Unrequited love. It sounds so…dramatic doesn’t it? Like something from a novel or a film:
“l’ll never love again!” she cried breathlessly.
Unrequited love is champagne tears and silk gloves and morose diamonds in the moonlight. It’s mourning and yearning and summers in Paris in the arms of another lover. It’s sending away breakfast and picking at dinner and waiting for the hopeful ding of the postman’s bell. It’s an affliction of youth: a brief, sweet, bitter wail of despair, strong in its turn but swift to abate.
It’s a romantic turn of phrase for something that is, at its heart, ugly and hard. Unrequited love isn’t for people who shuffle about on buses, going to work or heading home, with lives a little more grey. It isn’t for those who scrabble through the days of the week and slump into bed at the end of it all like a sack of flour. It isn’t for those who are madly busy all day until they come home at night and remember: Oh. Yes. That.
Let’s not call that unrequited love. It’s rejection. Good old fashioned, they-don’t-feel-the-same-way, scrap-my-heart-and-sell-it-for-parts, rejection. There’s nothing romantic about it. It just hurts. And the reason it hurts is because you never get a chance to see what might have happened. It’s a love never tried, a hope never tested, a dream never brought to fruition. Maybe it would have been amazing. But maybe it wouldn’t. It’s the not knowing that’s the hardest part
The Friend hasn’t said a word about my outburst. Maybe she’s genuinely forgotten or maybe she’s pretended to, for kindness. I suspect it’s the latter as over the next few days our messages are shorter, scanter. Gone are links to articles I might like or snippets of funny things she’s seen. It’s weird, this empty phone, that used to echo with her thoughts and laughter. It’s like coming home and finding your loved one’s moved out.
It’s time to stop living in a fantasy – and salvage this friendship if I can. For too long I’ve confused my feelings for hers. For too long I’ve ignored all the warning signs about how she really feels. For too long I’ve thought, deep down, that this was the love, my last love, the one who’d see me through. It’s not. She isn’t. And as hard as it is to stomach that fact, I have to do it. Because whilst I don’t know what this relationship could have been, I do know what this friendship is. And that is worth saving.
So a thousand thanks, Friend: for making me demanding; for making me discerning; for giving me a glimpse of what could be round the corner. I’m not going to lie; I still wish it was you. But since it’s not, well, I guess I better get my ass out there and find someone even more awesome. Oh, what’s that? You bet me a tenner I can’t?
Babes – you’re on.