Dear Anna, I have only ever been in love once. My first girlfriend. I won’t get into details because quite frankly she was a bitch and it ended terribly, resulting in a downward spiral to a pathetic version of myself, listening to Adele’s “Someone Like You” on repeat, crying to The Notebook whilst finishing off an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s and sending cringe-worthy text messages when highly intoxicated. Hell, I may as well throw in the occasional “stalking” routes I took on my way to university, that so happened to pass her house (five miles in the wrong direction). Now that I have painted a picture of myself in a beautiful and not desperate way, I’ll move on to my question.
I have previously dated a few girls (and done none of the above) but never found a connection with any of them. To be honest, they’ve all turned out to be cheaters, liars, or possess traits of my ex, which raise red flags from the beginning. I’ve always wondered whether it was me. I’ve been out for nearly four years and have met a lot of different lesbians, and I’ve found that 99% of them are crazy. Based on the above description, I could easily be placed in that 99%, but it was my first love and a dysfunctional relationship that I didn’t want to let go of because she was the only person I had left after my family found out I was gay. Meeting and dating the women I have, and based upon my friends’ relationships, I honestly feel like I can’t trust women, or the drama of a relationship is too emotionally draining to make me ever want to be with a woman again. I know everybody says things change when the right lady comes along, but this is something I have felt for the past two years. Do you think it’s possible to lead a life on your own and happy? Or be as gay as George Michael in a rainbow T-shirt and still hate the thought of being with a woman? -A very confused Lesbian Lady
Anna says: Ninety-nine percent of the lesbians you meet are crazy? Where are you meeting these women, at your local methadone clinic? Do you live on a secluded island with Lindsay Lohan, Courtney Love and the cast of Girl, Interrupted? Let’s get one thing, er, straight here. You’re being dramatic. And I feel like I can be blunt with you because I can tell you have a sense of humor about things, otherwise you wouldn’t have included that first paragraph about getting over your ex. Also, coping with an intense break up in the ways you described doesn’t make you crazy. It makes you human. We all have flaws. We all react to situations sometimes that aren’t glowing projections of our best selves, especially when heartache is involved.
Here’s an embarrassing example from my own life. A few years ago, a gal I was obsessed with (she wasn’t even my girlfriend, which makes this perhaps even more tragic) told me she didn’t want to see me anymore. I was devastated, but convinced myself that I could dance her out of my system. This was my “plan.” I then danced to Evanescence for 4-6 hours a day alone in my bedroom. It took about three weeks, but eventually I succeeded, and I felt a lot better having gone through my weird little purging ritual. Was this behavior outside the realm of normalcy? Sure, but don’t discount the powerful effect that grief has on the mind.
To that end, you know damn well that 99% is an exaggeration, unless you’re starring in a reality television show about CEO wives or Donald Trump. If that statement were even half true, then you probably also fall into the crazy camp, and I would take some serious time to reflect and reevaluate your friendships and life choices.
But I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you’re frustrated. Different can perhaps, same worms. One thing I would definitely recommend is that you lay off the dating scene for a while. Use this time to work through your trust issues, which I’m sure are mired at least somewhat in messy feelings leftover from your ex. Think about what trust means to you. Write it down. Often when we say we don’t trust people who otherwise haven’t damaged that trust in the first place, it comes from a place of fear. What are you, my very confused lesbian lady friend, really afraid of? Start there. But don’t use the jumping off point as a place for undue judgment. Let it open you. Let it take you to a place that allows room for mistakes. If you say you find relationships to be “emotionally draining” then you’d be far better off focusing your emotions elsewhere, on yourself, and on cultivating friendships that are mutually respectful, non-crazy making, and fulfilling.
You’re in college. You have many, many, many more dating years ahead of you. Take some time off. Listen to George Michael and dance in your room if you want. But go easy on the absolutes. Expand your definition of crazy to accommodate this big ol’ sloppy joe we call living and you’ll be just fine.
And for the record, I absolutely believe it’s possible to sustain a life that entails being both single and happy. If ascetic nuns can do it, why can’t you?
What do you do when your best friend starts dating another girl? How do you navigate the anxiety over losing your friend and/or the expectation that you’ll befriend the new girlfriend?
Here’s my situation: Over the past six years, I’ve developed a super intimate relationship with my best friend. We traveled all over the country and world together, told each other everything, and planned to move to a new town together. Even though we weren’t romantic, our relationship very much mimicked a romantic partnership. When we met each other, we were both straight 20-somethings. Slowly, we both stopped dating/hooking up with men and spent all of our time together. We’d occasionally talk about how we should “be together” when drunk. Once, my friend suggested that we should date while we were sober, but I laughed it off.
The thing was that, during the course of our friendship, I came to realize that I liked women. I’d casually, secretly dated a few girls, but I was really worried that I’d jeopardize things with my best friend if I told her about my interest in and experiences with women. If we were just two straight girls who had a super-intimate relationship, that was one thing, but I thought injecting any sort of lady-loving feelings into the equation could’ve made things awkward. I liked playing house with her and didn’t want things to change.
I had an inkling that my friend might be into girls, too, but the futures we dreamt about together always included husbands (and having homes next to each other). I tried to talk to her a bit about her thoughts about queer people, whether she’d ever consider dating a woman, but she clammed up quickly and always changed the topic. I once took my friend to an event that was mostly attended by gay women and my friend had a panic attack and wanted to leave because she was worried that people would think we were gay, too.
So, we continued on with our friendship-cum-partnership for another year. I realized during that time that I loved her dearly, but I wasn’t sure if I could ever pursue a more romantic relationship with her. I didn’t want things to change between us and I wanted to sustain the intimacy/commitment in our friendship, even though I wasn’t sure we’d work as a romantic couple.
Recently, my friend started dating a girl. My friend told me, almost apologetically, when she started dating the girl. She emphasized over and over that she isn’t gay and refused to talk about her sexuality further. She did go on and on about how she needed someone to “take the reins” and that she liked this girl because she is so forward. That’s putting it nicely. The girl is in-your-face, brash, needy and domineering. She expects my friend to drop everything (and everyone) for her. She is clearly threatened by our friendship and doesn’t want my friend to continue the traditions, travels, etc., we’ve built together. Sadly, my friend is submitting to this. She’s also telling me all of the details of her new relationship, and that this new girl confessed her love within the first few days of their courtship. Hearing these things makes me feel like my heart is being ripped from my chest.
I feel like I’m losing my partner in crime and someone I love dearly. I feel guilty about being heartbroken; it seems so lame since I never even fleshed out how I felt about my friend and I really do want her to find love and happiness. I don’t want to lose this friendship and I desperately don’t want us to stop traveling and hanging out together, but I just don’t know how to navigate this without withdrawing myself from the situation.
Anna says: First of all, I hope you aren’t still lying about how you feel about women. You didn’t specify, but if not, please please come out to your best friend immediately. The lying and the secrets and the internalized homophobia aren’t helping your causes one bit. Plus, it undermines your “super intimate” friendship. You can’t be open and honest with someone while hiding critical aspects of your personalities and lives. You don’t have to be all Stone Cold Lezzie for Life, shunning all representations of the phallus and its evil underpinnings, in order to admit you’re attracted to women.
Lots of women are attracted to women! Just look at all those documentaries. I’m forgetting the titles presently, but I think they have something to do with girls and their tendencies to “go wild.” Seriously though, talk to your friend if you haven’t. Tell her you like women, and hey, it’s not a big deal, and now you have something else in common, and 5-6-7-8 being gay or bi is great, etc., etc. (Cheer optional, but totally recommended.)
Second, you’re not obligated to like your best friend’s girlfriend(s), but actively disliking them will put a strain on your friendship. She also might view your dislike as a judgment of her newfound sexuality and feel less inclined to share things of that nature with you going forward. So tread carefully before deciding to set up Operation Cut-A-Bitch on this new girl. Indeed, the new girl doesn’t actually factor into this situation much at all. Your dilemma lies with you and the unresolved feelings you have for your best friend. Let’s assess. It seems to me that you kinda want it both ways. (Insert cliché bisexual aside here) You want all the trappings of love and intimacy with your friend, “playing house” as you called it, but you don’t actually want to be with her. It’s unfair to your friend to continue down this path into the unforeseeable future, and it’s unfair to you as well.
This doesn’t have to be a sad trombone, but relationships do change friendships, even uber-close ones. Usually it’s short-lived, while people are getting the doe-eyed, barfy, honeymoon phase out of their systems, but sometimes the change can be more permanent. This isn’t to say that your friendship is doomed; it’s just to say that as you both continue to grow and pursue romantic relationships, your friendship will change as well. But if you’re as close as you say you are, you don’t need to worry about losing her. I think, ultimately, that’s what the knife-to-the-ribs feeling is about, not that you’re secretly in love with her. Be honest with her. Telling her your fears will help lessen those stabby pains, and will better equip you to deal with this new chapter in your friendship. And remember that the addition of this new girl doesn’t diminish the affection or bond between you and your best friend.
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.