Last Friday morning, I was trying to motivate out of my warm bed and into the shower when the telephone rang. I looked at the Caller ID and saw that it was Philly Matt. Given the timing of his call, I realized that he had just read my latest post about us.
When we spoke earlier in the week, Matt had told me about Tammy, a girl he recently met. His voice was giddy when he talked about her in a way that I hadn't heard since he and I had dated. I was excited for him on the phone, but when we hung up, I felt melancholy. What would happen to our friendship? How would our relationship change with a girlfriend in the picture?
I thought about texting or calling Philly Matt that evening, but instead, I just wrote a post about it. In retrospect, that was a passive-aggressive move on my part since I know that Philly Matt reads my blog regularly. But, I figured that the conversation would come soon enough, and it did.
Philly Matt [hearing the groggy tone in my voice]: Did I wake you? I'm sorry. You can go back to sleep and just call me later.
Me: No, I'm good. Just waiting for my migraine meds to kick in. What's up?
Philly Matt: So…I read your post.
Me [with a bit of nervousness in my voice]: Yeah, I figured.
Philly Matt: I read everyone's comments, too. I thought about writing one of my own as Philly Matt, but I decided that I should just call you.
Me: Okay. You know you can write one anytime you want, though, right? Even if I disagree with it, I'll still approve it.
Philly Matt: I know that, but it just made more sense to talk to you directly.
Me [exhaling]: K.
Philly Matt: I want you in my life until the day I take my last breath. You are a very important person to me and anyone I date will need to know that and be okay with that. If you call me in the middle of the night and need me, she's going to need to understand that I have to go. Staying friends with you is not negotiable.
I paused for a few seconds after he said that because I had tears in my eyes. (And, yes, being the sap that I am, I have tears in my eyes again as I'm writing about this.)
Me: Thanks. I figured that's what you would say, but it means a lot to me to hear that. I couldn't imagine my life without you.
Philly Matt: And you won't have to.
We talked for a while about how our relationship doesn't make sense to most people.
Philly Matt: Maybe they haven't found a way to make it work. Or didn't break up amicably.
Me: Well, it's not like we were friends right after we broke up so I understand. But, I feel closer to you now than I did when we were a couple. We've been through a lot over the past few years.
Philly Matt: Exactly. I know that no matter what, you're there for me. And, you know that the same is true with me. Anyone we date will need to understand that, too.
Philly Matt: Well, you guys were in a serious relationship. You couldn't make him uncomfortable. I knew that you and I would stay friends no matter what, but I just felt bad that I wouldn't be able to go on the ski trip or see everyone else [in our group] anymore.
Me: Yeah, I know. I'm glad that didn't happen, and I've learned my lesson for next time. I don't want to lose you or isolate you from the group. The Crew wants you around, too. And I also realize that I'm acting pretty selfish to be whining about a girl that you haven't even really started dating when I've called you about several guys over the years and you've always rolled with it. I guess I just worried that I would lose you if you got serious with a girl…that she wouldn't understand.
Philly Matt: That's never going to happen with us. She's going to know about you. I feel closer to you now than I did even a few months ago after having met your Dad and Rhea [my Dad's girlfriend at my birthday party in April]. . . .And, you realize that I've barely spent any time with Tammy one-on-one. I don't even know if we'll start dating!
Me: Yeah, I know. It just caught me off guard to hear how you talked about her. Tammy's your first crush since me, and I guess I got a little jealous and a little confused, even though I'm happy for you. [Pause.] I'm okay with us never hooking up again, but losing your friendship would be too tough for me. You know me better than any guy I've ever known. [Pause.] But, I will miss snuggling with you. You are very snuggly.
Philly Matt: I'm a regular Teddy Ruxpin! [We start laughing hysterically.]
Me: You pulled out Teddy Ruxpin?!? Hahaha!
Our conversation shifted gears to work, friends, his kids and my latest guy adventures. When I hung up the phone 30 minutes later, I had a huge smile on my face and wiped a few more tears of joy from my eyes.
I wish I knew the secret to how Philly Matt and I have managed to make our friendship work. (Trust me, I would bottle that formula if I could.)
As I texted Philly Matt this weekend,
I love you, Teddy Ruxpin!
And, I do. With all my heart.
Did you try it out and then the friendship fizzled over time or when a new significant other came into the picture? Do you regret not maintaining a friendship with any of your exes?