I really feel this piece Ms. Kristin, thank you so much for sharing it. I would heart it more if I could! Relationships in general can be such a challenge and those with opposite sex best friends sometimes can present other wrinkles. I know a little about that. It upset me to read that Kristine had a problem with you and Jon talking, especially since you weren’t doing anything to warrant that sort of reaction from her. Of course it is understandable that she would have uncomfortable feelings given her past experiences in previous relationships, but that feels as if she should be working on that insecurity? I don’t mean to sound judgy, I recognize that I do not know Kristine, I speak specifically on the aspect that she had a problem with you two talking. That would bother me too if I was in your position.
That said, I know a little bit about Jon’s perspective, having a significant other be unhappy about me spending time with a female friend (the majority of my closest friends are female, which makes it hard to even think about planning to spend time with any of them because I know that there could always be complications; another story…)
But my former best friend and I (I feel like that term is more appropropriate now since she hasn’t spoken to me in over two years) were very close. I met her in college and we were fast friends. We had gone through a lot together and after about 10 years and visits in three states (she moved away after college and I flew out to visit her in two different states with no expectation than just to do what we had always done and enjoy each others company), it was all over rather abruptly.
A couple years ago, her 30th birthday was approaching and I wanted to do something special for her like she did for me when I turned 30th. So I coordinated a surprise with her roommate. I flew from California to Massachusetts and met up with the roommate before my friend returned from her dinner. The roommate and I talked until my friend entered the home; it was a well-executed surprise and everything was great until it wasn’t. There was a guy my friend was with, who weirdly looked and dressed like me, it was so strange, Kristin! I introduced myself to him, but he didn’t seem happy. I didn’t catch it until later.
Apparently, my friend and the guy (Solomon, his name even started with an “S”, it was like the Twilight Zone or something) had a talk and he wasn’t happy about my visit. She later took this out on me and expressed that she felt betrayed, that I had ruined her birthday and caused the end of her relationship with Solomon (they didn’t seem to have been seeing each other for very long.) I was supposed to be hanging out in the east coast for six days, but it didn’t seem like it made any sense so I took the gifts I had made for her and headed back to California the next day. Of course I’m leaving out a lot of details here, but that is the core of it all.
The result was a final conference call about a week later between myself, her and her therapist, in which she told me that she needed space, that we would still be friends, and that I should not contact any of her friends or family, who I was also close with. She told me that she would talk to me again, but she didn’t know when. That was it. I would send little e-mails here and there on birthdays and holidays (I was too afraid to text her), but I never got any responses.
We used to be able to talk, even when there was tough stuff between us, but when she started talking about bringing in her therapist I knew something was really broken somewhere. I thought I was her “best friend” (something she told me, I have always been weary about that title because I’ve always been hurt by “best friends”), but if we’re best friends, we should be able to talk about things, right?
In the days following that disaster in Massachusetts, I would discover that one by one, some of the friends I had made through her the year before when I visited her for her 29th birthday had stopped talking to me and unfriended or blocked me on social media. Her family did the same. To this day I don’t know what she could have told them for that to happen. I didn’t think I made any major missteps in my visit AND I was super thoughtful about everything! I knew she might be seeing someone when I went there and I went with that in mind. The flowers I brought for the birthday were specifically birthday themed, not red roses or anything like that.
I went from “Steven, is the best person I know” (she actually told someone this) to a complete stranger in less than a year. I was made to feel like a creepy person who was obsessed with her and sabatoged her birthday and relationship or something. I still wrestle everyday with everything and this is why I think your story resonated so strongly with me. (In fact, I saw someone last night who looked like my friend and I felt triggered again). I‘m always thinking about what I did or didn’t do, what I should have and shouldn’t have done. It seemed like all my apologies were never really considered. All I was trying to do was do something nice like she did for me. So, I travelled 3,000 miles to see her, that was not out of the ordinary for me to do that! I’ve gotten on a plane several other times for things like that for her, birthdays and graduations, etc. Sure, Solomon didn’t know any of that, but she did.
I used to think that it was possible for men and women to be friends, good friends, even best friends. My long friendship with her was my benchmark example. Distance didn’t matter, we loved and respected and cared about each other; it was a strong bond. Or so I thought. However, I admit that when that ended, it made me question everything I thought about best friends. I questioned my current longtime female friends, women I have grown up with and who I know have my back. I thought that if one longtime friend, no matter how close, could suddenly switch on me, anyone else could do the same thing. That experience has given a form of almost a kind of PTSD to the point to where I worry about birthday things for some friends or I withdraw completely from all of that and keep communication limited to text messages or Facebook messages or something. It still hurts, but the market for BFF’s isn’t a bad one to be in. I found that such a relationship can be so rewarding in ways that romantic relationships don’t always provide.
At any rate, I hope I haven’t put you to sleep here. I really appreciate your piece, thank you for sharing, Kristin! And thank you for reading this. ❤