I am a firm believer that honesty is the best policy, except when it isn’t. There are times when what we feel should not be expressed. Let me explain.
Have you ever had a strong connection with someone that you can’t be with? I have a friend, a male friend, and we are only friends. Truth be told, we have a lot in common and if it weren’t for each of us already being married, we may have had a chance together. But the world doesn’t work that way and I would never trade what I have with my husband.
This friend, let’s call him Jake, we used to be able to talk about anything and everything, which was always nice because I have a hard time doing that with most people. We never hung out often but when we ran into each other with friends, it was easy to pick right back up where we last left off. I always felt like he actually liked talking with me and never judged me.
I noticed something in him the first night we met, at his wedding rehearsal dinner of all places. He and my husband are friends and my husband took me along. I think we first met near a food table and we just started talking, and after a little bit I realized we had been standing there talking for a long time! I am socially awkward but I was able to talk to him so easily. I will say, I left that night with some kind of feeling for him but immediately dismissed it since I was already in a relationship that I was happy with. I guess I was just left with this strange connection with Jake, like we had always known each other.
Jake got married the next day and over the years that followed, we would run into each other downtown every now again and talk while drinking some beer with mutual friends. Funny thing is, his wife never went out with him and my husband never came out with me. If they had, we may not have gotten so talk much. Both our spouses are pretty suspicious of anything. With mine, it always kind of made me mad because he is friends with all kinds of girls and I think nothing of it, but if I talk to a guy, I can tell my husband’s mind goes in every which direction. I don’t blame him too much because he was cheated on in the past and so I understand his predisposition to doubt.
Jake and I remained as distant friends. I had some feelings that I ignored and I had no idea what he thought in that aspect. It wasn’t something to be addressed or acted upon anyway; I just appreciated his friendship. With a life full of people judging me, having someone who didn’t was amazing. I could just be myself.
But then, we all got together one night at a friend’s house and we all were there, us and our spouses. There was lots of drinking. At one point, everyone was inside and I went outside to get an ice cold beer out of the cooler and Jake followed me. He chose that moment to tell me how he felt about me. He said that he just wanted me to know but that he would never act on it because he thinks my husband is an amazing person and friend. I, in my own drunkeness, told him the same thing. We both agreed that we valued our friendship and would never act on it. And then, my husband comes out to get a beer and apologizes for “interrupting” – well, that’s not good. And then when we went back inside, Jake’s wife made a snide comment about how long we were talking outside. Damn! There we were, just having a discussion, and yet our spouses were already suspicious and over-reacting. Sure, it was a not-so-innocent discussion but the outcome was that we were going to leave it alone, we were going to do the right thing. People in relationships everywhere find themselves attracted to someone else; it’s human nature after all. The difference is those who act on it and those who value what they already have and don’t.
Here’s the thing – although we were being honest with each other – it never should have been said, never should have been spoken – that is where we did go wrong. And I honestly don’t think it would have been said had we not been drinking. It felt great in the moment, nice to know that someone out there cared, but by the next day, I knew everything had changed. We stayed friends but once his wife somehow read a couple light-hearted emails we had exchanged, all hell broke loose oh his side. We weren’t allowed to be friends anymore. She never said anything to my husband, and truth be told, there wasn’t even anything to tell. Although we had once drunkenly expressed a feeling verbally with each other, we never acted on it. We loved our spouses and unlike so many others, that commitment meant something to us, at least I know it does for me. But, the damage had been done and our friendship suffered.
I miss my friend. Funny how a few beers and some honest words killed a friendship I so adored. We say hello every now and again, but its different. It’s not as easy-going as it once was, before. And I feel like I am trying harder than he is which leaves me feeling like one of “those” girls trying to hold on and this isn’t even a romantic relationship! I guess his friendship just meant more to me than I ever knew and now it is almost non-existent.
Was it worth it, those drunken words? No, it wasn’t. Part of me was glad that I knew but the rest of me is sad for the loss of a valued friendship. I wish I had never told him and that he had never told me. I wish we could go back to before. Honesty, in this case, destroyed something good. It was a line that never should have been crossed.
So why am I writing about this? Because I think of Jake often, and the friendship we lost. Regret is a terrible thing. Be careful with your words my friends, you never know what you could lose.