I Couldn’t Love You That Way
Age 17, USA
We had been best friends and “sisters” since seventh grade. And having you as a friend meant that I no longer felt alone, no longer felt like an outcast.
I didn’t know you loved me that way. Not until that night our freshman year when you slept over. You woke me up, stroking my arm, my hair.
I asked you what was wrong. It was dark in my room, so I couldn’t see you very well.
You asked me if you could sleep with me, and thinking that you had a bad dream or were upset about something, I lifted the covers and you climbed in.
And then… I can’t write what happened. But I will say this. I don’t know why I let you do those things. I don’t know why I didn’t say no. Because I didn’t want to be with you that way. I have never loved you that way. But I did love you as a friend.
Why didn’t I say no? I can honestly say I don’t know! There are a lot of reasons, I guess. Like I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to hurt your feelings and I was repulsed by it, yet also a little curious, even though I wasn’t attracted to you at all or any girls in that way. (I haven’t been able to admit this to myself until now, but it’s true, and I don’t know how to feel about that.)
We both pretended that nothing happened, and we remained friends, but I made sure that we never had a sleepover again, making excuses every time you invited me to stay overnight at your house.
Sophomore year, Marcus asked me to Homecoming and I was really happy. I talked to you about him and you listened, and I ignored your hurtful criticisms of why I wasn’t good enough for him. Yup, you told me so when he dumped me for Lexi.
We started to drift apart. I started hanging out with a new group of friends from newspaper and debate club. Still, I missed you as a friend. But every time we got together, you’d find something to criticize. Remember the last time we went shopping for jeans? Every pair I tried on and liked, you said my ass or thighs looked fat. I ended up buying a dumpy pair that was too loose in the waist. I hated those jeans and the truth is I hated you and then hated myself for letting you convince me that they looked good on me.
Senior year. Our friendship is over. I have an amazing boyfriend now, someone I met over the summer at the beach. I introduced Chris to you, hoping we could all be friends, but instead you pointed out all his flaws under the guise of “being my BFF,” which according to you is your license to tell me the “truth.” (Like me having a fat ass or stringy hair or how much you hate my red shoes.) You were so rude to him. Afterward, we had a huge fight about Chris and we haven’t talked since. We ignore each other in school, and I want to say that I don’t care, because you’ve been really, really awful and mean.
But a part of me does care, and I hate that.
I just want to say I’m sorry that I’ve never been able to talk to you about what happened that night in my bedroom. I don’t know if I ever will be able to. Even though it’s been three years, I’m still upset about it. I feel violated, but I also feel like I can’t blame you because I didn’t tell you to stop.
I just want you to know that I hope you find someone to love and someone to love you back. I don’t care if it’s a girl or a guy. But when you do, make sure you don’t criticize every little flaw. Because maybe we haven’t been able to talk about that one night, but it’s how you’ve treated me since that has destroyed our friendship.