How to move on (and out?)
October 17, 2012 12:41 PM   Subscribe

[heartbreak/confused sexuality filter] Recently admitted my romantic feelings toward a close friend, but have no idea how to pick up the pieces of my actions and move forward. Somewhat messy details within.

I’ve recently experienced a heartbreaking episode of unrequited love which ended when I told my best friend that I (male, 30s) have feelings for him. The result of this confession was thoughtful and respectful on the part of my friend who didn’t share my sentiments but wants to remain friends; two months down the road, things are still awkward but I’ve been getting by somewhat better. However my healing process has been complicated by the fact that I’m at odds now front and center with my sexuality and while I know that it will take time and physical/emotional distance away from my friend to get over the heartbreak, it also means tacking into the wind, finding myself and exploring who I am.

I’m at a loss really on how to proceed! I’ve talked to my closer friends and family members about my current predicament and they’ve been morally supportive on all counts, but I feel the need to seek either resources or advice that none of them can really offer. So suggestions (yes, I am looking into therapy) on how I might begin the journey of finding myself? Thanks a lot in advance.

Note: With regards to dating and sex, I've only had experience with women; the emotional bond I felt toward this friend has been unlike anything I've encountered before (I also feel physically attracted to him).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not entirely sure what the question is in this question, but I'm more than happy to chat with you via MeMail if you want. Out-gay-guy-with-a-brief-flirt-with-bisexuality-in-my-20s is my qualification. :)
posted by xingcat at 12:48 PM on October 17, 2012

I don't think your experience is uncommon. You don't need to assume that your whole life now needs to change. Things will probably go on the same as before. What you've experienced doesn't mean your usual sexual make-up has suddenly undergone a transformation or that you were somehow mistaken about it. People develop feelings for friends of the same sex frequently. It's just not talked about, especially for males.
posted by Paquda at 12:56 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Is your question about how to come out and meet guys, or how to figure out if you're gay/bi/whatever? It's hard to parse what you're looking for.
posted by Wordwoman at 1:33 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

two months down the road, things are still awkward but I’ve been getting by somewhat better.

Awkward for you or awkward for him? I ask because I am a straight guy who once every couple years or so gets a gay guy crushing on me. It's never awkward for me, but sometimes the poor guy gets all awkward about it. So it's not a guarantee that the uncomfortableness and drama extends both ways in this situation.

But that may not be the question you are really asking, it wasn't clear to me either.
posted by Forktine at 4:29 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Deep breath friend. This is more common than you think.

The world paints a picture of men that are all gay or straight while all women are on some sort of soft spectrum. Neither is true.

I've been in this situation before, your friend may or may not feel weird as Forktine noted. But you certainly feel weird. I bet you are feeling like you should feel bad for "inflicting" your gayness on him. We live in a really homophobic society, if you're 30 and an American you likely grew up with a lot of the 'gay panic' non-sense from the 80's that the rest of us have.

Even if you don't consciously buy-in to any of that, it still sticks with you and prejudices your feelings, even against yourself.
posted by French Fry at 5:01 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

You ask what you can do to help discover yourself/your sexuality. One easy, practical, no-pressure thing you could do is start getting to know to other gay/bi dudes via your smartphone, if you have one. Plenty of opportunities to chat about nothing in particular, smalltalk, and flirt (and yes, of course, hookup or date if you want) with millions of folks from around the world. Look into apps like Scruff, Grindr, Blendr (straight, gay and bi), and a bunch of others. If you're not into sex just yet you might consider putting something like "Chat only, no hookups" on your profile.

In many western gay communities, smartphones are basically an indispensable tool for not only initiating sexual hookups but also platonic friendships and romantic couplings.
posted by dontjumplarry at 6:46 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

1) You found yourself attracted to somebody.
2) That person did not reciprocate your attraction.

You, and he, are both OK. If you view this as a simple matter of unrequited love, irrespective of the genders involved, is that making sense to you?

You might be like I am - I love the person, and questions of size, shape, gender and reading preferences are secondary. If you are having a kind of gender-based dissonance, that belongs to you, and you can explore that as noted upthread.

And your friend is a keeper, even though he is not interested That Way.
posted by jet_silver at 8:04 PM on October 17, 2012

Although heterosexual, I had a similar situation of unrequited love with a close friend. I went into my telling him my feelings knowing that if he said he didn't feel the same way I'd be able to walk away. It doesn't sound like you had the same expectations I did, but perhaps you can gain from my experience.

Your friend hasn't shut down your relationship, so he could be someone to lean on or a sounding board for you while you explore your sexuality and who you are. That's the direction my friend and I went with our relationship. Since I'd been so honest with him about my feelings, I have no problem being honest about anything else we may discuss, and he shows the same level of trust with me.

Granted, my answer depends on the awkwardness you describe being on your end instead of your friend's. But even if you feel it's awkward for him, he sounds like the kind of guy you could talk with about the awkwardness and remedy it.
posted by youngergirl44 at 8:51 PM on October 17, 2012

From the OP:
Sorry for the confusion, I guess to make my question more explicit, I would ask: how do I figure out if I'm gay/bi/straight? Perhaps it sounds a bit utopian(?), but I think figuring this out somehow would be important before I start dating again. At this point, I must admit to being insecure.

I found the comments reassuring and thank you in advance for additional insights!
posted by taz at 5:04 AM on October 18, 2012

Oh, that's easy. Kiss a bunch of people, and see what combinations give you a stiffy.

More seriously, a lot of people don't fit into those categories all that well, and very often someone's sexuality evolves and changes over time -- so this may not be a thing that you figure out once and then never have to think about again. There's a reason lots of people, including my partner, use the term "queer," because for them it captures those complexities and nuances better than most of the alternatives.

So my vote is to figure this out through experimentation (going on dates, kissing some people, etc) rather than by intellectualizing it, and being open to the idea that you might not fit neatly within one predetermined identity label. Good luck!
posted by Forktine at 5:19 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

This sounds like fun problem to have. Experimentation time! I wouldn't worry about "figuring it out" before dating; list yourself as orientation-curious and dive in. Just keep an open mind and an open ear to what your heart and gonads are telling you through the process.
posted by ead at 10:18 PM on October 18, 2012

« Older "i miss you." "UGH, really?"   |   Diagnose my leaky pipe! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.