• Other Friendship Advice

My confusing relationship with my lesbian friend

Published: July 27, 2012 | Last Updated: March 24, 2013 By | 20 Replies Continue Reading

Letter removed at request of poster on 8/30/12


Hi Linda,

Two thoughts occur to me. First, you sound very confused and conflicted about your own feelings towards your lesbian friend. You overthink the meaning of her words and gestures; feel sexual tension when you are together; and have a need to exchange keepsakes and express love “on an affectionate level.” All of this suggests that your feelings may be more than platonic. On the other hand, you are married and say you would definitely not feel comfortable sharing her bed.

Second, despite the length of this friendship, you have never been able to openly discuss your feelings with her. As a result, you aren’t sure of your friend’s side of the story and, instead, are wallowing in your own speculations about “what-ifs.” If you want to better understand your friend’s hesitation in having you stay overnight and the nature of your relationship, you need to talk to her and find out her thoughts.

Before you speak, however, it would be wise to clarify your own feelings about this friendship—perhaps by discussing them with a therapist. It’s not uncommon for straight women to sexualize lesbian friendships because unlike other intimate female friendships, sex may be an option. Thinking about this situation from your friend’s perspective, she may be as confused as you about the relationship, and may be fearful of violating boundaries that might compromise the friendship.

If you neglect to address these issues between you, the likelihood is great that the relationship between you and your friend will only grow more distant. Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Gay friends

Comments (20)

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  1. JB says:

    My same sex friend asked me to share the bed with her. Then, she didn’t want me to share the bed with her and said she never asked me to????? What’s up?????

  2. Maria says:

    Once I saw two of my friends kissing.I was shocked , I mean I never saw something like this.They told me that it was just an awkward moment , an that’s why they kissed.I belived them,but actually X saw them again.They admited to X that they’re together for two months.When I saw them again , I asked if they are together but thay denied.
    Now I really don’t care about them being lesbians, but it hurts when they lie on my face , and I actually know the truth.I just realized that I lost two of my bfs.
    (sorry if I did not wrote correct, but i’m from portugalia)

    • mariana says:

      Dear Maria
      Nothing wrong at all with lesbianism. It is a way of sexual life between two women fall in love sexually with each other.

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    I guess what you say makes sense. Female friends that are genuine, certainly are more likely to be friends for life. In contrast, with fair-weather friends, who only want to know you, when everything is going smoothly!! Also, it’s true, you do tend to invest more into the solid friendships, and with that, some feeling surely are going to be more intense, which would still be classed as platonic.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Beginning in jr. high it became clear to me that boyfriends would come and go, were fickle and not reliable. I saw how they treated my older sisters and cousins, and was treated the same by boys I met. But my female friendships seemed solid, for life (little did I know), and more like flesh and blood relatives. So I took them seriously. And became invested and much more concerned and involved with nurturing my friendships. I never had a “friends are just seasonal” attitude toward my best friend and close friends. This has been the foundation of my attitude about female friends. I don’t recall ever having any kind of sexual feelings for them. I do recall my sexual feelings for boys, though. So isn’t it possible that the intensity of feelings for female friends can stem from platonic feelings and not sexual ones? When you grow up feeling that female friends are the ones you can really count on and can be with you forever?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I want to take the opportunity to thank Linda for posting her letter and for Irene’s good advice as a response, as well as the considered comments of others to this issue.

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    Like someone else mentioned earlier, this topic, sexuality in female friendship, is apparently common but not often discussed openly, even in the 21st century, when lesbianism is often perceived as “glamorous” by the media and in celebrity culture. I suppose there is still a taboo element to the notion of sexual feelings in the platonic realm, especially when such feelings are serious and intense, and not just two women “playing it up” for the attention of men, for example.

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    This is also a topic with which I have personal experience: For much of my life, I have harbored deep emotional feelings for female friends and, over time, the emotional component has had sexualized elements. They were, in effect, romantic “crushes,” though for years, I didn’t realize this was the case. They were intense and all-consuming. My crushes on boys while in high school and college often seemed like “puppy love” by comparison.

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    I did eventually stuff these feelings away, feeling a shame about them I couldn’t define, and married a man. We ended up having numerous communication problems, and there was some emotional and verbal abuse, but I blamed myself. I was very unhappy for a number of years, but had a hard time explaining why; I assumed something was wrong with me.

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    At this time in my life, I ended up meeting an online friend who I found “fit” with the emotional needs I had longed for in a close relationship. Instantly, those feelings I had long ago left behind began to resurface, slowly but steadily. Like Linda mentions in her letter, we used (and still use) terms of endearment, like “my love” and such, because we both truly feel devoted to one

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    another in a deep way.

    As our friendship grew, I found myself thinking about this friend (a married woman, like me) all of the time; reading into comments even though, intellectually, I presumed she didn’t feel the same feelings I felt. I liked the “rush” of my feelings toward her, as they reminded me of these ‘crushes’ of my younger years.

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    However, it soon became a ‘slippery slope’: We at one time had a suggestive conversation that could have spiraled into something intense, but she knew to stop it before it got out of hand. I had understood, but part of me was still disappointed; I had wanted it to go further. That’s when I knew something was “different” about me and my feelings.

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    I found myself getting jealous of the other online friends she made, thinking these friends had something I didn’t have; I wanted to flirt again and despaired when she seemingly freely did this with others but not with me.

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    Meanwhile, I would put up a smoke-and-mirrors personae around her; I would try to express my strong feelings toward her without actually admitting anything (that, after all, was ‘too scary’, and worse, what if she freaked out and rejected our friendship altogether?).

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    Luckily for me, my friend was onto my extreme denial and slowly but surely pulled the truth from me, even as I agonized the whole time. She told me, after another veiled comment I had made, “You have some kind of crush on me, don’t you?” I took it in a joking way, all the while thinking: “OMG she knows!”

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    The next day, she told me she had always known; that I was transparent in my feelings and that to admit bisexuality on my part did not need to redefine my relationships in my life, either now or up until that point –that I had, in fact, lived with it for so long that to admit it (even if only to myself and to her) wouldn’t mean anything other than to finally acknowledge something that had always been a part of me. There are no words to describe how freeing her acceptance was to me.

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    She told me some days later that all she had wanted was for me to be honest with myself and with her, to be “real”, because these feelings I have for her are a continuation of my story. Far from freaking out over my crush on her, she’s accepted it and she is still my closest and dearest friend, who understands me like no other.

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    As for me, the crush has lessened somewhat in its intensity after I finally admitted it to her, but the devotion is just as strong as ever, and I’m still more than a little awestruck by having such a wonderful and awesome friend.

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    There is always a risk in admitting your feelings, true; but I would wish you the same experience I had, and a friend who accepts you for who you are, unconditionally, because those are the friends that are true.

  7. Anonymous says:

    yes, i think it’s common but subterranean. i am glad irene opened up this discussion through this letter, and I would like to see it explored further in this blog. because it is so common—so secret—and so confusing.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I was in a close female friendship that took a sexual turn..and cause so much confusion in the relationship, it actually ended the relationship…we just could commicate about our feelings..but I have assumed it was just a strange experience, 2 life long straight women being attracted to each other only….is this a common but secret thing?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Your viewpoint seemed to make sense. Linda’s friend maybe single and unable to reciprocate. However, I did wonder, if Linda may well be scared to speak openly with her friend, for fear of some kind of rejection, in case her friend wanted more from the friendship, than Linda could cope with.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Friendship is a relationship that is incomparable. You have to take care of it and nourish it. For if the relationship breaks, it is hard regain it.

  11. Irene says:

    Thanks for adding your very insightful and eloquent comment~


  12. Anonymous says:

    I agree, but I am actually surprised that I have seen so few candid discussions about sexual feelings in female friendships on “The Friendship Blog.” They are, after all, extremely common (although often kept very secret) in female friendships.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Your up-front definitions of “married/straight” and “lesbian” struck me as black and white, while my own take on female sexuality is that it is complex and psychological. The continuum between exclusively straight and exclusively same-sex is a blurry one, perhaps more grey than with men. The outward, long term lifestyle choices that women make are often at odds with the sexual feelings they may have, at certain junctures in their life journey, or within the context of certain relationships.

    Such definitions simplify life for us and the people in our lives, but we must remember that they are only convenient shorthand to make life easier. Underneath, we are much more complex, as human beings and sexual beings. A gay man I know says, “We are all a little gay.” As such, we don’t have to feel anxious or conflicted when sexual feelings surface in a close, so-called “platonic” relationship. Sexual feelings can simply be accepted as part of the package. Whether or not we choose to act on them is a different matter, of course.

    I totally agree with Irene that frank, caring discussion could lead to greater understanding in this situation. However, people who are “our age” have probably lived at least some chapters of their lives in secrecy and in fear of cruel rejection because of their sexual orientation. They are good at hiding their feelings—they have had to be—and they may not be good at discussing them.

    This is a complex situation, and there are no simple answers. We can never truly know what goes on deep in the heart of another person, even if that person is a close friend. Especially when that person has gone through the difficult journey of same-sex preference growing up, one must respect that person’s struggles and understand that ambivalence in a “platonic” friendship could be coming from a thousand private feelings at odds with each other. You may be hurt, but my guess is, your friend has had no intention to hurt you. She is just having trouble dealing.

    Therapy is always good for clarifying feelings, and Irene’s suggestions are well taken. The next step, talking this out with your friend, makes some sense, as long as you proceed with great care and empathy, and respect her private struggles that she may—or may not–choose to share.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your comment. I am just relieved to hear I am not alone out there. The main issue is that I am genuinely very fond of her, as a friend. Perhaps you could post more about your difficult friendship-


  15. Anonymous says:

    Nice article, thanks for sharing.
    I have same experience with my lesbian friend.
    Anna @ sewa mobil jakarta

  16. Anonymous says:

    Irene– just wanted to leave a comment applauding you for tackling a super important issue, for inviting more honesty, and for calling to greater compassion. Your response was succinct, thoughtful, and clarifying. Good work!!!!


  17. Irene says:

    It’s hard to find appropriate pictures—sometimes harder than responding to a question. This looked like "a kiss" to me 🙂

  18. Anonymous says:


    I am grateful for Linda’s candid letter and impressed with your response.

    As a therapist who is a lesbian, I have experience with this. Also, I have read many books about lesbian friendships and lesbian relationships. Yet, none of the books I’ve read so far have included content about friendships between straight and lesbian women. It is a topic that deserves attention because we women – straight or lesbian – rely on and value our friendships so much.

    Reading Linda’s letter to you, I had many of the same thoughts you did. Also, Linda is married. Yet, we don’t know what her friend’s relationship status is. It could be that her lesbian friend is single and cannot afford to reciprocate with gifts because she has lived without the financial and legal benefits of marriage. Her friend’s relationship status could play a role.

    Also, like other women, lesbians experience the same life changes all women do — challenges that can cause our friendships to be challenged, to change or to grow to become even better or closer. Lesbians have children or stepchildren whom we parent who require a lot of our time and energy. We have parents and other family member who grow old and become ill for whom we provide care giving. And, we manage to take care of ourselves and others while living our adult lives without the financial benefits of being partnered with a man. Compared to us and our partners, our straight girlfriends’ husbands usually make significantly more money. Even if we are DINKs (dual income, no kids), we are two women, not two men. Usually, our gay men friends are a lot better off financially than we are.

    There is a lot for Linda and her friend to talk about. Your advice that Linda sort through her own feelings first was great. I hope she will take that advice and then talk to her friend so they can clear the air and, hopefully, enjoy their friendship again.

    I treasure my straight girlfriends. With them, I have much in common and, because we are so clear about who we are and what our friendships mean to us. Although our busy schedules, geographic distance, lifestyle or other differences may make the time we spend together short or infrequent, we enjoy sharing companionship when we can and we treasure our shared honesty and the support we give each other through life’s changes.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Usually the images Irene picks for her blog entries make sense. But the two goldfish staring at each other? I’m stumped! LOL. Come on, Irene, please explain.

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