I Am The Everygirl

Right Person, Wrong Time: How I Accepted Being “Just Friends” With the Person I Thought Was My Soulmate

platonic life partner"
platonic life partner
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

I saw Patrick on Hinge the summer going into my sophomore year of college. Without thinking, I liked a video of him playing spike ball, and in no time at all our banter on Hinge escalated to exchanging numbers, which quickly turned into nightly FaceTime calls.

Patrick and I could talk for hours, with calls spanning from sunset to sunrise. We talked about all our favorite things and our ambitions, debated on who had the better playlists, and even started picking up on each other’s funny little habits—his was wearing an apron even if he was just scrambling an egg. There was never a day we didn’t talk for at least a couple of hours. Even through a pesky case of laryngitis where he would text me his responses to the conversation we were having, Patrick was always ready to chat.

There was one catch, though… my location was set to where I went to school, which happened to be where Patrick was home for the summer, but not where he went to school. To make the situation even more dramatic, we only had roughly 16 hours of overlap where we would both be in Cleveland. To say there was a lot of pressure on this first date was clearly an understatement. Yet, that didn’t seem to spook him. I remember one conversation where I was questioning if there was even a point to continuing our calls, and he said, “Hey, go look at the moon—it’s the same even though we are miles and miles apart, so I’m basically looking at you right now.” All the doubt washed away, I wrote a five-star review for Hinge and thanked my lucky stars for putting Patrick in my life. Cue The Blue by Brynn Cartelli.

The moment I fell in love

August 15 rolled around, and there Patrick was, waiting to pick me up for our date. I was so nervous walking up to meet him, but immediately after that initial hug, I felt scarily more myself with him than anyone else in my life. Cue Fall in Love Alone by Stacey Ryan.

Not knowing what Patrick had planned for this first date, I was surprised he had curated the most Bryanna evening possible. We started off at mini golf, where we truly mastered the perfect flirt-to-roast ratio. After mini golf, he drove us to dinner, where there was a reservation for a patio overlooking the great lake waiting for us. The feeling of being with someone who not only accepts you for you but somehow makes you more you just by being with them is what dinner with Patrick felt like… I was falling in love with him. Cue Kiss Me Quick by Nathan Sykes.

The feeling of being with someone who not only accepts you for you but somehow makes you more you just by being with them is what dinner felt like… I was falling in love.

After dinner, he took me to the Metroparks, and we walked hand-in-hand continuing to talk and giggle about anything and everything. About 20 minutes into our walk we found a bench, and like a movie, in between a change of conversation, our eyes danced from each other’s gaze to lips. Just like clockwork, I felt his hand tuck a strand of hair behind my ear, gently rub my cheek, and pull me closer to him. There were butterflies going crazy in my stomach. My heart was beating out of my chest. And the moment our lips met made me feel like I was in an anti-gravity chamber. The world fell away, and it was just us in that moment together. Cue Please Stay by Francois Klark.

Realizing it wasn’t meant to be

There’s a difference between realizing something isn’t meant to be and accepting that it isn’t meant to be. For me, I realized we weren’t going to work out about a week after our first date. Patrick and I went from hour-long phone calls to no more than three texts a day consisting of me wishing him a good day and him responding hours, maybe even a day later with “thx! U 2.” It was a complete 180 with no warning. My worst fear was coming true: I was being ghosted. I remember feeling like my chest was collapsing. I realized that the more time that went on, the less likely he was to reach out and the more likely he and someone else would be looking at the moon together. Cue useless information by Avery Lynch.

There’s a difference between realizing something isn’t meant to be and accepting that it isn’t meant to be.

You’d think the hopeless romantic in me would believe in the right person at the wrong time, but I don’t believe that. If it’s the wrong time, it was the wrong person, and if you truly think that they’re the right person, you have to fight for them. So, I fought for Patrick.

You know that text we treat like an English assignment and draft in our notes app before pressing send? This was one of those texts. The tricky thing was, I knew Patrick wasn’t a bad person, he just did a bad thing. I wanted him to know how he had hurt my feelings without completely annihilating his. Within the hour, I had a long response that was half apology, half excuse. While his text was significantly less poetic than mine, he owned his actions, and let me know he wanted to be friends if that was something I wanted. While I knew having him as a friend and forgoing the romance would be painful, it was clear not having him in my life would be unbearable. Cue Come to Your Senses from Tick Tick Boom.

So often, “let’s be friends” is what you say when you want to never speak to someone again but don’t have the courage to say it. Whether Patrick extended this offer because he actually wanted to be friends or just wanted evidence that he was a good guy and never thought I’d take him up on it, I held him to that offer. For the better half of the next year, we only spoke on Sundays, recapping our roses and thorns of the week.

After about 7 months of roses and thorns, we were in the same place at the same time and met face-to-face. I don’t know if it was the sugar from the ice cream, but things fell right back into place and from that day forward the FaceTime calls have been constant, the laughter consistent, and the love ever-growing.

I know that moving on is a solo journey, and you cannot rely on the clarity of a situation to give you closure. In order to move on, I created the narrative that he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship and that while we got along like we were one soul in two different bodies, the trajectories of our lives would never line up for more than a couple weekend trips a year to visit each other. What I do know now is Patrick is here. He shows up for all my daily rants and major life events. So yes, our story didn’t end as it does in the movies, with a steamy makeout session in the pouring rain or Patrick moving across the country to take on NYC with me—but we did work out, just not the way I initially thought.

How I knew he would be in my life forever

The inspiration behind this commentary was from an NYT podcast, the Ezra Klein Show, with an episode titled “What Relationships Would You Want, if You Believed They Were Possible?” The podcast talks about how your spouse will never be able to fulfill your every emotional need and brings up the idea of platonic life partners: a best friend that’s additional emotional support, an extra set of hands with raising your kids, and more. While I have a hard time with all the topics discussed in this episode, it got me thinking—perhaps the idea of a life partner didn’t have to be romantic, but could be platonic. If that is the case, is Patrick my platonic life partner? Cue End of Beginning by Djo.

It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment I knew Patrick would be in my life forever. Perhaps it was our long conversations in his childhood bedroom that usually ended in tears with a side of laughter and some form of dance party. Perhaps it was the fact that I found my second family in his over the first Thanksgiving weekend we spent together. Perhaps it was the time he completely surprised me by taking the train to NYC on a random Tuesday to watch me at one of my performances. I will never know the exact event that did it, but what I can pinpoint is how I feel around him.

I so frequently felt that I was not living unless I was doing some sort of extravagant activity, whether it was screaming at the top of my lungs at a concert, having a girls’ night out, or jetting off to somewhere tropical. Yet with Patrick, I feel like I’m alive doing the most mundane things. If you asked me to choose between a prepaid all-inclusive vacation to Bora Bora or meal prepping in my tiny NYC apartment with Patrick, I wouldn’t need to think twice, I’m choosing Patrick. Cue Easy by Ella Mai.

I don’t think I have 100 percent accepted that we aren’t meant to be, because we are—just not in the traditional way.

Love is a word we so easily throw away yet are terrified of all at once. I can safely say I have never experienced being loved by someone the way Patrick loves me—there are no rules to it, nothing I owe him in return, he just chooses to love me every day when he wakes up. He is my protector from others and myself. He answers every random text I send him, and years later, he still watches every last TikTok video I tag him in. He is my rock, the wind beneath my wings, and my guiding light. In life, you’re lucky if you have a best friend and a partner. How lucky am I that my best friend and partner are one person? Cue Heaven is You by Joshua Bassett.

Moving on from hopes of romance

As I said before, there is a difference between realizing you’re not meant to be with someone and accepting that you’re not meant to be with someone. In the spirit of honesty, I don’t think I have 100 percent accepted that we aren’t meant to be, because we are—just not in the traditional way.

Sure, there was a time when I felt like we were playing the long game when both of our families would call us “inevitable.” I’ll admit that for a while, a little part of me always hoped and wished for a grand romantic gesture where he’d profess his love for me saying, “It’s you, it’s you, it’s always been you!” But that is very unlikely because while Patrick doesn’t like being wrong, he hates being wrong when I’m right, and us ending up together… well, let’s just say he’d never live that down. Cue Exile by Taylor Swift.

It’s an extremely challenging thing to mourn something that was never yours while still having what was never yours play an active role in your day-to-day life. I had to remind myself that since the beginning, all I wanted with Patrick was connection. While it has shaken out differently than initially intended, I have everything I ever could have wanted and more. I have my very best friend. A person who always double-checks that there are no strawberries in the dessert (I’m allergic), the person who sends me angel numbers every time he sees them because he knows how much I love them, and the person who allows me to go through his do not disturb so I never have to battle anything alone.

How did I truly get over the what-ifs with Patrick? I asked myself if I was actually in love with him or if I was just scared that one day I would be replaced when he got into a serious relationship. In my gut, I knew it was the latter. It’s terrifying to trust someone who, no matter who comes and goes from their life, values you enough to protect your relationship at all costs. Maybe that fear of being replaced is a good thing. Perhaps it’s an indication of how important and deep this bond is, and the fear of losing him will never outweigh the joy of having him in my life. Cue Slowly (Live at the Jazz Cafe) by Olivia Dean.

Where we are now

One of the questions I’m asked most about Patrick is, “What does your future look like when you ultimately enter a serious romantic relationship?” I’m not going to start lying now and say that I know the answer to this. I can only speak on what I hope to have happen and cross my fingers (perhaps naïvely) that my perfect universe works out for me. The three biggest values I look for in a partner are patience, empathy, and trust. I hope that whomever I end up with not only knows my physical and romantic loyalties lie with him but also gains a new friendship with Patrick and wants him around our life and our kids’ lives as much as I do.

My life is in NYC and probably always will be, so while the dream of having a house on the same block as Patrick has set sail, I dream of virtual game nights, surprise birthday trips, and joint family cottage getaways. Essentially, I want my future partner to also become BFFs with Patrick. Patrick and I met by chance. We stayed close by choice, and choosing to show up for each other every day is what truly matters. Cue Simply the Best Acoustic (Schitt’s Creek Version).