It was the end of February when my friend , Mary*, finally consummated her months-long flirtation with Ken*, a former co-worker of hers. It was her first time, though her loss of virginity didn’t seem to faze her. She said it was “alright”, and she assured everyone, Ken included, that it was just physical. Desiring something “just physical” was usually the norm for Mary—I sometimes envied her seeming lack of emotion. I was often hurt by men, while she hurt them. Whether it was Charley or Rory or now Ken, they wanted something she wouldn’t give them.
Our friendship began four years ago during our freshman year of college. I was the goody-goody of the group, while she was something of a hippie. We had almost nothing in common except for our friends and shared experiences, but that was enough—the rest grew organically. I don’t know if we were best friends, but she was one of my oldest.
Through her, I became friends with Ken. We talked on AIM while I stamped down my newfound feelings for him. They continued their sexual arrangement. Among our group of friends, she sometimes referred to him as “the guy she’s f–king.” He told me about how much he liked Mary while she, apparently, couldn’t care less.
In March, she granted me permission that I never even requested. “I will tease you for it, but I won’t be mad so don’t hold back if there’s anything between you two,” she told me. I was content with friendship. But when Ken began to realize her detachment was causing him too much pain, he told me he was done.
That’s why I kissed him back one night in May. That’s why I began sleeping with him the same night. It was effortless. He told me he was very happy. I floated on air and I let down my guard. We remarked on my willingness to cuddle. I showered him with the affection he was craving. We decided we’d take it slow. He needed to sort out his feelings, but I was still hopeful.
Our bubble burst when he told Mary what happened over a dinner of pizza. She laughed, she seemed okay with it, and they went for a walk. Her behavior coincided with her infamous detachment, but a few days later, she de-friended us on Facebook. We sent inquisitive messages. He was convinced it was a joke. He was wrong. She wouldn’t speak to us.
“If she makes us choose, I choose you,” I typed over AIM.
“Thank you,” Ken said.
My feelings for him had, by now, grown to dangerous proportions. After we had sex one night, we lay on his bed, facing each other. It had very little to do with Mary, he said, but he’d come to his decision. Basically, he tried to like me as much as I liked him, but he did not succeed. I lay there, vulnerable, exposed and disappointed. I lost Mary for a three-week fling. I told myself that she gave me permission. She only wanted to screw Ken. I wanted to hold him, too.
My wounded friendship with Ken plodded along, with a couple relapses here and there. He regained his friendship with Mary. After sleeping with Ken, I knew I couldn’t attempt repairing my bridge to Mary. I couldn’t picture being friends with someone that had what I never did—Ken’s adoration.
Maybe when she thought I took that adoration away from her, something clicked. Ken and Mary began dating a couple weeks ago, although I only found out recently. I haven’t run out of tears yet. I sacrificed Mary for a chance with Ken, and now I may lose Ken for the same reason.
*Names have been changed.