(As told to Ankit Mishra)
(Names changed to protect identities)
We were in the last year of our school – 10th grade wasn’t just any other year, we had a different air around us in school; the seniors. In a few months we would be in college and to be recognised as a stud in college you had to have a girlfriend. I thought I potentially had one.
Pratima sat right next to me (in the next row of course, those days it wasn’t cool for guys and girls to sit next to each other in school), we talked right through the day. Though she got better grades, she knew my interests were beyond academics and respected me for that. Our friendship grew in the last year of school and since I always had feelings for her I mustered the courage to ask her out.
But as it turned out, I was a bit too late and she was already dating someone else. I had built up to it with months of hard work and someone else took the medal. At that point her friendship mattered to me more so I sucked it up and stayed on. Pratima now insisted I meet this guy.
Related reading: I know we are friends but…
To be frank I wasn’t very open to this idea.
Why would I want to meet someone who beat me and is dating the girl I wanted to? A love triangle is as complicated in real life as it is in movies.
Of course I met him and it turned out he was not the evil character I imagined. Sarthak was a pretty ordinary looking guy with exceptional communication skills (that is where he beat me). We hung around in the summer break and got to know each other and with time started to respect each other.
Pratima and I were in the same collage and in the novelty of college life, bunking classes, hanging out, going for movies, etc. a year flew by and they started having turbulence in their relationship. Both separately whined about how misunderstandings were becoming common and arguments consumed most of the time they talked, it wasn’t as sweet as they thought it’d be and how the romance and the oomph had shredded away.
They were on the path to a breakup and teenagers aren’t the best at negotiating, understanding and accepting, so that was the sane result.
I was split – on one side I had my crush, the girl I wanted to date – in the other corner was this guy who rose in the ranks from being my rival to my new bro. I hung out with both of them and I got a sense that Pratima was still pretty upset from her previous relationship and didn’t want to get into something just yet.
Meanwhile my bond with Sarthak was gaining muscle. Guys just need that feeling of comfort and level of understanding from another and even if he was the one who beat me in getting a girl we can still get along well.
Half a year later (after our HSC prelims) Pratima now gave me strong signs that she was into me and was rather coming on to me, but while this excited me, the lightning struck that this could actually ruin my relations with Sarthak.
I was in a dilemma now, should I persist with my feelings for my crush or fulfil my primary responsibility being a bro?
[Between the lines: guys have a common perception that girls are a temporary part of your life and your bro sticks with you forever.
It is not just restricted to dating your friend’s ex; there are other unwritten rules that guys follow.
Related reading: How will you know when you’ve found real love?
Girlfriends discuss their siblings and also their attractiveness. While that is cool for them and a sister won’t really mind her friend dating her brother, for us guys there is a huge sign in bold red that says ‘You do not date your bro’s sister’.]
It was a really difficult time for me, choosing between the girl I wanted to date for many years now and the guy I knew for a few months. But as I sat to decide, I chose my brotherhood with Sarthak over Pratima, despite having the strongest feelings for her at that time.
I went on to date other girls and have had good relationships. While I lost touch with Pratima as she went to Australia for her Masters, Sarthak has been my closest friend and is my brotherman now – brother from another mother.