Penn State Love Stories: A Pair Of Best Friends And A Secret Crush

A true college experience is arguably nothing without a few close friends by your side. You need someone there when that exam doesn’t go quite the way you planned or a shoulder to cry on when the collegiate lifestyle becomes a little too hard to handle. But what happens when your feelings for a friend begin to morph into something more?

When Tori Kirkpatrick realized she was falling for close friend Ricky Hoffman, she knew the confession would undoubtedly put their entire relationship on the line.

It was the dawn of her freshman year when Kirkpatrick and her group of friends headed to downtown State College to check out Fratland for the first time. Linking up with a pal from high school gave Kirkpatrick the chance to mingle with a lot of new peers — enter Hoffman.

Kirkpatrick and Hoffman hit it off quickly as the group continued to hang out throughout the night. They quickly realized they had actually lived in the same town their entire lives but had somehow never crossed paths.

“It turned out that Ricky was also a friend of Kevin’s from home,” Kirkpatrick said. “However, he went to a different high school than [me], so we had never met before.”

Kirkpatrick soon discovered she and Hoffman actually had their fair share of strange coincidences. Hoffman’s older sister was one of Kirkpatrick’s sister’s best friends. From then on, Kirkpatrick’s sister wouldn’t let her hear the end of it and insisted it was only a matter of time before the two freshmen would fall in love.

“I laughed out loud and let her know that would most likely never happen,” Kirkpatrick said. “We had just met and while Ricky was very nice, we were just friends and would be staying that way.”

And as it turns out, Kirkpatrick was somewhat right. The two students did turn out to be great friends — they stayed within the same group of friends and, thus, spent quite a bit of their free time together. But throughout the entire school year, they both had completely different love interests.

When it came time to travel home for the summer, Kirkpatrick and Hoffman had the chance to see each other a few times over the break. Though they didn’t see each other as regularly as they did at school, they still made the effort to hang out every now and then. It was during this time that Kirkpatrick began to wonder if maybe her sister had been right all along.

(Photo: Tori Hoffman-Kirk)
(Photo: Tori Kirk-Hoffman)

“Embarrassingly enough, I actually thought to myself ‘He would be a great husband,’” Kirkpatrick said. “Something that started as a random, tiny thought blossomed into a full-blown crush by the time I got back to school for sophomore year.”

Kirkpatrick confided in two of her best friends about the sudden realization. But she knew she was never one to put her heart on the line for a guy — especially when the guy was such a good friend.

Her feelings became harder to hide as the year rolled along. Friends of the two students would often comment on Kirkpatrick and Hoffman’s growing relationship, even mentioning how great they would be together. Kirkpatrick hoped her friends’ comments would allow Hoffman to come to the very realization she had come to months before. But to her dismay and frustration, Hoffman seemed to turn a blind eye. The year once again came to a close, and their relationship was the same as it had always been. Unlike the previous summer, Kirkpatrick and Hoffman didn’t even reside in the same town — Hoffman worked out of state for the majority of their break.

“The summer after sophomore year started with Ricky living in Texas for two months,” Kirkpatrick said. “However, despite the distance, he and I texted constantly and Skyped regularly.”

When Hoffman finally came home, the two actually hung out more often than they ever had before. When Kirkpatrick wasn’t at her internship, she spent her days with Hoffman. She was thankful to finally have her friend back home, but there was one thought that continued to linger in the back of her mind — with the amount of time she spent with Hoffman, it truly felt like they were dating.

“As junior year began to speed by, I became both hopeful and hopeless each day about the possibility of a relationship,” Kirkpatrick said. “Ricky and I were officially the closest that we had ever been, but the fact that he had never hinted at wanting more from our relationship concerned me.” 

Thus, it was only a matter of time before she finally snapped. When Hoffman was especially flirty at a party one night, Kirkpatrick knew she needed answers.

“I spilled my heart out to Ricky and basically gave him an ultimatum,” Kirkpatrick said. “I said that it was too hard being just friends with him, so if we weren’t going to try dating, I would need to take a step back from the friendship so I could move on from him and with my life.”

Hoffman hesitated for a moment before admitting the friendship was just too valuable to risk. But to Kirkpatrick, his response wasn’t enough.

“I fired back and told Ricky to look at the other side,” Kirkpatrick said. “We could be perfect together, so why wouldn’t he give that a try?”

Hoffman stepped back and contemplated everything she had just told him. For what seemed like years, it was silent between them. But the dynamic of the conversation suddenly shifted when Hoffman finally admitted Kirkpatrick was right — in the moment that changed their relationship forever, he finally asked her to be his girlfriend.

Immediately after, their group of friends emerged from where they had been trying to spy on the conversation. The consensus was clear: Their friends had been waiting for this moment for way too long.

“As we told everyone about our relationship over the next few days, everyone was ecstatic, but not surprised,” Kirkpatrick said. “To this day, Ricky still gets teased for waiting so long to give in and admit the obvious.”

The couple happily dated for the rest of college and got married on October 24, 2015. Of course, the theme of their wedding had everything to do with the university that finally brought them together. They look forward to adding to their Penn State family soon and couldn’t be happier that they finally ended up taking the next step in their relationship.

(Photo: Tori Kirk-Hoffman)
(Photo: Tori Kirk-Hoffman)

“The moral of our story is that good things do come to those who wait,” Kirkpatrick said. “And I will always have the best “I told you so” to hang over Ricky’s head.”

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About the Author

Claire Fountas

Claire Fountas is the student life editor for Onward State, as well as a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and psychology. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and strongly disagrees with anyone who hates the Cubs or the Blackhawks (so, pretty much anyone at Penn State). You can follow her @ClaireFountas or email her at [email protected]

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