What Is Happening To Me?

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Dear KitschMix,

I’m straight and my close friend is gay. She has a girlfriend and I have a boyfriend. My friend and I spend a lot of time together. We are always laughing and having fun. We are very touchy feely, not just when it’s the two of us but also around other friends. Today we were laughing and we were holding hands and then I heard my boyfriend and all of the sudden I jumped and I was clearly startled. I tried to not make a big deal about it, also in the hopes that nobody would have noticed my reaction.

The thing is I think I have some romantic feelings for her, and being alone with her made me want more time alone with her. Now I’m so confused…

Hello reader! I think that this happens to be a fairly common “problem”. Really, this plays right into the idea that sexuality is fluid, as well as my personal theory that our sexuality is really just a relative position on a huge spectrum. (In my own personal theory, the vast majority of people would be bisexual under “exactly perfect circumstances” – no matter how they identify under “normal circumstances”. I haven’t done any formal studies on the subject, but I am super excited that some scientists have decided that there’s no such thing as a straight girl.)

Okay, okay, I’ll throw my personal theories to the side for now, and get to your specific situation. For a large portion of society, they never bother to question their sexuality until something comes up that prompts them to explore it. For some, this would pertain to sexual abuse, which can lead to the misinformation that being sexually abused “turns you gay”. For others, they don’t question things until they physically find themselves attracted to someone of the “wrong gender”. (I’m not trying to imply that there’s such a thing as being attracted to “the wrong gender” – hopefully you understand what I am trying to get at here.)

In your specific situation, there are a number of factors that could be in play here. There’s a possibility that you’re bisexual, and just hadn’t thought about it until very recently. I personally think this is the most likely factor at play here, but again – I haven’t done any formal studies on the subject.

Reading a little further into the situation, there’s also a possibility that you’re questioning yourself because of your satisfaction in the relationship with your boyfriend. How deeply do you feel about him? If you’ve been going through a particularly rocky patch lately, it’s entirely possible that you’re falling victim to the widely-known “I’m just going to be gay, then” mindset, although at a much less conscious level than what we’re used to seeing. While there is nothing wrong with questioning yourself, you should take care that you’re not misappropriating your feelings of disappointment with one specific member of the opposite sex, as a widespread attraction to the same sex. It can be tempting, and I’ve even fallen victim to this trap, in the reverse context – I started dating guys for a brief period of time, after a particularly rough relationship ended.

Yet another possibility is that you’re mistaking your close friendship for attraction, due to your hormones. You mentioned being touchy-feely with one another. Physical intimacy, whether meant in an intimate, romantic context or not, cause the brain to produce oxytocin, which is a bonding chemical. This can lead to confusion, as many women are touchy-feely with their friends, and this bonding is meant to cement your friendship. However, if combined with other factors that might make you question things, it’s understandable that you’d wonder how this friendship will progress now that these “feelings” (which could be imaginary) are out in the open.

I must advise you against pursuing anything with her while either of you is in a relationship. I’m also not saying that you should dump your boyfriend specifically to get with her, or that you should convince her to leave her girlfriend. If you start a relationship with the pain of ended relationships, it’s highly unlikely that either of you will be happy in the relationship – and it’s incredibly possible that you’ll still be hung up on your ex during the first part of the relationship. (Here’s why that’s a bad idea.)

If you are seriously interested in her, it might be worth having a conversation with her, and a separate conversation with your boyfriend. I think that it’s important to be honest with your partners if you’re not sure that they’re what you want in your life – every time I dated guys, I made sure they knew that I strongly preferred women, and wasn’t even sure if I liked men in the slightest. Most were understanding, although there weren’t many who “allowed” me to explore something with women. It’s important that you realize you cannot (and should not) pressure someone into an open relationship.

It is possible, though, that you can reach some sort of experimental agreement among all of you – but it will need to be an agreement across everyone. You’ll also need to understand that bringing it up can damage your relationship with your friend and/or your boyfriend – but not bringing it up can rip you apart internally. You’ll never know until you give it a shot, and I personally think it’s worth the risk. But please, make sure you’re in a safe space (physically and emotionally) when you bring this up.

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