safe to say we genuinely enjoyed each other’s company, and there was never a tiny indication that it would be anything more. It was just simple friendship.
I’d even hang out with him and his girlfriend of the time, and we would go to dinners and away for beach weekends and parties. He and I would regularly spend hours talking, sometimes about completely nonsensical things and other times about the most serious of issues.
The best part was that I felt I could talk to him about anything that was happening in my life without even a hint of judgment.
And then it happened.
More recently, (and long after he’d broken up with his girlfriend, of course) he and I were on vacation with some friends and for some inexplicable reason something felt…different. I noticed him acting a bit more like a potential love-interest than ever before – holding doors, picking up tabs, looking at me dead in the eye when I spoke, putting his hand on my leg each time we sat next to each other.
I tried to ignore it, but when he went in for the kill after a few drinks on the last night of the trip, I was — surprisingly even to myself — very easily wooed.
The second our lips touched it was like someone dumped a bucket of ice water over my head as a way of saying, “WAKE UP! This is your happy ending!”
I felt the kiss like a shock wave through my entire body, and the rest of the night still feels like it was too good to be true. In the morning, I felt completely smitten.
But, as luck would have it, he didn’t seem to feel as starry-eyed as I did. We were just friends after all, so I don’t know what I could have really expected from him.
I should have verbally addressed it, but I didn’t.
We were on different flights home so we parted ways with a quick, awkward hug and I vowed to stow away my feelings and never think about the situation again.
After a week passed without so much as a word from him, I decided I needed to break my silence and finally tell my one of my girlfriends what had happened. As the words were coming out of my mouth, something awful happened.
I realized it was “love.”
I officially decided this was the perfect set up for my perfect love story.
This was love. It had to be.
And, so began my downfall.
We’ve all seen how this would play out if it were a movie, right? Both of us would eventually realize we have real feelings for each other, there would be some sort of big, romantic gesture, and then we would end up together forever.
But, this isn’t a movie – it’s far from it.
Things got weird…real weird.
I was used to talking to him a few times a week, but suddenly he stopped responding to my texts all together. We were now living a little further from each other than we used to, so I attributed the distance as the reason we weren’t spending as much time together. But, somewhere in my subconscious I was certain he was avoiding me.
I morphed into a crazy version of myself.
My mind began going everywhere imaginable, from “is he avoiding me because he 100% regrets what happened between us?” to “is he avoiding me because he felt something too and doesn’t know how to act?”
I didn’t stop talking about it with any and everyone who would listen. I envisioned what things would be like if he felt the same as I did. I envisioned what I’d need to do if he really didn’t reciprocate my feeling and I had to be forced to move on.
By the next time I saw him I had made myself so insanely nervous that I was all around a complete and total embarrassment. I decided to have a few drinks to take the edge off. With my beer jacket on, I tried to make a move, and was completely shot down. Even though I knew this wasn’t moving forward for a reason, I decided not to give up.
I should have given up.
The next several times we hung out I continued to work every move and line I had in my arsenal. But, continuously, I was made a fool of.
He didn’t feel the same way. He didn’t need to say it at this point. His actions were speaking louder than words, but it took multiple separate occasions of his apathetic actions for me to come to terms with this.
What’s worse, in the process of me going from sane to insane, and back to sane again, I was unintentionally pushing him away as a friend.
I’d get mad at him every time he shot me down. I’d ignore him for days, and ask friends not to invite him to get-togethers. When I’d finally see him, I’d make a move again, and then end up storming out of a cab in the middle of the street because he wasn’t having it. Then, I’d call him to apologize and he wouldn’t call me back, understandably.
In my life, I had never let myself act in such a way, but I felt I had no control. It was at this point I realized something desperately needed to change.
I tried to come back to a rational state.
It was easier said than done. When we’re getting over horrible breakups, we know we can do our best to cut the man out where possible. We can delete their phone number, throw away all memories of him from our home, maybe join a dating site, and really make moves to move on.
But how do you get over someone you never even had a chance to date?
Someone you maybe never even had real feelings for, but rather just enjoyed the idea of? And, what do you do if that person was previously one of your best friends, and things were getting messier by the minute?
It all felt so complicated.
I was in a state of constant confusion. Unfortunately, there was only one thing I could actually do, and it was to cut him out for a while. I knew I needed to give myself the chance to meet someone else, and to get over the unrealistic idea of us ever being together.
Life is not a piece of fiction.
Life is real. Just because these types of “best friends become more” stories work perfectly on paper or film doesn’t mean they actually work.
We can’t force ourselves into situations that are not right simply because we’d love the story that comes along with it. We need to love the man. And, for me, at the end of the day it wasn’t love. It was “love.”
It took me a while, but I made it out alive. Once I came to the final realization that we were not meant to be more than friends, I was able to focus on what I actually wanted. And, it wasn’t him.
If I said things are completely back to normal now, several months down the road, I’d be lying. I feel confident it will be one day, though. Baby steps.
Would I take it all back?
In a heartbeat.
I regret not asking him how he felt after it first happened. I regret how I acted in the aftermath, not knowing how he felt. I regret that it still might take a little while to get back to where we were. I regret the fact that he’ll never be able to un-see how I look naked! Gah!
If I could offer advice, it would be to never cross that friendship line unless you’re completely sure.
I hadn’t thought about the possible implications. I acted with my sex drive, and not my brain. This should be something you fully think through before acting on.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that sometimes our male friends are so wonderful because they’re just that — friends. They’re there to listen to us complain, or give us male perspective on situations or to be your drinking buddy for the night. For me, that’s more than enough.
I can confidently say nothing will ever happen between us again in the future.
And, for that I feel happy.
After it all, I have officially decided to stop drafting that fairytale ending. I’m certain I’m going to have my happy ending one day, but it is will come without having to write it myself.