When it's your gay best friend....

Discussion in 'Relationships' started by alphabet, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. alphabet

    alphabet Well-Known Member

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    It's me here with more girl problems/confusion. I lived in a house for a year with a group of friends, which at the time including a couple. They broke up back in April and the ex moved far out of state. The half who stayed is arguably my best friend in the city we live in. After she broke up with her gf we started spending more and more time together. We have always had a visible connection....in fact several people have asked or mentioned if we would date when she was single again. I have lots of other friends who are also gay/lesbian/queer identified who I spend a ton of time, but no one ever thinks we are dating if we are just hanging out the two of us. However, this girl and I every one thinks we are dating whenever we go anywhere together because of the way we interact (lots of banter, touching, and just general demeanor).

    We have actually told each other we love each other, but since then we have talked about our relationship and the possibility of actually being together. She is very risk averse already as a person and is afraid that we would lose each other if it didn't work out. The problem of course is that some boundaries have already been crossed (no sex tho), but we can't go back now.

    We have tried to cut back on the touching, but the chemistry is still there. She has tried to tell me that she "can't /won't love me..." out of fear she will loose me if we become more. I don't know what to do though because I realized now that I'm totally crazy about her. Not only are we already emotionally close as friends I also think she is super sexy and just really enhances me as a person and my life.

    We have talked a lot about what she wants in a partner. But, I also know that she just got out of a relationship even though they were more best friends with no sexual chemistry (her words). I told her that I would be willingly to like give her the things she wants in a partner and that I was interested in only her. We have a ton in common but our personalities are pretty different. She feels quite strongly that she can't be "possessed" by her partner and has expressed concern that she doesn't have the same level of emotional depth as I do and can't give back to me on the level that I give to her. We talked about it last night actually and she said this was just a major hang up for her because she really values her independence. I am very independent but she is right in the sense that I would want to be her only girl and want to like a top priority to her (which I mostly feel now anyways). What should I do if anything?
     
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  2. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    You should decide what you want here.

    You are spending a lot of time listening to what she wants/needs, and preparing yourself to cater to those wants/needs. She is spending a lot of time being uncertain about you and hedging about how much energy/time/attention she is willing to devote to a relationship with you.

    So step back, because you are a relevant actor here, and your desires and preferences are just as important as hers. Ask yourself:
    - In a best case scenario, what kind of relationship do you want for yourself and her? Is it monogamous? Do you live together? Do you spend lots of time together, or independent?
    - And then... is that relationship realistic? Is it okay with you if this never turns into that?
    - Are you comfortable with her risk aversion? (People who are risk averse tend to be unwilling to deeply commit, or ready to bail when they get overwhelmed. How do you see yourself reacting to that behavior in a partner?)
    - Is she able and/or willing to give you the kind of support and affection you see yourself getting from a partner? Right now? If not now, when? If you never get what you want, is that okay with you?

    The answers to these questions may seem leading, but I really don't mean it like that. You could decide that her "independence" and anxiety is worth patience, and you will be okay if that is always how she behaves because it's a behavior that doesn't bother you (some dating advice terms this "the price of admission" - everybody has one! and it's all about being willing to pay it). Or you could decide that if you get involved with her, you will just be waiting for her to stop behaving that way, and that it won't actually be okay if she doesn't change.

    An advice column I love is Captain Awkward, and she has two good ideas that I think will be useful for you.
    (1) If nothing changes, is that okay in a year? In three years? If this relationship continues (and I say continues because you have already kind of started it!) with her being uncertain about her emotional availability and you being ready to make up the gap, and she never stops being worried about that mismatch, will that be a good situation for you? This is a useful exercise because often, in relationships, we have an expectation that the things that are imperfect can change. Sometimes they do! But often they do not, too, or sometimes changing behavior - or addressing underlying instability or anxiety, like what you describe - takes longer than we imagine. So, with the terms that are on the table right now, is this a relationship that you want?
    (2) The other that "not ready/interested in dating right now" actually means "not ready/interested in you." This thing, about being uncertain about because she's just gotten out of a relationship? Well, that's a thing, I guess, but the actually uncertainty is about you and her, or about her idea of relationships and you, and if she were really super into you, she would not be giving you this hedging. That doesn't mean she's not attracted to you, or doesn't consider you a friend, or wouldn't LIKE to be into dating you; it means that those things are not enough for her to get over and past her uncertainties and anxieties. (And I think that if she is more worried about losing your friendship than exploring your relationship, that tells you a lot about how deep and compelling her feelings for you are, regardless of your feelings for her.)

    Here's my take: People get scared, and that's okay. But when people can't stop being scared, those of us who love them tend to start jumping through little hoops, and the hoops get bigger, and it creates a dynamic where one person is always dictating the terms of the relationship and the other person is always accommodating them (usually because they want it to work so hard). So I would look very hard at the patterns that you are setting up during this initial negotiation, because it's the basis of what you are building.

    And I would think about how you will feel when the initial rush of hormones fades, in six months or a year, and your crazy-in-love feeling is replaced by the actual feelings of support, affection, respect, and care between you. Because it will, will, WILL go away, that obsessive love that makes you ignore all shortcomings, anxieties, mismatches, and fears; it will go away, and if the dynamic of your relationship is you bending over backward and giving her whatever she needs to feel secure just to keep her, you will feel terribly hurt down the line.

    And, NB: I have 100% been where you are, with a girl who did not want me the way I wanted her, who was not ready to be in the relationship I wanted, and who I was willing to make myself all over for, compromise my emotional needs, subvert my preferences. Because she was great. And we clicked. And we were friends. And we cared about each other deeply. In the end, I felt terribly sad and used and stupid for saying yes to something so lop-sided, even though at the time I could never have imagined saying no.

    So: figure out what you want. Ask her, without wheedling or judgment or the impulse to make up her gaps for her, if she is interesting in giving you what you want, and not just getting what she wants from you. And then if she is not willing to do some work to be your partner, be ready to walk away.

    I hope she is willing to meet you halfway, for the sake of your crazy smitten heart. But, if she is or if she isn't, the way you love her is good and a gift, and you'll be okay.
     
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  3. alphabet

    alphabet Well-Known Member

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    Thanks @lorienczhiu ! Those were all really good points and gave me a lot to think about. I do know what I want, which is I want to keep building our life. I think there are definitely several kinda "boring adult" things coming up that are on our minds. She is considering going back to school and I don't have a job that makes it super easy to move though I could.

    I think I also forgot to mention that we already live together (just the two of us) and are getting a dog. So, I do feel like we are already partners in a lot of ways even if we aren't currently having sex. Is that the only thing that makes you a partner?

    I def do think we already have "the actual feelings of support, affection, respect, and care" part down because our connection is deep. She is always been there for me for big career moments to just sitting on the couch watching tv together.

    I mean i guess her telling me what to do a lot can be irritating though she did say she is complaining because she wants us to have an authentic relationship and she wants to be able to share if she doesn't like something I say or do.

    I guess it is true that of course I want to be more intimate but i don't really know how to get there because I wanna be respectful and not pushy.
     
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  4. Spygirl

    Spygirl Well-Known Member

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    I think you got some good advice. I also think that you need to take what she says at face value.

    Moreover, I think you also need to understand the possibility that she's trying to let you down easy. Words like "won't/can't love you out of fear," can't "give things back on the level you give to her," "can't be possessed by her partner," suggest to me that she is trying to avoid telling you that she's not into you the same way you're into her. The point is, she's telling you no..for whatever reason. I think she's made the decision that she does not want to be in a relationship with you no matter which words she uses -- so you need to respect that.

    If you push, you may well lose the friendship you already have. Leave it alone unless she gives you any indication that she wants more from you.
     
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  5. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    So, sex is not what makes you partners. But both of you being on the same page and deciding to make this a partnership, not a weird amorphous-friends-feelings-thing, IS. The biggest red flag I see is that you believe (and are behaving) as though this is a relationship and the question is settled; she is also engaging in these behaviors, but is actively telling you that she does not think she is ready for/ capable of the relationship you want. This is a mismatch, and without resolving it this is going to hurt. Definitely don't "get more intimate" until both of you have said, without waffling, "yes, let's do this being together thing," because sex is fun and satisfying and feels good, and I have a feeling that she will have sex with you but not move past her uncertainty. You'll be in deeper, and still not getting the answers you need.

    I'm also not totally sure that you are understanding what I'm saying; yes, you care for each other. But being in a relationship is about what you DO with that care, so your "deep connection" is a good starting place, necessary but not sufficient to building something that sustains and supports you. Being there in big life moments is big, but relationships mostly happen in small life moments, the little stresses that can make being around other people wearing. Navigating these past your hormone honeymoon requires intention, patience, kindness, and commitment, and it's great that YOU are on that page, but I am not sure that she is. Her reluctance to say "this is a thing I want" is my first hint.

    Her idea that she needs to be able to be "honest with you" and "telling you what to do" is a great example of what I am saying: you are saying that her understanding of what an authentic relationship is is the one that you will proceed with, because she wants it and you guess it makes sense. But it irritates you! So it's not a good idea for you to build into your foundation. (And I agree with you! If my wife told me what to do all the time, it would drive me nuts. "Honesty" is not a cover for "bossypants.") What IS a good idea is figuring out what ideas you share about how to do things, so that you can be on board and there can be less telling you what to do, more requesting support (with right of refusal), and more living your shared life.

    Your rose-colored glasses are strong, which is how it should be, but I really urge you to look past your urge to bridge these (wide, wide) gaps for her and think about the solidity of this "relationship." There are some cracks that I don't think you can see yet, and some that you have begun to perceive, and leaving them there mean that whatever happens is shaky and uncertain. Now is the time to figure out if they are reparable and to do the work if it needs to be done.
     
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  6. rainydaze

    rainydaze Well-Known Member

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    Alphabet -
    All good and thoughtful advice here from @lorienczhiu and @Spygirl.

    I just wanted to re-emphasize that if she is telling you that she can't/won't love you and does not have the deep feelings for you that you do for her, as much as you do not want to hear that, you really need to.

    Perhaps that will change down the road, but it is also just as likely not to change. Sometimes, people just know that about themselves. Trust that she know herself better than you know her, and that she is being honest with you.

    Also, it sounds like you are so close as friends and so comfortable as roommates, even getting a dog together, that, in your mind, it all just fits together so nicely, it is an instant home/family/coupledom. That is a danger, too, though.

    It can rob a couple of the early, getting-to-know-you, dating, deciding to stay over, etc....stage that is so exciting and romantic and becomes a part of your history of the start of You...the early "us" chapter....
    "my partner left, moved out, so my best friend who was already my roommate stepped into the role of girlfriend, and we got a dog, so now we are madly in love" just doesn't have the same level of romance to it. I apologize, because I honestly am not trying to sound like a smart ass about it at all. I realize it seems like I am though.

    If I were in that situation, It would seriously make me question if I was just lonely and filling a void with my best friend because it was convenient and comfortable, or if I genuinely opened my eyes to the love of my life who was there all along. I think I would have a really hard time distinguishing the difference if I were her.

    Perhaps, if she goes off to school some where and you Don't go with her? Maybe if you two had some space and opportunity for perspective, you might find you do choose each other...and not by default, but because you really do love and miss and want each other passionately. The distance could give better perspective for you both. If you end up as a couple it could provide the dating phase and a fresh start. And if you stay just friends, well, you will have the space to be her friend and heal your heart, so you would eventually be in the best shape for a relationship that can meet all of your needs. It doesn't sound like you would be able to find that as long as you are living in this relationship limbo. Not living together could actually help you both answer the questions that stand between you now.

    Very best wishes to you, no matter how it turns out.
     
    #6
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