I’m a straight woman, late-30s. My close work colleague knows this because we confide in each other and she met my last boyfriend. She’s married. We both have children.
Recently, when my kids were with their father, she came over and we drank too much.
Then she came on to me, to the point of starting to undress.
I was shocked.
I have no problem with her being bisexual, if that’s the case (she’s never said this). But I don’t know how to handle this.
It was a very awkward scene, we were both crying when I backed away from her and said that I wasn’t interested in her or any other woman that way.
I felt that nothing I said was coming out right.
A week later, I can hardly look at her at work.
What can I say or do to get past this?
She’s at least as uncomfortable as you are.
There was no overt coercion. She made an approach, you rejected it honestly, and hopefully weren’t insulting or LGBTQ-phobic.
Your friend may be a later-in-life lesbian, or she may have hidden an attraction to women for fear of just these consequences.
But your long trusting connection let her feel safe to test your response.
Alcohol may’ve played a part, but she wasn’t pushy or persistent.
The US psychotherapist Dr. Joy Davidson has written:
“Instead of falling into static, either/or categories, a woman’s sexual and romantic attractions can be fluid and extremely variable throughout her life span.
“What some people might call being ‘open’ to experiences is often referred to in sexology as ‘sexual fluidity.’”
You were clear that you don’t happen to be “open.”
Greet her at work. Hopefully, time will ease the awkwardness in your friendship.
Readers’ Commentary on career choice (Jan. 10):
“As a career musician, I struggled with the very same question as your letter writer (Jan. 10). Following a path in the arts can be fulfilling if you’re successful, but also fraught with risks.
“I started my career in my early 20’s, having no dependents. I learned that I needed to know my limitations as my field’s intensely competitive.
“Contacts matter. Hours are long and weird. Networking’s imperative and lucky breaks sometime never come.
“It can create a rocky lifestyle unless you don’t care about money or stability. When I later married, I worried a lot.
“When the economy plummets or work dries up or your health is poor, people are depending on you. The stress of not being able to provide can be debilitating.
“Fortunately. my parents taught me that if I wanted to follow my passion I needed a plan “B” for the hard times.
“Whenever my career seemed off track, my “other job” gave me the resources to keep going and invest in myself.
It kept me going until the musical winds were blowing in my favour. I’ve had a long and prosperous career as a result.
“If I had dependents when I started out, it would’ve changed my plan entirely.
“The letter-writer needs a good realistic plan with a steady paycheque if she’s coming a little late to pursuing an arts-related career.”
Ellie – Your caution is valid, and your own story encouraging because you never gave up on your artistic passion but understood the need for being practical.
In the writer’s case, her husband was encouraging her to switch to the artistic course she wanted, even if it wasn’t the most practical.
FEEDBACK Regarding the best friend whose break-up changed her behaviour to promiscuous (Jan. 12):
Reader – “My immediate thought was that she should encourage her friend to see her health practitioner.
“One thing that a clinician would wonder is if this is an initial hypomanic or manic event in an undiagnosed bipolar individual.
“As you noted, testing for sexually transmitted infections is a needed part of her health care.
“But determining the reason for the changed behaviour is equally important.”
Ellie – Like you, I often feel that a person’s mental health state warrants a medical check NOT because she’s necessarily sick, and also not to ignore the fact that she’s entitled to a reaction after the loss of a long-time relationship.
Rather, seeing a doctor or nurse practitioner is a proactive step in moving forward.
Medication isn’t always necessary, but a check-up at least rules out anything harmful that’s underlying her behaviour and undermining her energy and self-confidence.
Tip of the day:
An unexpected but gentle same-gender sexual approach doesn’t have to end a friendship if both stay respectful.