I was fully aware that the second my best friend was in a relationship, things would change.
After fighting the single fight together for months, one of my friend's recent hookups (that I already wasn't exactly fond of) slowly but surely transitioned into his boyfriend.
When he broke the news, my immediate response was less than enthused.
It's not to say that I wasn't happy for him. In fact, as long as this kid brought a smile to his face and didn't fuck him over in the long run, I would have zero issues whatsoever.
I just wasn't ready for things to be different... and I knew they would be.
Our friendship, slowly approaching the two year mark, has been quite the rollercoaster. We met on Tinder and dabbled in the friends-with-benefits territory for several months, before a stupid, drunken encounter (that involved handcuffs) brought us to the conclusion that casual blowjobs probably weren't the best idea in our foreseeable future.
If we were to hang out, it would have to be just be as buddies.
My other friends never understood why I would agree to something like that. They knew how I invested I was, how impossible it would be for me to lose all feelings and suddenly establish myself solely in the friend zone.
But still, I happily obliged.
That's not to say it was easy. For months at a time, I couldn't resist feelings rushing back and subsiding without much notice. It wasn't until an admission I made to him near Christmas that almost crushed our friendship entirely that I realized what was best in this situation.
Slowly, but, surely, any leftover ideas I had about us in the romantic sense were completely obliterated. I moved on.
Plus, I didn't have many guy friends in my life at the time — let alone gay friends — so I was in no position to kick everything to the curb.
He was someone really important in my life. I pride myself on having a smaller, close-knit circle of friends and at this point, he was a central part of it.
I turned to him more than I did anyone else. Whether good news or bad, it was him I texted and him I looked to when I needed to be consoled, and vice versa. He had become that person for me, and it felt good to have someone in my life that I would be there for me, no questions asked.
Thanks to his new boyfriend, things have changed a bit since then.
All of these changes happened to coincide with a holiday party I was hosting. He asked to bring his new beau along, and without hesitation, I immediately rejected his offer and insisted it just wasn't the best time.
I hadn't even met the guy, and while I probably shouldn't have been so quick to judge, I just couldn't help it: His mere existence just threw me off guard.
From the small details I'd heard, he just didn't sound like a winner, and I expected more for my friend. I made the judgment call that he could do better without even getting face-to-face with his boyfriend.
At the time, it felt justified. I felt that if I was going to meet him, I'd actually want to get to know him and really see what my friend sees. And my party wouldn't be the night I'd do that.
Unfortunately, this was the beginning of a downward spiral that dragged on for two months.
If I threw a party or scheduled some kind of gathering, it began to seem like a requirement that my friend's boyfriend be there, too. I yearned for time with my friend and my friend alone, but I feared that was out of the question. They were now a package deal.
Tension continued to build between me and him, as our usual hangouts became awkward and would usually end in some type of unnecessary spat.
Every time we hung out, his boyfriend would somehow come up in conversation, and I'd have nothing to say.
It's not that I hated him; my resentment had dissipated at this point. It was just that I didn't know him. I didn't want to lie about how great he was to just say something my friend wanted to hear.
Whenever I did open my mouth, I feared it would lead to another fight. Our conversations became to seem impersonal and almost forced.
The idea of my best friend having a boyfriend just made me feel insecure, and I wasn't sure how to handle it.
I felt like I was late to the game. I've been in hot pursuit of a suitable guy for a while, and because life works in mysterious and stupid fucking ways, it was my friend who had things fall into place.
He has someone important in his life who checked off all the boxes, catering to him and being there whenever he needed, no matter what. Immediately, I felt less important.
Chalk it up to being selfish or a little bit of jealousy, but sometimes, I was just scared of losing him and having everything be different.
Now, there would always be something else more important.
Our friendship was falling apart and something had to be done (or said, at least).
He was so important to me, it was clear that I would never let anything get in the way of us. I'd rather have him in my life in a different capacity than not have him in it at all.
And I knew what had to be done.
After growing up (and growing a pair), I finally initiated plans with him and his boyfriend over a casual Saturday brunch. Conversation with his new guy was minimal, and I wouldn't exactly say we bonded to the point of bosom buddies, but we were cordial, civil, and didn't glare at each other from across the room.
I'd say we're making progress.
That's not to say things are absolutely perfect with my best friend either. Sometimes, it still seems like a struggle to have things not feel like we're just passing acquaintances. I don't take long conversations for granted anymore now that spewing out generic texts seems to be more of a common occurrence.
Let's just say we're working on it. He'll also always be one of the closest people in my life, even when I think he's being a complete jerk off. That's just how this kind of friendship works.
It's a love-hate kinda thing. I'm allowed to feel both.
And if there's anything I've learned from some of the worst fights with my friend, it's that it's just better to say "I miss you" than to grunt, cross your arms and say nothing at all.