I fell in love with my best friend. It was the first same-sex relationship/dating-ship for either of us and came out of the blue. It was after a break-up with someone I was really in love with and neither of us were in a good place (depression, job difficulties, general unhappiness) and after six months of rockiness, I realised I was being unfair to both her and myself. I wasn’t ready to commit and I felt like the emotional attachment we had to one another was too intense.
It got toxic and was unhealthy. It was more dependency than anything else, but six months on I’m still really struggling with it. We go back and forth between trying to be friends and not speaking, and even now it’s up and down almost every day. Even though we’re both moving on/trying to move on in new datingships, it’s hard when it’s your best friend and there are still feelings there. Hanging out is hard and not speaking is even harder. What should I do? – R
Dear “R” stands for Rollercoaster,
So many details are left out of this wild scenario – who was the ex you were in love with? How did it end? You dated your best friend?! And it was the first same sex experience for you both?!? Were the feelings brewing over time? O-m-g… did you always have feelings for each other? Why are you just now exploring this side of your sexuality? Did your friend want the breakup? Is that person still in love with you? And what’s going to happen next?!?
At first reading your situation sounds like the making of a bittersweet indie film: Two best friends who finally accept the romantic connection they share, each one confronting his or her own true sexual identity… AND YET, tragedy strikes and life pulls them apart… will the friendship ever be the same? But your life isn’t a movie, is it? And I have a suspicion that this relationship was started to be just that – a wild, emotionally intense distraction from some very real pain points in your life.
Piecing through your message it became clear you’re dealing with three separate issues here. The first is your Relationship Problem. You ended a serious relationship with a person you were in love with and immediately jumped into another relationship. Putting aside that the new relationship was with your best friend, the fact that you didn’t allow yourself time to process the major emotional event that had just happened to you is a red flag.
You also cite some things that cue someone who is not laying the foundation for a successful relationship: Job difficulties and I believe “general unhappiness” was how you put it? It’s a firm stance of mine that one must be at least minimally happy and resolved with themselves before they can have a successful relationship. Yes, any unemployed bump on a log can in fact have a relationship, but in my experience those who are unhappy with themselves do not make great partners. They may find themselves in a relationship, maybe several, but they will not last long, and they will not end pretty.
Next we have the Sexual Identity Problem. Not so much a problem as a truth you either are or are not going to explore and accept. To engage in a same-sex relationship or sexual experience for the first time is a thing of note. Now, I believe sexuality is just various shades of grey – and that terms like “gay” “straight” and “bi” are laughable. You are attracted to who you are attracted to when you are attracted to them. Maybe you’re gay, maybe you’re bi, maybe you just fell in love with your best friend. But I do think in terms of understanding and accepting yourself there’s some work to do here. If there are deeper layers to your sexuality and you’re suppressing them, then that’s going to lead to an unhealthy and unresolved sense of self. It’s great that you explored this curiosity. Unwise, I would say, to have tested the waters with a best friend.
And finally we have your Friendship Problem. You are trying to return to the same friendship you once had but there’s no use because that friendship doesn’t exist anymore. Once you began a romance you officially detonated your friendship as you once knew it. This doesn’t mean you can never be friends again, it just means you can’t be friends in the same way you once were.
I don’t believe your friendship has to end, but it does need to be redefined. As of now you are both unhappy reminders of the bad place you were in when you dated. You’re both dealing with all the unhappy shit you mentioned, plus the loss of a relationship, plus the loss of a friendship. And and on top of that she’s also dealing with the feeling of rejection!
You can’t get over someone you still have feelings for by hanging out with them. You don’t walk into the bakery when you’re on a diet, and you don’t go to the key party when you’re in recovery (if you don’t know the reference, don’t ask). You see each other and want things to be normal but you haven’t allowed the sufficient time needed for you each to move on to new phases of life.
When you were together you were depressed and jobless. You each need to get your respective shit together and then meet again as whole, successful young women (or men, you never mentioned gender). Neither of you is ready to be friends yet. You’re not ready for new relationships either I would argue. Take some time and focus on yourself, and when you feel like you’re at a place where you can healthily meet your new-old best friend, call her up.
At that point, respectfully acknowledge your shared past, laugh it off, and move on. You won’t be the same person, and neither will she, but maybe those two new people will hit it off. Maybe they’ll even be best friends.