"Hi guys. I have feelings for my friend... but her best friend is a bully. I want to tell her how I feel but I am afraid that if I tell her she will tell her best friend and then, well, I will get bullied. My town and my school are pretty conservative, too. What should I do?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
This is a bummer for a few reasons.
(1) You feel like you can’t talk to your friend about something personal, regardless of the thing. If you had an intense feeling about something that you wanted to be kept private, you wouldn’t feel safe telling your friend, and that blows.
(2) Your friend’s BFF was brought up in a household or community environment that taught them the way to feel best about who they are was to make others feel like horse shit. It’s super sad and it’s unfair to folks like you.
(3) You have intense feelings for someone who might not return them.
The (1) sucks so so so much. If you have a good enough relationship with your friend to be like ‘listen, I get some flak from your BFF sometimes and I would love to tell you a thing that maybe won’t make it’s way back to them?? So, I don’t have to think about how to protect myself?” Some people aren’t close enough to someone to say that though, and perhaps you’re afraid it’ll backfire and you’ll lose your friend. I totally get that. The (2) sucks because there isn’t much you can do about it. You can absolutely ask the BFF to leave you alone, or talk to an advisor about how to handle the sitch, or ignore it, but if we’re all being honest, there is a huge possibility doing those things will make the whole thing worse! So, you have to follow your gut. I don’t know your environment nearly as well as you do, so keep yourself safe and make decisions based on what feels right.
Now, the (3), I think you wouldn’t be nervous for one single second if you knew your friend was into you, too. A lot of this fear is based on what MIGHT happen. You could tell your friend about your feels and she could think you’re soooo weeeeiiirdd and then tell everyone about hooowww weeeiiirrdd you are and then everyone is making fun of you and her BFF is calling you ‘super gaywad fart breath’ and your friend doesn’t want to hang out with you and everyone at school starts ignoring you, etc… HOWEVER, if this gal is your friend, I don’t think that will happen. If she is really your friend, and you tell her your feels (coupled with the fact that you are not yet comfortable with everyone knowing), she should have the decency to respect you and your wishes. Regardless of whether or not she wants to make mouths with you. She will want to keep your feels to herself because she loves you as a friend. You know? Maybe evaluate your friendship in your mind. DO you think she’ll blab, or can you trust her? Start there, and best of luck!
Personally, I would take this in stages.
I think your concerns are valid, and we certainly don’t want to get you in a situation where you feel threatened in any way — emotionally, physically, or otherwise. So, we have to go to the root of this problem, and the root is your friend, not the bully.
I imagine that you are not friends with this bully, or, if you are, you keep a distance. Personally I have a lot of trouble with the term ‘bully,’ because I think it is much easier to put people in categories of ‘bad’ and ‘good,’ when in reality we are all struggling in different ways with what the world has taught us as tiny people — but that is another essay for another day. For now, I am going to put this person who bullies others on the shelf, and hone in on your friend.
You have to talk to her, and that doesn’t mean (at all) that you have to tell her about your feelings. Your first step is to talk to her about your feelings on this bullying. You’ve noticed it, so she must notice it too! Tell her that it has been making you uncomfortable, and that you want to know how it makes her feel. Tell her that you believe that everyone deserves to be treated equally, and that spouting off negative shit about gay or trans or bisexual people isn’t something you agree with. Any person, queer or not, can stand firmly in the opinion that making other people feel like shit is not cool.
Then, gauge her reaction. Is she immediately receptive? Does she say, “OH MY GOD I HAVE BEEN WANTING TO SAY SOMETHING THANK GOD, YES IT MAKES ME UNCOMFORTABLE TOO!”?? Is she hesitant, agreeing with you but unsure of how she feels?? Or, does she automatically make you feel weird for sharing your feelings, by saying something like, “Wow, what are you GAY or something??”
The first response is a great sign that you can trust her, in tiny steps, with your own feelings. Start with equality, work your way toward coming out to her, and then, if you still feel safe and trust her, you can tell her how you feel towards her. It’s a risk, of course, because perhaps she won’t return the feelings — but at least we’ve got you covered in this video! The second response will mean that you take even tinier steps on the same path, and just check in as you go. This is, truly, about your gut on whether she is trustworthy. The third response means that you should evaluate your friendship with this person. While we don’t have the opportunity to choose our families, we can choose our friends. It is so, so important to surround ourselves with friends who believe in us, who allow us to be ourselves, and who we can trust. If this girl can’t be trusted and won’t allow you the space to be you, it is time to walk away.
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