Worth the Risk?

I experienced my first dance with a girl in seventh grade.  I won’t mention her name, just in case she might read this on the Internet.  The DJ played a slow song.  Everyone paired up.  Although the gym was dim, I saw a cute girl emerge from the darkness underneath the basketball hoop.  She wore a pink Chinese style dress with golden cursive letter E’s.  She smiled at me with her vermillion lips.  I placed my hands on her shoulders and she clasped her hands on my waist.  We smiled at each other and then started slow dancing, swaying to the music.

We then stopped abruptly.  We looked at the other couples, checking out the positions of their arms.  The boys had their arms on the girls’ waist and the girls had their arms on the boys’ shoulders.

“I think we’re doing it wrong,” my dance partner said.

We switched our arms’ positions.  She placed her hands on my shoulders and I placed mine on her waist.  The silk of her Chinese dress imprinted itself into the memory of my fingertips.

Not only did we have our first dance together in middle school, we also had our first high school dance together at the Welcome Freshmen dance.  And on a bittersweet note, we had our last dance together in our senior year of high school at the Yearbook Dance.  I think I had even mentioned to her as we danced that we had our first high school dance.

Did I ever try to hook up with her?  No.

Well, why not?  She was just a friend–a really good friend.  And I did not want to ruin that.  I kept separate my friendships and my (unsuccessful) romantic life.  I have this theory as to why best friends or even really good friends do not date each other.

Let’s say you have two people and they are best friends.  But then one of them develops romantic feelings for the other person.  The person with the romantic feelings expresses these romantic feelings to the beloved, and luckily, the beloved reciprocates the romantic person’s amour.  Now, they are now boyfriend/girlfriend, boyfriend/boyfriend, or girlfriend/girlfriend.

In every kind of relationship, there is fighting.  It cannot be avoided.  But let’s say the couple gets into a fight with irreparable outcomes.  They have talked things over, they have sought counseling, and they have even drawn a white line dividing their apartment.  Nothing works.  Now, they are no longer boyfriend/girlfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend, or boyfriend/boyfriend, they are no longer friends because they damage is too severe.  The memories of friendship have dissolved.

When it comes to dating a best friend, I like to call this situation my “2 for 1” theory: risking two relationships to have one.  In other words, when you date a best friend, you aim to develop one romantic relationship.  But when situations become direly sour without repair, you lose both that romantic relationship and the friendship.

That is why I never tried to develop a romantic relationship with that girl I shared so many dances with.  I was neurotic, so I kept my romantic life separate.  In middle and high school, I flirted with girls who hated me, annoying them with incessant “Hello’s” and scooting my desk within closer proximity.

She was even nice to me.  Do I regret not saying anything?  Even if it meant going against my theory?

I do.  It would’ve been worth the risk.


Illustration by Danielle Burch