I was super sick this week, so it took me a little longer for me to write to you lovelies. This week I answered some good questions, ones that were both heartfelt and heart-wrenching. I hope that all of you know that I really value your trust and that I feel for every one of you. If I haven’t answered your question yet, please be patient. I will do my best to get to all of the ones that I feel I haven’t already answered. Please, keep the questions coming and I’ll do my best to answer them!
Hi Alyssa, I knew I was, at the very least, attracted to women when I was 16. I grew up in a Midwestern town. My best friend was a boy. He was gay. We connected quickly and made a pact to come out to our families around the same time. He went first. His family rejected him. A few days later, he hanged himself. Far into the closet I went.
I graduated high school and went to college on a full scholarship. The school was staunchly Christian — church twice a week. My roommate was openly anti-gay. I tried so hard to deny who I was. I dated men (and have only slept with two). When I graduated from college, I was in a long-term relationship with a man, whom I loved, but was not in love with. He is a wonderful man, and is the only person I am out to.
Now, at 26, I’m tired. To everyone else, I am extremely successful. Professionally, I am well-paid. Physically, I am in great shape. Most people think I do not date because I dont have time or havent found the right person. Half of that assumption is correct, but applied to the wrong gender. Privately, I’m still a terrified 16-year-old. Im ready to come out. At this point, I don’t think my family would care. I need to do this for myself, and I need to do this to uphold that pact I made 10 years ago. My problem is I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to meet women. I don’t know how to approach them. I tried going on to lesbian websites for support, but was called a “man-f—er” and a “slutty bisexual” and told to stay in the closet.
I don’t consider myself a bisexual. Im not attracted to men. It’s my understanding that many lesbians have been with men before they came out. I’m terrified that this is the reaction I’m going to get from the rest of the community. Any advice you have to give, I would greatly appreciate. Your articles are encouraging and I love reading your thoughts.
Thank you and take care — Sadie
Sadie, If I could jump through this screen and squish you I would. I’d sit you in my kitchen, make you tea and brush your hair while you vented your childhood woes to me. I cannot do that, but I can try to give you some healthy advice. What happened to you when you were 16 was so so sad. Understandably, I think it also created a really unhealthy fear that surrounded the topic of coming out. We are so impressionable as children and having your only close ally die such a tragic death is a really hard thing to cope with. I’m sure that this caused so much additional anxiety and fear that it’s understandable that you went back into the closet emotionally so to speak. I’m sure going to a school that repressed your sexuality even more because of its religious affiliations and not having the traditional wild college years only added to the anxiety. I can only imagine that there is this whole other person trapped inside of you that is practically exploding to get out!
You mentioned wanting to come out to uphold the pact that you made 10 years ago, but honestly, you only need to come out if you personally feel that the time is right. You said you are tired, and I’m sure you mean tired of pretending or tired of suppressing who you are. It sounds to me like the time might be right for you now. It’s difficult to choose just any lesbian website to lead you into gaydom, sadly because more often than not, the internet is full of self-loathing, self-righteous, immature people that find it easier to be cruel to try and get a laugh and sound witty than it is to be kind and try to help someone out.
If I were you, I wouldn’t think too much about the whole act of coming out. I would try looking online for meet up groups for lesbians. There are so many, lesbian.meetup.com is just one, but you can go on there, find your city then look for groups of like-minded women interested in dating women, doing activities that you might enjoy. Usually it’s a fun way to get together in a group and do something fun! It’s a great way to make friends and meet women that won’t judge you for being gay. Start out looking for friendship, if you haven’t really come out yet, you don’t want to put the cart before the horse. Once you have a group of gay friends, it will be a lot easier and less stressful to go out to the girl bars and cruise.
It sounds to me like you have plenty to offer some lucky girl out there, what with being in shape, educated, financially secure and, most of all, having a courageous heart. You have dealt with a lot, and you made it this far. I’m sure that you will be alright. If you ever need advice you can always email me, and if you need support sites like PFLAG and The Trevor Project are there to help too! Lots of love — Alyssa
The Other Woman
Hi Alyssa, First off congrats on the new gig with AfterEllen! So I have a problem: For the last five months I have been flirting pretty intensely with a woman at work. We’re both gay, but she has a girlfriend (story of my life). It’s not just a girlfriend, but it’s a four-year relationship which is a lot like a marriage. Our flirting is getting to the point where the very few people I’m out to at work, are asking if we have a thing going on. I have to say that part of me feels really bad. I’ve never wanted to be the other woman, and despite the fact that nothing physical has happened, I feel like the other woman.
She and I recently had a conversation about the flirting and the fact that she has a girlfriend, but not much has changed. We have started hanging out outside of work, and I guess I don’t know what to do. I have really intense feelings for her, feelings that, I think, are mutual from everything that has happened. I guess the biggest thing is that I don’t know how to “hang out” with her, without wanting to be more with her. Please help! — Taylor
Aaah Taylor! I don’t know you personally, but if I did, I might shake a no-no finger at you too. I’m not big on going after someone that isn’t really available for the taking, but you asked so I will try to do my best to give you some advice.
You cannot help who you fall for, I know this — but you can help making a mess out of someone else’s life, or being the one to break some stranger’s heart. In the end, you and your friend from work need to be honorable adults. If you have feelings for her, tell her. You said that you “had a conversation about the flirting and the fact that she has a girlfriend, but not much has changed” but then said “I have really intense feelings for her, feelings that, I think, are mutual from everything that has happened.” What does that even mean? What happened that led you to believe that this woman in a four-year relationship also has “intense” feelings for you?
You said nothing physical has happened. If something physical has happened then that’s cheating, and you are both going to end up hurting someone. If nothing physical has happened maybe you are just reading into this flirting. As of now, you really are not “the other woman” you are a woman who wants to try to date someone who is already in a relationship. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Everyone flirts. There really isn’t anything wrong with it, but flirting is not an open invitation into anything more unless it turns into that. First things first, find out if she feels the same way and if she does she needs to not be with her girlfriend. Then if she actually leaves her girlfriend you will know she doesn’t just want to have her cake and eat it too. If she doesn’t want to leave her girlfriend but also likes you, you will then be the other woman, in secret, and that’s not a very fun or classy way to live. As for the friendship part, it doesn’t sound to me like you want to just be friends, you should try to meet people that are available and once your heart has moved on, it might be easier to have a friendship that isn’t clouded by lust or wishful emotions. I hope you both find your way. Xo — Alyssa
Hi Alyssa, You truly seem wise beyond your years on The Real L Word and I’m so glad you got this advice column because you always gave great advice on the show. OK, here goes my question: I’ve been in a relationship for about four years now and we were that couple that I thought was unbreakable. Madly in love, making wedding plans — the whole nine yards. Sometime in June, my girlfriend and her BFF were hanging out at a bar got super drunk and made out. Now it should have ended there, seeing as my girl is in a relationship and her BFF claims to be straight. On a side note, my girlfriend says her friend made the move. They hang out all the time so clearly after this my suspicions grew and I started checking her text messages. That didn’t last long because she put a password on her phone, which of course made me believe there was something to hide. I came across her phone one afternoon and it was unlocked so of course I looked only to find they were “sexting.” I confronted them both and they told me that’s just how they joke around.
Fast forward to the present, my girlfriend and I are on a “break” for her sake. We aren’t intimate, she barely looks at me anymore and when we do hang out she can’t wait to get away from me. Although when she’s out with her friends she’ll text me the whole time telling me she loves me and misses me and can’t wait to see me. She says she needs time to figure herself out, get herself together and be independent for awhile all along still saying she loves me very much and still sees a future with kids and the whole bit; says she never stopped loving me but is going through something right now she needs to deal with it alone. Yet her and her BFF hang out all the time — go to lunch, go shopping, she’s even slept over at her place a couple of times when she’s too drunk to drive.
My question is how would you interpret this? Are we on a break so she can screw around? Should I just walk away, and whatever happens, happens? I believe she’s the one for me but I just don’t know why she’s doing this. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Sincerely — Heartbroken
Dear Heartbroken, This is tough, because the way I would interpret this could be dead on or way off. She actually might just need to get her head straight and decide what she wants out of life, and to decide what she wants in a relationship. The question is are you willing to wait? The other, less hopeful option is that your suspicions are correct.
The thing is, everyone starts off in a fairytale and grows into reality. No relationship will ever be completely smooth sailing, that’s just not real. I don’t have a crystal ball to show me if your girlfriend and her best friend are secret lovers, but I can tell you that regardless of who made the first move, it was not respectful on either part for your girlfriend to make out with her best friend. Now, I know that things happen, especially when you toss alcohol into the mix, but trust is super important in a healthy relationship.
If you are at the point that you feel the need to read her texts, it’s not a good sign. It’s an even worse sign that your girlfriend locked her phone. Truthfully, everyone needs to vent, I vent about my fiance to people sometimes just as I’m sure she vents about me sometimes too. It’s possible that your girlfriend needed to vent about you to someone [possibly her best friend] and she didn’t want you reading it in a text, making you go even more mad after the whole drunken makeout.
That being said, maybe there was more to it. That’s not the point though. What is the point is that you cannot put your life, your heart and your desires on hold forever. I would tell her that you love her, let her know how much she means to you and then tell her that you will not wait forever. Give her some space, but continue to live your life. I hope it works out for you, but don’t be anyone’s second choice, or back up plan. No one deserves that. Chin up, xo — Alyssa
Hi Alyssa, I don’t watch The Real L Word, but I think you’re advice is great. Anyways, I need a bit of help. I’ve got herpes and I’m scared I’ll never find someone who will want to be with me. I don’t want to lie to people and plan to be up front about it, but I can’t see anyone staying with me once they find out. I don’t know anyone who actually uses a dental dam, let alone has even seen one in person. And it’s hard enough to find a girl who likes girls to date as it is. I’m not even old enough to drink and I feel that I’ve sabotaged my opportunities to find love. I don’t feel like I have any options.
So I have a few questions. First, is it reasonable to feel a little hopeless? And if not, how and when is it a good time to tell someone? Do you know anyone who has a partner with an STD? Am I being dramatic and this is a more common problem than I think? Thank you in advance for your help; I don’t know who else to ask. Love — Anon
Oh honey, “is it reasonable to feel hopeless?” I can understand why you feel hopeless, but please know that you don’t have to be hopeless. You had a few questions in relation to this so I’ll try to answer you as best as I can. As for how common this is, the C.D.C. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states; “Nationwide, 16.2%, or about one out of six, people aged 14 to 49 years have genital HSV-2 infection.” This is a lot more common than even I thought. Because herpes is contracted by sexual intercourse [both vaginal and anal] it doesn’t need to be a topic of conversation UNLESS you plan on having sex with that person.
Obviously for you this is very sensitive information that you just don’t want to tell everyone. I think the best course of action is to really truly get to know someone before being physical. It’s impossible to predict how someone will respond to this type of information, so the best information I can give you, would be in your approach. First having a full understanding of your condition will help you in explaining it to your partner. I would try to approach your partner when they are in a good mood, and in a quiet setting where you can both focus. The way you deliver the news can have a huge impact on how the conversation unfolds. You don’t want to set up a negative response by starting off by saying “Don’t be upset but”, “I have something kind of bad to tell you” or “This might ruin everything.” Try starting off by saying something positive like “Being with you makes me happier than I’ve ever been.” Or “I’m so happy in this relationship.” Beginning like this, in a positive relaxed way, might evoke a more agreeable response. Try to be calm and collected, direct and most of all try to have a conversation.
It’s OK for your partner to ask questions. Obviously I’m glad to offer advice when I can, but have you spoken to your doctor about your condition? I recommend speaking with your OB/GYN, tell them that you are concerned about how this will effect your sex life. While there is no cure for herpes it is a manageable condition and there are really good medications out there that can keep it under control. This way you can be armed with all of the information you need so if your partner does ask questions, you will know how to answer them. I actually do know more than one couple where one of the partners has herpes, both couples eventually got married and one even had children. I did some research for you and this site has a lot of great information along with a support group and a dating section for people who have the same condition.
Keep your head up and don’t worry. You do have to be honest and tell anyone you plan to sleep with, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Much Love — Alyssa