Okay…first of all…if you haven’t listened to the new Demi Lavato album, STOP everything you’re doing and listen to a few songs, namely “Ruin the Friendship,” “You Don’t Do it For Me Anymore,” and “Tell Me You Love Me,” anyway, in “Ruin the Friendship,” Demi sings about the moment she and a friend “ruin the friendship” and decide to start a romantic relationship, which is a choice I’ve had to make before. The song is rumored to be about her and Nick Jonas, long time friend and possible love interest. Relationships can be a complicated thing, but in my opinion the best ones always come from friendships that evolve, that’s how Darren and I started, and this is by far the healthiest, happiest relationship I’ve ever had, but there was a point that I had to decide to risk ruining our friendship and trying something romantic instead, there was even a moment where I decided to reject him romantically because I feared losing our friendship, which was so important to me; here’s how I knew it was time to officially ruin the friendship and take a chance on love.
Darren and I met at work, which I wrote about in a previous post, How it All Began, when I first met Darren I was recently out of a very short term relationship, and spent the summer focusing on myself. I was in great shape, mentally and physically, and I, for the first time ever, wasn’t really looking for a boyfriend. We met, we introduced ourselves and for a long time, that seemed like the end of our story, but, the universe had other plans. Darren will never let me forget that I had completely forgotten about him, even his name, when suddenly we found ourselves at the same table on a lunch break. I asked him personal questions, as I am always more outgoing with strangers, and found out that him and his girlfriend broke up the day before, again, I thought that was that, and continued with my every day, until he started showing up everywhere. I was driving to class one morning when a Jeep passed me, and as I looked over there he was, I found myself checking my lipstick and teasing my hair in the rearview mirror. Then I found myself texting his boss a few weeks later to let them know Darren would be late to work, and that I knew because I saw him pulled over on the side of the road on my way home from class. Then he showed up in my department.
Once Darren and I worked in the same department, we spent a lot of time together, we got to know all about one another, and he knew I was loud, happy, and good at my job, all things that seemed to interest him. I knew that he had a dog he loved, and that he drove a broken down Jeep. Coworkers kept asking if we were a thing, and that made me mad, but I didn’t know why. We clearly weren’t a thing (at least that’s what I thought!) I don’t think I realized what was so obvious to everyone else, until Darren took a few days off from work.
Have you ever heard of Pavlov’s dog? A simple conditioning theory that shows that dogs can learn to salivate when they see the person who feeds them, and not just when they see food. Darren tricked me. He fed me peanut M&M’s at the same time every day for months. I would get back from lunch and just when I was starting to get tired, he would be opening a bag of them, king size, shareable and all. And every single day he’d offer me some. And then, he requested a few days off. Where were my peanut M&M’s, but more importantly where was my Darren? At first I missed the afternoon chocolatey sweet, but then I missed my “friend.” A lot of our early relationship had to do with food, one day we were so busy, and I didn’t have time for lunch and he asked what he could get me, I told him yogurt and cashews; he bought enough yogurts for the rest of the week and a huge can of cashews, just in case I had to skip my lunch again. The whole time, I thought wow, what a great friend, never realizing that I was slowly falling for him.
I had planned a vacation with a friend a few weeks before Darren and I actually started dating. He asked me to hang out with him before I left. We met for lunch, and then we got ice cream, and then we saw a movie, and then we went to a carnival, and then watched the sunset at Blithewood. At the carnival, a man yelled that Darren was with the prettiest girl there, Darren yelled back, “I know.” We went on a twirly ride and I lost my ballet flat, Darren jumped out of his seat and slid it back on my foot; it was a total Cinderella moment. We spent the whole day together, and when I went to drop him off at his car (we met half way), he said he didn’t kiss me then because I didn’t put the car in park, and I left my foot on the brake (to him, a sign I was disinterested), we said goodbye and I spent a week at the beach.
After the vacation, I was meeting a friend after work for drinks and dinner. Darren was heading to the gym. He saw me in non-work clothes for one of the first times, and his face was priceless. I wore an awfully tight striped body con dress, and waved goodbye. I told my friend about this guy that was my friend, but that I couldn’t get out of my head, and she suggested we invite him to meet us for dessert. He did, but still, we were just friends, or so I told everyone and actually still thought.
Another week passed and Darren tagged along on a night out. He drove my car back to my friend’s house, and we held hands, I told him to kiss me, and he didn’t. That was one of the defining moments that I knew. I knew I wanted to “ruin the friendship.” Darren knew I had had a few drinks, and that maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly, and instead of agreeing, and risking me regretting something, he made sure I made it home safely and said goodnight, because he really was a good friend.
The thing is, is I finally said yes to a date, and we did kiss, and then we became a couple, and now, almost four years later, I can say that our friendship is still the reason we have a successful relationship. We, above everything else, are best friends. Darren is the person I tell everything to, and sometimes, love is worth the risk, because what was once a friendship is now so much more.