I think the hardest three words I ever had to hear were my best friend saying our hookup was just a "one-night thing."
Being friends for over six years, we've seen each other through everything.
He was there when my ex-boyfriend died at the age of 19. When I met the Voldermort to my Harry Potter (who would haunt my dating years), he became the peanut butter to my jelly.
And of course, somewhere between late nights, long talks and laughs, I fell for him.
I know. I broke the cardinal, fight club rule of best friendom: Don't fall for your best friend. It can get messy and complicated, and every atomic bomb possible could blow the friendship to hell.
So I kept silent and buried my feelings between him dating girls who forever hated me and explaining to my friends why we would never work.
I hadn't dated a best friend since high school, and I vividly remember the agonizing pain and loneliness that came with his departure, so I made it a point never to dabble down that road again. It's better that way.
And he didn't feel that way about me anyway. How could he? He never made a move or gave me any indication he had feelings for me... at least not in the way I'd watched him pursue girls he was actually interested in over the years.
Call it denial, call it fear, but I continued on my path of dating and just pushed my feelings to the side.
I was the happiest I'd ever been with a guy in a long time.
Much to my dismay, one night, opportunity came in the oddest of forms, and we hooked up (not sexually).
Details aside, it was one of the few moments that felt completely right for me. It felt natural, like a good pair of jeans that hug the tight spaces, but you don't have to wiggle or jump into. It felt honest.
I think, in that moment, I was the happiest I'd ever been with a guy in a long time.
I started rambling about feelings I'd had for years and so forth. I literally word-vomited because I was so overwhelmed by what had happened.
I didn't take into account how much he'd drank or that everything we had just done wasn't actually genuine. But he seemed sure in what he was saying, and I believed every word of it. I remember going to bed thinking 2017 was going to bring something fresh and exciting, but not scary because nothing was scary with him. He was always home to me.
However, when we chatted a few days later, he dismissed the night as a "one-night thing," and that was the end of it.
Because we'd been friends for years, I know what his drunken hookups looked like — meaningless moments exchanged with girls he never took seriously.
Having our experience reduced to that level was pretty much the lowest blow I could have taken. It wasn't that I couldn't take rejection, it was the dismissal of my feelings in the situation. I got no vote and no opinion. All I got was three words and a quick change to the next topic.
It was odd to have had this new, intimate experience with someone I'd had feelings for and to have it treated like an open-and-shut book. We hooked up. That was all. Nothing more to it.
And it's a harder pill to swallow when you have a billion things to say, when the person you know best hurt you, and you don't know how to tell them that.
It's even weirder trying to figure out how we will get back to what we were. How can I pretend it never happened? Will I be able to?
For the sake of my friendship, I suppose I'll have to, but luckily, I have enough confidence and love for myself to know I'm more than a "one-night thing."
Those three words will never define me, even though he used them to define our experience.