Staying In The Friend Zone


We are friends.

We are friends.

We are friends.

We are friends.

My mantra. So I don’t feel too much. Keep it light. Wanting you on your terms.
I remember that night, not so long ago, yet it’s as if I have known you for so long. Mere weeks. Funny how things work. How connections are made. How people become intertwined.

That night, you were touching me lightly every chance you got. We talked about one of my friends, and you declared us friends. I smiled and agreed, even as my insides whispered, “this doesn’t feel like friendship.” Because friendship does not touch you like that. In that simple declaration though, I felt it seep out of me, like cigarette smoke on a night without a breeze gently floating into nothingness, lingering longer than it should, the part of me that would have given my all were the circumstances different. That touch was the touch of conquest. My surrender was inevitable, I knew it even then.

You will claim my body but you will never be in love with me. We are friends.

We talked. About everything. Even as we held back, standing on the edge, leaning forward but never far enough to free fall. Let it be. We are friends.

You made love to me. Fucked me. Filled me with all of you, poured your want of intimacy into me, the need for constant touch. The need of assurance that someone would still want you intimately enough, even if you closed yourself off to them and could never love them, because you had given your heart away and you had been hurt. Your perfect fantasy gone wrong even as you got the most perfect gift out of it.

I took you in because that’s what I do. I want to heal people’s hurt. Make them realize it’s not a perfect world but there are still people out there, like me, who are broken but believe in love anyway. Who want to make other people happy. Funny. Could I ever really make you happy when so much of who I am is wrapped up in sadness? A sadness I sometimes think I guard so jealously, simply because it’s been around so long. But I want to try anyway.

No strings attached, you say. No strings beyond the ones in my heart you tug at without realizing. The ones I try not to acknowledge. We are friends.

We talked about sex before. Our first times. It was a conversation I initiated and then regretted, because we talked about yours, then inevitably, mine. You realized I was all kinds of closed off and caged up and I need to be drawn out. It’s who I am. Sometimes it feels like I am making an excuse for not being free, and that night I realized you draw away from me. But why should you have to deal with the shit that makes me so cagey? People provide therapy for that. So I watched you draw away from me and pretended not to notice. We are friends.

I feel differently now when I look at you. There’s a familiarity, a level headedness, a withdrawal. There’s so much more I could say. We are what we are. We’ve been through what we’ve been through individually. I’ve held your hand. Kissed your lips. Felt you in the most intimate ways. When it comes to you, the same thing will always be true. I want you to be happy, even if that happiness is without me. After all, we are friends.