1. Find your target. Get the wrong person, the one who sets off all the alarms in your head, the one who is as emotionally unavaible as you are. This person can be anyone: your senior at work, your friend, that totally hot tinder match you had. Anyone, really.
2. Be their friend. Go out for after work drinks, go out for dinner, drag them into the bookstore with you, go for a long drive; whatever it is, make sure that it is just the two of you. Have deep meaningful conversations with them. Listen to them talk about their latest conquest. Listen, then berate them about being a stupid douchebag.
3. Read between the lines, if there is nothing between said lines, make up something. Ask your colleagues, believe them when they say there is something. Hope that there is something.
4. Overthink. A lot. Especially that time when you thought that they were hitting on you but they backtracked and told you that everything is strictly platonic. Be both intrigued and apalled by their proposition (or what at least you thought was one). Spend days picking apart your conversations.
5. Convince yourself that everything is still within the platonic realm of relationships. Convince yourself that the giddiness you feel when you’re with them just means that they are a great friend. Convince yourself that you don’t really mind if they went out with someone else, or that they did not talk to you the whole day.
6. Fall. Fall hard, or at least feel like you are, especially when you are on your fourth bottle of beer. Watch them stay with you while you enumerate all your shortcomings to them. Hope that you won’t chase them away.
7. Dissuade yourself from falling even if you’re halfway there (or at least think you are). Convince yourself that your 9 year age gap is too much, that they are not really your type, that they sleep around too much.
8. Avoid them. Throw yourself into your work, be suddenly busy. Ignore their messages, ignore them altogether. Give short, succint, bordering on cold answers if really necessary. Keep this up until they stop pestering you.
9. Be upset that they’re now avoiding you. Convince yourself that they ghosted you too. Convince yourself that you misinterpreted things, that maybe they’re only offering you friendship. Feel bad because you lost a friend.
10. Find out that they reconnected with an old flame. Pretend that you don’t care. I mean, everything is strictly platonic, so why should you give a damn if they wanted someone to warm their cold nights?
11. Ignore the hollow feeling in your chest. Ignore the rage burning through your veins. Ignore the sound of your heart shattering. Ignore the buzzing of your mind as it looks for answers. Ignore everything.
12. Pretend that everything is peachy. Pretend that you did not singlehandedly destroyed your friendship. Pretend that nothing happened. Pretend to be fine around them, like nothing ever happened. Pretend until you go down the rabbit hole.
13. Wake up. Slap yourself if you needed to. Realize that they are not worth it. If they didn’t fall for you the way you did for them (if you fell at all), neither of you is at fault. Try to salvage the tattered remains of your friendship. Try to piece together the shards of your broken heart. Move on.
Bonus tip: repeat steps.