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Falling in love with a friend

I’m gay, he’s straight. What if he drops me once he gets a girlfriend?

Our elder recommends a short separation to preserve the long-term friendship.

 

Dear EWC

I am seeking advice on particularly tough subject to talk about. I am a 24-year-old gay man and have attracted feelings that are more than friendship towards my best friend of more than three years. He is aware that I am gay as I came out to him some time ago however he does not know about my romantic feelings towards him. He is a heterosexual man. I find myself getting extremely jealous when I see him texting a girl that he works with. It usually puts me in a really depressed and sad state even to the point where I don’t want to be around or talk to him. They are not more than “texting friends” at this point but I think something more will come of it. 

My relationship with him is always on my mind and I am constantly worried about getting replaced by a new girlfriend and also accepting the fact that we’re only friends and nothing more. I spend a ton of time with him as he’s my best friend but I’m not sure how much more my jealous and longing heart can take. I don’t want to lose him but I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. I honestly don’t know if I should reveal my true emotions, simply move on from this person even if it breaks my heart to move on or try and figure out how to manage these feelings better and accept that we’re just friends. I recently realized while contemplating this that the last really close friend that I had, completely cut me off and stopped talking to me after he started dating so that is on my mind as well. I don’t want to lose my current best friend but I also know I can’t keep getting depressed and shutting him out just because he is living his life.

 

Lloyd replies

Hi there. It’s a crappy position to be in and my heart goes out to you. I know it’s not much solace but it has happened to all of us, straight, gay or other. I suspect you already know the answer to your dilemma but are trying hard not to admit it to yourself or, even worse, act on it. You have to separate from your best friend for the short term, but possibly long term, depending on your feelings over time.

“But he’s my best friend”, you say. “I’ve invested three years in this relationship and can’t imagine losing it”, you whine (no judgment, whining is honest). I understand that those were not your exact words, but that thought pretty much always plays a part in wanting to hold on to something or someone, despite the hand writing on the wall. It’s called the sunk cost fallacy. It’s a fancy way of saying that we make decisions not based on the current reality, but on time served or money spent in the past. An example would be if you owned a used car and were considering a new one. You would be swayed by the fact that you just spent $2K to replace the transmission, but you shouldn’t be. Your decision should be based on the present and the future, not the past – what are my repair costs on the clunker going forward vs. a new loan payment, higher insurance on the new car… you get the idea. So that just gets us a clean start to look at today.

Here’s the situation. In some alternate universe you would like BFF to be gay and want to be your boyfriend. Alternate universes are scarce these days so you will need to let go of that one. If you can’t have that, you want to continue to be friends with BFF. Here’s what doesn’t work.

Let’s say there was a reversal of roles with another friend as you and you as BFF. You meet somebody (gender preference is irrelevant) and you fall head over heels for them. Would you expect this friend/you to be extremely happy for you, supportive, want to hear every detail, etc.? Yes, you would. That’s what friends do. You made it very clear how hard it is for you to see BFF (we’re back to real life now) send a probably innocent text. How could you possibly be a friend to him when he’s in love with some ponytailed vixen?

Friends are happy to see other, being together is easy, they are not torn apart by conflicting emotions on their walk around the lake. None of that describes you/your situation. And you’re hiding it all, which again does not describe a friend.

If you don’t do anything, I predict that you’re going to blow a gasket at some point and all this tamped down stuff is going to explode out in a way that may ruin what I’m sure are the really wonderful parts of your friendship. And that’s not what you want, I don’t think. My advice is to sit down with BFF, maybe even with this letter in hand and tell him the truth. Tell him what you really want and how much it hurts to be around him, knowing it ain’t happening. Then separate for a good chunk of time (you’ll have to figure out that part), but long enough that your ‘feelings’ for him return to the friend zone, if that’s possible. That approach allows for a possible future of the two of you being great friends, real friends.

This is where the elder part comes in. As we get older, all of those horrible clichés come true. I do get up at 4am and have dinner at 4pm and it horrifies me. It’s also true that one wants to reconnect with friends, lovers, and acquaintances, from one’s past. I lament the fact that there are too many of those that I didn’t handle what didn’t work between us in a way I’m suggesting to you and the end result is they are not available to reconnect and I regret that. I want you, when you’re my age, to be able to look up BFF and hear in his voice how happy he is that you called (or however we’re doing things in 2061). I’m rooting for you. 

Article #: 471689

Category: Dating/Relationship

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