04 February 2011

PE: My best friend is a straight girl

Growing up, I have always had close girl friends. For some reason, the result of repressing my sexuality made it so I was intimidated and uncomfortable around guys. But I always found myself running into the same problem over and over. Eventually, one of these female friends would fall for me. This is a common thing that seems to happen when your closest friends are straight girls.

I can talk about anything with this friend of mine. She knows my secrets. She knows my feelings and thoughts about everything. She's been there during my hard times and I've been there for hers. We've built a close relationship of trust. Anyone starting to see the problem here?

I feel like there are two parts of a relationship. One aspect is the part you control, and the other is completely out of your control. The part you control is that relationship of trust and commitment. The friendship part. It takes work and time. It must be built from the ground up. This goes for any relationship.

The other part is natural. It is inside you. It is the part that gets emotional, physical, and even spiritual fulfillment in being with the person. It is that part of you that longs to be held or to hold the person. The part of you that is completely put at ease when you are in the other one's arms. That part, you can't control... it just is.

Well... you can begin to imagine the hell it would be for this girl, who has built a friendship based on trust and love... the hard part, but who naturally longs to be held and comforted and loved physically by a man. She knows and understands and loves that I am gay. But that can't change her natural feelings. The result is a never-ending broken heart. This crushes me.

You know how it is kind of unacceptable for a married man to have single female friends or a married woman to have single male friends? The problem is if you have a friendship based on trust and love, the natural instincts of the soul desire more. Even if the married person is completely committed to his/her spouse, the single person will always hurt because he/she can't be with the person they love.

In this situation... it is as if I were the married man who had a single female friend who was very close and dear to me. I am unavailable to her... yet I am the one in her life that could complete her. At the same time, though... I am single. I am not dating anyone at the moment. So we can spend time together all we want. It is so frustrating. It is the one reason I would ever wish I was straight. The reason being that if I were straight, I could make her happy. I could give her all that she wants. And I love this girl. She is a dear dear friend and I am so blessed to have her in my life. I see why some gay men marry women. They feel that they can make this other person that they love happy, even if they can't find fulfillment in it.

At the same time... because she knows that I do not get the same fulfillment that she does when we are physically close, she pulls away... she feels unequal. She gets upset that she can't give to me what I can give to her. The reasons I have for wanting to be close to her is because I know it brings her comfort... it makes her feel safe. Knowing that I am helping her feel that way is my motivation. But when I need comfort, when I need to feel safe, I can only get that from the physical closeness to another guy. It causes her so much pain and because it causes her pain, it causes me pain. Perhaps you can begin to see why I would never marry a woman. It is for this very reason. How could I ask someone I love to live their life with a broken heart, or expect myself to live a life without ever filling my own heart? It wouldn't be fair to either of us.

With another gay man, we can both fulfill eachother's needs. We can build a relationship of love, trust and commitment. That is the part we all work to make happen. But then we can also both receive the natural fulfillment that comes from being close physically. Feeling safe and loved in eachother's arms. There is some sort of healing that happens there. Even if you are upset at the other person, a sincere embrace makes all the bad go away and it is replaced by feelings of love. Gay people need that healing just as much as anyone.

8 comments:

That Guy said...

From the way you described it, it seems like a beautiful friendship that you find of worth. Yeah, there will always be a problem with sexual tension, but I personally think that it's an obstacle that folks would rather have than other difficulties. Count yourself lucky.

Alex said...

I can understand where you are coming from. I had all through college at least one really good friend that was a girl, someone I could trust, laugh with. I was always afraid to “make it more than that.” I see now, and I think I at least partly understood then, that I didn’t feel the same thing for her as she felt for me. A few times I had the fated BYU “DTR” and there are good reasons why in the case of one of my closest friends, she decided not to date me.
Fast forward though a few years. I meet a girl, we start dating, we fall in love, and we get married.(it’s actually a lot more complex but that’s the short version) I relate to you though, all through dating, each move felt pretty forced. I don’t have dreams at night about woman, or daydreams about women.
Was it easy getting married? I’d say I totally freaked out leading up to the marriage. But in some ways, it’s a lot easier than you could imagine. I think that even a straight man could be turned on by sex with men, but they’d still be straight. Well, it works the other way too.
In the interest of full disclosure I’ll tell you that I’m not 100% settled on things. There are times when I question the decision, wonder why I ever got married. Life and sex and everything can feel so complicated sometimes I would be lying to you if I said that there wasn't’ an “unsettling” feeling I get at times trying to reconcile everything. There are times when I long for the closeness of a man, and I’m fine admitting that. I do think though that there are ways to be intimate without being “intimate”.
I don’t judge you for making a decision this important, but I can tell you that things with sexuality aren’t as cut and dry as we sometimes try to make them. I appreciate your comments on why a gay man would marry a woman, but I want you to know that it’s more complex than you can probably understand without being there. I am NOT suggesting you go out and test drive it, but know that it’s possible to have a lot of happiness and for some of us to make it work, even though we’re gay.

Jonathan Adamson said...

I am so glad you shared your perspective with me. I am glad that marriage turned out to work out for you. However, I don't think that it is good to assume that it would be "a lot easier" than we think. Perhaps it was a lot easier than YOU imagined.

I have a friend who after kissing a girl, he cried and vomited. Physical intimacy with a woman makes him physically ill. But he actually got engaged to that girl. She knew full well that they would never be able to have any kind of physical intimacy... and they never kissed after trying it several times. They were about to enter into marriage with each other. They could do that. It is as easy as saying I do and signing on the dotted line. But, they broke off their engagement.

I know several men who have been married and yes, they could get turned on when having sex with a girl... but at what cost? They had to mentally picture a man and focus on that to be able to perform. I have other friends who can get turned on with either guy or girl. You are right, sexuality is not cut and dry. I think that only we can know our own sexuality though. We can't assume that because something works for one person that it will work for the next.

I understand that mixed orientation marriages are more complex than I understand because I have never been there. But I feel that I have had enough experiences to know that for myself, it is not a good option. I have already felt the heartache and pain and misunderstanding that I and a potential wife could feel... and I haven't even been engaged! I'm sure it would be way more complex if it were in a real marriage situation- for ME.

I believe you when you say you don't judge me. I thank you for that. I also would never judge you or any person who takes a path that is different form mine. I think that in an ideal world, we would never think to look at life choices a person makes, but rather only at their character.

Boris said...

Jonathan:

I think what you are experiencing is a natural part of “growing up gay.” I also think you are smart and mature enough to avoid the trap of marriage to a straight girl--even one whose presence and support and companionship gives you emotional, spiritual, perhaps even “physical,” but NOT sexual fulfillment (unless, of course, you are more bisexual than gay).

Here’s the thing: if she of whom you write “knows and understands and loves that [you] are gay,” the result should NOT be a never-ending broken heart. No doubt, you’ve heard the expression “fag hag?” Remember the TV series Will and Grace? IMO, Grace was probably a fag hag, because it seemed she could never completely give up on Will as her ideal future husband and father of her children. There was always something of an undercurrent of tension and/or resentment on her part because Will kept looking for a gay male lover to share a long-term commitment. (Without that tension, the series would almost certainly have disappeared from the tube a lot earlier.)

Not all straight girls who enjoy being close to gay males are “fag hags.” I’m convinced many accept us and enjoy being with us for who we are, just as we enjoy being with them for who they are. My partner and I have some very close friends who are straight women: they are either married (in which case, their husbands also know and accept us), or they often have live-in straight boyfriends (who are fully aware of our relationship).

I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t begin to explain why some straight girls would seek a sexual, perhaps even marital relationship with a gay male in preference to a straight one. But, if a straight girl REALLY knows, understands and loves that you are gay, she will almost certainly never seek (nor even hint of her desire for) anything more physical/sexual from her relationship with you.

Jonathan Adamson said...

@Boris- Thank you. I definitely am over considering heterosexual marriage... that was a brief thought I had when I was first coming to terms with this. The truth is, I know that it isn't just sexual fulfillment that I miss out on with a woman. It is all those things- spiritual, emotional, and physical. Of course a woman can comfort me to an extent. But it will always fall short.

I think part of the reason it is hard in the case of this friend is that we were friends long before I came to terms with being gay. She was surprised by that news. And I feel like I have to disagree that by saying that she knows and understands and loves that I am gay, it means she wouldn't have romantic feelings for me. Emotions are not logical, and they are almost impossible to control. We can know one thing with our brain but feel the opposite. The result is that we become angry with ourselves. We feel like we should know better... but it is out of our control.

My friend definitely doesn't seek a relationship with a gay guy. And I honestly HATE the term "fag hag." It is so derogatory. And women in those situations are in a really emotionally draining position.

I am sure that if I were with someone and then met a girl, there would be obvious lines drawn. It isn't just that I am gay, it is that I have a partner. But when the guy is single, I feel like it is easy for the heart to forget that the guy is just as unavailable because of his orientation. Orientation doesn't physically manifest itself as a partner. It is not something you wear on your head. So while the brain might know and recognize it, the heart often forgets.

Boris said...

@Jonathan - thanks for the additional background info - if she was "surprised by that news" (that you were gay), then she must have known you when you were still in the closet and pretending to be straight. In which case, her attraction to you was, in no small part, the result of your own (perfectly understandable at the time) deception.

To be fair, even Grace was probably deceived by Will when they were both in college.

Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

@ Jonathan
I think you may have misunderstood me a bit.
I felt a bit irked by this quote.
“I see why some gay men marry women. They feel that they can make this other person that they love happy, even if they can't find fulfillment in it.”
If there weren’t some truth to it, it wouldn’t irk me so much. But I also wouldn’t say I can’t find fulfillment in marriage. I wanted to communicate for those that read this that it’s more complex for me (and I believe for others) who are married and gay than that.
I would say for me personally, there are many reasons my wife and I can make it work, including being honest with each other and well..I guess that's a long story. But there's a lot to resolve, and I can't tell you for sure how it will work out. I'll let you know how it goes.
I do know people who make it work. That's a really personal decision that everyone has to come to on their own.
I appreciate the time you’ve taken to thoughtfully consider my point of view. I guess I just wanted to break down some stereotypes of why gay men like me are in the positions we are in and what we do about it. For me, it hits close to home. I do appreciate the point you made about not over generalizing my experience to others, and will be more careful in the future to try to avoid that.

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