I’m In Love with a Straight Woman

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Reader’s Question

I am 26 and I think I am in love with a girl. She has a boyfriend. She says she is unhappy, but doesn’t have the strength to break up with him, so she waits for him to do it. The weirdest thing is that I have feelings for her. We met a year ago and I liked her from the first time I saw her. I would tell her directly, or ask her for a date, except the problem is that I am a she too. I am well aware that I am gay, although not openly gay; I have no problem with it. I promised myself not to let her know my feelings for her because, for me, straight girls are a mess.

I always glanced in her eyes and she did too, whether through curiosity or interest I don’t really know. We stayed there sometimes, just looking in each other’s eyes until one of us smiled, then returned to the others in the group. Recently we’ve hung out once or twice alone, drank coffee, played games and had some serious talks — something that we never do when other friends are there — and I fell for her entirely. But I still told myself not to bother.

As women, my friends and I always kiss cheeks. One day I almost kissed her lips, but I realized it and quickly went to her cheek instead. She opened her eyes, looking at me without any bad emotion, mostly surprise. I tried to hide it. That same afternoon, we were at a table with a lot of friends, including her boyfriend, and she asked me to share a story because she likes the way I tell things. As I leaned forward and started talking, our hands touched. I don’t know who did it first, but under the table we had our hands crossed, after we had caressed each other with our thumbs. When this happened I looked at her — still narrating — and her eyes went totally into my eyes.

Some days later, when we were at a bar, she took my cheeks in her hands, looked at me, and kissed my nose saying “I could eat you anytime; all of you”. The same night, she gave me her glass of wine to drink, but I didn’t take it; I drank from it directly while she was holding it. When the night ended, we hugged and I said in her ear, “I need to see you” she replied instantly, “Me too” and she left. By that time, I was sure she was attracted. But her best friend said that she would never do something with another woman.

Now, a few months later, she isn’t like that anymore. Although we still stare at each other, it’s not with the intimacy I experienced then. I wonder why she changed. Even her hugs don’t feel the same. Did I do something wrong? Does she think she did? My brain says to forget her, but I see her in my dreams. Should I tell her?

Psychologist’s Reply

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It’s really sad that so many cultures put such limitations on love, but they do. Consequently, a lot of people deny their true feelings, out of fear that they will be punished (through rejection, ostracism, legal penalties and sometimes even violence) for having them. As a not entirely openly gay person, I’m sure you understand this better than most. I’m guessing that this is what happened to your friend. Perhaps she started having feelings for you too, but got scared about what this could mean, and backed off.

Part of what makes these types of situations so tragic is that the sexuality of human beings is a lot more fluid than most people believe. In the 1930s, biologist Alfred Kinsey did a lot of research on human sexuality and eventually developed the Kinsey Scale to measure degrees of heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. What he discovered is that, although there are some people whose sexuality is purely at the poles (purely heterosexual or purely homosexual), most people fall somewhere in-between. In other words, a lot of people could be comfortable having sexual experiences with people of both sexes. This corresponds with self-report surveys in which many people admit to having both same-sex and opposite-sex encounters.

However, even though bisexuality (or fluid sexuality) is a lot more common those most people believe, it is still fairly forbidden. As a result, people try to deny their feelings of being attracted to those they are not ‘supposed’ to desire and, like may have happened with your friend, they firmly shut those feelings down when they get too real. Thus, you may be right that she believes she did something wrong in enjoying her intimate moments and interactions with you.

What this means for you is that there is little chance of a romantic future with this woman. Through her refusal to break up with her boyfriend, she’s already shown that she prefers to stay in her comfort zone, even though she’s unhappy. And someone who is too ‘weak’ to break up with someone she knows is not good for her will almost certainly not disregard social conventions by having a same-sex romantic relationship. Thus, while you can tell her about your feelings if you really want to, I doubt it will get you the result that you want.

Even though this probably will not work out for you romantically, please realize that neither of you did anything wrong. You enjoyed each other’s company and had some flirtatious exchanges. In a different world, those things might be a prelude to a wonderful relationship. However, in the world in which we live, they were nice while they lasted. If you think you can tolerate it, you can still be friends with this woman. If being around her hurts too much, please consider avoiding her. Give yourself a chance to heal, and an opportunity to find someone who will be able to return your feelings.

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