DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have an odd situation at hand that definitely needs advice from an expert.
A bit of backstory, I’ve known “Se” since we were in college, and I fell hard for her. The only problem was that she’s a lesbian. Back in the day, I hadn’t had a girlfriend, but I worked up the courage to ask her out. She didn’t quite reject me, she just said that at that moment, she couldn’t. Since i’m an idiot, I burned bridges with her and moved on with my life. In the meantime, I feel that I’ve acquired experience with my past girlfriends, and I’m a bit better at the subject.
Since November, we reopened communication, and it’s been great. Turns out she just got out of a serious relationship and for whatever reason she thought of me. She told me that she misses me, since then we’ve been hanging out a lot, going to the cinema, eating and that sort of things.
But now we’re more touchy than ever, getting real close and personal. We’ve been cuddling for hours at my place, sending us texts about how much we like each other, and how much we miss each other, but I’m kinda scared about my next move. I’m dying to kiss her and roll the dice once more. Now that we have a trip to the beach in the horizon, I really don’t know what to do. I really, really like her, and it’s evident to me that she also likes me. I don’t know if she does it in a relationship kinda way, but she has feelings for me, that much I know.
I need help with this. The only question in my head (as Van Halen once said), “It’s got what it takes, so why can’t this be love?”
DEAR SO CONFUSED: let’s talk a bit about sexuality and sexual identities.
One of the (many) things that isn’t covered in sex ed these days is that sexuality is fluid. There’re gay people, straight people, bisexual people, pansexual people (that is: people who don’t believe in the gender binary and are attracted to individuals regardless of gender) and everything in between… and some people will slide around a little in their sexual identity. There are people, gay or straight, who may discover that they’re attracted to a specific person outside of their preferred gender. There are guys who like trans women because they are turned on by the idea of a woman who also has a penis. There’re straight people who will say “a mouth is a mouth” and accept a blow-job from a gay guy while they close their eyes and think of Christina Hendricks. And there are gay men and women who’ve discovered to their surprise that they may be more bisexual than they previously thought.
So in the strictly hypothetical sense, it’s possible that your friend is bisexual or sexually fluid and open to a relationship with a man.
It’s equally as likely that she just feels comfortable with you as a friend. There are many forms of love; not just eros (love of the body) but agape (romantic contentment) and philia (platonic affection for friends). You can love someone, enjoy your time with them and be open about missing them when you’re platonic friends, not just when you’re both in romantic love.
But what about the cuddles?
Well, women are socialized to be more touchy-feely in general, but especially with people they’re close to, and it’s entirely possible that she feels comfortable cuddling with you because she sees you as someone safe who respects her boundaries.
Or hey. It could mean she’s a little more fluid than she thought and you’re in a Chasing Amy situation. I doubt it, but it’s possible.
So how do you sort this out without ruining your friendship? By using your words. You just ask her. Say “Hey, I feel like I’m picking up on a vibe here and you can feel free to tell me I’m nuts, but I just want to make sure I’m not misreading things. I’m really enjoying our friendship, but at times it feels like maybe there’s more? It’s cool if I’m wrong, because I really appreciate what we have; I just want to make sure whether I’m just completely off base.”
You want to make sure that she understands a) that she’s free to tell you that you’re misreading things (if that’s what’s going on) and that b) you’re good with being friends in the event that you are wrong. After all: it was your freak-out at her rejection last time that lead to the two of you being out of touch with one another. So when/if she reminds you that she’s gay… be cool this time. Just say “OK, I just wanted to make sure,” and let it go. Don’t make your being friends contingent on your feelings for her; that’s not fair to her, and it’s a great way to actually ruin a friendship.
You’ve got a good thing going with your friend, even if it’s not necessarily the relationship you’d prefer. That’s something worth holding on to, even if you wish it could be different.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I recently had to block a guy on Facebook…
We met at an event I was hosting and when he messaged me (after finding out I was single), I told him I wasn’t ready to date. He said he wasn’t either; he just wanted to be friends….
Over the last two months I’ve encountered the same situation with other guys, where I’d tell them I wasn’t ready to date, they asked to just be friends and we’d chat for a while only to find they kept pushing me to meet them or start dating. I would end up telling them flat out I wasn’t interested and then when they wouldn’t take “no” for an answer I’d end up blocking them because they obviously weren’t respecting my boundaries.
So now this guy comes along with the same song and dance, and naively I assumed maybe this guy would be different (Lesson learned! No more adding guys to my Facebook unless I’m willing to date them!).
On the first day he messaged me eight times in 4 hours without me even having responded. The next day was the same thing and I was having flashbacks to my previous Facebook encounters; so I told him to tone it down and back off a bit. I reiterated that I wasn’t ready to date. He listened and toned down on the amount of messages.
During this time I was working on self improvement and healing so I would be able to date again. I feel I’m almost ready to enter back into the dating world and this weekend I have an event where there is the potential to meet some single guys, but it felt like my new Facebook buddy was still trying to make a connection and I wanted to make it clear to him that I wasn’t interested in dating him. He’s a nice guy, but that initial contact screamed “I’m needy! Please pay attention to me!!” and that’s not what I’m looking for in a guy….
And it felt like he was still trying to flirt! He would send me pictures of his drawings; everyday! He would comment on a Facebook post I made, like the same Facebook post and then bring up the Facebook post again in a private message. There were several emotion icons in every email and he would keep saying how appreciative he was that I was his friend….
Today I decided to be honest and tell him that I have no interest in actually dating him. I don’t want to drag that baggage into a new relationship and I don’t want this guy getting good hurt if in three months he sees I’ve changed my status to “in a relationship”; especially if this entire time he was hoping I would see the light and pick him.
I flat out told him that I wasn’t interested and was concerned that he was still hoping to more than friendship….
He was angry! How dare I accuse him of wanting to be more than friends? Why didn’t I believe him? He told me he was tired of my BS and I was being paranoid.
Once again, I blocked another guy on Facebook. Afterwards though I found myself wondering if I had actually misinterpreted his contact as flirting. Not that is really matters now; I’ll hopefully never hear from him again, but I feel like I’ve been out of the dating game for so long that maybe I’ve lost touch with what flirting is.
Was I right to assume he was still hinting at wanting more than friendship?
Dazed and Confused
DEAR DAZED AND CONFUSED: Honestly DaC, it’s a little hard for me to say definitively one way or the other without having been there to see the posts and the context. So I’m of two minds.
On the one hand, it’s entirely possible that you were a little hypersensitive – with good reason, to be sure – to the possibility that he was flirting with you. It’s entirely possible that he was a bit on the awkward side and more enthusiasm than grace – like the human equivalent of a golden retriever puppy stumbling over it’s oversized paws. If he was making a good-faith effort to tone things down after you asked him, I could see him feeling a bit put out when he was trying – in his awkward way – to be a friend.
That having been said, his reaction sounds over-the-top for the situation, and if he flips out that hard over being told “hey, it feels like you’re getting flirty again and that’s really not something I’m interested in…” then not only does it seem like a case of “he doth protest too much,” but weeding out someone who’s generally unpleasant and sets your Spidey-senses tingling.
In the future… honestly, like Private Number last week, I’d say let yourself be a little more on your guard and a little more hesitant to add people to Facebook if you don’t know them well. It’s possible that you’re a little hyper-vigilant, but that’s not a reason to ignore your instincts either. You can’t prevent dudes from pulling the Platonic Friend Back Door Gambit and trying to Nice Guy their way into your pants, but you can limit the access they have to you in your day to day life.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)