"I am two fools, I know, For loving, and for saying so"
July 15, 2007 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Advice on getting over a long-term same-sex crush.

I'm female and I have a crush on a close woman friend, and have done for as long as I've known her, eight years. She doesn't know, or at least I've never told her. I think I'm gay but have no sexual experience (yes, I know that's odd given that I'm in my early thirties). There's no possibility of this going anywhere sexually as she's not gay and not looking for a relationship, though we have talked about buying a house together in the future. I'd like not to feel so obsessed - what can I do to start this happening, given that I'm not in a place where I can look for other relationships at the moment (focussing on my career, and am long-term moderately depressed)? I've looked at this thread Years-long crush, but a lot of the advice is about avoiding the man in question, and I don't want to lose my best friend.

Throwaway email address: meficrushed AT gmail.com.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Buying a house with her is a bad idea. Please don't.

When you start looking for a real girlfriend, someone who can care about you back in the same way, it'll be easier to be in this friendship.

If you don't know for sure whether you're gay by your 30s, and you have never had sex, I suppose you have had an upbringing that was traumatic (some people may call it religious.) Please get yourself some help to recover from it.
posted by putril at 6:36 PM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Living with someone you have a crush on and who doesn't have a crush on you (and who might even be offended on finding out about your crush) is a very bad idea. This is the voice of experience. Don't do it.

Generally the advice for gay men who keep having crushes on straight men is to quit spending so much time around straight men. I'm sure the same advice holds for women.
posted by Tuwa at 6:46 PM on July 15, 2007

Perhaps you could find a way to not see her for a while?

Your perspective might be quite narrow now since you are fixated on her. There are so many options for you out there in the world -- don't spend any more time on someone you can't have.

If you want to salvage the friendship, it might be really helpful to spend some time not seeing or speaking or communicating with her. The space in your life created by this break will help and will give you an opportunity to find other ways and people to occupy your time. These new attachments will help you gain perspective on your life and relationship with your friend.

Because I doubt you're going to get over this while still maintaining the relationship you currently have with your friend. The bottom line is it's not working very well for you now and you know, something's got to change and the change might be hard, but ultimately you'll be better off. Good Luck
posted by nnk at 6:55 PM on July 15, 2007

living with someone + crush + inevitable inebriation = aaaaawkward.
posted by OrangeDrink at 7:10 PM on July 15, 2007

I won't jump to the conclusion that you had a traumatic or highly religious (the two are different) upbringing -- although it's less-than-normal, I can imagine some (unlikely) situations in which it's just a series of unfortunate events.

Of course, this depends on what you term 'sexual experience'. If you haven't even been kissed, or had a relationship, then perhaps it isn't the fact that you're 'focusing on your career' that preventing a relationship, but that it's something deeper, and something that might best be addressed by therapy. I can't stress this enough, especially as you've been pining for one girl you can't have for 8 years -- it's not healthy for you, and might be a cause or effect of your lack of interest in relationships (if, in fact, you've had none in the past 8 years, or none at all).

The best way to find out what makes you happy, while dealing with the crush, is: be social. Yeah, even if you're introverted or depressed. Go out and explore your sexuality, your interests, things you might like to start (join a stitch-n-bitch group or something). And commit to things (I'll be flirtatious in a gay/straight bar, I'll go join a film club, I'll go to the gym) for a minimum of 3 weeks. This isn't avoiding her -- it's expanding your life beyond her. This isn't looking for relationships -- it's having fun.

And please don't buy a house with her. Bad idea. Long-term economic decision + trying to change how you feel about your economic partner = bad voodoo. Hell, long-term economic decision + unrequited crush = bad voodoo.

Bad, bad voodoo.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:11 PM on July 15, 2007

I don't want to lose my best friend.

Maybe this fixation is due to never having a relationship? You're in your thirties and never had one? That indicates a lack of emotional maturity (I'm not trying to be harsh or demeaning), but it's something to think about. There's a reason why teenagers fixated on their love interests (because it's new and they don't know any better) and eventually move beyond these obsessions.

Find a someone to have a relationship with. As long as you deny yourself, you'll probably always be fixated on this person.

And yeah, don't buy a house with her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 PM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

A dyke I know had similar years-long crushes on at least a couple of straight women, with no hope of them ever going anywhere, and the end result was just strong - if sometimes intense or awkward - friendships with these women, which continue to this day. The fact that she has a partner now (and had other partners throughout these crushes) probably helps.

Just sayin', becoz it's not necessarily such a bad thing as long as it's not poisoning your relationship, or preventing you from looking elsewhere. I'm a pretty strong believer in the idea that relationships don't come straight out of the same cookie-cutter, and that it's possible to have all kinds of different platonic connections with people that blur the stereotypical lines between friends & partners.

To answer the question, if you don't want to avoid or lose your best friend, I can't see much alternative between keeping it in your trousers, or dating elsewhere. Remember that you don't necessarily need to drop your affection for your friend if you find a different partner - it's just a different form of love that doesn't get the same focus from the popular culture machine as the standard vanilla flavour of relationship.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:41 PM on July 15, 2007

I think I'm gay but have no sexual experience

Decide. Come out.

If it needs repeating at this point don't buy a house with your hopeless imaginary love affair.

I'm not in a place where I can look for other relationships at the moment

Reconsider this position. If you eliminate the possibility of anyone else, who the hell else are you going to obsess over?
posted by nanojath at 8:17 PM on July 15, 2007

Ay. Don't buy a house. Don't buy a house. Find some gay friends. Explore the queer community. Spend more time with them. I bet if you find a different focus for your romantic feelings this may fade. And perhaps explore your sexual identity through therapy as well - helped me a lot. :) Shoot me an email to talk if you did indeed come from a religious background...been there, doing that. :)
posted by gleea at 8:26 PM on July 15, 2007

Don't buy a house with her, don't cut her out of your life, but come pretty damn close to it and over time the feelings will fade. Honestly, it will go on forever as long as she is a major part of your life.
posted by whoaali at 8:31 PM on July 15, 2007

Decide. Come out

See above for worst advice evar. You don't need to "decide" anything. It can't hurt to take some time and figure yourself and your sexuality out, but no "decisions" need to made as such. These things evolve over long periods of time for many people.

Is there any way you can let her know your feelings? At the very least this might provide some closure/help with confronting it and maybe putting it behind you?
posted by sneakin at 8:43 PM on July 15, 2007

Is there any way you can let her know your feelings?

See above for worst advice evar.

I think a lot of straight people would be more than a bit weirded out if their best friend of eight years came out with "I've always had a massive crush on you".

Of course, this depends on how broadminded you gals are (maybe through some healthy level of exposure to queerness) but for the majority of people, that kind of confession would be nothing but *awkward*.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:05 PM on July 15, 2007

"Decide" sounds like poor advice to me too-- who you choose to like, love, crush on, sleep with and be friends with can change a lot over time and depending on circumstances. Your sexuality doesn't have to be something that is irrevocably carved in stone.

What is it about her that makes you crush on her? Is it her, or what she represents in your life? I would say answering- or pondering- these questions are the first step towards de-obsessifying...

And yeah. Don't buy a house together. Just imagine how awkward and heartbreaking things could be if you didn't resolve your crush- or if you fell for her even harder and she still didn't reciprocate. The home is for sanctuary, not confusion and angst. Go easy on yourself.
posted by gerls at 10:06 PM on July 15, 2007

Is it possible that part of the attraction is her unattainability? If you haven't had a relationship by this time, you may be looking for a way to postpone actually having a real-world relationship.

You may be more in love with idea of the relationship than you are with the actual person. The fact that she won't reciprocate makes it a safe crush that keeps you in emotional stasis. Moving in with her could be your way of hiding from the big bad world.

You might be attracted to this woman because you're gay. Or you might be attracted to her because it's more pleasant than your hetero experiences and the mental relationship is a coping mechanism that protects you from having to have a real relationship with anyone, be it straight or gay.

Explore this idea, and see how you feel about it.

...but don't buy a house together. It will only end in tears.
posted by ScarletPumpernickel at 10:45 PM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

In general, preoccupation is a good way to get over something like this. Keep yourself busy. A relationship takes a lot of time and effort, and if you were willing to allocate that time, displace it into a hobby you enjoy.

In this case, I'd recommend a group hobby. e.g. if you enjoy sports, find a group of people who play regularly; there's knitting socials, pet-owner-related socials, etc. The more time you spend around other people, the more you're distracted with the social interactions, and not thinking about the crush.
posted by spiderskull at 11:43 PM on July 15, 2007

If you haven't had a relationship by this time, you may be looking for a way to postpone actually having a real-world relationship.

I agree with this. It seems to be your crush on this woman is just a symptom of the real problem - that you've never had any sexual experience and you seem to be looking for any excuse to avoid getting some. This is going to take therapy to work through, I think. Which is convenient, since you also need therapy to get through your depression. Hey, two birds with one stone - not a bad deal!

You're focused on your career, which is great, but that doesn't mean you have to spend every waking moment working - that's a sign of an unhealthy addiction. But realize that you don't have to immediately commit to investing massive amounts of time into this issue - right now you just need to take that first step and find a therapist.
posted by hazyjane at 12:03 AM on July 16, 2007

From what I know of unrequited love, I'd say you won't get over this crush at all until you fall in love or at least have passionate sex with someone else. The only other route out is an argument that is so bad it leads to hate.

You could definitely lose your friend by telling her that you have a crush on her, but that may not be the worst possible outcome. I'd say pining for her for the rest of your life and not moving on emotionally is the worst. That's assuming you don't buy a house with her. Then the worst possible outcome is hard for me to imagine.

Also, unless she's thick, she may already suspect you have a thing for her.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:22 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

(I'm with ScarletPumpernickel & hazyjane here on the idea that you might be using this 'crush' as an alibi, saving you from engaging with 'real' relationships. Understanding this - if it's true - is a key to moving on.

I'd only add that it sounds pretty bizarre for a crush to last eight years. I think normally they're quite short-term things. Maybe 'crush' wasn't the right word for you to have chosen, though, and I'm just quibbling with definitions...?)

posted by UbuRoivas at 12:27 AM on July 16, 2007

I'm going to offer Dan Savage's advice to a teenage girl who didn't know if she was gay or straight: 'Wait, date, and masturbate'. Particularly focus on the last one. You don't need a relationship to explore your sexuality. Your friend will probably be the focus of your fantasies at first, and that's okay. Just try to move on to other fantasies and get to know your body and your mind.

Good luck to you.
posted by happyturtle at 4:37 AM on July 16, 2007

If you're truly not at a place to seek romantic companionship, you still need to cool down the friendship. I know depression makes it hard to stop obsessing, especially on a person who you've depended on for so long, but it will be easier than trying to deal with the resultant drama bomb if she finds out. Try fixating on something else. Throw yourself into a hobby that forces you to meet more people, or focus your social energies on your job instead of the friend.

I went through a very similar thing and it was a total bitch to get over. Have you brought this up with a therapist? Depression + sexuality issues + same-sex feelings can really harm your mental health and stability if not addressed properly. Good luck.
posted by lychee at 5:26 AM on July 16, 2007

There are people, mostly women, who are not particularly sexual. You may be one of them. That does not mean there's anything wrong with you! Or you may be a very late bloomer. Another lesbian I know didn't have a sexual relationship until she was in her 40s. (Her now-partner made the moves.)

Seeing an LGBT-friendly therapist is a good idea. Talk this over with someone face to face. Good luck.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:44 AM on July 16, 2007

update from the OP:

Thanks for all your responses, which have given me a lot to think about. I'm
still not persuaded about the house thing (oh no - I've turned into one of
those relationship-questions people who will not be convinced by the
pile-on), but take much of the rest of the comments on board. Now I've just
got to do something about it.

To those who wondered, I didn't have a religious upbringing, and I'm not
sure it was more traumatic than anyone else's, though I am disabled, which
may have something to do with it.

Thanks again - I've never posted this sort of thing before, and it's
touching and impressive to realise in this close-to-home way that people are
prepared to think seriously and helpfully about the problems of someone they
don't know.
posted by jessamyn at 10:33 AM on July 16, 2007

I disagree mightily that you can't discuss this with her. She's your BEST friend! Of course, you don't have to spill everything but I would feel betrayed if my best friend WASN'T telling me about this thing that she'd been going through for years and years. It could be vague like, "I'm feeling confused about my feelings for you" or more direct, "I think I might be gay and have a crush on you" but in any case, if she's really your best friend she's not going to dump you - she may even know already! If she does, it might be time for prolonged radio silence between you.

Definitely don't buy the house until you are at peace with things. How would you feel if she had dates over after all?
posted by MiffyCLB at 12:50 PM on July 16, 2007

I meant... if she does "dump you" it might be time for radio silence - not if she does "already know"
posted by MiffyCLB at 12:59 PM on July 16, 2007

though I am disabled, which may have something to do with it.

Perhaps it may. You would be the best judge of that, but from the start I felt that there was something crucial missing from the original question, because there's something definitely unusual about harbouring a crush for eight whole years. That's really off the scale. If your disability has created some kind of dependency on your friend, or if it makes it difficult for you to hook up with other people, then it puts the whole house & crush situation into a slightly different light. Anyway, if the question was "how to move on?" then understanding any underlying causes for your crush remains important.

MiffyCLB is also right. I meant earlier that "I've had a crush on you since day one" would come across as weird. "I've become confused about my feelings for you" is a lot more palatable, and is probably something that you really should try to air, *especially* if you want to go ahead with this house-buying plan.

Also, if you do manage to float your feelings, it might enable you to achieve some kind of closure on the issue, assuming that you have decided now that you truly want to get out of this limbo...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on July 16, 2007

I think even a lesbian/bi person would be a little freaked out to know that their friend had been harboring feelings for eight years. I don't think any good will come of telling her - there is no chance of reciprocation, and there is a very good chance of awkwardness, house or no house.

There are some really good books on relationship/sexual obsession, for example Women, Sex and Addiction by Charlotte Kasl. Awareness of the root of your obsession (hint: it's not this particular person) will help immensely to alleviate it.
posted by desjardins at 8:55 AM on July 17, 2007

I'd say you should definitely clear the air your attraction to her before doing the house thing. Otherwise you are guilty of a pretty serious lie by omission. As mentioned before, you don't need to mention that you've felt this way for 8 years, but you need to know that your friend is okay with it before living with her, because if she finds out because she comes home to you masturbating to her picture or whatever it's going to be awkward.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:34 PM on July 17, 2007

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