James W. Hicks, M.D.

Falling in Love with a Friend

In Flexercises on October 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

What should you do if you and a same-sex friend have found yourself unexpectedly fooling around or falling in love with each other? Perhaps you both think of yourselves as straight, and you don’t know how to fit what has happened back into your friendship or your world view or your concept of yourself. Should you just pretend that nothing happened and move on? Should you talk about it with each other? Would you be betraying your friend to talk about it with someone else? Do you want it to happen again, or do you want your friendship to turn into something more?

These are difficult questions, but they are not unique; they also come up when a woman and a man fool around after a long time as just friends. The difference is that many in this situation panic, fearing that they might be gay or be perceived as gay. If you can set that fear aside, recognizing how common these experiences are for otherwise straight men and women, then you will be able to concentrate on working it out with your friend at a relaxed pace. Resist the pressure to figure out what happened; go with the flow. Even if you decide you are gay or lesbian, your friend may not be.

If your friend is in a state of panic or defensive denial, you may want to signal that you do not consider the event to have redefined who you are or your view of your friend or your friendship. He or she may be worried that the special relationship you have is in jeopardy and may need reassurance.

  1. It’s really kind of sad to talk to people like my Southern Baptist parents who are so opposed to the concept of homosexuality or homosexual behavior and yet you have a feeling that they themselves might be heteroflexible or even bisexual.

    A year ago, when I had quit believing their religious doctrines but they were still trying to keep me in their beliefs system, the topic of homosexuality came up (not in reference to any of us at the table, although I realized later, before ever coming to this site, that I’m heteroflexible), and I brought up the fact that it’s more than something LGBTs choose to desire. I cited the fact that many animal species have been observed in homosexual behavior, and the pathetic response my mother made was that “of course that would happen, in a world broken by sin.” This was before I’d had any sexual attraction for the same sex, but I still wanted to fucking yell at her at that. (My dad, who has for awhile since I became aware of his feminine voice tone and mannerisms come across as a closet bisexual, didn’t say anything, but more recently when I made a joke about the idea of my straight sister being lesbian for her friends, he said, “Now don’t talk about anything PERVERSE!”)

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