This weekend I had the absolute honor of being a part of one of my dearest friend’s weddings. Marissa, this one is for you.
Marissa and Hunter met while working together at a not-so-unpopular brother store to the Mart. It was summer in St. Louis which, for those of you who have never experienced it, is about as comfortable as wool underwear. We’re always hot and the humidity makes breathing seem like a task rather than an unconscious habit. Marissa had taken some time away from school and had recently decided to move back to our college town…with me. We’d lived together in the dorms since freshman year and her departure was difficult for me. While she was gone my college boyfriend and I lived in the same apartment complex, so he kept me entertained, but there is nothing better than being a young twenty-something living with your best friend. I really missed our nights together.
I was relieved when she announced that she was moving back. Fortunately for me, she decided to do so at the right time. My three-year relationship was ending, so her return could only help me heal.
While working that summer, Marissa met her future husband. Like the old stories go, she had no idea that he’d later be kneeling in front of her asking for her hand in marriage. But she knew Hunter was special. She also had no idea that he went to the same university as us, so when she found out, we were excited to have new friends in town. Fate took over. He was going to be living in the same apartment complex too. If that’s not a sign that they were meant to be a part of each other’s lives, I’m not really sure that signs exist.
Marissa and Hunter maintained a friendship for several years before they became a couple. Most of us thought that Hunter had feelings for Marissa, but she was oblivious. By the time we graduated and moved home, they’d become best friends.
Marissa found it odd that she compared every guy she dated to Hunter and, if they didn’t meet his standard, she became disinterested fast. So, when she told me that she thought she liked him, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. Regardless, she didn’t want to ruin their friendship by divulging her feelings. Her friends pushed for her to do so, knowing his feelings were there. But, understandably, it took a little more than cheerleaders to get her to make the move.
Friends becoming lovers is a tricky transition. If the relationship doesn’t work, you’ve potentially ruined what was great before you meddled. If you never voice your feelings, you could be missing out on something that could turn into an aisle, a dress, and a relationship destined to last.
New Years Eve was the night things changed for the two friends. We were at an all-inclusive event and Marissa had recently poured her heart out to me about her feelings. As midnight neared, I made it my mission (without her knowledge or permission) to make their first real kiss happen on the first night of the year.
Hunter laughed my suggestion off as a drunken prank, but eventually realized that I might have more knowledge of her feelings than he did. He didn’t make me any promises, but I was hoping he’d position them in a comfortable spot to kiss…if the mood struck. At 11:58 I grabbed my camera and found a nice spy-spot. I was going to catch their first kiss (if it happened) on film.
I did. The rest is history.
The proof their story provides is that friends can become lovers. James and I, however, are proof that the attempt can not only end in heartbreak, but end a great friendship.
Is it really worth it to try?
Very early in my “Future4Fina” posts, I mentioned that I have a lot of guy friends who’ve tried to make that transition with me. Here’s an overview:
My best friend from high school. We met while I was dating his best friend (my 6-year relationship) and through the ups and downs, he was always there for me. We were Joey and Dawson. He picked me up for school, we spent 1/2 days together, and when things got rough between me and my ex, he was there to wipe away the tears. It was very PG…even when we fell asleep holding one another.
After 7(ish) years of friendship, Steve’s behavior around me began to change. He’d call while he was out with the boys, he bought all of my drinks when we were out together, and he told me I was beautiful regularly. Eventually, my best friend decided to tell me that he wanted to take things to the next level.
It was after my college boyfriend and I broke up. He came to see me at school…to keep my mind off the heartbreak I was feeling. One night during his visit, he ignored caution and planted a kiss on me that I’ll forever remember. It was unexpected, but I wasn’t opposed to it. From there we talked even more, flirted like crazy, and planned more visits.
I went home one weekend to see him. We went out and at the end of the night I decided to go home with him. Steve and I didn’t work. Let’s just end it there.
I met him my first day of college. We had been friends for four years when he decided to share with me that he wanted more. It was several months after Steve and I decided to try things and ruined our friendship.
My ground rules were as follows: secrecy (at least until we knew where we were headed) was vital, our friendship came first (no deja vu moments from my last go around with a friend), and if he felt that he didn’t want to be with me at any point, honesty would get us through.
We don’t talk anymore.
Last but not least?
We all know how that progressed…and then crashed…and burned.
So, do I think it’s worth it?
I guess I’m a bit jaded. I have a hard time believing things could work between friends, but if I look outside of myself and at others, Marissa and Hunter sure made it work.
The truth? I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. If a relationship is meant to work, it will. There’s no forcing it, no strategy included, and no way that if both parties commit to maintaining the friendship through it all it’ll fall apart.
Now, don’t be deceived. I’m not promoting kissing every opposite-sex friend until you find one that pops the question. Generally, it’s probably not going to work. That’s why people tell you not to meddle and to appreciate your friendships for what they are…friendships.
The hurt associated with losing a friend because you’ve challenged the boundaries is quite comparable to losing a loved one. You mourn your friendship’s death and regret ever trying to make a relationship happen. To this day I miss Steve and Ed. But if I have to kiss a few frogs (or friends) to find Mr. Right, I’ll be damned if you think I’m going to stop.
Even if those relationships fail, even if the process is a total disaster, I’ve learned so much from each situation that they’ve shaped me into the woman I’ve become. Perhaps that means that when my husband walks into my life, I’ll be equipped to handle the situation with grace. Or perhaps it means that he’s already waiting on the sidelines for me to listen to his strategies and throw him in the game. Either way, I’m not closing doors because I’ve failed in the past.
Maybe he’s a friend (ahem, think Michael), maybe he’s an unknown man, but either way, Mr. Right is out there and if I don’t play the field, I’ll never have a shot at winning.
Marissa, thank you for being a guiding light and inspiration. You’ve proven that bravery, faith, and an open heart can create a beautiful relationship.
Readers, do you have a similar story? Share it by commenting or sending me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Maybe you’ll become part of my blog.
After all, this is about my journey and, as I’ve started writing my blog, I’ve realized that you’re all a part of it. Thank you so much for sharing your stories and encouraging me to continue. Really…thank you.