Fri 21 Oct, 2016 07:59 pm
First off, I want to say that I am a lesbian myself and I feel great about it. I love being with women and have absolutely no qualms about my own identity. I am writing because I am in a quandary surrounding one of my absolute best friends who is beginning to say that she thinks she's a lesbian. The problem? I genuinely don't believe she is, and I'm wondering how to approach this - if I can even approach it at all. I love her very much (platonically) and am deeply, deeply concerned that she may be using this to avoid some deeper psychological issues.
I've been very close friends with her (let's call her "Charlotte" - and she's 34 now, for reference) for about ten years now, and she identified as bi for that whole time. And while this is weird, this intuitive voice inside my head - the first time I ever met her - said "You're straight." And for whatever it's worth, every time that voice has ever said something to me about someone when I meet them, it's never been wrong. I knew I would be with my current girlfriend because of that voice, for instance. Anyway, Charlotte had a very hard childhood - her father was abusive and her mother was just totally out to lunch and emotionally absent. (I know, I know - abuse isn't supposed to cause sexuality shifts - but I've seen women think they're lesbian for years firsthand because of it when they were really straight.) She said she had some feelings for women when she was a very lonely and isolated teenager, but then got into men as soon as she hit college. She dated a few guys and then got involved with one of her professors, who was much older and, sadly, had a girlfriend he was cheating on with Charlotte. This guy was a piece of sh*t - I won't sugarcoat it. He was abusive to her and acted like a spiritual teacher (more on that in a bit) and she just put up with it for so long. It was horrible to watch. But the truth is: she loved him. He was an asshole, but she truly loved him. She also, when she started dating the professor, got involved with a guru and entered into a cult, although she doesn't realize it's a cult. The whole thing broke her down and built her back up again, and she's never been quite the same since. She seemed less volatile and got better at communicating with people and resolving conflicts, but she also started seeming like part of her personality was lost or something - she got very, very into what always felt to me like denying her pain as unreal or untruthful. The cult taught that pain wasn't real, and she would always say that. I've tried to tell her it IS real, but she won't do it. She's very intelligent and I see her frequently denying that she feels pain about things I KNOW hurt her very deeply. It's been troubling for a long time, and I think this might be key to this whole story (will circle back later).
Anyway, after this horrible guy was out of her life, she got more interested in women - which I don't think was a coincidence. While part of me was like "Ooh exciting! Join us!", it never felt real to me and I honestly felt concerned. She began a pattern of having these weird friendships with slightly queer chicks who were ridden with extreme physical and psychological ailments that made them entirely unavailable, and they treated Charlotte like ****. In both cases, they made out one time and that was it. Charlotte started saying she had been in love with one of them, but I never bought it - it felt like just some weird drama she was playing out in her head that had no reality. She would do anything for this girl, although I kind of thought it was her vicariously trying to help herself through another woman more than it had anything to do with love or real attraction.
Then Charlotte met a guy (let's call him "Steve"). She was GAGA about him. She told me "I believe I was put on this earth for him, and he was put on this earth for me." She was just crazy about him, and he was such a nice guy. I was so happy for her, and I actually became friends with him, too (and am still friends with him). He truly cared about her feelings in a way no one ever had, and was just really cool too. And Charlotte was OBSESSED with the sex. She would go on and on about how much she loved sucking his dick (sorry to be graphic here, but I think it's relevant), taking his cum in various ways, getting dick pics and videos of him cumming and so forth (a bit rich for my blood, I must say - ha!). I mean, this girl was in love and in lust.
Then they broke up. She was destroyed. She insisted on them remaining friends, and they ended up having sex off and on for over two years even though they were just best friends - I don't think he knew how hard it was for her, although he really cared about her. This poor girl was just in love with him and wanted so badly to be with him that entire time. She went on dates with girls (always super unavailable women, as before) and slept with one, but it never amounted to anything. I always just got the vibe that she was basically a straight chick who wanted to be queer, but it just didn't work for her.
Then Charlotte kind of reached her limit with Steve, and hooked up with another super messed up, unavailable girl. They dated for a little bit and Steve got upset because this girl was clearly trouble. She started getting really mean to Steve and seemed to kind of be denying that she still obviously had feelings for him (it was so hard to see, as friends with both of them). She went into this mode that she always does where she just denies her pain and sublimates it, and then it acts out in unconscious ways. She dated this girl for a brief bit (like 6 weeks) and was trying to make it into something more than it was, but you could tell it was kind of a story she was telling herself. The girl left Charlotte for a man, and Charlotte kept doing this weird stuff to keep Steve invested in her, because he was getting sick of the weird games she was playing.
And now she's saying she thinks she's a lesbian. I just don't buy it. I get that lesbians can be into men for a while before they realize it (my girlfriend was this way), but I want to say "Girl, you're the first lesbian in HISTORY to be obsessed with dick pics and jizz." But seriously, it feels to me like she's simply running away from her pain (remember - she's also in a cult and cannot face her feelings of pain well and has complex mental mechanisms to avoid pain) and trying to avoid the pain she feels with men by shutting off to them. I've seen people in denial before about lots of things, and I know how it can destroy their lives. I mean, is there any way that Charlotte could actually be a lesbian? I'm into fluidity and stuff, but it seems ridiculous and it just feels OFF to me. I want to support my friend, but her "coming out" feels false to me, and I wish she would look inward and face her demons instead of running away from them. She's faced a lot of pain surrounding men and seems to be trying to deny it exists or was ever real, and her realization just seems like a reaction to being heartbroken by a man. Her whole cult thing is worrisome, too. Anyone have any ideas on how to help? Do I sound crazy? Thank you so much for taking the time. I really care about my friend and just want what's best for her.
First off, I want to say that I am a lesbian myself and I feel great about it. I love being with women and have absolutely no qualms about my own identity. I am writing because I am in a quandary surrounding one of my absolute best friends who is beginning to say that she thinks she's a lesbian. The problem? I genuinely don't believe she is, and I'm wondering how to approach this - if I can even approach it at all. I love her very much (platonically) and am deeply, deeply concerned that she may be using this to avoid some deeper psychological issues....
I stopped after your first paragraph. It's all anyone needs to read. Seriously.
... I'm wondering how to approach this - if I can even approach it at all. ....
And here's where you answer your own question.
You're not her therapist. You are her friend. You also aren't the arbiter of who's a lesbian and who isn't. Unless you feel like you are going to end up in a relationship together, or you feel she is going to be abused by someone, butt out. She's a big girl, and she will figure it all out. Right now, she's just pissed about what happened to her.
In the meantime, if she says, "I'm a lesbian!" your response can always be, "Okay. Let's go get Starbucks/Please pass the peas/Do you have today's homework assignment/Did you see the latest Orange is the New Black
? etc. In other words, if she is doing it for shock value, then don't provide the satisfaction of being shocked or intrigued at all. It's as meaningful to you as her telling you she is going to go out and buy new socks.
If she is not doing it for shock value or on a whim, then she'll steer the conversation back. But otherwise, let it go.
Note: if you think she is being abused or could be putting her in that situation, there is nothing wrong with intervening to save her skin but you're still not in a position to judge her sexuality. And if you feel she has mental health issues, steer her to a mental health professional.
She may be bi, who knows?
I'd be more concerned about her "cult" mentality and whether she is acting out, sexually, no matter with whom, recklessly.
Your friend sounds like she needs therapy, but you are not the one to do this.
A few thoughts:
- finding ones identity is a journey. People rarely just automatically know who they are.
- if she does have deep psychological issues, you aren't going to be able to solve it. That's what therapy, or years, are for.
- if she is constantly attracted to people who are bad for her, then he likely does have issues.