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LABELED: Friends to Lovers by Liz Gray

Friends to Lovers, Lovers to Friends; is there ever an in-between? The age old dilemma of how or if you should take your relationship to the next level is one we are all very familiar with. But the real question is: what happens after?

When I first moved to LA, I moved in with my sister who had already been in LA for a few years. As I soon as I moved here, I met one of her guy friends that she worked with and we hit it off instantly. I remember he texted my sister later that day asking for my number and asking her a million questions about me. When she told me about it, she warned me that he had a girlfriend and was kind of a player. I definitely took her warning and we started talking as friends ONLY. We texted constantly and became really good friends right off the bat. We were always a little flirty but he was someone that I felt I could talk to about anything. He was a huge sports guy and we would talk about our college sports teams and had this funny rivalry, then the next sentence we would talk about our families. But in the back of my mind, I was always thinking about him having a girlfriend and how I would feel if that was my boyfriend.

Whenever we hung out, his girlfriend was never around. I always thought it was strange, but I met his friends a million times and vice versa. He said that he felt stuck with her, that he wasn’t really happy in the relationship and I knew he had cheated on her before. Then one drunken night when she was out of town, we finally crossed the line. He stayed over, but thankfully we didn’t sleep together. The next day while he was still at my house, he gets a phone call… from her. I felt awful. After that we both took our space and didn’t see each other or talk until he finally broke up with her. After they broke up we started talking again, but only as friends. I knew that we could never be anything more. We would hang out and everything was normal. He truly became one of my really good friends for about four years. During this time, he and my sister cut ties. She didn’t trust him and didn’t like our friendship and he knew it. She always thought he had ulterior motives and every time that we hung out, she would roll her eyes with some flippant comment. I promised her that he and I were just friends, that I would never cross that line again.

One night we were texting, just talking about random stuff and he asks “What do you think of when you think of me?” I kind of laughed and asked “What do you mean?” He responds, “in terms of you being a girl and me being a guy haha.” At this point I know where the conversation is heading, it goes like this:

Me: Well I have fun talking to you

Him: And….

Me: Haha, I don’t know. What do you think of me?

Him: Haha, you never finished

Me: I don’t know what kind of response you are looking for

Him: Do you look at me as a person to date or for fun?

Me: Honestly?

Him: Haha, nah for fake..

Me: I don’t know if you want me to be honest. You ruined any chance of dating when you cheated on [girlfriend] with me… and [another girl]

Him: Yeah, I know. Funny thing is… Getting to know you over the years, I wouldn’t want to do anything like that to you. You are such a sweet person

Me: Well you say that, but I would never be able to trust you

Him: So would you just want to have fun with me?

Me: I think we are better as just friends.

The conversation stopped there and we went back to our banter. Two days later and five vodka sodas in, all it took was one text message from him and he was back at my place. This time, there was no holding back. I woke to him kissing my forehead goodbye and leaving early in the morning. I had no illusions that we would start dating; I didn’t even know if that was what I wanted. We kept on as usual, texts and laughs. On a Sunday afternoon about two weeks after, I went to a sports bar in West Hollywood for a friend’s Goodbye Brunch, complete with bottomless mimosas. Lo and behold, he was there, perched up at the bar watching the game. I was super excited to see him and invited him to come and join us for the party. While we are all hanging out, he starts talking to a girl sitting next to me who I've never met but was friends with my friend. Everyone is have a great day, especially with the nonstop flow of champagne coming our way. Pretty soon he stops including me in his conversation and eventually ignoring me all together. I was kind of annoyed but play it off until we got ready to leave to the next bar. At this point, everyone is pretty liquored up and looking for their Lyft or Uber. That's when I see it; he is full on making out with this girl… on the sidewalk… two feet away from me.

All I could think of was his text message, "I wouldn’t do anything like that to you," and the tears start to well in my eyes. We had literally been together two weeks ago, he apparently had zero respect for me or my feelings. I keep it together while I get in my Lyft until one of my girlfriends notices and I break down. How could I have been so stupid to fall for it? I KNEW him, I KNEW the things he had done to other girls and yet he made me believe that I was different. He used our friendship against me and I fell for it. As we get out of the Lyft at the next bar, I'm standing outside with my friend trying to compose myself and he pulls up with the other girl on his arm. He sees me upset and comes running over, "What's wrong, what happened?" I catch his eye and he knows exactly why I'm crying. I stumble an "I'm fine, I promise" and he turns and walks away. Without a second glance, which of course starts the water works all over again. I was so mad at myself for being upset and on top of that, I was sad. I was sad because right then I knew, I had lost my friend.

The old adage, "once a cheater, always a cheater" comes ringing in my head like a fog horn. How could I think that he would honestly change for me? Yet with all of his empty lies and embarrassment, what truly hurt the most was that my friend turned away from me. He saw in my eyes exactly why I was upset, and instead of being the bigger person and talking about it, instead of being MY FRIEND to comfort me, he ran away.

We haven't spoken since that day. I don't expect him to reach out and truthfully it was a wakeup call. Why would I want a person like that in my life? Because as awful as it was to see a guy I just slept with, a guy I considered my friend, make out with someone else in front of me, it was worse to see what a coward he was. I could no longer ignore that our friendship was nothing more than a four year plot to get into my bed. But I let him get to me and that’s my biggest regret.

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