We met in the summer of 2008. We were both invited to spend the weekend at our friend’s river house in Arizona. Neither one of us knew each other before then. After a fun weekend with our friends, Ashley hitched a ride home to LA with Sandy and her friend and had light conversation with Sandy for the 4-hour ride home. Ashley was in a relationship with someone for 3 years and was studying for business school. Sandy had just started a long-distant relationship a few months earlier and was traveling to SF frequently for work. At the end of the long road trip, Ashley thought Sandy to be very sweet, but serious and reserved, and Sandy thought he was fun-loving and at times, largely inappropriate.
We spent the next couple of years attending the same gatherings, having brief interactions and all along, hearing about the others’ stories through mutual friends. Sandy had spent the next year and half trying to maintain her tumultuous, long-distant relationship, which eventually ended in infidelity and heartbreak. Shortly after, she reconnected with a longtime friend who lived in another country. She traveled back and forth for the next few months and was enjoying the new relationship. Unfortunately, the whirlwind relationship, although fun, came to an end when it was mutually decided their long-distant relationship couldn’t last unless someone decided to move. Neither one did and they parted ways. She continued on, suffered another heartache, and grieved the loss of a good friend. Even though everything else in her life was going very well, she felt unsettled when it came to love. She dated people briefly here and there, but found she could not open herself up to anyone.
Ashley, during the same time period, had broken up with his long-time girlfriend after 4 years of being together. Their relationship started as young love. Eventually over time, they grew up and grew apart. She moved across country to attend business school and their relationship could not endure the long distance. He was accepted to business school in LA and although he was sad from the breakup, focused his energy on working full-time and taking classes at night. He dated a few people briefly in his spare time, but could not find a good connection.
So this is where our love story begins. It was early 2011 and we were both single and casually dating other people. We had joined a few friends at a bar and later left to hang out at a friend’s apartment down the street. When it was time for everyone to go home, we decided to hang around a little longer. We spent the next few hours talking and time just flew by. This was the first time we ever talked one-on-one since our initial meeting.
Our interactions became more frequent after that, even though we were still casually dating other people. We would call each other to make sure the other got home safely. During some Friday and Saturday nights, we would call each other to see what the other was doing. In between our dates, we would meet for dinner and chat about the current events of our dating life. We laughed over long conversations about everything and nothing at all. We found that we enjoyed the same things, such as learning to play the guitar, loving the theater, traveling, and cooking at home. We have similar family dynamics, both growing up in large families and understanding the struggles we both endured being one of so many. We found out we have the same fears and want similar things for the future. We became good friends, strictly platonic, and enjoyed each other’s company. As time went on, we were enjoying each other’s company more often than the time spent with others.
As with most friendships between a single man and a single woman, we knew we had to, at some point in time, address this strong connection between us, but feared going down the path of no return. Can we risk our friendship for something more? What if the other person didn’t feel the same way? Will our friendship persist without becoming “weird” if our romantic relationship didn’t work out? Ashley, being the bigger risk taker, broached the subject one night. He asked Sandy what she thought about us? He confessed that she was always on his mind lately, that she was the last person he thought of before he went to bed, and the first person he thought of when he woke up. When the phone rings, he hopes that it’s her and is disappointed when it’s not.
Sandy being more fearful, didn’t know what to say, and was taken aback by his complete honesty. Sandy thought long and hard about providing a polite, lighthearted response, putting up the walls, as she always does when caught off guard. But seeing his genuine openness and sincerity, she decided instead to be honest with her feelings. She responded that she felt the same way, but didn’t know what the future held for us. She admitted she was scared and after going through such a rough, rollercoaster year, she could not bear going through another heartbreak, especially with a friend. Ashley’s response to this, although simple in nature, was so profound. He said, “Well Sandy, have you ever considered the fact that I would never do that to you?”
Ashley’s candidness made Sandy laugh and his confidence in the relationship warmed her heart. It was like a light bulb went off. Ashley was right. He had been nothing but a loving friend and it was unfair to not give our growing relationship a chance based on events that happened in the past. It was at this moment that we felt we could be completely open and honest with each other. We both took a chance on each other and this has made all the difference.