“In another life, we could have been together,” he says in a heartfelt moment. Then, he walks away with the girl left standing there. She’s heartbroken, sobbing, as a sense of finality washes over her. And yet, she also feels a sense of inner peace. Alas, in that moment, they have become Alternate Reality Friends.
Everybody has them.
Alternate Reality Friends, or ARF’s for short, are people that you could have been in a long-term relationship with if something else was not stopping you. Most of the time that stopper is another relationship, but it could also be a career or even a divine calling. It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s simply an understanding that two people will never get into a relationship. But you could have, under a different set of circumstances.
Here’s the requirement of an ARF: there must be a reverence for the other person. While definitely not a crush, the mental components of a relationship must exist. The software, if you will. These could include:
- Easier than normal conversation (chemistry)
- Harder than normal conversation (nervousness)
- An abundance of childhood memories
Now, to make this clear, ARF’s are generally a bad thing. Yes, the thoughts may be innocent, but nothing sparks jealousy like an ARF. If you’re like me, and in a committed relationship, Alternate Reality Friends are people you want to keep at arms length. Don’t give your bf/gf/husband/wife any reason to think that you’re into an ARF.
Don’t send them private messages over Facebook.
Don’t text them often.
Don’t talk to them with more spunk than you talk to your significant other.
Do NOT hang out with them alone.
If there ever is a time when you know you will be engaging with an ARF, make sure to let your significant other know. It helps to build trust in the relationship.
This isn’t to say you must eliminate them from your life, but it is to say you must be very systematic. The key to hanging out with an ARF is to make sure your significant other knows he or she is ranked higher on the totem pole than your ARF. The best tool for this is the double date. There is a high probability that your ARF is in a relationship. Take advantage of that by allowing the relationship between the four of you to grow.
Alternately, you could just never talk to your ARF’s again. That works too.