Loving My Best Friend

Some best friends call themselves lucky to be in love, while others would gargle mouthwash if they ever came close to kissing.

Perhaps, marrying a best friend is merely a fleeting childhood pact if “we’re 30 and single”, like the oaths we make as we trace our names in the sand.

But, my reality pivots between the two. After all, I got together with the guy I described as the last person I’d date.

He was a stranger I met at our mutual friend’s birthday party nine years ago when we sat at opposite ends of the communal table. He wasn’t particularly handsome, but his smile lit up the room–wide like a Cheshire cat’s, with cheek dimples and crinkles by his eyes.

He was the same guy who recognised me from the party when we bumped into each other in town one night. The first words he ever spoke to me were “you okay?” as he thought I seemed down, so I explained I had a rough day.

For the next six years after, that stranger became my best friend and schoolmate until we got together in 2015.

While not all friends make great partners, I wish my 17-year-old self knew what to look for in a man.

He was the one who was there for my graduation, and when I got my heart first broken. The one who wiped my mucus away, and picked me up from parties at 3.00am to send me home safely.

We’d spend nights watching movies at his place, and I’d spend school breaks urging him to get girls’ numbers. He never had a girlfriend, and I occasionally wondered if he was gay.

Yet, despite how close we were, he was never my boyfriend because he wasn’t my ‘type’.

How my opinion on love changed

You see, I had a long-term boyfriend and a different opinion of love back then.

I thought love was having butterflies in the pit of my stomach; the shaky hands while waiting for a text back; the all-encompassing will to stand by your partner’s foolish ways.

But the truth is, I didn’t love or understand myself enough so I was constantly strung along by infatuation that gave me a false sense of security. Only years later did I realise that we can only find good men when we find the good parts of ourselves.

And many times, you have to look past a man’s fancy suit, status, or tattoos, to know what he’s made of.

Bad boys offer drama and grand romantic gestures which our younger selves often confuse for love. They are exciting to date and are usually trophy boyfriends to parade around so you feel less insecure about yourself.

But, their man-child antics will kill your brain cells. You’ll get addicted to their highest highs and lowest lows until you learn to appreciate the stable, consistent love good men have to offer.

Good guys offer thoughtfulness, companionship, and ‘boring’ comfort. They’re the ones you call when you need to rant and give you good advice on what to do next. They might not splurge on 99 roses to pacify you, but they’ll buy sanitary pads if you need them.

When you ask your best guy friend if you look good in a dress, they might say unromantic things like “You look like shit” because they love you for who you are, and not how you look.

And due to their nonchalance, many girls often fall for more ‘experienced’ guys (read: F-boys) who should list ‘Courting Girls’ as a skill in their resume. These ‘experienced’ guys are the ones who know how to romance girls, who serve to stroke their ego in return.

So what if the bad boy is 175-cm tall and gorgeous, but lacks the maturity to handle a fight? What if he has a high-flying career, but treats you like a second option because he can’t settle? What if he says he wants to change the world, but can’t even do the dishes?

What if he’s rich but stingy? What if he’s nice to you, but scolds the delivery rider for not packing chopsticks? What if he treats his mother like shit—an age-old sign of how he might eventually treat you?

Who you are is who you allow yourself to keep in your inner circle.

Never forget how to be friends

And even if you choose a good man, you should never forget how to be friends with your partner. Because most times, friendships last longer than relationships do.

Friends talk about their day, while partners expect to be heard. Friends like each other, while partners slowly dislike each other’s bad habits that used to be their cute quirks.

True friends don’t gossip behind each other’s backs, they fix fractured relationships in private. True friends know when and how to let go because people don’t own people.

Pictured: with my mum’s precious ‘grandchild’ (our dog).

So how did he break out of the ‘friendzone’? He finally made a move, and I finally stayed #woke.

Maybe our ‘friendzone’ was merely an imaginary bubble. We enjoyed being friends so much that a romantic relationship wasn’t something ‘more’ to strive for. Or perhaps, we just feared the risk of ruining our friendship.

When he confessed his feelings for me on the plane back to Singapore after our road trip in Australia, I told him I wasn’t ready. But I figured if I were to take a chance with anyone, I’d be a fool if I didn’t consider the kindest, most selfless man I could trust.

I made a paradigm shift in my understanding of love, and in turn, saw him differently each time he kissed his mum to say goodbye, and stopped the car to help a man on the street.

Pain and inconsistency made me appreciate comfort and stability, and foolish mistakes made me appreciate wiser choices.

I decided if I were to be with a man, he would have to be better than my best friend. And, I couldn’t think of anyone who could fill his shoes.

Choosing A Partner

As we grow up, we often choose partners for practicality which is why some girls date older, more established men. With dating apps, it’s also tempting to constantly aim ‘higher’ with each swipe.

But at the end of our journey, all which remain are the memories we make. And I hope when my time comes, I’ll be able to say I had a damn good life growing up with someone who was always there, rather than pining for ‘The One’ who I wished was.

So, if nice guys are said to finish ‘last’, I’d be glad if it’s true.