Is Being ‘Just Friends’ Really Better Than Nothing At All?

woman watching man play guitar
Toa Heftiba

“But you don’t want to lose the friendship.”

This is what I heard when I said that I was thinking of cutting ties with one of my best guy friends. To keep a long story short, I fell for him. Deeply. Hard. Completely. And he did not feel the same way.

Despite the unrequited love, I still hung on to what we had: friendship. We remained extremely close. He looked out for me and supported me, and I did the same for him. I made him laugh, he let me cry when I needed, and we spent lots of time together.

But despite how close we were, despite how supported and safe I felt, I still couldn’t shake how much I wanted to be with him. What if was always dancing in the back of my mind. I mean, couldn’t he change his mind?

The short answer is no. Because despite how close we were, he did not love me, at least not in the way I needed.

And it fucking sucked.

When reality demanded I come back to earth, it hurt like hell. He wasn’t changing his mind, he felt how he felt, and that was that. Despite what heartbreak may tell you, you really can’t convince someone to love you. You can’t hope your way into their heart.

Soon thereafter, being “friends” became this toxic, messy thing that didn’t really look anything like friendship at all. Seeing him hurt. Sitting next to him hurt. Hearing about his day hurt. Listening to him laugh hurt.

It all just fucking hurt and I knew friendship wasn’t supposed to feel this way, which made me wonder:

Is being friends actually better than being nothing at all?

To many people, it would be. It would be considered selfish to throw away a friendship because you developed feelings. It would be dramatic. It would be giving up.

But why does that have to be the case? Because if what you want isn’t friendship, then what are you really losing?

After all, you want a relationship. You want to fall asleep to the sound of their heartbeats and wake up in their bed as the sun greets you both. You want the dinner dates and for them to be your first phone call when something good or bad happens. You want to know their coffee order by heart and know their darkest parts and still love them anyway.

What you want isn’t friendship. And that’s okay.

By walking away, you are not being selfish. You are simply respecting yourself enough to know that what the two of you have is hurting you and is not giving you what you need. And if they’re really your friend, they’ll understand that.

But this is not to say that it always has to be a permanent departure. Maybe things can change. Maybe you can find friendship somewhere in that person one day after time has passed and your heart has healed. It’s okay to hope for that, too.

But in the end, if that’s not something you can do, that’s okay. It’s not that you’re weak or selfish.

You’re simply a human being who had to let go. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Writer. Editor. Hufflepuff. Dog person.

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