I recently ended a very long friendship with a person that I once considered a very important part of my life. Why? Because, (much like Luther Vandross’s jheri curl), we could never quite get it right. We never could decide what we were doing. We were more than friends, but apparently not enough to be anything more. It took me such a long time to end the “relationship” because I didn’t want that spoiled brat that throws a tantrum and takes all their toys home because the game isn’t going their way.
But the lines became too blurred. We never really set any boundaries, and by the time we did, too much had happened and there was too much between us for us to start back at zero. I decided it would be less hurtful (and definitely less confusing) to cut all ties. Of course, his broadcasting plans for a sunny island vacation with his girlfriend all over Facebook made the decision much, much easier for me. And I’ve asked myself many times since then if I did the right thing. The short answer is yes…and no…
I found myself in a situation where I was ready and willing to take the friendship to the next level, but for reasons which are too numerous to go into here, he decided I wasn’t the one. He later amended that statement to inform me that if he weren’t in a relationship (a relationship that started during the course of our “friendship”, mind you) I would most certainly be first on his list. Lucky me. Upgraded to alternate…every girl’s dream. At the risk of coming off a little bitter here (which, I can assure you, I am not…anymore), I will note here that the reasons he gave me didn’t seem to apply to certain activities.
And so, I eventually unpacked my self-esteem, dusted off my pride and sense of self-worth and scrounged around in the bottom of my purse until I found some leftover kiss-my-ass to offer my “friend” as a going away present. That being said, I take responsibility for letting the situation get so out of hand. And just ‘cause I love you guys out in relationship land, I’m going to let you in on exactly where I went wrong. Learn from my mistakes, good people. Hopefully, these helpful hints will keep you from wasting time and losing a good friend…
- Tell the truth. I failed to be honest. First, with myself, about what I wanted, and later, with him. When he made it clear he wasn’t interested in me as a potential life partner, I should have thanked him kindly, chunked the deuces in his direction and gone on to find someone who wanted the same things I wanted.
- Recognize red flags. I saw it in his eyes. I heard it in his voice. I wasn’t totally unaware that none of his plans included me. Not in any real, concrete way. I never met his friends. Never just spent the day running errands with him. Never met his kids. (MAJOR red flag…I know…I know…don’t judge me…) When I realized I wasn’t being included in his life, and he didn’t care to be included in mine, I should have bounced.
- Pay attention to your feelings and your gut instincts. When I heard the half-hearted excuses for not wanting to spend any real time for me…when I had been “no-call/no-showed” a couple of times, when I realized I was making all the effort to communicate, I knew it was headed nowhere. My instincts told me I was playing myself and that I was putting in more than I was getting back, but I decided to ignore my good, old-fashioned common sense and I persisted in trying to persuade myself that he would realize (any day now) that we were perfect for each other. Basically, don’t do that. You’ll know when your feelings and efforts are being reciprocated. If they’re not–move around.
- Never (and I mean EVER) plead your case (otherwise known as begging). It’s one thing to sit down as a couple and to discuss the pros and cons of the two of you taking things further, but when you find yourself constantly trying to convince someone how good you are for them, you’re basically wasting both of your time. If you’re sharing your heart and body with someone who doesn’t realize how freakin’ fantabulous you are–cut them loose. Like right now!
- Realize when it’s time to walk away. Sure, you can do the “friends with benefits” thing. And sometimes it actually works out. But the odds are against you, my friend. In the end, someone always ends up more invested in the relationship than the other person. Eventually, someone gets hurt. If you’ve given so much of yourself that you have trouble looking at your own reflection in the mirror…if every time you have an exchange with this person you end up feeling used–let it go. Walk. Away.
There’s nothing wrong with being friends with someone you’re attracted to. Things happen. Clothes come off. Lines get crossed. The problems start when you realize that every time this person introduces you as their “friend”, you cringe. At that point, honest communication is the only thing that can save the friendship. If you do have to say goodbye, at least you’ll know you were true to the one friend who really counts: yourself.