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How I Ruined My Best Friendship (And How You Can Prevent Ruining Yours)

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People like to say that men and women can’t have fulfilling platonic relationships. In the spring of 2012, I met the man who would almost instantly become my best friend for the next year.

Sam (I’m changing his name for the sake of this story) was my rock. He was my mentor at work, meaning we spent almost 8 hours together daily for the first two weeks of knowing each other. For two socially awkward people, we were so quick to become comfortable together. I was 2 years into a long distance relationship and he had just ended an engagement, meaning that there was no pressure to be anything more than we were; best friends. He was the funniest person I had ever met. My boyfriend at the time was comfortable with mine and Sam’s friendship, probably because I was so blindly in love and Sam was nothing like him.

For a year we were inseparable. At one point he had been talking with a girl who was uncomfortable with our friendship and I thought that we were done. But, Sam assured me that she would just have to get over her insecurities.

Meanwhile, my romantic relationship was deteriorating. I was slowly realizing that I, at 20 years old, was dating a 26 year old manchild who had never lived more than one bedroom away from his mother and who literally vomited in the face of confrontation.

In the midst of all of this, I decided it was time to bring Sam up north to my hometown to meet my female best friend. They approved of each other immediately and we spend the night drinking and smoking pot in her garage. At one point, I left the alone to use the restroom. On my way back out, I heard them talking through the door. She had asked him about our friendship and he replied with something to the effect of “I don’t know… I just think she’s amazing. But she’s never going to break up with her boyfriend.”

I stopped dead in my tracks. What the fuck was that? Did Sam just admit that he has feelings for me? How could I be so blind to miss that he felt this way? I gathered myself and went back into the garage, where the topic quickly changed. That night, he fell asleep on the couch in the basement while I sat completely awake in the chair next to him. My mind was racing. I had to address this. I spent at least 45 minutes gathering the courage to wake him up. Finally, after standing and sitting back down maybe 10 times, I went over and sat on the floor in front of the couch. I gently woke him up and the only thing I could think to say was “Kiss me.” He was confused and asked me what I was doing but I insisted that we kiss. And we did. And it was foreign. But I liked it. We kissed again, then spent the next hour talking about what an amazing idea it was… and what an awful idea it was… and how we were going to go forward from there.

The next morning he headed back south and I went directly to my boyfriend’s house to end things. Even though the breakup was months in the making, I felt like the world’s biggest asshole for kissing Sam before I ended my relationship.

I left my now ex’s mom’s house and made the long drive back south to Sam’s. We tried to watch some TV together, but ended up making out and dry humping on his bed like a couple of teenagers. Afterwards, we talked and decided not to act on anything quite yet. I left his house grinning from ear to ear. I got in my car and drove down his road away from the house and suddenly it felt like a heavy blanket was thrown on top of me. I stopped the car and started hyperventilating; I couldn’t process everything that had happened in the last 24 hours. It took 15 minutes of heavy, snotty, gasping for air crying for me to even begin my drive home. It was clear that everything was going to change.

The next day at work, I tried to act like everything was normal. I was either handling this terribly or Sam was dealing with his own demons because by the end of the day, he was accusing me of acting different and made it clear we needed to keep our distance. It was the beginning of the end.

I was so lost and so alone… I had just left the only romantic relationship I had ever had, a three year investment, and now my best friend was purposefully avoiding me like the plague. All within a week’s time.

It had been about a month since we stopped spending time together when I passed by him on my way out of work one day. We said “Hey” as I headed to my car and I realized that we might as well be strangers at this point. I reached out and told him that this felt wrong. He admitted that he missed our friendship too. We decided that we would work our way back to where we were – before the kiss.

Our time spent together afterwards almost felt forced. It was clear that he had moved past what had happened, but I couldn’t. There was a clear disjoint in our friendship and I was so broken that I couldn’t see that this was never going to work out. Eventually, Sam started dating my roommate and practically moved into our apartment. After a few months of watching them fall in love, paired with some really tragic events in my family and my growing hate for my job, I had a sort of emotional breakdown and moved my entire life to a different state without notice. To this day, Sam and I don’t speak.

Looking back on the events that took place, it’s clear to me now that Sam and I were never supposed to be anything but friends. We were too similar to ever be involved romantically and any sort of relationship to that effect wouldn’t have lasted a month. It embarrassing now, to remember how insecure I was. I thought I needed to be with Sam to put myself back together and I tried so hard to hold on to what we had… to make it into something it wasn’t. My heart was broken because an incredible friendship was over and I couldn’t understand that.

It’s too late for me now, but it doesn’t have to be for you. You can make a friendship with the opposite sex work, I do still believe that. If you take one piece of advice from this mess, make sure that it is to be honest with yourself. Never try to make a relationship into something it’s not. Cherish the person you feel comfortable spending time with and respect the limits of your friendship. And Sam, if you ever read this, I’m sorry. TC mark

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