It was over a year ago when we both swiped right. Who could have ever known that an innocuous flick of the finger would end up having such an impact on my life. Our romance, if you want to call it that, took me by surprise, since you were not the type of guy that I usually went for. I should have known when I agreed to meet you on that cold, December Thursday night, against all of my better instincts, that I was going to be in trouble. You did everything right, selling me the story that I had been longing to hear – about your desires for something meaningful, and how you were a one woman type of guy. You pursued me hard out of the gate, but I admit it didn’t take much convincing. It was on our second date, when you ordered the tuna that I said looked good (which you hate) and then kissed me in the rain under our umbrellas when I felt the butterflies for the first time. Those damn butterflies – they would stay with me until long after I wished them away.
As the saying goes, what goes up must come down…
It wasn’t long before I began to see the cracks in the foundation. Suddenly you weren’t a guy looking for something serious, rather you were the guy with the baggage who really liked me, but who couldn’t handle the idea of a “relationship.” You convinced me that if we used words like “exclusive” it would be enough. After all, exclusivity means we only date each other; only have sex with one another, right? I tried to rationalize it when you said that you couldn’t handle labels because you needed to know that you had “options” even if you had no intention of acting on them. I tried not to let myself feel like absolute shit knowing that I was just another “option.”
Just as things between us were becoming somewhat routine, life happened, and things beyond our control put a lot of distance between us physically. We compensated for not being able to see each other by texting all day, talking for hours before and after work, and Face-timing at night.
It was amazing how we never seemed to run out of things to say.
Our long talks and hysterical laughter kind of became our thing. Like school kids, we even developed a language of our own, with words and catchprases we would say to one another on a regular basis. But the lightness was always short-lived, as the darkness in you always inevetibly took over. Your mood swings, your ability to shut me out instantaneously if you heard something you didn’t like, had me on constant egg shells.
Your baggage came up a lot, often when I began to feel frustrated and insecure with what we had, but you always ended up reassuring me in your own way. You weren’t one to be loose with your words but the out-of-the blue texts telling me that you were “falling for me and that it was scaring you,” and that you “wished you could be different because you knew we were perfect for one another,” always ended up being enough to keep me around.
I let myself believe that underneath your cryptic words, you were trying to express something more, but you just didn’t have the courage to say it. I realize now, that’s exactly what you wanted me to think.
I believed in you and in us. I believed that you truly loved me, but I accepted that you would never say those words or admit those feelings to me anytime soon, if ever. So we moved forward aimlessly, uncertain of what I even was to you. I met your family, your children – you called me your friend. I suppose it was true because somewhere along the way we had become the very best of friends – a unique and special relationship involving intimacy on every level. I would marvel at how we nearly had it all – the friendship, the ability to talk about anything, the passion, the amazing sex, the “trust”….everything minus your ability to commit.
And then, as should have been expected, the other shoe dropped.
One can only cover up lies and deception for so long before it catches up with them. Although we were never a “couple” the promise of exclusivity made it devastating to find out that you had been cheating on me for nearly our entire relationship – I believe it was 6 months at the time. Everything that I thought I knew about you, about us, had been a lie. You weren’t the person that you had pretended to be. The absolute heartbreak of finding out about all of your lies, lies that you looked me in the eyes and told me, cut through me like a knife, because besides the fact that you were my lover, you had become my very best friend. How do I wake up tomorrow and go through my day without our hours of conversation and text messages? How could you be so selfish that you would be willing to jeopardize everything we had developed just to get laid?
I hated you, but ultimately, I let you back in. I must have hated myself even more.
I allowed myself to be manipulated by you, because the truth was, I was so in love with you at that point, that it wasn’t going to take much convincing to give me an excuse to allow you back into my life. You showed enough remorse and regret to enable me to justify talking to you again.
You made me feel sorry for you, telling me stories of your life and of your childhood, explaining what had “made you this way.” Of course, me being who I am, went into overdrive trying to help you, to fix you. But you never wanted help.
Deep down, although you won’t admit it, you like this version of yourself.
But this time it would be different.
You claimed that you just wanted to be just friends, that our friendship – best friendship meant more to you than anything else. I suppose that should have made me feel amazing, knowing how important I was to your life, but instead it made me wonder what was wrong with me all of a sudden, that you were cool with no longer being intimate with me.
I felt undesirable by the man who once made me feel like the sexiest girl on the planet.
I didn’t understand how you could run so hot and so cold simultaneously. The only thing that separated me from being just another notch on your belt was the unexpected easiness of our friendship and how incredibly close we had become on a whole other level. That was completely new to you, and you needed that. And I needed to be needed by you. I wanted whatever I could get. So seemingly it was a win-win situation. Except that it wasn’t.
The next 6 months of our “relationship” was a rollercoaster. Sometimes, when we saw each other, it felt like old times. We flirted, held hands, kissed. Sometimes we shared more intimate moments. But it was never the same. Sometimes you outright rejected my advances, telling me that “friends don’t do those things.” Those times were pretty mortifying and soul crushing. However the daily hours of communication continued and I pushed myself to just go with it and take what I could get, when I could get it. I’m not sure when I had decided that I didn’t deserve better than that.
Things got interesting when you began to go on dating sites. Now that we were just “best friends” we were both free to date. You tried somewhat to protect me, but like a masochist I needed to know every detail. I remember your first date and first kiss. I cried for hours afterwards. You told me you weren’t capable of real intimacy, and that if you could be in a real relationship with somebody, you would be in one with me, but you just weren’t built that way. You were addicted to sex and you needed to be able to have it whenever you wanted and with whoever you wanted, and not with just one person. Sex was “meaningless” to you, or so you would tell me, which is why you could fuck all those women like it was nothing. You told me you couldn’t be with me because it was “too meaningful.” For who, I wondered? I realize now how ridiculous it was that I bought your line of bullshit… but I did because I needed to believe that it was the truth, since the alternative was too hurtful.
Having flashbacks to our times in bed together I have a hard time believing that you can’t have sex with intimacy, since we had some extremely intense and intimate moments, but perhaps you are just that good of an actor. Or more likely, that good of a liar.
Innocent kisses turned into sexual affairs with multiple women. Again I listened, asked questions, and died a little on the inside. Together we would laugh at the expense of these women. Making fun of them with you somehow made me feel better. You obviously didn’t give a shit about them if you were talking crap about them to me. That helped me to deal with the fact that you were sleeping with other women when in my heart you should have been with me. You made it clear that these women were nothing more than sex, and you treated them that way. Their presence affected me emotionally, but I was able to tell myself that you still gave nearly all of your attention to me, so that had to mean something…
Our running joke was that you were Harry and I was Sally, and that even though they spent time dating other people, they eventually ended up together, and someday we would end up together because it was meant to be.
The idea of that kept me afloat during this time, and you knew that, which is why you dangled that over my head like forbidden fruit. As I listened to the details of your latest conquests, I would remind myself that all of this was just temporary. This was your way of acting out, because you didn’t want to deal with the feelings that you had developed for me. To say that I was gullible and naïve would be an understatement.
And then one day it happened. She happened.
I had spent another 6 months accepting the fact that you just weren’t capable of a relationship – you just were not a “one woman” man. Yet suddenly, this woman enters your life, and for all intents and purposes she should have been a nobody to you, having a lifestyle totally opposite of yours, almost to a detriment. And yet there I was on the phone, fighting to hold back tears, as I listened to you tell me about her and about how something about this was different.
I don’t think I need to explain why that destroyed me.
Suddenly my hours started to get cut, my morning phone call went from an hour to a quick 15 minutes, daytime texts practically ceased all together, afternoon phone calls had a time limit, and nights when you didn’t have your kids went silent since she would be there. In a moment, our so-called friendship was being sidelined by your sudden ability to be monogamous.
I suppose I should have been proud of you for showing growth, but I wasn’t. I believed you when you said it would be me, if anyone. And yet there you were, and she wasn’t me, and I couldn’t pretend to be ok with that.
I watched our friendship suffer. Anger, resentment, heartache all seeping in and becoming a cancer that ate away at what we once were. Our beautifully easy conversations became strained. What was there really left to say? Was it fair that I had really only been giving you all of my time because I was secretly hoping that if I just waited it out, somehow you would get your shit together? Maybe not. But that’s what I had been doing.
I had spent a year of my life helping you become a better man for another woman… and now I was done. I was finally ready to walk away.
Except for that last important piece of business.
Our trip. We were going away together. It had been planned and paid for months in advance, when the idea of you ever having a girlfriend couldn’t have been more laughable. And it was a big trip; a bucket-list trip – so it couldn’t be canceled. We had spent many hours on the phone talking about how we would spend that week on vacation acting like a couple, enjoying every minute of the trip, and of each other. We vowed that we would allow the romance to come on vacation with us, but that we would leave it behind when the trip ended. We promised that would not let emotions get involved. What happens on another continent stays on another continent, right?
At that time, the idea of one last romantic week together sounded amazing, but now things were obviously different. I already felt the excitement of our trip slipping away from me. How would we get through this without it being awkward if you suddenly had a girlfriend – something I certainly didn’t think I had to worry about when I booked it? You – girlfriend? Never.
So it became a waiting game.
I prayed for the months to pass, and to get the trip that I had been looking forward to for almost a year, over with. I didn’t know what would happen when we got there. I didn’t know if you would still be in this relationship, although I certainly had my doubts since you don’t “do” relationships, and since every other day you were reconsidering whether or not you wanted to be somebody’s “boyfriend.” But who knew anymore? Maybe you would be with somebody else by then?
I didn’t know if any of it would even matter when we got to our destination. I couldn’t imagine us spending a week together, having the time of our lives, laughing, seeing incredible sights, being alone in a romantic setting and not having old feelings creep up. I couldn’t imagine us not wanting to be with one another in those moments. But I also knew what it felt like to be cheated on because of you, and I didn’t want to be the other woman. On the other hand, I still felt like she was the other woman, so I wasn’t sure how strong I would end up being if opportunities presented themselves. If the past was any indication, it didn’t look good. Only time would tell.
Weeks passed. She was still in your life. It was becoming unbearable. So much so, that at times I had to bite my tongue from just telling you just how badly I wanted out of your life. But I couldn’t do that. So I did something else.
I hatched a plan.
In the months leading up to our trip, I made a decision. You didn’t know it, but this trip was going to be our “goodbye” trip. I had decided that when that plane touched the ground upon our return, and when you drove away that morning to head home after what I am sure would have ended up being a very memorable and special time together, it would be the last time we would ever see each other again. Because, you see, at that point, I was just watching the clock – waiting for our trip to come and knowing that until then I had to be normal with you. I had to be your best friend, as per usual…
But the reality was, I could no longer be your best friend. I didn’t want to be your best friend.
I had never wanted that.
That incredible friendship that we built had come as an extension of our intimate relationship, a relationship that you had decided you didn’t want. I would have walked away months ago and saved myself the pain of listening to another story about your sex life if I could have, but unfortunately I had to wait it out. So when the time came for us to go away, I planned make the best of it, and I planned to enjoy that week together knowing that those would be the last memories we would ever make.
Because the truth was, Billy Crystal had been absolutely right when he told Meg Ryan that women and men can never be friends. They can’t. Not when one of them is head over heels in love with the other one.
And I had been head over heels in love with you for a long time. And you knew that.
But then something changed.
In the weeks leading up to our trip, I began to see another side of you. I had only known you as a bachelor, but now here you were, in this so-called “relationship.” I had been jealous. She had what I thought I had wanted all along.
That is, until I saw what a relationship with you really looks like.
Through your stories, your recounts of arguments, and your hot and cold attitude, you painted a picture for me of what a relationship with you would have been like if you had chosen me instead of her. And suddenly I became grateful. For the first time since the day I fell for you, I was happy that you did not choose me, because if you had, I would have ended up wasting a lot of time on a man who simply is not “boyfriend material.” Seeing how you acted in a relationship flipped a switch inside of me. I saw you differently. The love I had once felt for you began to fade, and all that remained was sadness and relief. Sadness because I realized that you will never be able to love another person in a healthy and meaningful way, and relief because I was happy that I was suddenly free from the illusions that I had of what you and I could have been.
So now the plan began to change. Maybe I would no longer have to just quit you cold turkey like I had been planning on doing, when I was still a silly girl in love with you. That seemed rather cold and abrubt to me now. Besides, we still had this weird, so-called friendship thing between us, or at least the remnants of one, and I still felt a weird loyalty towards you. Now that I was “over you,” I was finally at a place where I was actually looking forward to putting myself out there again, with my heart in the right place, and I was optimistic that I would meet someone now that I was free of your hold on me. I knew when I did, I would have even more of a reason to fade into the background. Maybe I could just ease my way out of your life…?
We would remain friends, but not in the same way. And if I we’re being honest, our friendship had already changed so drastically, due to the huge gaps of time in which we didn’t even speak anymore because of the time you had to give to her, that we were already on our way towards aquaintance-hood anyway. It wouldn’t be such a hard transition. Regardless of whether or not I had romantic feelings towards you anymore, the truth was, you were just not healthy for me.
The good had begun to outweigh the bad. In retrospect, perhaps it always had.
So things changed, yet again…
I finally allowed myself to get excited about our trip again, now that my feelings for you were no longer part of the equation, and because I was no longer going have to spend our days away together having some sort of countdown going on in my head. You were acting enthusiastic as well and it made me happy to hear your excitement. You were still with your girlfriend, although I was starting to suspect that your relationship was going through the typical ups and downs that you are known for, since one day things were amazing and the next day they weren’t.
But since you’re still you, you managed to create more obstacles along the way. It was during the last month leading up to our trip that things began to get strained between us again. As a friend, I have really simple expectations – don’t lie to me, don’t break promises to me, and don’t stab me in the back. Needless to say, I began to see just how unreliable of a friend you really were. Just days before we were to leave, you let me down and broke your word to me, yet again. It was over something silly, but it was still a promise broken. And I was pissed.
How was I supposed to go away with a man who claimed to be my best friend when he did nothing but lie to me and betray me? For the last time, I was seeing Harry for who he really and truly was – a selfish, self-absorbed, narcissistic asshole who only cares about himself. He takes and takes and takes, but he is incapable of giving, certainly if giving is inconvenient for him in any way. There I was, about to treat him to a trip of a lifetime (not that he had asked me to, and not that he hadn’t fought with me over it, but at the end of the day he still accepted it from me), and he couldn’t even stick to his word.
So now we were back to square one.
In just a few short days I will leave for my trip with Harry, a man who I used to love and who I have begun to hate. I hate that I will be stuck with him on a plane for hours on end. I hate that I will be stuck sharing a room and a bed with him for over a week. I hate that he gets to have this experience, one that he doesn’t deserve. I hate that he has ruined something that I have been looking forward to for over a year. I hate that I cannot just cancel it, because it was just too expensive for me to do that and because I would be throwing away a dream of mine. I hate that I put myself into this ridiculous situation in the first place.
I hate that I am not at a place in my life that I have someone who truly loves me, and who I truly love back, that I could be sharing this experience with.
So now I am back to my original plan, but for a different reason.
Now when our plane lands upon the end of our trip, a trip that I am not longer excited about and that I don’t know how I am going to get through, I will have a pit in my stomach, because I will know that this will be our last moment together. Not because I am in love with you or because I can’t stand the idea of you being with anyone else, but because you have proven, once and for all, that you are just not the type of friend or person that I want in my life.
You simply do not deserve me anymore.
And now the story ends.
So goodbye, my best friend, my onetime love. You shattered my heart into a thousand pieces and weakly attempted to glue them back together, haphazardly, over and over again.
I’m not even sure if what you’ve left me with will ever be able to love as freely and with as much abandonment as it was once capable of. But I must try. Just not with you.
Never again with you.
It has been excruciating to love you for over a year as deeply as I have and to not have those feelings reciprocated. But it has been even more excruciating to give you the best of me; to be the best friend to you that I have ever been to anyone, and the best friend that you probably have ever had, and to get nothing but pain and disappointment in return.
I am afraid that my wounded heart just can’t handle any more of what you’ve put it through.
So I am happy for our memories, the good ones at least, which I suppose were few and far between…and I guess I am happy that we will have had one last week together, although how that will go is still to be determined? But now I must bow out as gracefully as I still can, before I embarrass myself any more than I already have.
I used to hope that perhaps one New Year’s Eve, you would show up at a party I was at, out of breath, and having had an epiphany – ready to tell me how much you love everything about me from the touch of my skin to the wrinkle above my nose. Just like in “When Harry Met Sally.” But I know that will never happen.
Because things like that only happen in the movies.
Besides, it’s too late for all of that.
The curtain has been opened, and the wizard has been revealed. And now I know that it’s fake. All of it. I have seen you for who you really are, and I cannot un-see it. I walk away knowing that the truth is, you’re nobody’s Harry. You never will be. Because Harry was honest, and he was able to be an amazing friend, not just when it was convenient for him, but all of the time. Most of all, he was able to love, to truly love.
But you, my old friend, are capable of none of those things.
I’m just glad that I finally see what everyone has been wanting me to see all along.
The real you.
P.S. You’re welcome. You must have forgotten to say thank you…but knowing you, you still think that ME taking YOU away was doing ME a favor.
It’s funny that I am somewhat surprised by your total lack of class and at your completely unfazed attitude after all has been said and done. Somewhat surprised to see you reveal, once again, that utterly selfish, entitled, and uncaring side of yourself.
Somewhat surprised…but not really.
That’s just who you are, and who you will always be. What a total shame.
As for me, I plan on moving on to bigger and better things… which after the past year of my life, doesn’t seem like it will be that big of a challenge.
I’m finally ready to write the next chapter of my story…
Just not the movie sequal.