i'm (f28) in love with my best friend (f27)
mixed feelings is a multi-voiced advice column. Once a month, a different mental health expert or writer will respond to your most pressing existential conundrums. If you’re dealing with one right now, use our anonymous form to be considered for a future newsletter. This week, writer and actor Eva Reign explores the all-consuming reality of falling in love with your best friend.
dear mixed feelings,
I (f28) have been friends with my best friend (f27) since we were 12, but in the last couple years (like since our early/mid twenties) I kinda get the vibe that she’s into me…but we both have never been with a girl, so I feel like there’s no way of knowing? Women are so comfortable with each other naturally, so I can’t really tell what flirting would feel like…we already cuddle and hold hands lol. I don’t know if I’m reading into it too much….Can I make the first move without freaking her out? And how would I do that? xo, NeverBeenScissored
We partnered with sexual wellness community, FEAST, on this column, pulling this write-in from their forum. Subscribe to FEAST for more sexual wellness and education resources and shop our Talking Hearts Game, PureFuckery necklace, and tattoo sheet now.
hey there NeverBeenScissored,
This question comes at an exciting time for me — I’m a newly-minted resident of Sapphic City, myself, and I can say that, for me, the grass is greener on the other side. But let’s back up a bit. This is more than just a first-time intimate experience with someone of the same gender. This is your best friend. And that makes all the difference.
Not too long ago, I told a very good friend I had feelings for them. I was so nervous I almost fainted from the anxiety. At the same time, it felt liberating to express my true feelings for them. My friend and I always had somewhat of a flirtationship, but nothing was ever spoken until the day I finally let it all out. My friend had no clue I had the strong feelings I did, and while things were uncomfortable at first, we worked through it. Soon we began seeing each other.
Things were great at first. But as time went on, we realized how incompatible we were. The relationship went full-on nuclear and we haven’t spoken since the breakup. I’m sad about it to this day, but I will say this: I have no regrets.
Without risk, there is no love. To embrace the possibility of love, one must be willing to take a chance. If you really want a romantic relationship with your friend, my main question is, are you willing to imperil the friendship? Once you make your feelings known, it will alter your relationship. That being said, this could be the moment when your friendship blossoms into something totally new and worthwhile.
On the question of understanding your sexuality, I can also relate. My sexuality feels like it is constantly developing — I’ve questioned and redefined it several times over the years. It’s very easy to become preoccupied with labels — and the “what does this mean” of it all — whenever feelings develop for people of different genders. Gemma Breit, a therapist at Callen Lorde Community Health Center, the leading LGBTQ primary health center in New York, says that “entering a queer relationship doesn’t mean you have to label yourself. You have feelings for this person, and you don’t have to assign long-term meaning to that.” Unless you want to, of course.
When you feel ready to talk to your friend, take her to one of your favorite hangout spots. I recommend not starting this conversation in either one of your living places and opting for someplace “neutral”, like a coffee shop or a park. This way if anyone feels uncomfortable and needs an escape route, there’s an easy exit. By contrast, if all goes well, there will now be new meaning behind a beloved place. Think about what you’d like to say. Following a script word-for-word never helps me unless I’m literally acting on set, but when it comes to real-life situations, I love to have a general outline of my talking points. Go into this conversation with the intention of growing closer with your friend. Rely on “I” statements as opposed to “you” statements wherever possible, which grants her the space to share her experience without presumption on your end.
I also asked my girlfriend for her expertise. As a lesbian also raised by lesbians, she definitely knows a thing or two. “This is how I would approach this situation,” she said. “First, I would have to know if my friend has ever considered not being straight. Then I would gradually grow from there. ‘Have you ever considered being with a woman?’ Then I would ask, ‘have you ever considered being with me?” She recommends easing into the conversation. By diving in headlong with a proclamation of love without knowing if she is open to dating women more generally, you’re setting yourself up for potential hurt. If she is open, then the more vulnerable piece of this conversation can ensue. But remember – as vulnerable as this is for you, it’s difficult for her as well. Give your friend space to express whatever feelings may pop up for her.
It’s worth mentioning that I also have experience in this arena. A few years ago, a friend of mine told me she had feelings for me. I didn’t know this person very well, and while I did find her attractive, I couldn’t quite bring myself to engage with her beyond our platonic bond. We had a great time together whenever we saw each other. I always thought we were just two girls kicking it. I did, however, consider it turning into something more, but I wanted to discuss some things first. I wanted to know what her intentions were by telling me, how long she had had feelings for me, and how she thought our relationship could shift. Unfortunately, she wasn’t very receptive to this conversation, so I shut down. It felt like my feelings didn’t matter to her. We remained friends after this day, but things were never quite the same. All this is to say, it’s worth considering what your answers would be to these questions when addressing your feelings with your friend.
it can be a beginning, but doesn’t have to be an end
Approach this conversation with the intention of getting closer with your friend, no matter the outcome. Prepare yourself for her to not feel the same way you do, and for that outcome to be okay. As long as you take this as an opportunity for radical honesty, as well as growth, you are doing your best.
If your friend does not reciprocate your feelings, “the friendship is not doomed,” says Breit. “It’s okay to have hurt feelings, [and] it’s okay to make some space between you and your friend.” It’s also important to remember that rejection is not the end of the world, even if it is your best friend. he first thing our mind wants to tell us is that we’re the only person who has ever felt this way, but I promise you are not alone I'm a hopeless romantic, and I’ve had my heart broken more times than I can count. My favorite post-heartbreak activity is binge watching a bunch of superhero movies. But I also always recommend Feel Good on Netflix, The Morning Show on Apple TV or Gen V on Amazon Prime Video. All are funny, exciting, and feature some sapphic characters for you to become obsessed with.
There’s no easy way of going about this. It’s pretty cliché, but also real. I’m wishing you and your friend all the best. I also hope that you find the courage within yourself to take a risk. The strongest relationships begin with friendship, so I think you’re primed and ready for something truly special. You got this! - xo, Eva