I want to start off by saying that I am so excited and happy to have been invited to write this column with AfterEllen.com! I had a bunch of emails come through and I decided that the best way to start this off would be to take the first four emails I received and answer those first as my way of saying thank you for being brave enough to write these questions down and send them out into the world. On that note, I did receive, lets just say, quite a few emails. So going forward, I will go through and pick the best stories that touch on topics that a lot of you are writing in about so that when I answer, it answers a lot of people’s questions. Two birds, one stone, here we go.
The Straight-ish Slippery Slope
So I have this friend. We are close BFFs. I met her through another friend about two and a half years ago. We have been through a lot together. She’s in a rocky marriage and has three kids whom I adore. I’ve stayed at her house several times, practically lived there. She would always insist I sleep in her bed with her because there was no other comfortable spot.
She has been with girls before in her past. I never have. I have developed feelings for her over the past year or so and I don’t know what to do about it. Her husband is in a rehab program and she’s lonely a lot so I would go keep her company when I could but I don’t get a vibe that she feels the same way about me. Whenever we drink together she flirts and jokes with me but that’s about it. I always wonder if maybe she has feelings too but is like me and afraid to say or do anything about them because it could mess up our awesome friendship.
I really don’t want to lose the friendship or create awkwardness plus I am confused that I have feelings like this for a member of the same sex. I’ve never felt this way about another woman. I really feel I love her. So much it hurts. There are times I just want to tell her but I’m so afraid. I’ve tried to just ignore it, find interest in someone else. Even tried the whole out of sight, out of mind thing for a while by not seeing her so much sometimes, doing that now, and that sucks!
I’m just so confused and it’s messing with my mind and my ability to focus at work and sleep! What should I do? I’m so glad you’re doing this! Couldn’t think of anyone better to get advice from than you! Love you on the show and all your input for poor Whitney. Thanks in advance for your time and help! — Ashley
Ashley, There are so many things I have to say about your email. First, I feel for you, I truly do. I know what its like to have your heart smolder for someone, but for your brain to pump the brakes. I think that in this case, your brain has been doing you a great service.
You mentioned a few things that raised red flags for anyone looking to potentially pour their heart out into the spotlight. You said, your friend is married, has three children and has a husband in rehab. Wow, this is intense. I think first you have to understand your feelings. What I mean by this is that some people have what I call wounded bird syndrome. You see someone in a difficult situation, maybe even one that you think you have clarity on, and you want to help them, like a little wounded bird.
For a lot of women, myself included, this is a completely natural almost second nature response especially when dealing with people you feel close to. It’s not unheard of to confuse those feelings with love. Now I’m not saying that you are not attracted to or don’t have real feelings for her, I’m just saying try to think about what your feelings mean before jumping off the ledge. Regardless of this, my very first impulse is to shake my no-no finger at you and say, “Married — sorry, keep it moving.” I’m not trying to be mean, its just that I respect marriage and what that commitment means. Although you have been there for your friend during some of her difficult times, there are two people, married, who have made three babies together that need to work things out, whether that’s to stay together or to break up. Unless you have had a serious (sober) discussion with your friend and she has told you that she is 100% certain that she is splitting up with her husband or that maybe she is only staying with him because he is in rehab and she wants to genuinely help him get sober without distractions, then my first bit of advice would be just that — no-no finger.
The truth is, no one wants to be a home wrecker, especially not when there are children involved or what sounds like a very vulnerable current spouse, even if there are drunken flirty moments. Everyone flirts, and a lot of people going through relationship troubles flirt as a way of feeling something carefree or to help them forget their issues and feel desired. Don’t read into that, as women we are generally addicted to and fueled by flirtatious interactions, but it could mean nothing more.
My second bit of advice here is honesty. Honesty is the best policy. Always. I would wait until you feel sure of your own personal feelings and have truly assessed the situation with her marriage, then; when the two of you are together (again, sober) have a real conversation, tell her how you feel. I know it sounds scary, but the silver lining here is that you said that she has been with women before. This means if the marriage is over you have a real 50/50 chance and that’s a lot better than confessing your feelings to a potentially 100% straight woman. If you are “besties” and she doesn’t have the same feelings, I doubt that your friendship will come to a screeching halt. If anything she, might be flattered but tell you the truth, that she isn’t into it. Then again there is always that chance that she does… Keep me posted! — Alyssa
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Alyssa, so I’m not a gold star, because of about three minutes of absolute disgust and regret. It happened a year ago and I wish I could take it back so much, I also think about it too much which makes me feel untrue to myself and impure. Being 17, I thought experimentation would be good, I was wrong I also feel like I’d disappoint the community.
Any idea on how to cope? I really look up to you and the rest of the TRLW girls, so any advice would help! It’s seriously eating away at me, every night! -Christine
Dear adorable Christine! I wish I could hug you, pet your hair and tell you that everything is going to be just fine. Oh to be 17 again. If I could give you one bit of advice that I knew would stick, it would be for you to forget the whole “Gold Star” thing. To me, not being a gold star implies that you are in some way tarnished and I think that that insinuation is a hot steaming pile of trash. I think, as young people, it’s easy to try to force oneself into this imaginary box of perfection. To be the perfect student, the perfect athlete, wear the perfect clothes, have the perfect friends, makeup, shoes, car, hair, phone blah, blah, blah. Being young (and gay) is hard enough as it is without the added pressure of labels and sub labels.
Try to look at it this way; you experimented, you slept with a guy, now you know for sure that its 100% not for you. You will never have to question yourself. This doesn’t make you less of a lesbian or less of a person. It makes you human and a teenager. Don’t ever worry about disappointing “the community” especially when it comes to personal issues like this, only worry about disappointing yourself. The community is just that, a community of people that are supposed to be there to make you feel united, safe and understood.
I know that you wish you could take back your “experience” but lets be real: You’re seventeen. There are going to probably be a gazillion other crazy things that happen in the next few years of your life that this will be a teeny tiny blip on the radar soon enough. William Shakespeare said it best: “What’s done is done.” I’ll leave you with that and these final words: Focus on the now and look forward to the future. Xoxo — Alyssa