Advice From the Trenches

Friends with Benefits: He’s gay and his lesbian bestie wants more

Dear C and Dr. B;

I know a lot of women who have gay male besties. Well, I’m a guy and my best friend Sarah is a gay woman. We do everything together. She is the only one I feel safe enough with to be entirely honest. She accepts me unconditionally and I always have fun hanging with her. But recently, something changed between us and I don’t know how to handle it. Last week, she told me that she loves me. I said that I loved her too, like a sister. That’s when she said she had fallen in love with me. The next  time we hung out, after a couple of glasses of wine, she started coming on to me. I was really surprised because I thought she was just into women, and I told her that. She said, “I don’t know … it’s just how I feel.”  

We fooled around, but didn’t actually have sex. Now I am entirely confused. She is starting to act differently, getting possessive about me too and pissed if I notice other women. This is a real switch from when she used to point them out to me and ask, “What do you think about her?”  She is putting pressure on me to have sex and is acting rejected that I have pushed it off.  What do I do? What would happen if we did it? I don’t want to lose her as friend. Can someone who’s gay suddenly switch like that?


Dr. B says: No label is entirely true in real life. Humans are human and emotions have no boundaries. But just because one feels something doesn’t mean one should act on it. Sex will ruin your relationship, but good boundaries will make it stronger over time. Your relationship with Sarah was based on trust, and you felt safe. If you have sex you will be violating that trust and it will destroy your sense of safety. It might be a different story if you had romantic feelings toward her too, but you don’t, so it would be dishonest and cruel to sleep with her – taking advantage of an opportunity rather than be respecting her as a person. If you stay true to your own feelings and are consistent with the boundaries you had before, she might get mad at first, but should come around. The one unchangeable thing about emotions is that they always do change.    

There are many types of love and sexual love is just one variety. If you want to experience other forms of love, don’t have sex with your best friend!

C says: What is happening with you and Sarah has nothing to do with whether or not she’s gay – she’d probably be like this if she thought she was in love with another woman, too. What you are experiencing is a neurotic, but fairly typical, oxytocin-charged reaction to the onset of a possible relationship. Oxytocin is a pesky hormone that is released by intimate contact, and for many women, it creates a desire to bond. I know that if I’m just friends with a guy, I don’t give a crap who they are attracted to. But if I sleep with that same guy, everything changes. I have an urge to bond, and I become embarrassingly territorial and needy, no matter how independent and non-judgmental I felt before. I am convinced at this point that it is entirely chemical, because it NEVER happens unless I have sex with a guy – so having sex is something I’d never consider with a guy, unless we both wanted an intimate relationship where bonding was pretty much expected. Do you want an intimate relationship with Sarah? If you don’t, then don’t sleep with her or she’s going to be out there hoping for bonding on her own. It’s a cruel thing to do to a friend.

There’s a reason that the whole straight woman with a gay friend works – sex tends to mess things up. Tell Sarah that her friendship means more to you than sex does, and you don’t want to take a chance on losing it. Few intimate relationships are forever, but BFFs are. If she knows how much you love her as a person, but walks away, at least it’s her choice, not yours. That’s the kind of dignified out a real friend would give.

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