Do you know the feeling when you are walking in nature—when everything feels so beautiful and peaceful?
The sun is warm on your face, the birds are singing, you are eating a breakfast burrito, and, suddenly, you step into a mud puddle, your foot feels cold and weird, and when you try to pull it out, your shoe comes off and stays in the mud as you watch it fill up with dirty water?
That is how the friend zone feels like. It is limbo. It is like waiting for a table for one at a restaurant. It is like going to a movie all by yourself.
It happened in an instant, and I think…it was my fault.
One moment, I was driving in the autobahn in a Mercedes doing a 120, and BOOM! Before I knew it, I was parked next to the highway in a weird area, surrounded by yellow striped lines and a thick font on the ground that says: Friend zoned! Do not leave this area.
Our connection was like lightning in a bottle from the very first second. I walked in wearing my suit and my heavily-starched shirt, power tie, with quite the attitude. There she sat in her black leather mini skirt, with her hair down below her shoulders, and a smile that didn’t disapprove. When our eyes locked, you could feel time stop and a connection form instantly.
I, of course, played it off (and so did she). I went about my business, but as I walked away, I remember thinking, “What was that?” I had only seen that in movies and thought it was not real. But it was real.
It wasn’t long before she and I became great friends, but not just friends in the mundane sense of the word; we really enjoyed each other’s company, our colleagues whispered about us, our synergy was special, and we enjoyed the attention. At the time, she was married and I had a new girlfriend, but that didn’t stop us from spending time together at work and having a great time each time we were together.
The time came when her marriage began to fall apart, not because of me at all; it just did. I was there by her side helping her as much as I was able to. After she moved out of her house, we started to see each other more and I really liked it, and so did she. But as life would have it, my girlfriend became pregnant and I had a choice to make: go to bed with this person whom I was now incredibly attracted to, or honor my girlfriend by being a “good guy” and face my responsibilities. I chose the latter.
So my friend and I (let’s call her “L”) faded away and our friendship died off, too. I would just hear stories about what she was doing or who she was dating as I readied myself to become a father and that whole thing.
Years went by and one day, she contacted me. It was nice, and our friendship came back somewhat, except now, it was reversed: I was married and she was dating.
I still felt quite attracted and connected to her, but she was about to get married to a new man, and in a moment of jealousy or sarcasm, I said something that would make her stop talking to me for 20 years—maybe even more.
As the years went by, my marriage began to fall apart until one day, my wife left me. So I reached out to her and it so happened that her marriage was over as well. We spoke on the phone for three hours and we stayed in contact often after that.
Our energy together was still very much alive. So I started to visit her.
We were so excited each time we were together and would count the days until we were together again, and when we finally met, it felt so natural and calm. We would have a blast together doing absolutely nothing. We danced and we laughed and we drank beer and we smoked cigarettes.
During one of those visits, after driving in a horrible Winter storm, I arrived late, and in a flash, things have changed.
I had driven up there to visit my friend—yes, my friend—for whom I had felt so much for so long. But still, I drove up to spend New Year’s Eve at her sister’s house. Shortly after I got there (actually only minutes later), she asked me to go smoke a cigarette with her outside. It was freezing and the wind was blowing. I was talking about how nice her sister and her husband were and mid-sentence, she launched toward me, wrapped her arms around my shoulders, and kissed me as if I was the first man she had ever kissed.
My cigarette fell to the ground. I embraced her body around mine and inhaled her breath. I ran my fingers through her hair as I felt her tight embrace around me and felt her heart beating. And we kissed…and we kissed…and to this day, that moment still is the single happiest moment of my entire life. And that is not an exaggeration.
But then it happened. She unlocked what had been locked in a box from that day when we had first met, and I could not help but begin to fall in love with her. A love she didn’t want as much as I did, a reaction that made her pull back, a vision that terrified her. But all I could see was me being with her, because that is what the hell love does.
That New Year’s night was unforgettable. I don’t remember a happier time.
And then, just as quickly as that happiness happened, she pulled away, and the more she pulled away, the more I pushed and became a complete pain in the ass. She had her reasons and I was unwilling or unable to understand them. And yet, I couldn’t understand why that kiss happened but there was no follow-up and, particularly, no further mention of it.
In the years that followed, I continued to visit her, but each time, because so much time had passed between each visit, I kept hammering the point and reminding her (as if she didn’t know) that I loved her, that I wanted to be with her, that there was no one I felt about (ever) the way I felt about her, which was true, but it was my truth.
During one of those visits, after an amazing day at the lake with my friends, we did sleep together. It was beautiful and delicious and amazing, and that sealed it for me. But as the next day came, she completely pulled away.
And just like that, I was locked in the f*cking friend zone.
Our conversations changed, our energy shifted, our visits stopped, and we rarely had any contact anymore. I even called her once to apologize for the pressure I had put on her and to tell her I would pull back, hoping she would talk to me again. I told her I wasn’t really in love with her and that that was all bullsh*t. But I totally was.
For years, her family, our friends, and even us commented how “we should get married”—that we are so perfect for each other. But that doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference anymore.
Recently, I invited her to a house with a private beach in the tropics that comes with a chef, away from everything, and she agreed to go with me.
And then, the text message came: “Can we go as complete friends?”
I was finally able to be fully honest with her and tell her that that would not be possible for me—that I could lie and say yes, but that she doesn’t deserve games and half-truths.
So I am in the f*cking friend zone, and I want out.
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