When I met my best friend I immediately decided she was the coolest and best person I had ever encountered. For five years I watched in frustration as she navigated relationships with men who, in my opinion, were extremely unworthy of her. I never really considered the possibility that she could be queer. I mostly remained single, talked to her all day every day, and spent hundreds of cumulative hours making her elaborate homemade gifts, all while knowing that I loved women but repressing the idea that I could be in love with her.
Fast-forward to about a year ago. She revealed to me that she had hooked up with a woman and thus realised that she was into women; I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I realised that we were both single and queer and considered telling her that I loved her as more than a friend. Before I could say anything, she told me that a girl had approached her at a party and that she and this girl were now dating. Things have been getting increasingly serious between her and her girlfriend for the past six months, and she is noticeably less open with me about this relationship than she has been about past partners. I want to be supportive and happy for her, but instead I have found myself feeling jealous and bitter. It has become increasingly painful for me to see her relationship progress.
I feel like I have been hanging around watching her date people without really engaging in anything serious myself, and I think that part of it is because I couldn’t find anyone who was as smart or as great as her. I too would like to be in a relationship, and I think it is difficult for that to happen while I am hung up on my friend who obviously does not feel the same way about me. It might be healthy for me to get some distance from this whole situation and make room in my life for someone who actually wants to be with me. At the same time, I consider her to be without a doubt one of the most important people in my life. I don’t want to lose this friendship. How should I navigate this?
I wanted to answer this question because I have been there, and I imagine many readers here have been too.
You have been hurt by your best friend keeping something from you, and from the woman you have a crush on choosing to date someone else — the problem being, of course, that these people are one and the same. I know you want to keep this friendship, but I want you to think about what you have written here and figure out what exactly is worth keeping. You have written that you are jealous, that you are bitter, that you are frustrated. You are arguing about meeting her partner. You have written that she is cool, great and the best person you know, but the crux of your question is “How can I stop being so unhappy around her?” I wish there was a better answer. I wish someone would invent a new way of healing hurt like this.
You have to take a break from this friendship. Not forever, necessarily, just long enough to let yourself heal. You are picking the wound open anew every time you see this friend, letting it scab enough so it is still satisfying to peel off. This will not be easy — it will be very hard, your heart will hurt and I am so, so sorry. I think you owe it to your friend, and to yourself, to tell her the truth about why you need some space from her. She deserves to know why you have been acting this way. You don’t need to serve her your heart on a platter, but tell her honestly and straightforwardly that you have feelings for her, and that you need some time apart to move on, and that you’d like to try to still be friends someday.
You should allow yourself to mourn this heartbreak. I don’t think you’ve given yourself time to do that, and pushing through all that pain isn’t fun for anyone. Cry, eat ice cream, listen to sad breakup songs, listen to triumphant breakup songs. (Kelly Clarkson does both very well.) If you want to find a relationship, you have to let yourself heal from this one first. Give yourself at least six months—trust me on this. Reach out to your other friends, let them know you are hurting, let them know you need support. It’s a cliche for a reason, that thing about time healing all wounds. I wish you so much luck.
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.