Not serious enough for brain Brillo
December 1, 2012 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Why does my brain insist I want to kiss my best friend?

I'm a gal. She's a gal. Neither one of us is gay.

And yet, sometimes when I say goodnight to her after we've met for dinner, and even more so if I'm dropping her off at home and we sit in her driveway and chat for a few minutes before she gets out of the car, I have this vision of me kissing her and not in a friendly way. I can actually see it play out in my head like a little movie.

I don't particularly feel like I want to kiss her, or like I have to work hard to resist the urge. It's just there, this annoying, kinda inappropriate movie in my head.

I'm not the straightest straight person who ever lived - there are celebrity women that I think are hot, and occasionally I'll fantasize about a FFM threesome - but I don't really feel like I am bi, or even that I am sexually attracted to her. She's neither in my occasional threesome fantasies nor anything like the type of women who do appear in them.

So where does this little kissing mental film come from and how do I make it go away? It's been happening for a few years now so it's not going anywhere on its own. if you'd like to reach me offline.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's a little crush, I'd imagine. Nothing wrong with having physical urges (even something as innocuous as urges toward kissing time) and it doesn't mean a thing about your orientation.

Crushes are fun!
posted by xingcat at 7:51 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you want to stick your face in her ladybits then yeah, you might be a little gay. If you want to maybe kiss her a little you are probably just an affectionate person with a crush. I kiss puppies right on their gross slobbery mouths and I assure you I am not going to get busy with any of them.
posted by elizardbits at 8:06 PM on December 1, 2012 [15 favorites]

I'm a straight guy, and I also get this feeling often when I'm dropping friends off or being dropped off. I've always assumed it's because in my dating relationships there's been a lot of kissing-in-the-car action during drop-off times, so I'm trained to think about kissing when I'm road-side in a dark car. Like you, I think about it but it doesn't take any effort to dismiss.
posted by chudmonkey at 8:09 PM on December 1, 2012 [13 favorites]

Affectionate + habits = weird impulses to kiss/other stuff people. I have stuck my feet in a friend's lap because it was late at night, he was on the same couch and I always do that with my partner and it is almost like a muscle memory. I often go to hold my girl friend's hand as well, and have on occasion. It's not until I think about it that I go "oohhh that was probably inappropriate". I've gone to kiss my brother-in-law because he's sitting at my partner's computer as well. And in those moments I 'see' it and it's how I act to my partner but it's my friend/brother-in-law so it feels 'right' because they are intimate friends and also occupying his mental space for the moment.

I deal with it by trying to be a bit more mindful and just letting the impulse drop. It's just a thought, no judgement, think about something else or just let it play and go on with what ever is actually happening. I don't actually want to kiss my brother-in-law, it's just a fleeting thing. I like holding my friend's hand, and sticking my feet on people, but it's not actually an appropriate thing to do in those relationships. So I don't, not on purpose, and I stop if I absent mindedly do it.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:16 PM on December 1, 2012 [8 favorites]

Why? Because you have some sexual attraction to her. We want to kiss people we are sexually attracted to.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:22 PM on December 1, 2012

Yes, you are having a girlcrush! But you say it's been going on for a few years... that's kind of serious.

Crushes feed off things you imagine and things you don't know. It's why people chase after people they find attractive and mysterious. What are you imagining happening when you kiss her? Where do you think that came from? And in real life, what do you think would actually happen if you kissed her? What would you do, what would she do? Is the real-life scenario something you'd want to carry out? Being aware of these kinds of things will allow you to direct your mental film in the direction you want.

And about the labels - be who and what you are, and don't worry about pigeonholing yourself into L, G, B, T, Q, straight, or anything else if it doesn't feel like it fits.
posted by halonine at 8:28 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

It could also be that these are fairly intimate situations; sitting in the car chatting after dinner together might make your brain think "date" and the natural response is "kiss".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:37 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was on a job interview once, and the VP of Tech who was interviewing me was walking us over to their datacenter across campus, and I had to literally jam my fist into my jacket pocket to stop myself from holding her hand. She was 20 years older than I was, and there was otherwise no attraction between us. At all.

The brain is weird, yo.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:47 PM on December 1, 2012 [19 favorites]

People in real life that I am attracted to usually have nothing to do with people that I fantasize about. I'd say the simplest answer is that you are a little bit attracted to her, and datelike scenarios trigger datelike responses. This isn't really a big thing, in my worldview - I am often attracted to people I like, respect, and trust (far more so than the reverse.) Doesn't mean I have the least intention of acting on it or spending all that much time thinking about it.

(I totally have a friendship where our one-on-one hangout time often resembles a date - nice dinner, movie or a show, maybe a drink either out or at one or the other of our houses. It's not intentionally romantic, but it's sort of hilariously datelike.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:13 PM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

Hormones and habits. I've had that sort of thing crop up in my life in weird moments. If there was some sort of passion behind it that would be one thing, but the way you describe it I think that big grey mass of pattern-recognition is just seeing some similarity in situation and affection and cueing you in appropriately.
posted by phearlez at 9:25 PM on December 1, 2012

even more so if I'm dropping her off at home and we sit in her driveway and chat for a few minutes before she gets out of the car, I have this vision of me kissing her

Like a few others above, for me this is an impulse that's simply misplaced from dating: sitting in the car chatting, then an instinct to kiss the person in the other seat before I get out. I felt the impulse more strongly when I was dating (when the kiss-in-the-car moment was sometimes a little prolonged or intense) than I do now that I'm partnered up (our kiss-in-the-car is usually pretty quick, now that we know we'll see each other at home that night).

I think that big grey mass of pattern-recognition is just seeing some similarity in situation and affection and cueing you in appropriately.

That's exactly what it was for me.

It's entirely possible that this urge/impulse/imagining has a sexual component, sure, but it's also entirely possible that it doesn't. Often when I got that misplaced impulse, my mother or my sister was dropping me off. That is, for me, it was someone with whom I felt comfortable and intimate but not remotely sexual; it was the situation that conjured up the response, not any unaddressed sexual desire.
posted by Elsa at 9:31 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

You love her.
She's your best friend. Those can be very close relationships.
I had some old friends come to visit me at Rancho Del Smedley and I noticed that the same pleasant glow I get with my wife and my kids I get with them.

You don't have to be gay to love someone of the same sex. In the military I had intensive relationships where we shared everything. My wife is just now catching up to where some of those guys were in knowing about me. My deepest darkest stuff.
I've had dreams where I'm having sex with a friend (two sort of vaguely shaped hunks of wet clay thrusting against each other) and woke up and realized that there is no other wiring in us heavy duty enough to carry that kind of voltage when you're that intimate or have that much emotional power directed at them.
So that's the form it takes.
In the past same sex people were just fine expressing with words or hugs or kisses their love for each other as friends. Lincoln has some gorgeous letters to his buddy. Such that people have speculated he was gay, but no, men were allowed to have that degree of intimacy with each other.

So it's possible you're not showing as much love for her as you could. And that blockage comes forward as "kiss her" because the emotion has to be expressed.
Simply find another way to express it. Hugs are good. Long talks on the same vibe. Etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:32 PM on December 1, 2012 [27 favorites]

I'm really glad this isn't just a weird thing that happens to me. Usually I get it when I space out while having a close-in conversation with someone, come back to reality a few seconds later with a face all up in my grill and thinking WAIT I FORGET, AM I MAKING OUT RIGHT NOW?? In my own personal experience, it doesn't really have to do with latent sexual attraction-- it's just situational.
posted by threeants at 10:14 PM on December 1, 2012

I'm going to take a completely different tack from the previous responses and say you might be dealing with intrusive thoughts. The fact that you called it 'inappropriate' and said you'd like it to go away seems to suggest that.
posted by capricorn at 10:16 PM on December 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

(Also, kissing isn't marrying. I think I'd pretty much kiss anyone who's not actively repulsive or related to me, because it's fun. So I guess maybe I'm saying the question is less "why do I want to kiss this person?" and more "why wouldn't I?")
posted by threeants at 10:18 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding intrusive thoughts. I will sometimes have weird impulses to drive my car into a barrier or off a bridge or jump off of high places, but I'm not suicidal and nothing about me actually wants to do those things. The thoughts just flit through my mind, unprompted and unwanted.
posted by cecic at 10:38 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think it is unfortunate that we do not have much emotional vocabulary for attraction and intimacy that is not specifically sexual. I believe, however, there might be some sexual fuel helping to power all of our affections and it is perfectly possible to have some breakthrough awareness of the strength of this in our intimate moments with people we hold dear even without any intention or sublimated interest in developing a sexual relationship. For some situations, sex just suggests itself as the most powerful language we can summon on the spot to express our feelings.

Considering this idea, I found, years ago when I was learning more about my sexuality as a mature woman, there was a moment with a young employee who reminded me very strongly of my late mother as I remembered her from her youth. My employee had a momentary wardrobe failure and I was surprised to find myself astonished with how beautiful and evocative she seemed to me with that brief glimpse of her breast. I didn't want to touch her--I just felt awed by her beauty. Once before, another woman of the same physical type was a dear colleague and I became aware of my attraction to her only by the strength of my grief when she moved away. By the time these things freely entered my consciousness, I had already decided that affection and intimacy were quite wonderful (with or without sexual expression) and I didn't have to label every lovely thought that wafted through my head. I have felt this language of physical affection more than once with close women friends.

I believe it is grand that young people today are more open to exploring their sexuality and, I hope, their range of affections. I fear, however, that sometimes the human impulse to put a label on everything--as if that means we understand it, that we've learned something and can somehow use the label to help us know how to be ourselves--all that can get it the way of the really important, luminous and memorable connections we can make with others.

There's a lot to be said, also, for the power of habit and familiarity of context. My story about this is of being the sleep-deprived mother of a newborn and a one-year-old. My husband came home sick during flu season and asked me to take his temperature. I reached for my trusty thermometer and believe I would have just automatically used it if he hadn't yelled at me that I must have lost my mind--no way was I using that rectal thermometer with him! He was so indignant he later told the marriage counselor about it. (She seemed to be amused, bless her.)
posted by Anitanola at 11:36 PM on December 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

Thirding that it could be intrusive thoughts. And once you have an intrusive thought in a certain situation or with a certain person, logically it seems it can reoccur more easily.
posted by Dansaman at 12:15 AM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Had a female friend once who ID'd as hetero briefly date a lesbian woman. Pretty normal relationship, actually, that sort of morphed into a super-friendship that included limited amounts of physicality. Stresses between the somewhat radical, anti-man lesbian and my fairly normal semi-het friend led to it going away. Also, she reported lots of work-related interaction, lunches, movies, and date-like behavior which when coupled with the pro-woman seeking attentions of the other party, pushed the boundaries into the 'why not' region. Het Friend was going through a prolonged unsuccessful period devoid of boys and surplus of girls when this happened. "Why not" region could have been stimulated by long term sexual isolation, too, as well as signals from the lesbian that mimicked hetero behavior. Sometimes, the brain does not care what flipped the switch, it just reacts. Why should sex be any different than any other form of brain mediated hunger? (Besides the social overlay, of course.)

Baumeister writes on erotic plasticity in several interesting reads and studies. I have believed for years that this is much more prevalent in women than men since women have a socially accepted latitude for significant gender-unspecific, non-sexual touch. (Think 'children', as in breast feeding, cleaning and caretaking, holding. ) Not that men don't do this, but it's routine with women and orders of magnitude more pervasive in a typical woman's life. Since the barriers to non-sexual, non-gender specific touch are lower, the distance to sexual, non-gender specific interactions seem smaller. One very ignorant, but thoughtful man's opinion.

Here is something by Baumeister. Use it to find more of his stuff.
posted by FauxScot at 1:23 AM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

One of my best friends (we're both female) randomly kissed me when I dropped her off one evening, and since then has been all kissy-kissy and handhold-y with me when we hang out alone or with other people. I asked her about it and her explanation was very similar to yours -- just some affectionate urge that she gave into. I'm not sexually attracted to her nor do we have any interest in dating one another (she has a boyfriend!), but I totally don't mind this form of affection from close friends. Have you considered just telling her how you feel? I ask because she's your best friend; obviously this wouldn't be such a good idea if she were, say, a boss or professor. Talking about it might make the urge go away, and perhaps you might learn that she welcomes the affection from you!
posted by colorproof at 2:31 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

One datapoint on the just-impulse side: it's very, very common for me to get this in close one-on-one conversation with anyone - regardless of my attraction to them, or even their gender. I don't get the play-out-as a movie part, just an almost unvisualised impulse to lean in for a kiss. This can be pretty weird, depending on who I'm talking to.
It's more than possible that your situation could be more complex than this, with a genuine crush or just friend-closeness playing a part, but a big chunk of it could just be this situational impulsiveness.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:49 AM on December 2, 2012

Yeah, I came here to say it sounds like an intrusive thought to me as well. "Annoying and inappropriate movie" about something that you are not actually interested in doing (and it sounds like you know that!) is a perfect description.

If you have other intrusive thoughts or this is seriously impacting your life, you could look into CBT etc. If not (and it sounds like that isn't the case here), it might be easiest to just mentally say "Huh, there's the intrusive thought again" when it happens and go on thinking about whatever you were thinking about before. Acknowledging it as an intrusive thought and letting it go is the best way to train your brain into downplaying these things.
posted by pie ninja at 5:32 AM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

pretty much what Anitanola said.

i think this is something most humans feel at various times and to various degrees. it's natural. we're evolved social, mammals who thrive on the endorphins released through intimacy. men probably have a harder time acknowledging this than women.

the 'intrusive thoughts' connection just reeks of implicit homophobia. same sex kissing is not anywhere near the spectrum of destructive behavior implied by 'intrusive thoughts.' i sometimes have brief thoughts of sticking whatever sharp object i might be holding into my eye, or if i'm holding a hammer i might imagine the possibility of striking whoever is within range. those kinds of thoughts used to really disturb me but the older i get the more i recognize them as my mind recognizing possibilities or potentials; i could do such and such thing but don't really want to. that's not at all related to briefly imagining romantic intimacy in a socially intimate situation.

your brain is just doing what brains do, filling in gaps and making patterns based on previous experience. i think once we get settled into the pattern of intimacy that comes with close relationships it's sometimes trickier to distinguish between them all i.e. this kind of love must be walled off from that kind of love. don't freak yourself out. i'd say that if you got some kind of cloud nine, emotional rush from the idea of kissing your friend then maybe it's something you might want to explore in another context with a willing participant.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 9:23 AM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

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