One of the saddest things I heard in my life came during my first year in college. One of my friend - I won't reveal names - was dumped by the woman he loved, just as he admitted his feelings to her. What made it particularly painful was what happened after: he found himself shut out of his circle of friends, which is definitely not something you usually think of when two people start acting awkwardly after feelings are revealed. But I didn't know much then, so I thought it was vaguely plausible.

It took a couple of weeks before I learned that story. By then, I noticed that he went from this really cheerful guy to a dejected loner, his gentle optimism trying hard to bust out of that really big downer. I finally asked him about what happened, and he finally told me the whole story. And then he had this really stark observation.

"Siya kasi yung tipong tao na kapag nagsawa na sa'yo, aalis na lang," he said of the girl, who also happened to be my friend. Suddenly, things weren't as simple as boy admits feelings, girl gets awkward.

Ideally relationships are supposed to last forever, unless something really unacceptable (whatever that means) happens. But the idea of someone ending a friendship because he has exhausted its purpose - now that's quite an iffy thought. Last time I checked, you don't make friendships because you need something from the person, perhaps apart from that sense of satisfaction, because that's a given in everything. And even if you make friendships for gratification, it eventually grows into something stronger, and your initial intentions are forgotten.

A few years back I had this conversation with Ella, that friend who I met during my radio geek days. I don't remember what happened along the way, but somehow we both felt our friendship had run its course. I don't even remember what I told her - something like "let's not talk for a while", maybe while I was doing some school work - and she obliged, somehow getting the hint that there's nothing left for us to do, at least at the time.

"Okay," she said. Again, I'm not sure what she exactly said. "I'll see you around, I guess."

"Okay," I said. "See you, ate."

I think I mentioned it here already, but I'll mention it anyway: I called her ate, because she's older than me by a few years, and she called me bunso, even if I wasn't really the youngest person she met. I guess she liked the sound of it.

"Just call me Ella," she said.

What have I just done? I thought. What I did was, to put it extremely, virtually cut ties with her. Well, we didn't really cut ties - we were still friends on Facebook - we didn't talk for a while. I guess we got busy, with her returning to school and me plunging head first into thesis. There are times when I wanted to catch up with her, but I felt either awkward, or that she's moved on from our friendship and doesn't have time to exchange pleasantries with someone she knew before, judging from the one time she didn't reply when I said "hi" on her wall or something.

That's the sucky thing when you do this sort of plunge. Once you've moved on, you'll have a really hard time reconnecting, even if you really try, even if there's a lot to work with from the past. Eventually you get tired of trying, and realize that you have to move on yourself. But it still feels terrible.

You've probably heard her on the radio on weekends. Exactly my point.

Ideally friendships are supposed to last forever, unless something really unacceptable (whatever that means) happens. They're supposed to be around when you feel like you can't stand up anymore, regardless of distance or importance, provided there's time to do it. Sure, things will move around as time passes by, and you'll pay attention to different things when you realize that you should care for yourself more than anything else, but those ties don't exist for nothing, even if you haven't used them for ten years.

But when they suddenly exist for nothing, never mind all the fun you've had with it for the past, I don't know, five years or so, what exactly do you do?

One of the truest things Icka told me - this was during one of those online conversations during idle hours at work - was somewhere along the lines of "you always look out for yourself." (With further research, the actual quote was this: "Maybe deep down inside you have feelings for her, but you value yourself more. Like, it only matters if you feel a certain way because it makes you feel good. She's just there to trigger the feeling." Obviously it had something to do with those mental exercises Cha's asking me to do.) Sure, that suggests that I also start friendships, or at least attempt to start them, because they have a purpose - to make me feel good - but I'd like to think that I don't pull the plug when I already feel good. I mean, pull the plug, and you don't feel so good anymore, never mind if there's something else that puts a smile on your face and keeps you preoccupied. We all still need that someone to come home to at the end of the day, and that doesn't have an expiry date.

Lately I realized that one of my friends, one that I held dearly, has decided that I've fulfilled the purpose. She's happy, and very much preoccupied, and she doesn't need me anymore. So, after she decided not to answer every hello I had, she decided to delete me from her lists. I hoped it could be fixed, but after four weeks of waiting (and a few things, too) I decided to pull the plug myself. And then I became the bad guy. But really, I'm just looking out for myself, because I don't want a friendship that's effectively dead to drag me down. I guess I'm just tired of being friends with someone who treats me as a "lesser" friend, just because she's found a new cloud to perch herself on.

And yet, the moment I pulled the plug, after taking a while to realize that I don't really have a choice, I felt terrible. I felt absolutely terrible.

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