Dear Bitter Butch,
How do I fall out of love with my BFF, who doesn’t reciprocate after a year of misery? I told her I was developing feelings for her a while ago and she said she didn’t feel the same way. I said that our friendship was most important and I would try to forget it. Is there ANY way to save our friendship? She acts like I never told her my feelings at all. We connect over genderqueer things and she tells me she is asexual.
As horrible as it is, I don’t know how to believe her. I can’t help but think it’s because of how she’s been raised, that she’s scared of someone loving her for real.
However, she does seem to have a girlfriend that she met through the internet. I flew halfway across the country to go visit her in New York because she was feeling alone, and I love her, and it broke my heart to have her act like she was reciprocating some of my actions, but yet she doesn’t reciprocate my feelings. Everything we did while I was there was like we were dating, all the museums we went to, the restaurants.
Even before that how we both went to our first gay bar and I held her hair back when she got sick all evening on New Year’s. I haven’t been the same since. The whole time I was in New York, it was Kyrsten this, and Kyrsten that (her GF); it was painful.
The worst part is: She means SO MUCH to me. We went to kindergarten and first grade at a Lutheran private school together and she also happens to be my my oldest friend. We reconnected through a mutual ex bf at the same high school years later, after I up and disappeared when my bio parents divorced in grade school.
I feel like I’m falling apart and I’m running out of ways to cope. Is she dealing with this the wrong way? Am I? Most importantly what do I do? I’m not sure I’ve ever felt pain like this.
Oohhhhh I am so sorry. Heartbreak is the worst — especially when it’s like this: with someone you share such an important trait with (being genderqueer), with someone you see as your best friend, with someone you have such a long history with.
You asked me how to get over her, and I have some thoughts, but I need to back up and answer the unspoken questions in this letter: The questions you are asking when you say that she acts like you never told her your feelings at all; the question you are asking when you say that you don’t believe that she is really asexual;1 the question you are asking when you say that everything the two of you did on your recent trip was like you were dating.
With these parts of the letter, you are asking: why won’t she love me? Is there a way I can make her love me? Is there any hope?
The answers to your unspoken questions are: I don’t know, no, and no.
I’m sorry. But those are the answers, and she has been telling you this all along.
I don’t know why she doesn’t love you. Love is mysterious. Love is maddening. We can’t make ourselves feel something we don’t feel — no matter how kind the person is who wants us to love them. No matter how much they go out of their way to be a good friend. No matter how selfless and helpful and no matter how deep our connection goes to them.
In answer to your other question, I don’t think she is handling this badly. She clearly stated she didn’t share your feelings. She wants to be your friend, and is taking your word for it that you will try to forget your feelings and focus on the friendship. That is it. Going to restaurants and museums is not dating. I’ve gone to museums and restaurants with tons of friends with whom I have no sexual relationship. (I’ve also held back the hair of many a puking girl I was not dating.) The fact that she continually brought up her girlfriend during this trip tells me that she wanted to be very sure you knew her heart lies with someone else, or, she thinks you have stopped feeling that way about her and she was just in that obsessed phase.
She is being as clear as she can.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re handling this badly, either. Unless you left a bunch out of your letter, you are not hounding her sexually. You are not moping and glaring and putting down her girlfriend. You are just hanging around her, hoping her feelings will change.
This tactic is as old as the hills. And it has been completely unsuccessful for just as long, no matter what all of these stupid poisonous Romantic comedies we all grew up on tell you. You will not win the girl by showing her you are worthy.
She is not going to be your girlfriend. Full stop.
I am sorry if I was unnecessarily rough on you in this letter; I read so much hope hidden in your letter, and the first step in getting over someone is this: crush your hope.
So, um, I’m helping! I’m helping!
After you have crushed your hope, you need some damn distance.
I am genuinely friends with people I used to date. Real, loving, warm, close friendships. But we needed months and sometimes years apart before that was possible. I think for the purposes of this person you need to treat her that way: like an ex. You’ve had feelings for her for an entire year. Unrequited or not, those feelings are real and you need to get over them.
To get over her, assuming you have crushed your hope, you need space. And if you want to continue a friendship, you need to tell her why you require that space. Tell her that you are trying to do what you promised: get over her, so that you two can be genuine friends. Then block her on FB and ask her not to contact you for six months.
And then follow through.
I always advocate getting over a break (in this case it’s your heart that is broken; I stand by calling it a break) with space, time, and other people.
I don’t mean to use other people; I mean to cry for about a week and watch movies and rage angrily about your BFF’s faults: real and imagined, and then to get out of the house. Go to a party. Go to a movie with a friend.
Then get your ass on okcupid and find some folks who just want casual sex. There is nothing wrong with casual sex, btw, in case this worries you, and that’s where all the gender non-normative folks hang out.
Space: keep away from her. Time: for at least a few months. (Six is best. You lost her friendship for a lot more years than that, and it still came back!) Other people: social outings, sure. Sex, even better.
I am sorry. For those of us who are queer in ways that isolate us (in your case, you’re a minority of a minority), a near-miss like this one is going to be really painful, and hard to get over, and I wish it weren’t so.
You are going to be okay. It just sucks.
BITTER BUTCH aka Haddayr Copley-Woods is a queer, a cripple, a nerd, a mom to two kids with neurological differences, and has a truckload of opinions on everything including sex and relationships, parenting, disability issues, family relationships, work dynamics, gender/sexuality issues, and etiquette. You can reach her with all your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Post image via Shutterstock]
For those wondering why the letter-writer said that it was ‘horrible’ not to believe her on this and to believe that she fears being loved ‘for real,’ it’s because asexuality is a real thing and sexual love isn’t any more real than asexual love, and I think the letter-writer knows this but is just hoping that this might be the case so that this unrequited love might become requited, which is not horrible. It is wishful thinking. If the writer told this friend she wasn’t really asexual and only sexual love is real, that would be horrible. ↩