Relationships / Friendship

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"All of your advice scenarios for when you have feelings for a friend seem to have sunny outcomes. Even if she doesn’t return the feelings, nobody gets their heart broken and the friendship continues unharmed. But what if it doesn’t work out that way? Aren’t there times when you really do lose a good friendship because of your romantic feelings? What do you do if trying to stay friends is screwing with your heart but the friend is too important to you to lose?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

UGH. This is tough. And it’s so hard to predict the future for all of the humans in the whole world. I’m sure there are so many scenarios where no one comes out unscathed. I’m certain there are times when the friend feels so uncomfortable that they can’t act like things are fine, and as time moves on the two people just slowly drift apart. I’m sure there are times when the friend doesn’t return feelings and the human who has the feelings is wayyyy too heartbroken to pretend things are cool. All of these things make perfect sense, BUT I think they can all end up okay.

I think if you end up on the crap side of the scale, remember that nothing is permanent. LITERALLY, nothing in the world is forever. So, even if things don’t go well and your friendship is strained and things are weird and you start to drift apart. That’s okay and it could change.

I had a BFF and we fell in luv and it wasn’t meant to be and it ended pretty bad and we WERE NOT FRIENDS for a while. A long while, like, three years while. BUT nothing is permanent and we figured it TF out. We’re literally best friends now and that’s how it was always supposed to be, we both know that now. It was rough to have such a crap shoot of a time because of love. Hearts can ruin shit, you know? But hearts can also fix shit, with time and patience. I’m sorry if you fell in love with your bff and the feelings aren’t returned, but the situation being terrible right now does not mean it will be terrible forever. You absolutely can get that friendship back. Be patient, don’t give up, and remember why you loved each other in the first place.

Kristin Says:

As you might be able to tell, it is typically hard for us to wrap our brains around something that doesn’t, eventually, work out enough where both parties can feel good again in some capacity. I do think that in the majority of situations, time and healing and a combination of space and dialogue can (again, eventually) get close friends back to the place where they want and need to be. Does it mean that you might not be able to see that friend for awhile? Maybe. Does it mean you might need to fall in love with someone else before you can mend your heart enough to bridge that gap? Possibly. Only you and time can tell.

However, let me just consider what you are suggesting right now, and consider the possibility that your heart can never heal enough to reconnect or that you will drift too far apart to ever reconnect again, even if your heart does heal.

That is the absolute worst, and losing a close friend for any reason is a heartbreak that hurts deeply… and even moreso when it feels like you are losing a best friend and a potential significant other all at once. The thing about relationships, whether they be friendship, romantic, or a combination therein, is that they shift and grow and change over time. Sometimes those changes mean that you grow apart. You growing apart does not hinge ONLY on your feelings for your friend. Growing apart happens for many, many reasons that collect and converge over time. You feel differently, you want different things, you can’t find common ground, and so – as much as it hurts – you walk away.

I have lost a best friend. Not because I fell in love with him, but because we grew apart in other ways that just weren’t fixable. It hurt like hell, and occasionally I still think on that relationship fondly and miss the times we shared… but at the same time I know that it was what was then, and now it is no longer that thing. You have to take care of your heart first. Right now you need space Take it. If you find that in several months you want to reconnect and try again, do it… and if it cannot work, then cherish the wonderful things and step forward to new landscapes.

It’s not easy, we know.
But you can do it, and so can your friend, and… what will be, will be.

<3

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"I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU GUYS KNOW THAT I TOOK YOUR ADVICE AND TOLD MY BEST FRIEND THAT I WAS IN LOVE WITH HER AND GUESS FUCKING WHAT. SHE’S IN LOVE WITH ME TOO. AND EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL AND WE’RE PROBABLY GOING TO MAKE OUT THE NEXT TIME WE SEE EACH OTHER. WHAT IS LIFE."

- Question submitted by Anonymous

DANNIELLE SAYS:

HOW DID YOU NOT MAKE OUT IMMEDIATELY

I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE TRAJECTORY.

I WOULD HAVE MADE OUT IMMEDIATELY.

I AM ALSO IN LOVE WITH MY BEST FRIEND AND SHE LOVES ME BACK. LET’S GO ON A DOUBLE DATE.

THIS IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE.

KRISTIN SAYS:

This is how I feel for you:

This is how I feel for the next time you get to see your BFF/LOVE:

 

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"I came out of the closet last month as a gay male. Since then, I’ve heard nothing but positive words. However, I’ve come to feel very alienated around my male friends. It seems like every day they mention my sexuality in a lighthearted way. I mean, I appreciate being a hot topic, but I hate being objectified and viewed as "the gay guy" (which I have actually been called several times) Is this a phase or will I be dealing with this the rest of my life? And how can I prove to them that I’m normal?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Broderick Greer as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.

Broderick Says:

Dear Very Alienated,

You are a courageous soul. Coming out of the closet as a gay man is one of the most important, life-altering claims you will ever make in your life. To claim your place as a sexual minority – especially when you don’t have to – sets you apart as a person of deep integrity and thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, this integration of self will not be appreciated by everyone. Whereas you have done the necessary work to disclose a reality you know to be true in your innermost being, many people you interact with on a daily basis have never done such intense self-evaluation. This difference in maturity might be at the root of your male friends’ “lighthearted” mention of your sexuality. If they can’t deal with your being gay, they need to grow up. The time is over for joking about sexual, racial, ethnic, and gender minorities, especially when we’re nothing but respectful of our majority counterparts.

When you made the bold step of coming out as a gay man, you sacrificed the privilege and convenience of being assumed as a straight man. As you know, straight male privilege is the comfort zone that keeps so many non-straight men from disclosing their sexual minority status. There are numerous gay men who marry women, become fathers, and settle into suffocating lives of closet-dwelling. You, however, have chosen a different path. You have the fortitude to be honest with yourself and the people you love about the beautifully complex person that you are and that is a true gift. Anyone, I mean anyone, who cannot accept you for who you are doesn’t deserve your time, attention, or thought. If the time comes to escort them to the exit door of your life, walk them there with all of the assertiveness and gentleness you can muster.

But before you escort them to the exit door of your life, tell them that you feel objectified when they mention your sexuality in a lighthearted way. Let them know that your sexual orientation is not something you are ready to make light of and that if they are your friends, they will respect your desire to be treated like a human being, not a sideshow. If they continue to belittle you, do just as this wise child did to his playmate: assert your needs. You cannot live your life pressed under the unrelenting, insensitive social urges of people who do not care about your emotional well-being. It doesn’t matter how you make your feelings known to them – a Facebook message, a handwritten letter, a face-to-face meeting – as long as you make your feelings known. Like Zora Neale Hurston said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Will you have to deal with being called “the gay guy” the rest of your life? I do not know. I am an advice columnist, not a medium. I do know this, however: Being yourself is always the life-giving road to travel. Will there be unpredictable twists and turns on the path of authenticity? Yes. Will you find yourself, at times, unsure of your decision to disclose your sexual orientation to the world? Most assuredly. But there will also be moments when you can’t even remember what it was like to not be an out gay man. There will be moments when you know that the act of self-disclosure far outweighs an alternative of fear-based isolation. And through committing to being yourself, you are embodying a new kind of normalcy. A normalcy fed by transparency and genuineness. And that, my friend, is normal enough.

Yours,

Broderick

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"MY FRIENDS THINK I’M IN LOVE WITH THEM JUST FOR BEING LESBIAN."

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

YOUR FRIENDS ARE TURDS.

Kristin Says:

Here’s what you do. Go to a well-populated area, like a mall or a Chipotle or amusement park or something. Take your phone or a camera. Take a picture of every single boy you see for two hours.

Print out the photos at your local place that prints photos. I know the ability to print photos exists somewhere, so just figure it out, k? Get some glue and some posterboard. Paste all of your photos on the posterboard. Write on the top in magic marker, “Boys My Friends Must Be Crushin’ On Bc Of No Other Reason Than They Are Boys.”

Next time your friends say that you must be in love with them since you’re gay, take out your posterboard (I don’t know where you’ll keep it, but just figure it out I’M NOT A DOCTOR), and say, “that’s sooooo funny because I took all these pictures of your crushes the other day SINCE THE FACT THAT YOU LIKE BOYS MEANS YOU MUST LIKE EVERY BOY ON THE PLANET EARTH DO YOU GET WHAT I AM SAYING?! You can hang this on your wall.”

Then find the nearest boy and point and shout “OMG ANOTHER ONE OF YOUR CRUSHES!!!”

Then roll your eyes and tell them Dannielle Owens-Reid, celebrity author, thinks they should stop acting like turds.

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"Hi. So… My friend’s grandpa is sick and he’s in the hospital and stuff and I never ever know what to say when she brings it up. I usually sit quietly/awkwardly and do my best to be supportive but it always seems so lame. What are you supposed to say when someone mentions that someone they love is sick with an inoperable tumour? Help. I’m really tired of not being supportive enough."

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Ugh, this is so fucking hard and I am both sorry for your friend and for your struggle with being there for your friend.

I went through a similar situation with my BestFriendForForever, and I went the route of trying to be the constant in her life. I was the idiot who made jokes and sang Miley Cyrus and danced with the WII game (oops i’m not hip) and would sit in her living room watching Veronica Mars and eating Thai food. I noticed a lot of people were saying they were sorry and looking at her like the world was crumbling. And they were right, her world was crumbling and we all felt that overwhelming sorry feeling. BUT I didn’t know how to do that, so I did what I knew how to do.

I think you can ask your friend what she needs. I asked mine. I was like “am I doing the wrong thing?” and she said I wasn’t. She told me she appreciated me staying true to being an idiot because that was pretty much the only time she was giggling, even if it was a forced giggle.

Maybe your friend doesn’t know what they want, maybe sorry is enough. Maybe just knowing you’re around and you’re there and you’re listening is enough. You are already such a wonderful friend, and I know they are so grateful to have you.

Kristin Says:

Yes, all of that… and I’d like to tell you that you probably aren’t ever going to feel like you’ve done just the right thing, because there really isn’t a “right” thing when it comes to facing an illness or losing someone we love.

To the best of your ability, you have to keep being you — just like Dannielle said. That means doing the things you did before, and it also means speaking about the way you are feeling. You can say to your friend, “I know you are hurting and I never know quite what to say… but I just want you to know I am here for you in any way that you need.”

It might feel weird saying the words, and it might feel weird after you say them, but your friend will hear you, and that is what counts. When people we love are sick, we hear things in a way that is not possible in any other situation.

When I was 21, I almost lost my mom. She went in for a routine procedure, something went wrong, and she spent over a month in ICU. We very much thought she was not going to make it through. During that time family came in from all over the country, and my friends called and texted and came to my house and did their absolute best to be supportive. Apart from the fear and sadness during that time, do you know what I remember? I remember laughing and drinking wine on the deck with my aunts, I remember joking about the most ridiculous things and laughing and sharing string cheese with my friends, and I remember knowing that if I needed any of them, I could reach out in a moment.

That is all you need to do for your friend to help them – just let them know you are there, and keep sharing your Pringles with them (or your organic carrots, I don’t know what you all LIKE).

***
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