I'm pretty new here but I don't know where else to turn so I thought I would ask for some outsider perspective. I have discussed all aspects of this tale with everyone I trust minus the last paragraph. I apologize in advance for the lengthy details, I'm often overly thorough and also an enthusiastic writer.
About a year ago I met Chris* through my very good friend, Marie*. Marie and I had been very close for years, she was always my go-to gal for anything and everything. She had invited me to Chris's house often and I really enjoyed playing cards and having a few drinks with them on the weekends. When Chris started to develop feelings for Marie, he confided in me about what he should do. He eventually poured his heart out to Marie but she chose not to address the situation, assuming that if she stopped talking to him that Chris would understand her stance. Her means to substitute the friendship she had with Chris was to latch onto his best friend and roommate Joe*, who took the sudden female attention for face value and threw Chris under the bus for her. Heartbroken and angry, Chris called me one afternoon to talk about the situation; since I knew the score from all angles, I consoled him the best that I could. We soon noticed that more we talked, the more we saw pieces of ourselves in the other person, and by this I mean a mutual understanding of core ideals and values, not a liking for spaghetti or other surface bonds.
We have remained very close friends ever since, even though Marie has ostracized us both from her life for feeling wounded by our budding friendship; let's face it, if she knew Chris and I as well as she claimed she should have known we would click but I digress. Chris and I were slightly hurt by her sudden urge to cut all ties but took it as a sign that Marie had merely just been the messenger who brought us together in life, and even though she wasn't in our lives anymore, that we still had each other and are better off that way.
I have much respect for him, as he does for me; our friendship has been nothing more than platonic during it's entirety. We crack jokes, share a pizza, watch movies, play cards, bake cookies--I know, I know--and talk for hours on end about various things. If my car is making a funny noise, I can count on him to help me. Likewise, if he rips his favorite jeans, I'll happily patch them up for him. I appreciate the lack of score keeping that most friendships have, the "I did such and such for you..." type of thing, which we both have plenty of and vowed to prevent with each other.
He's one of my closest friends and his advice has never been about ego, it has always been about honesty. So when I reached the breaking point in my current relationship with Mark* I turned to Chris for his bird's eye view, when everyone else would only giving wishy washy answers that to make Mark look like the "bad" guy--Like they assumed I wanted them to. I had accepted the eventual end of my relationship with Mark long before I had met Chris, might I add, as we had one point lived in separate homes for a few months in an attempt to repair things that had broken between us. A relationship is a two way street and for a long time I was sacrificing much more than I should have for the sake of it than Mark was so, feeling as though I was beating my head against the wall, I gave Mark the "ship up or ship out" ultimatum for the final time.
I keep thinking that if Chris hadn't spoken truthfully, when nobody else would, I would still be harboring the idea that it had been my fault that my relationship wasn't working. I took his opinions to others only to find that they reciprocated. Mark had become controlling and abusive, it wasn't my imagination. This sparked a major personal growth for me, and I vowed to give my relationship with Mark one final go before I give up for good. And before I'm viewed as dishonest or whathaveyou, Mark knows 100% about Chris; the occasional time I spend with Chris or the conversations we share are not a secret as Mark has his own friends to whom he spends time away from me with as well, even though Mark, Chris and I spend time together more often than Chris and I spend time together alone.
Having said that, things sound okay so what's the issue? A few weeks ago, when I was seeking the aforementioned relationship advice, I saw a change in Chris's perception. We went out for drinks, which happens once in a blue moon, and got into a deep discussion about my relationship. That's when I noticed his opinions were fiery and that things had shifted on us.
Our conversation then moved to a friend of ours who uses Chris as free labor, more often than a listening ear. I got upset about a this mutual friend of ours only calling him when he needs something and I got heated about it; it hurt my feelings to know that this person doesn't see Chris for who is actually is and is so eager to exploit his desire to help a "friend" in need. I tried to explain that nobody tracks their feet on someone I care about, even if that person is just a friend. He reluctantly discussed my frustrations for a while, I assumed he had been gauging where my anger had come from. I could tell he had been taken back by my concern on the subject and had an expression of understanding on his face as we spoke; it was here that I thought we had graduated to a whole new level of friendship and it pleased me to know that the barrier of what we felt we could or couldn't say had been torn down.
Last week he paid for our meals at the restaurant we went to without letting me even see the check, he's been calling more often to ask how I'm doing because he's worried about me, and even dropping by unexpectedly to check on me. I know he's a good man and have told him that he doesn't need to prove it to me however his reasoning is that he knows what I'm going through and that he wants to try to make things easier for me since he has nobody but himself to look out for with his hefty salary, whereas I have two small children on a paycheck to paycheck budget.
Have I considered the possibility that Chris has feelings? Absolutely. Have I considered the possibility that he and I would make a smart match? Yes. However my friendship with Chris has been one of a kind, out of the gate, and I value that too much to bring up the awkward discussion on whether or not there may be something there. In the meantime, Mark and I have decided that if things don't get better between us in the next two months to throw in the towel; a topic we've been circling for over two years.
So the question that has been on my mind almost daily for the last month is this: has Chris been the catalyst in the make it or break it mentality I've adopted with my current relationship, is he searching for more when he looks into my eyes or is he just doing his duty as a loyal friend?
*Names have been changed