You Need Help: How Do I Make Out With My Friend?

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Q: I want to make out with my bestie. I love her dearly, but I don’t think I’m in love with her—I don’t want to be in a whole relationship thing with her or anything. It’s just that when she talks or looks at me or smiles or frowns or yells about politics and the end of the world, my skin gets all tingly and I feel like I want to be a whole lot closer to her and ugh.

This is all well and good, I can ignore tingly feelings and her sparkly eyes and that’s all fine. The issue is thus: she is the biggest flirt on the planet. I’m pretty sure it’s not just me that she does it to, but I have a hard time coping when she tells me I’m the biggest babe in the room, at the bar, at school, in the city (I mean, come on!) or when she is smelling my hair, or telling me about every single person she sees checking me out (I am blissfully ignorant), or when I rock up to a party in jeans and she smiles and tells me she kinda wishes that I had worn a skirt because my legs are rockin. It’s not like I want to make out with her all the time or anything, just enough that it is annoying. I’m pretty sure she is completely oblivious to it anyway. What the fuck should I do?

A: Hey, I want to commend you on something real quick before we head to the answer. In your very first paragraph, you make some pretty self-aware statements. You’re not in love with your best friend and you don’t want to be in a relationship with her. That’s an excellent thing to know about yourself. It takes a someone who’s examined their own interior life to know that. Kudos to you!

Okay, before we go any further, watch this music video:

That was good, wasn’t it? It sure was, because Julia Nunes is amazing and also because making out is fun. Making out is so fun that, believe it or not, sometimes friends make out with each other without any pesky relationship stuff getting in the way. It’s totally a thing that happens and it could be your future.

But it also might not be. And you know the only way to find out? Yeah, you know.

You gotta talk to your friend about it. Which means fessing up to however long you’ve wanted to make out with her face. That could be awkward, but it’s the only way you’ll get to that blissful future where your mouth is on her mouth. I recommend making a coffee date and sitting down and legit reading the exact thing you sent me, because that will serve provoke one of a few outcomes.

First, if your friend also wants to make out with you without any strings attached, she will say AWESOME LET’S DO THAT SOMETIMES. Bam. You and your best friend are now also makeout buddies and that is a-okay. Then you should feel free to ask some follow up questions, like under what circumstances is it okay to make out? Are there qualifiers to this agreement that you should keep in mind ahead of time? Make clear your feelings too—is making out in public okay? At parties? Or in private?

Second, if your friend has been trying to send you “I’m into you” signals and you’ve been misreading them (and I actually do suspect this might be the case), this will give her the opportunity to fess up. Then you’ll have the opportunity to consider that alternate reality and if it’s something you might want to explore (though it sounds like not really). If this happens, you get to ask for time to consider it, though, so don’t feel pressure to answer right away.

Third, if your friend really doesn’t want to make out or change your friendship in any way, this gives her an opportunity to say so. AND! It gives you an opportunity to ask for her to then please stop flirting with you. Because your friend, being your friend and all, should want to stop torturing you.

If your friend needs time to process the information, you should give that time to her. If she truly has no idea this is coming (and honestly, I think she probably has some idea), then she might need a hot sec before giving you an answer. Whenever you’re the dropper of anvils, be really gracious to the person on the receiving end. Don’t make her answer that dat and be prepared to get on with your afternoon/evening/whenever without obsessing over what her response might be.

I think regardless of the outcome, you should prepare for something to change in the nature of your friendship. Like, don’t expect that even with the third option things will go back to being exactly the same. There will be behaviors she’ll change based on it, behaviors you’ll change as well. Or you’ll be makeout buddies. Strangely enough, I think the outcome that changes your friendship the least is the one where you’re makeout buddies. If you don’t want your friendship to change at all, well. Then it’s up to you to decide whether you feel comfortable withholding this information from your best friend. It’s not something I’d be down with, personally, but it’s one of those “whose business is it?” grey areas that I’ll let you navigate for yourself (with the help, I imagine, of our commenters).

But no matter what happens, know this one thing: by writing two paragraphs, you are single-handedly responsible for every queermo reading this article right now frantically texting their best friend to double-triple-check the state of their relationship. Lesbian Jesus be with you, friend, as you attempt to put your mouth on hers.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. The last time I wanted to get a little bit closer to my best friend I ended up divorced, excommunicated, converting religions, moving across the United States, and getting remarried.

    10/10 Would get best friend tingly feelings again. ;)

  2. There are many reasons I don’t write “You Need Help” responses.

    The main one being that my answer would most often be: alcohol

      • If any alcohol at all took away your capacity to consent, then I would have never made out with a new person consensually in my life.

        (In the US anyway it’s a matter of state law and varies somewhat, but as far as I know there are no states where any alcohol at all makes you legally unable to consent? Being significantly intoxicated is obviously very different.)

        • “Significantly intoxicated” is rather vague, but generally if there is any level of intoxication in either or both parties, you are engaging in sexual activity at your own risk. You can’t really be sure either of you are in a state where you can legitimately consent.

          I know, I’m a big “downer” for a lot of people and I wouldn’t be surprised if most disagreed with me, but as a survivor of sexual assault I take this very seriously. If there is ever any question, you should ethically NOT engage in sexual contact. Likewise, I would TRUST the people I’m with no to attempt to engage in sexual activity with ME because my safety is on THEM.

          Alcohol and sex are awesome, but they’re best when never mixed. No matter how much “fun” that might ruin.

          • I think that is very very far from the general consensus and definitely from laws everywhere I’m aware of, though of course if you don’t feel comfortable engaging in sexual activities when you’re drinking I totally understand that. Of course people should always err on the side of not having sex if someone seems like they might be mentally incapacitated. If I ever have any concern, I’m not going to do it.

            But if my girlfriend and I only had sex when both of us had had no alcohol…well…we would both be pretty bummed because we would be practically celibate. Date nights would be over as we know it! I’m too old to get drunk anymore, I just get sleepy, so getting actually intoxicated is not really a concern though.

          • I think alcohol and how it affects situations is really context-specific.

            For example: I don’t think having a drink or two and having a heart to heart where this subject eventually gets broached is non-consensual.

    • Ha ha, but your make out time or sexy time tends to end quickly if you or your partner throw up. I had that happen to me; it was pretty embarrassing.

  3. As someone who likes Boundaries, this whole question gives me hives. But you do you and all that!

    • Depends on the person, I suppose. Boundaries are great with some people. With others, I’m open to negotiating open borders. ;)

      • I think part of the way I protected myself while growing up queer and closeted was that I always drew very bold lines in the sand: FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS. LOVE INTERESTS ARE LOVE INTERESTS. The end, thank you spank you, and never the twain shall meet.

        It’s not perfect now, but it’s been cemented into my psyche!

        • Oh, sure… talk about boundaries and spanking me in the same sentence. I’M SO CONFUSED! *Cries* ;)

        • ^ This! I support anyone’s right to do whatever they want with whomever they want, as long as everyone is a consenting adult. I on the other hand, will be politely declining any and all invitations to make out with my friends. My personal experiences with situations like this, regardless of whether there are boundaries put in place or not, is they tend to end in disaster. I always feel like at least one person ends up getting the shit end of the deal, whether it’s due to unforeseen emotional attachments or total loss of friendship altogether. For me at least, I find it somewhere in the realm of extremely difficult to damn near impossible to maintain a friendship with someone I’m emotionally and/or physically attracted to.

    • Hmm. I don’t think that this situation is about not having boundaries–to me making something like this work really requires expertise in establishing and maintaining them, which Ali did a great job of addressing through the point about follow-up questions (though this could probably be a column in itself).

      I will say, though, that I don’t like having to have to maintain that level of vigilance with respect to boundaries, and this kind of ambiguity would be hard–too hard–for me.

  4. what if i already completed the anvil-dropping step and we both said yes, we wanna do the makeouts? now how do i actually make it happen? lololol awkward turtle.

    • I imagine it would involve a conversation along the lines of, “Hey, remember when we said we want to makeout? You want to do that right now/tomorrow night/a week from next Thursday?”

      As a fellow awkward turtle, godspeed.

    • Dude I feel ya, recently started making out with my best friend and it’s been 10/10, would recommend it. But we’ve been pals for like 10 years so we’re so goddamn shy with each other. I guess just try to be brave, communicate a lot about how you’re feeling, and maybe a teensy bit of alcohol wouldn’t hurt ;)

    • “Netflix & Chill” is cliché for a reason (: … when just the two of you are hanging out at either your place or hers, watch a movie or TV show together. Find an excuse to get close (e.g. one piece of furniture, preferably a bed) and spoon. With you behind her and the mood set (low lights – just a lamp or maybe just the light of the laptop or tv screen), quiet, comfortable, snuggle up a little closer behind her and gently kiss her shoulder, then her neck and ***gently*** (I emphasize gently because you want to go slow, take your time and be certain she’s into everything you’re doing and clearly gets what you’re trying to do) trace your hand along her hips and thigh. Since she’s into you too, shouldn’t take long for her to pick up on this and start reciprocating by either turning toward you and starting the makeout session and/or guiding your hand on.

  5. Oh lesbian Jesus. I feel like this letter was written by me, two weeks ago. I got the tingly feelings for a close friend, and she did NOT help things. But she just moved out of state and I don’t know when I’ll see her again, so we never did have this conversation, so… problem solved? Idk idk I still think about her a lot.

  6. oh my lord autostraddle i have not blushed this hard in quite a long time. that’s a lot of responsibility you laid at my feet in that last paragraph there, ya know. you are right, Ali, and i should have done this exact thing but instead! instead i moved to a city 12 hours away! plan b, it turns out, is to not look directly at her face for too long at a time. it worked out ok but you know when i’m old and my hair is all billow-y and i’m having vaseline-y, floral flashbacks of my life, i will always wonder what her lips might have tasted like. so, if you’re not me, you should probably definitely have the conversation suggested here.

    • YOU CAN STILL HAVE THE CONVERSATION YOU KNOW because Skype and then maybe she will fly out to visit you for the occasional no-strings make-out sesh. And you will tell us how that goes.

    • But is Bex (see above comment) the friend in question??? Cause your stories line up.. is all I’m saying :) The people need to know!


  7. I would send this to every friend I have if they weren’t ALL OVER THE DAMN CONTINENT(s)!! Effing A-camp, broadening my horizons past my make outs reach

  8. It’s all well and good until you become make out buddies with your best friend and then sex buddies and they’re the best you’ve ever had but you absolutely do not want to be in a relationship with them/they absolutely do not want to be in a relationship with you because you drive each other crazy but literally no one else compares to their body/how amazing they are in bed. And you find yourself comparing all your dates to them and the dates fall short.

  9. …why was this perfectly timed to speak to my gay soul are y’all reading my mind/my journal?
    (actually though it’s a tiny bit scary)

    • I thought the exact same thing. Does everyone have a flirty best friend that they’re starting to feel weird gay vibes towards? And I swear, we just started bonding over our mutual crush on a girl 10 lightyears out of our leauges…

  10. It may be true that Q truly is self-aware. But, on the other hand, she may be in denial. Because, what I’m getting from that letter is love. Tingly feelings. In fact, it seems like a description of two women in/about-to-be-in love. Then again, I’m a hopeless romantic, so it’s entirely possible I’m reading too much into it. So, wishful thinking or not? Thoughts?

    • well, I heard somewhere all the actual oxytocin is from the small touching we do, could me make outs make complications, I guess

  11. I made out with a best friend, once upon a time, and ultimately broke up both of our primary relationships and then began a tumultuous and rocky relationship with them and then we eventually got our shit together and got queer married and now I’m making a baby with them and it’s pretty grand.

    I made out with another best friend, once upon a time, and our boundaries got all messed up and we were never dating, but she got weird and clingy and I pulled away and we haven’t talked in over a decade.

    So…you know…it could go either way…but I don’t regret it, either time.

      • haha while maybe ur right, i bet if there’s any one of my friends that would want to make out with me, i don’t want to make out with them, or it would end very very badly (ppl dating ppl)

    • Same tho. All my close friends are painfully straight. Or I’m either related to them/are family of choice. So like yeah, no makeouts for me from friends.

  12. Oh man, talk it out and fuckin do it before she falls in love with a Dane and you will be left wondering forever. Now I’m close with the Dane too, all worked out in the end, but Y’KNOW

  13. I totally relate to this question omg. Sometimes I just look over at my best friend and have a “holy shit she is so beautiful” moment and then I have to re-realise I just want to be friends with her all over again.

  14. suuuch a letter i could have written as a queer/pan person with friendboundary struggles!

    ways in which similar situations have worked out for me in the past include:
    a 2 year relationship,
    a few weird times & lost friends,
    a few (de?)evolutions into really excellent totally platonic bffs,
    a 7+ year primary relationship (current),
    and, perhaps most relevantly, a perfect-when-it-works-out but ill-defined benefits scenario that is totally the neatest but also leaves me feeling inappropriately bereft when we’re in the same place but nothing happens. (obviously we never discuss it, lol)

    so…overall, would recommend?
    really hope Q comes back post-talk and tells us how it goes. <3

  15. To underscore part of Ali’s advice, lots of talking about boundaries and intentions should definitely happen! Making out with friends can be fun and fulfilling, but sometimes people catch feelings and want something a little less casual and start to have expectations and get jealous of other people and don’t fully communicate their wants and needs and get mad when you start to date someone and completely stop talking to you for a while. But it could also lead to marriage and babies, according to the other commenters. Kiss at your own risk!

  16. Let me just point out that the women in the header stock photo for this article are younger versions of the lesbians from the Payless BOGO commercial that Kayla wrote about. They’ve been together so long, it makes their breakup even more painful!

  17. A similar thing happened to me, I had one of THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE conversations of my entire life, and now we’ve been happily dating ever since! best of luck :)

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