I knew he had me when I started daydreaming about him every day.
My mind started wandering to that fantasy world where I go shopping with his mom and visualize how my first name looks with his last. I'm a talk-on-the-phone kinda girl, but I was actually excited to see his name pop up on my iPhone screen and chit-chat for hours via text. I’m a complete sucker for romance and can spew poems from Love Jones at a moment’s notice, but these feelings blindsided me. For months, I wasn't necessarily the one to get caught up in the rapture of love. In fact, before this out-of-nowhere crush, I opted for treating guys like play things.
You see, once enough hurt from past relationships piles up, your heart becomes icy.
To cope, I buried myself in that coldness, using men only for sexual enjoyment and attention.
No guy was ever more than emotional tinkering, and I'd mastered banishing them to the friend zone if they wanted anything serious. Men who truly cared about me were tossed into my petty spin cycle of late night texts (out of sheer boredom I'm sure) and read receipts. Somewhere inside I knew it was wrong to toy with men’s emotions, but I felt equally detached and empowered by my lack of caring. I was in a space where I couldn’t get hurt, and I bathed in Rihanna's "Needed Me" attitude.
[Tweet ""I buried myself in that coldness, using men only for sexual enjoyment and attention.”"]
Then, here was this guy who grabbed my attention out of the blue. This feeling of being wholeheartedly interested in someone was a little foreign to me. This felt different. He felt different. And for the first time in months, I wanted more.
We'd been friends for years before these butterflies began fluttering. From day one, I was (and probably still am) completely in awe of the man he was, is and will become. He is ambitious, driven, well-dressed, kind, intellectual and understanding. He's from the South, loves his mama, and a die-hard family guy with a great sense of humor. We discuss black literature, politics, encourage one another in our careers, shit-talk about LeBron and Steph Curry and dish out our opposing opinions about Cam Newton. I am open with him, vulnerable and honest. With him, I find myself swallowing my pride and fear of loving someone. There's only one problem:
He wants to remain as we are—just friends--and nothing more.
When he revealed this to me, for the first time in awhile, I was hurt. I assume it was the same pang of disappointment the guys in my dating history felt when I shut down any possibility of a relationship. He wasn't some random f*ckboy who set out to shatter my feelings. In fact, he was upfront, honest and considerate when he stuck a pin in the future I'd daydreamed about. Because of his emotional maturity, I realized that I should have extended the same courtesy to every guy I ever toyed with.
Instead, my cold, hard lesson came in the form of falling for this perfect guy who is currently falling for his perfect girl. After swallowing several spoonfuls of the medicine I’d been serving up for months, I now know the cat-and-mouse games are all nonsensical when you know exactly what and who you want.
Nowadays, I try to be just as forthcoming since I've experienced the pain of the other side. The bitterness that once allowed me to hurt others so recklessly has faded, and I'm emotionally ready for something honest, healthy and true.
[Tweet "I'm falling for this perfect guy who is currently falling for his perfect girl."]
Can I give him all the credit for my new outlook? Not entirely. But my situation with him was a major wake-up call: Karma's a bad b*tch and her vengeance is swift. Life will teach you what you need to know about love in due time, and you just have to take the Ls that come.
So, here I am writing you live from the friend zone licking my wounds. I'm not only humbled by the experience, but I'm also healing because of it. Even if I'd never get to call him my man, he's in my life for a reason. And if his friendship is all I can afford, I'll happily take it and the lessons that come with it.