Hook up once. Ideally, this should occur at the beginning of your friendship and with the sponsorship of some sort of cheap liquor. Never talk about it. Actually, talk about it, but not until three years later. When you do talk about it, lie and say you were very drunk. Say, “Yeah, I was wasted. So weird, right? How weird is it that we’ve hooked up? Weird. Just so incredibly weird.” Say weird an inappropriate amount of times to poorly mask the fact that you didn’t – and don’t – think it was “weird.”
Make the decision to settle for a friendship early on. Decide that having them in your life platonically is better than not having them at all. Maybe you’ll try to convince yourself that it’s just a crush, or maybe you’ll try to convince yourself that there is something romantic about being secretly in love with your best friend. If it’s the former, learn how to effectively lie to yourself. If it’s the latter, watch How Harry Met Sally whenever it’s on cable television and maybe even buy a DVD copy, if it happens to be on the sale rack at F.Y.E. one day.
Do the kinds of things a couple would do. Drive aimlessly alongside the ocean at two in the morning. Watch the sun set. Meet their family and play Jenga with their nephew.
Don’t do the kinds of things a couple would do. Don’t have sex. Don’t acquire the knowledge of what they look like naked. Don’t hold hands on those aimless drives. Don’t share a kiss after you let their nephew win at Jenga. Wonder what these things would feel like, but do not do them.
Let intimacy float over you. Make eye contact a bit too long. Hug a bit too tight. Speak almost exclusively in double entendres. Wander along the outskirts of romance. People will ask, “What’s the deal with you two?” and, with the conviction of an award-winning actress say glibly, “What do you mean?” Know exactly what they mean.
Discuss sex openly. Sex with other people, I mean. Not sex with each other. Never overtly discuss sex with each other. When they tell you they’ve met someone, act nonchalant, perhaps more nonchalant than you would be with another friend. Casually ask, “Have you slept with her yet?” and concentrate on making sure your voice stays steady. Pretend you’re just asking to ask. Pretend it is simple. Pretend that you don’t mind hearing, “Yeah, a few times.”
Meet their new girlfriend. Prior to meeting her, stalk her endlessly and inappropriately on just about every social networking site imaginable. Wish that she has the personality of a glass of whole milk or plain turkey sandwich. Silently hope that she is silly and twee, and maybe even a little bit vapid. Want to throw up when she is graceful and clever and, quite possibly, even worthy of his love. Acknowledge that, even if she was boring or unattractive or completely aloof, it wouldn’t matter. He still wouldn’t want you.
When you meet her, be taken aback at the weird pitch your voice takes on when talking to her. Be fascinated by her. Compare yourself to her. Watch them hold hands and acknowledge that they have sex. Often. Try to avoid thinking about their naked bodies together. Think about their naked bodies together in great detail. Pretend that you don’t mind watching them together. Smile and tell your best friend, “I’m so happy for you,” but silently take note that your voice takes on that weird pitch again. Resolve to get better at controlling the modulation of your voice.
Almost tell him. Muster up the courage to tell him in some sort of grand gesture. Perhaps you could run through the airport before they board their flight to Europe and shout, “Wait! Don’t go! I love you!” Maybe you could say something like, “Pick me, choose me, love me.” Remember that airports frown on people attempting to bypass security in order to reenact scenes from the kinds of movies that Katherine Heigl chooses to star in. Also remember that your best friend is not even planning on going to Europe anytime soon. Lose the courage to tell them almost as quickly as you found it.
Wonder what you’re getting out of this friendship. Wonder what the foundation for this friendship actually is. Wonder how long this can last. Wonder if they’ll ever change their mind. Wonder if they know you’re secretly in love with him. Wonder if his girlfriend loves him as much as you would, as you do. Above everything, wonder if you should walk away. On numerous occasions, decide you should walk away. Never actually walk away.