The Hook Up: Friend breakups and Lesbian Overthinking Syndrome Theory

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I’ve been friends with this girl since we were, like, four years old. Last year she came out to me as bisexual and things were fine. Then, about seven months ago, I had a dream about her. You know—one of those dreams, and realized I had feelings for her. I kept it to myself for a while, but it slipped out when we were drunk one night last May. After a week of changing her story, she finally told me she didn’t feel the same way (which, I didn’t expect her to), but she said we couldn’t be friends for a while because she felt awkward. She apologized a few weeks later, and I told her I was over it, including the crush (I’m not) and things seemed fine. But then she started finding all these reasons to pick fights with me, until we finally had this huge blow out and now we haven’t spoken all summer.

I miss her like crazy. She’s the only person who knows all of me and accepts me, but I’m tired of being pushed around and always being the one to make amends. She was in the wrong, and I was hoping she’d apologize by now or something, but she seems completely fine without me. I have absolutely no idea what to do. – Lost and Confused

Anna says: Friend breakups are tortuous because they fall into that awkward, in-between space. We don’t really have a word for that kind of grief, except plain ol’ loss maybe, but losing a friend, for whatever reason, isn’t seen as tantamount to a breakup-breakup, and therefore sympathies are often confused or lacking.

I’ve lost friends for reasons that still baffle me, years after the fact. We can drive ourselves crazy asking, “What did I do? What went wrong?” We can wait for them come to their senses and apologize, like you’re hoping, Lost and Confused. Or we can reach out ourselves, dangle the proverbial olive branch in their direction, and see if those old tears can be mended. It’s up to you which road you want to take, but first I want you to ask yourself a few questions.

The biggest hindrance to recovering your friendship, as I see it, is your admission that you’re not over her. It’s possible that she knew this as well, and picking petty fights with you was her (admittedly cowardly) way of putting an end to those feelings. By pushing you away completely, she didn’t have to deal with any messy aftermath brought out by your crush confession. Unfortunately, this method also took your years-long friendship out of the equation and stomped on it, which is shitty and unfair. But it’s also entirely fair.

Here’s why: It’s damn near impossible to maintain a healthy friendship when one harbors big squishy love feelings for the other. Until you can look your not-quite-friend in the eye and tell her, “I’m so happy you’re having all the sex with all the boys and girls!” and feel genuine happiness for her, you should not be her friend. It’s just going to hurt you in the long run if you can’t sort out and crush the crush-feelings that have been brewing inside you. Lose the “It’s cool, really. I’m not over her, but man, I just want to play Words with Friends again like the old days!” Heal your heart before trying to pursue anything platonic with this girl.

I know it may seem like she’s the only one who “knows all of you and accepts you,” but that’s not the whole truth. I don’t doubt that your friendship was deep and intimate—I’m sure it was—but friendship, like love, is a two-way street. You miss the connection you shared, but are “tired of being pushed around,” and “always making amends.” Look hard at your friendship and ask yourself if she’s been as good a friend to you as you were to her. Do you feel supported and loved? Has she been there for you when you were down and out? Does she respect and trust you?

It’s difficult to say from your brief description, but when looking at rekindling a former friendship, it’s important to take stock of what really matters to you, and whether those good things flow evenly in both directions. If the answers are mostly negative, then it’s probably time to seek a new friend. If, however, after you’ve taken some time, moved on, and figured out that yes, she is still the bee’s knees and you want to ride tandem bikes with her while singing “Wind Beneath my Wings,” then you have my blessing to tickle her with that olive branch (platonically!).

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