Stuck Outside the Friend Zone

They said it would all change. They said that our relationship was forever altered, but I did not believe them. I always thought the friendship would be stronger than the circumstances we put it through. You know, looking back, if I could do it all again, I would. I would tell myself do not get involved with your best friend, because someone always gets hurt. And that person was me. He did not hurt me by not wanting a relationship, because we were on the same page about that. 

Now, you may be confused- so you are not upset, because you are not dating and you are still friends? So, what the f**k are you sad about?

Well, I have spent the past few months trying to figure that out. Trying to understand why I felt so uncomfortable in the relationship, as if I were wearing an itchy sweater two sizes too small. The same relationship that I had once felt so safe in. Why the one person who I could tell just about anything to, I was avoiding. I just wanted to crawl back to the place in time where I felt safe. But I could not. It is like when you rip a dollar in half. Fundamentally, when you tape the pieces back together, they equate to the same value. However, it is not the same. It is hard to describe, and it is an even harder feeling to come to terms with, but bringing feelings and intimacy into a friendship ultimately changes the structure of the relationship. When you come out of it, you are still you and he is still him; however, you have seen each other in a different light and it is difficult to un-know that. 

Back when I first met him, I knew he was meant to be in my life. We had an organic relationship where we could talk or sit on the phone for hours. The kind of relationship where we were comfortable sitting in silence. Our two separate worlds began to merge at school, and it was not until about a year into the friendship that it became complicated. I cannot speak on his behalf, but feelings had been brought into question, and I found myself repeating “we are just friends” way too many times as people began to inquire about our relationship. 

“Just friends.”  A statement I used to describe our friendship. An oversimplification of a complex relationship I never foresaw myself entering into. It was my way of avoiding the harsh reality that we were not just friends, and it would be very difficult to maneuver ourselves back to that point. 

We both entered in and out of other relationships, but one thing stayed consistent: our friendship. It was something that we could always lean back on, and I grew to rely on that. I figured as much as we had been through, it would be there. It was not until now that I had doubts about that. 

So, what changed? What turned this on its side? I wish there was an easy answer. I wish I could point to one thing and say that is the moment that changed everything. However, that is not what happened at all. We bounced back and forth between acting as if we were in a relationship, acting as if we were just friends and acting as if we were friends with benefits, all within a short amount of time. The irregularity and spontaneity of the relationship grew to be so much, I found myself not being able to catch my breath. We claimed we were just friends, when deep down we had this connection that was meaningful, but we forgot to care for. 

I took a risk. I took a risk on a friendship, and it did not work out. The most difficult part of moving a friendship out of the “friendzone” was losing the complete respect I was given when we were just friends. While we were friends, I knew him as this undeniably nice person who had my back. However, those lines began to blur as we moved back and forth and the discomfort rapidly increased. I had to face that as one side of the relationship ended, our friendship was going with it for the time being. 

The most important thing to note when considering getting involved with your best friend is to not be naive. Please understand that nothing happens like in the movies. Enter into a perfect world and maybe things would have worked out differently. Maybe we would have been able to figure it out. But, unfortunately, we have yet to be able to do that. 

You know, looking back, if I could do it all again, I would. I would tell myself do not get involved with your best friend, because someone always gets hurt. However, I do not regret the choices I made. This may sound contradictory, but it is not. You can wish to not repeat an action, but not regret it because of the lesson it brought you. It’s like when you decide to go out with your friends instead of studying for an exam. You may never repeat the decision to not study, however you do not regret going out because of the memories made. 

I do not regret getting involved with him, because if I had not, I would be left wondering what if. Uncertainty is scary, but never taking a risk or putting yourself out there out of fear is even scarier. Do I regret anything that has happened in our relationship? No. Do I think the complications added to our relationship were worth it at the end? No.

I lost my best friend during this process. I may not have lost him completely, but I lost that pure, genuine friendship. Things will never be the same and my friends were right. However, everything happens the way it is supposed to, and who knows? What is to come may be better than what has passed. I want to say that we can save the friendship, but I am truly not sure if that is possible. Sometimes you just need to trust that things will be okay. 

There is no easy answer. There is no one way to handle any sort of friendship. I have learned that friendships are not linear and there is no way of predicting where they are headed, but I guess that is the fun of life. Take situations as they come and as long as you are happy with your decisions at the end of the day, that is all that matters.