I’ve been friends with a girl (“A”) for five years.
We attend the same place of worship. Her mother felt sorry that I didn't have friends in my high school.
So she forced “A”’s younger sister to invite me over.
I’m more an acquaintance than friends with “B.” But I’ve developed feelings for “A.”
Lately, I’ve started stuttering when I speak to her, or I’m extremely nervous.
For the past year she’s been joking that I already proposed to her and we’re secretly married.
I’m unsure if she’ll take me seriously if I reveal my feelings. I can't stop thinking about her, but I’m scared. I’ve never had a girlfriend.
Worse, everyone in the Congregation believes I have a crush on "B."
I’m not the best-looking or smartest guy, I’m scared of rejection, and that it’d ruin the friendship when I don’t have many friends.
Next time “A” jokes about your “secret marriage,” just say casually, half-joking, “That sounds like a plan.”
If she’s curious about what you mean, say that your friendship’s very special, but if you ever have feelings for each other, that’d be perfect.
She clearly cares about you, but a strong friendship is also very valuable. Since you’re both still young, handle this slowly.
If “A” wants to continue as friends, time will reveal where that may or may not lead.
Meanwhile, having put the idea out there, you can work at being less nervous around her.
FEEDBACK Regarding “Emotionally Drained” who says he can’t have the man he loves because “gays aren’t respected” in his society (Jan. 8):
Reader – “I’m a gay, registered psychotherapist working extensively with sexual orientation and gender identity, often in other cultural contexts.
“You accused the writer of “using the bisexual label” to avoid another reality, thus defining what his orientation ought to be, and that his only choice is to come out.
“You also assumed that moving to an “accepting society” is easy.
“While I respect most of your responses, I was surprised that your reply reflected such a biphobic, privileged view of this man.
“Assuming that bisexual people are gay/lesbian but afraid to face this, is found extensively in the LGBTQ community and in the straight community.
“For heterosexuals, it’s another way of pigeon-holing and quantifying people at either end of the sexuality spectrum.
“It also negates the ability of bisexual people to love and be attracted to a person, rather than a gender.
“Perhaps you can help the writer understand that you’re willing to accept and affirm his right to self-define.
“And that he may be best served by seeking counseling/psychotherapy to help him navigate his concerns and make informed decisions about his life and relationships.”
Ellie – I respect this knowledgeable, thoughtful feedback. My responses now are only to clarify.
The advice seeker wrote that he “thought” he was bisexual, but had to hide his love for the other man due to anti-gay sentiment around him.
I understand that he can be bisexual and gay, but it still seems obvious he wants to fully live in a gay relationship, but is afraid to do so where he lives.
I suggested that, if he feels serious danger, he try to re-locate, never assuming that such a move is easy.
I’m not biphobic, homophobic, nor lesbian-phobic. But I accept that my personal experience is not the same as the writer’s.
The feedback writer’s suggestion that this man seek professional counselling is a good one.
I ended contact with my extended family ten years ago. There was so much turmoil that I’d hoped distance and time would help.
I'm guessing from their reaction to me that they felt rejected.
They soon stopped inviting me. Weddings and funerals happened without my knowing.
I’d hoped we’d have a mature relationship with them, with healthy boundaries, but I’ve been absolutely excluded.
There are 20 of them, and only four of us (in my immediate family).
The “maturity” can come from you, since you’ve found that just distancing brings distance, not mutual respect.
They felt your rejection and haven’t developed a broader view, as you have.
Now, your family of four has something to offer - another generation - and something to gain – re-connections, and a better perspective on it all.
Make the first moves.
Invite them all for a casual get-together. Include some brief words of regret at not having stayed in touch.
Tip of the day:
A strong mutual friendship is more confidence building than an insecure relationship.