My best friend is a boy. I do have a girl best friend as well but, usually, when asked about my best friend it’s the boy who springs to mind.
He and I have been friends for years. We met as undergrads, working on a project together in our second year of uni. There was something about him that I easily connected with. He made me laugh (at him, usually) and I could completely be myself around him. In the beginning, as is common in such circumstances, my friends were convinced he had ulterior motives. I vehemently disagreed. Best friend was so innocently unaware of things like relationships and crushes. He was so very awkward and unsure of social situations. His mind would be so full of historical things that there seemed to be no room for everyday social conventions. He was like the history version of Dr Sheldon Cooper.
As time went on, I started going out with someone yet Best Friend remained close by. When the relationship ended, he was still there. It was only then, a year after we first met, that I wondered why he was friends with me. Honestly, I wondered whether he did have a crush on me but just didn’t know what to do about it. Nothing happened and we continued our dorky friendship, in final year you rarely saw one of us without the other, we were ‘Mr and Mrs History’.
I started seeing someone new (which is a saga in itself) and Best Friend also had a romance of his own with an older woman. When I ended that relationship, I was utterly heart-broken and confided in Best Friend. He always listened to my insane ramblings and tried his best to understand.
Our friendship works for us because even though we have the same interests (namely a love of history) we have different personalities and lead different lives. We fit together so easily that we don’t need to see each other constantly for reassurance, we always know the other one is there when we need them.
A few weeks ago, everything changed. We went away to a conference and shared a room in a B&B. We have shared a room before and everything was fine but this year was different. If we were in the room, he was just in his boxers. He was more touchy-feely than ever before and, even though he is protective of me, was so over-protective I felt like yelling at him to leave me alone. On the Saturday morning he was having a certain ‘situation’ in said boxers and so, to spare both our blushes, I pretended to be asleep as he got ready to take a shower only for him to come over to my bed and shake me to make sure I was awake. On the Sunday morning as we packed, he hugged me and then just looked at me. It was the most terrifying few seconds as I had no idea what was going to happen next. I awkwardly hugged him and gave him a friendly punch on the arm to cover my bewilderment. The whole weekend was filled with odd little moments and for the first time I realised how very unusual our friendship is. None of my friends have a guy like this, a straight guy who protects like a brother, puts up with my little quirks like a boyfriend would and to whom I can talk to about anything, even things like relationships and sex.
I don’t quite know how to deal with him now. It feels like the dynamic has changed. Faced with the oddness of our situation and the tension of that weekend, I have retreated and chosen a very unhealthy course of action. Subtly avoiding him didn’t work so now I’ve decided on sarcasm and an aloof detachment to carry on with until I have come to terms with this weird new atmosphere.