Moments of my life have been marked by the person I loved. There were 6 years of “the boyfriend”, where the boy I loved became my best friend. Toothbrushes were shared and wine glasses were broken from being thrown across tables. There were moments with guys who made for great sleepovers. They’d teach me to relax, have drinks with me by the water or share amazing stories about all the parts a girl never gets to see. There were eras of people I’d latch onto in a new place, like high school and college where everyone was so busy being busy, but that one girl noticed you and you loved the way she walked by you without a care in the world. With each big time in my life, there was always a person to go with it. A male partner-in-crime who made sense of everything. A female who loved me despite my inability to relate at times.
And seeing them again after their moment is over, when we’ve moved apart or simply grown into different people, always feels like getting to live — if only for one night of bar-hopping — like I’m that person again. We spend hours catching up on all the people we knew together, the places we used to go, and the things we allowed ourselves to do that we would never consider today. These friends are an ambassador of a place I used to live, both physically and spiritually, and it often feels like they carry a huge part of myself with them. I like to think they feel the same about me.
But sometimes, things don’t go so well. We separate for a real reason, and we don’t meet back up a year or so later to breathlessly catch up on everything we’ve missed. For lack of a better term, we break up. And though I would love to pretend that these breakups were totally unavoidable circumstances — or even the other persons fault entirely — they are my fault, at least in part. When I analyze every relationship I have had (and it’s not many, but enough to draw a pattern or two), I’ve behaved selfishly. I’ve dumped too much of my personal bullshit on them, demanded too much of their time, or neglected their needs. I’ve even betrayed trust. Sometimes they acted poorly, too, but I can always find fault in some of the things I’ve done. I can say that I treated them like I didn’t love them, like I didn’t value their presence as a friend.
And we never talk about friend breakups, because we don’t think of them in the same way. We don’t analyze the loss in our lives the same way, and we certainly don’t expect to be able to go to other friends crying, mourning the loss of a relationship you valued so much. But losing a male friend has often left me as devastated (if not more so) as losing a boyfriend. It eats away at me, and runs my self-esteem into the ground. Because it doesn’t feel like a release or a moment of closure the way you do feel the end of a romantic relationship (even if it’s painful), it only feels like evidence of my own shortcomings, of my failures, of the fact that I couldn’t make it work with a person I loved.
It’s probably silly, but every time I love someone truly, I imagine the two of us old, laughing and making dirty jokes and drinking gin on our porches. I imagine us being the coolest grandparents with the best stories at a family party full of young and silly grandkids. But I imagine a future with them, the way I do with my boyfriend, the way I do with my family, the way I do with anyone I love. I picture a version of myself who is older, wiser, but still surrounded by the people she really loves.
Breaking up with a friend— hurting them, or having them hurt you, to the point of separation — means accepting that the retirement home vision will probably not happen. And just like in any breakup, you have to wish them the best, hope that they will find their happiness with someone better suited to them. You have to hope that they will find a partner-in-crime who doesn’t take them for granted, or get caught up on petty things. You have to move on, and let them move on, even if their friendship defined an entire era of your life. Even if they feel like an ambassador from a place you used to live, but can’t visit anymore.
Even if you’re not ready to let them go.
you don’t have to be his girlfriend to feel for him. There is no title in the world that could make your feelings about him and his current situation more valid than they already are. It sounds to me like he makes you happy. I’m glad you haven’t allowed petty things to discourage you for exploring your feelings for him. Right now he needs to feel loved more than ever. Loss of any kind is terrible, especially a loved one. Things happen for a reason, use this sad time to be a positive force in his life. And I understand your fear of saying too much, I’m sure he also needs a little space to explore his own feelings at the moment. But you can be present without having to say much at all. Sometimes just a simple “I care about how you feel today” is all it takes. he’ll know how special he is to you.
Keep taking your time. Don’t rush anything. Thank you for your kind words and I wish you the best!
To actively avoid this pain would be to deny ourselves the ability to counteract it in the future. After all, any person raised in complete sterile solitude would, upon exposure, likely be killed by a common flu. We can’t afford our love lives to go the same way.
So protect yourself. Date an asshole first. Hell, date a few. Date them all. Learn what it feels like to be treated badly and, in turn, how you deserve to be treated in the future. Make all the mistakes there are to make. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed or guilty about it. It’s normal, it’s healthy — it’s a right of passage.
Let the painful experiences grow and accumulate. Let them build a new resilience.
Date an asshole now, so you don’t end up with one later.
I recently read through hundreds of posts on one of my favorite blogs. I found countless pieces on how to help, how to love, how to be happy. I couldn’t find one piece written for people who’ve spent years trying to be happy for someone else. At an early age my parents taught me that misery loves company. As an adult I learned that misery can also look really, really good naked.
It’s no wonder we aren’t always able to say, “I know what that feels like!” I’m not a customer service rep trying to help you increase your data plan. I can’t relate to your unhappiness and you shouldn’t want me to. I can tell you about what life feels like without your troubles. I can promise to want the same for you. But an unhappy person will teach you that there is no loyalty in return for “I love you and I want the best for you.” I spent years asking myself why the most beautiful boy I knew was the hardest to please. I spent so much time trying to understand what he could’ve possibly had to be so unhappy about that I nearly missed the point: He was inadvertently teaching me about life.
I’ve loved everything down to the misery in someone. Doing so taught me a series of life lessons. The first was that it isn’t my job to be happy for someone else. I realized that acknowledgement isn’t enough. People can acknowledge their issues and still refuse to set themselves apart. The second lesson was that “we all have issues” is an extremely poor excuse. Not all of us want to be remembered for them. I have this theory that half of the population wants to be remembered for helping. They’re the half made up of people constantly fighting for someone else’s happiness. Even if they weren’t molded by a series of traumatic events, they’re the ones who just want to help. The third lesson I learned was that the saddest truth is never what happened to your girlfriend when she was 12, or how traumatic his last relationship was. The sad part is that sometimes the people we love will prefer dysfunction to our company. The final, most useful lesson I learned from loving an unhappy person was that dysfunction is a painful comfort even the most beautiful people struggle to break away from.
The truth about loving an unhappy person is that you will learn how to walk away. The truth about unhappy people in general is that they’re constantly waiting to be left. They’ll force you to remember what it feels like to be whole and while doing so teach you how to walk away from the things that make you feel like half. You aren’t damaged enough for her. You aren’t sad enough for him. Loving an unhappy person will teach you to measure things in presence instead of absence. It taught me that what we ask for from the world is exactly what we get back. I learned that my ability to attract happiness is most powerful when I recognize it. I learned to stop romanticizing sadness. I learned that if I want more fulfilling relationships, I have to first be full. Full of love. Full of respect. Full of loyalty.
An unhappy person will teach you that you cannot attract what you do not have. But while doing so, an unhappy person will show you just how unhappy you are too.
Aw thank youuuu☺️💘💘💘