How You Lose A Friend To Love



You can’t remember how you even got to become friends with this person. It doesn’t matter though, because you can’t imagine ever having not been.

Through some combination of possessiveness, jealously and curiosity, you start to think about what it would be like to be something else to each other.

And with a shot at a real life “my girlfriend is my best friend” scenario, how else could these feelings possibly be resolved?

You go to dinner, share a massive platter of meat washed down with Malbec.

After a little Mad Men and a little more wine, you kiss.

All of a sudden you’re making excuses not to confront each other while proclaiming the sanctity of your friendship above all else.

You kiss again the week after.

You’re seeing each other every chance you get.

One of you takes the necessary initiative and explains exactly what the post-graduate plan is.

One of you tells the other you love them and, after a pause, there’s reciprocation.

At one point your perspectives are forced up and down and you’re driven to in-eloquence and to stumble over clichés and punctuate each point by leaning up or down so you’re sure they understand how willing you are to meld the emotional and the physical.

The ebbing begins.

Once you start to grow apart, you try to remember the genesis of it all, this time to even less avail until you’re three months and 5,707 miles away from where it all started and it’s the last night you’ll see each other.

One of you can’t see the bus window anymore, then the bus at all and you’re both exhausted and lonely, but one of you is a little more exhausted and other is a little lonelier.

And then what do you do?

You start and give up on five versions of the same letter. It’s equal parts apology, explanation, accusation and curiosity. You’ll repeat this process three more times over the next two weeks. You never finish it.

You take a walk. It’s early evening and the park by your hotel is bustling. You understand snippets of conversation.

You sit on a bench and everything wells up and for the third time in eight days, your emotional state is publicly consumed. But, for the first time, there’s no one across from you to share the burden.

The reality of what they’ve gotten you into starts to set in.

In the moment, we can only understand what someone is saying as filtered through our own perception of the situation. For instance, you get an email or a phone call or have an actual conversation in which someone dictates exactly how they feel and, more importantly, how they see it affecting you. Your first thought is never to accept what they’re saying as the reality of the situation. And you’re not wrong, but you’re also making the same mistake as your interlocutor by thinking that they are categorically wrong. Bringing someone around to your way of thinking, or assuming that they will of their own accord once presented with physical or emotional-evidence is an inherently flawed, Sisyphean way to go about things.

Accepting that no situation is objective if multiple parties act, or have acted on it is the first step towards a resolution. However, it also necessarily sheds the façade of resentment that entertains the potentially legitimate idea that no resolution should be reached.

The sun and the waves of the lake crashing like an ocean and the mountain air are alleviating the heartbreak.

You sort of stop thinking of the other so much.

You realize you haven’t said more than three words to anyone else in almost a week. You don’t speak the language, but this still strikes you as very odd.

You get an email confirming that flights can’t be changed.

You start thinking about the other again and this time you only blame yourself.

The brevity of a seven-hour bus ride is relieving.

Breaking up isn’t hard to do, but losing a friend is. Breaking up has the same remedy every time: you wallow, you come out of it, and you stumble on. Sex and dates and inside jokes and being unable to take your eyes off someone else’s are eventually all just facsimiles. But a friend is independent of those repetitions.

Chronologically, you trust your friends more quickly than the people you’re dating or sleeping with, it’s a matter of protection and control. And it’s funny because most friendships aren’t as intimate as even a one or two time affair. You don’t literally bare all with most of your friends and, in that, there’s a trust. The level of exposure is yours to determine. So when you take your friendship down a different path and it becomes more, you’ve relinquished control and you’ve left that trust vulnerable as a result.

Two weeks later you’re back home. Against your better judgment, you’ve allowed yourself to succumb to the other’s attempted contact.

You invite another ex to your brother’s wedding because how better to regain control of yourself than to re-establish a connection lost entirely by fault of your own.

She laughs it off and wisely declines.

You watch your brother marry someone great you he hadn’t met until his late 20s.

You realize you might take a lot of misguided trips chasing love or something like it and that this probably isn’t the last time one of those trips will leave you defeated and alone.

Despite that creeping inevitability, you watch the way your brother and your new sister-in-law look at each other and remember what that feels like and now, instead of dreading the zealous highs and lows along the way, you can’t help but be elated by the prospect of arriving at that feeling again.