I spent the remainder of that Friday in the office, still wondering what the hell had happened in the last 20 or so hours, but mostly attempting to remain awake. I chose to work in the office lounge, on a comfy chair with my feet up on a foot rest and there were definite moments of head bobbing, almost falling asleep. It wasn’t my finest hour at work, I promise I’m usually a professional, but the lack of sleep – it really had been 3 hours max – was killing me.
Turns out it was killing him too. We texted as they drove south from Vancouver to the States and Arms had passed the driving duties to his friend so he could nap. I was incredibly jealous of a car ride nap.
As it would turn out, Arms and I would text off and on throughout the rest of his trip and, having started following each other on Instagram, would keep up with what each other was doing that way too. I figured it might stop when the vacation ended and he got home to Calgary but given that his daily routine of Crossfit Coaching was different to my office schedule our texting actually increased to where we were texting or messaging on Instagram everyday.
While it was incredibly lovely, albeit surprising, to still be in such close contact with him, I was finding it quite confusing too. I’d gone into the “date” (can you call it that when his mate comes along too?) seeing it for what it was – a guy in town for a few days, in fact, only one night by that point, who lives in Calgary and had made no mention of looking for a relationship. I was hardly expecting it to be the great romance of the century. But we’d gotten on so well when we’d met, the sex had been pretty goddamn great, at least for me, and now here we were still messaging a month later.
Was this going to progress to something more?
Up until that point we’d not really mentioned anyone else when we’d been chatting to each other, like if he was seeing anyone else or if I was. It’s that unspoken rule of dating (not that Arms and I were dating), you don’t mention who else you’re dating unless you’re asked. (And then if you’re asked you should always counter with “are you sure you’re ready for the answer?”) But I wasn’t naive enough to think that he wasn’t seeing anyone and I would have been lying if I said I hadn’t been out on dates in that time too.
So why weren’t we having the conversation?
I think we each knew the answer to where the other person was at but for, me anyway, I felt like I needed it clarified. Almost as if anything else between us had to be taken off the table. The last thing I wanted to do was start telling him about other dates if there was ever likely to be anything with us again. But I knew that he lived there, I lived here, he’d never mentioned wanting a relationship or even serious dating and there was definitely a chance I was taking his friendliness to mean more than he may be intended.
I do have a gift for letting my heart run away with my head. I get swept up in imagining what might/could/possibly be rather than looking at the cold hard facts and treating as they should be.
Eventually one day when we were texting, we were talking about a hypothetical situation with both of us in it and I decided to take the opportunity to expressly say “yeah but it would only ever be platonic”. Even just typing those words in a text instantly made me feel better, lighter and more in control. He agreed and the conversation moved on. I don’t even know if he’d remember that part of the conversation but it was so significant for me.
From that moment onwards, he went from being “this super hot guy I’d had incredible sex with and had been messaging with everyday since” to “my friend Arms who, oh yeah, we hooked up this one time”. It was an important shift and changed even the conversations I had with my girlfriends about him. Up until that point the first description of him had got all their heads running away with my heart but after the re-framing they were definitely a little less excitable about it all.
They were also sceptical. Sceptical that we could just all of a sudden be these kind of friends who could have honest and vulnerable discussions about dating and sex, and random conversations about Instagram memes and working out, having had the history of that one night together and him looking the way he does with his shirt off. I was kind of surprised too but I loved it.
Once I knew exactly where I stood, I was able to completely let my guard down and we talked about everything. I told him about every bad date, every good date (though there were fewer of those), we’d help each other craft the perfect Tinder replies or post-date texts, we talked about sex (a lot), he’d tell me about all these girls at his gym and I’d warn him about shitting on his own doorstep, and he wouldn’t listen. We’d also talk about how we were doing with friends, or self improvement stuff, we’d cover family goings on, books we’d read or how we were dealing with shit we were going through.
We were now texting everyday and speaking on the phone maybe once a week and every so often a friend would say to me “are you still chatting to Arms?” and I’d say “yep, he just texted me” and it would always be followed with “and you’re really just friends?” usually with a side of an eye roll too.
The things we’d talked about, however, the details we’d gone into with each other on certain stories/people, we could never look at each other in anyway but as friends. Some of those stories were dark! Some of the admissions we made, to the things we did sexually (more him than me) or the level of crazy we got to (more me than him), were things we would barely have let ourselves speak out loud let alone to another person. But we made a safe space for each other. There was never any judgement and we’d frequently find ourselves giving advice but always finishing with “but whatever you do, I’ve still got your back.”
We also don’t always help each other. I’d been texting this guy, who I’ll write a post about later, and he had really great banter. I was in the middle of simultaneously texting him and texting Arms to tell him how funny this guy was. To make it easier to illustrate, I took a screenshot of my text convo with the guy to send to Arms. Of course I got mixed up in my text windows (I was on my laptop) and somehow sent the screenshot of the convo with the guy back to the guy along with a message saying “see he’s funny! He’s getting massive brownie points right now”.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
I almost had a heart attack. I was sat at my desk having palpitations. I texted Arms to explain the situation who could do nothing but send me back a bunch of laughing face emojis. Then a bunch of “haha”s. Then a meme about doing exactly what I’d done.
Like I said, not always helpful. Though he eventually stopped laughing long enough to tell me not to worry, that the guy should be flattered because it was a nice message. He was right and I managed to kind of talk my way out of it. But I appreciated Arms’ eventual support, even if he still enjoys referencing this little snafu way more than I’d like. The tables were turned though when he screenshotted a convo with a girl to send to me, and accidentally sent it to ANOTHER girl. Who’s laughing now?
We’ve talked each other out of the darkness when things have gone to shit too. A relationship I thought was going somewhere ended up biting me in the ass and he talked me off a ledge. And when he started being vulnerable with a girl he was seeing and she shut him down, I was there to find the silver lining of the situation.
So we’ve been in the dating trenches together. He provides a male perspective to me, I provide a female perspective to him and we both provide a shit tonne of dark memes to each other that are so bad you wouldn’t even give them a double tap like on Instagram, god forbid someone saw you’d liked it. And they’re always followed them up with a “this is why we friends” message. We’re as bad as each other.
He’s been here to visit twice since that initial road trip brought him to Vancouver and none of my friends believed me when I said he was staying on the couch and we wouldn’t be sleeping together. Now there really is nothing further from my mind. He’s one of my closest confidantes. He moved to Australia a few months ago and the time change hassle might be my only complaint about him.
I like to call him my favourite Tinder Fail Success – I didn’t find the romantic relationship I was looking for but the friendship that came out of it was worth far more and he was the greatest lesson in looking under the hood (as it were). And I am hopeful that Arms will be in my life for a long time, if not forever.