STEP 1: TELL HER
This is the scary part — the oh-my-God-I-can’t part — but it’s where you’ve got to start, because if you don’t shoot your shot, you’ll never know. You’ve been talking for months and she’s your person — the one you vent to when you’re sad, the one you hit up when you want to spread your good mood. You spent hours on Tumblr just looking for memes you think she’ll like, and when she responds with the double heart emoji, your heart goes pitter-patter. The last thing you do every evening before bed is tell her good night.
So you tell her. You tell her that while she’s never made it clear, you’re pretty sure she’s straight. You tell her that you don’t want to come across as predatory; most important — this is vital — you tell her that you’re not expecting anything to change, because you know what her answer is going to be before you send the message.
You know what her answer is going to be, but there’s a tiny part of you that thinks maybe, and so you have to tell her so you can kill that part dead.
STEP 2: OPEN A BOTTLE OF ROSÉ
To digest a straight girl’s rejection is something like the way you feel after a fancy five-course meal: exhausted, lethargic, more than ready for a nap. Or, maybe it’s more like food poisoning. Of course, she doesn’t phrase it as rejection. She tells you that you’re important to her, too, and what’s worse is that you believe her.
Why are you every straight girl’s platonic soulmate? Why does every gal just want to be pals? This is not the first time something like this has happened. You tell her that you’ll stay friends, of course. Of course, you couldn’t imagine cutting her out. The important thing is that no matter how you feel about each other, you stay a part of each other’s lives — and blah, blah, blah.
The moment calls for rosé. You’ve got a French bottle in your fridge and your mother always warned you about drinking alone, but some situations just call for it.
STEP 3: UGLY CRY
Wearing mascara? It’s going to streak. You tell her you’re fine but a little bit sad, which is close to the truth. It’s not the end of the world — it’s not. This is what you were expecting, but it’s still a lead weight around your neck dragging you down. You drink the first two glasses of rosé a touch too quickly and purse your lips like a girl in a black turtleneck from a French new wave film. For a moment, you’re the picture of elegant existentialism.
But you have to get ugly. Now is the time you have to dwell on it. Now is the time to let yourself feel every last one of your feelings. She’s not there, she can’t see you cry, and you’re not crying to get her attention. You’re crying because this sucks, and no matter how gently she let you down, you know it sucks.
STEP 4: JOIN EVERY DATING APP IN EXISTENCE
So the problem with dating apps is every time you make a connection and send a message, there’s this thought in the back of your head that you’d rather be talking to your straight best friend. Kill that thought! Remember that while you love her dearly, she is never ever going to love you back the way you need her to.
Get yourself dolled up enough to snap a few selfies (kill the voice inside of you that says you’re too ugly for Tinder) and download literally every dating app you’ve ever heard of. You keep falling for straight girls! Next time, fall for someone with the label “wlw” in their dating profile.
What are you looking for? A hook-up? A date? A conversation? A lifelong romance? You have absolutely no idea, and it doesn’t really matter right now! The important thing is that you’re taking action — you’re putting yourself out there.
STEP 5: SEND THE FIRST MESSAGE
So you’ve swiped left and you’ve swiped right, and — miracle of miracles — you’ve gotten liked back! Wonderful. Send the first message. Do not mention the straight girl. This feels like a break-up. This isn’t a break-up; you’re still friends, but something you hoped for is dead, so it is a little bit like a break-up — and you need a rebound. No one wants to hear about your straight-girl crush.
Keep it short and flirty. When you message the first girl, mention something from her profile or comment on something in one of her photos. Don’t be creepy about it. Is she holding a cat? Mention the cat! Talk about wanting to get cuddly with the cat. Wish you had a cat to cuddle.
You are definitely not ready for this yet, but your therapist says that if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting the whole entire rest of your life. Make a note to text your therapist tomorrow morning.
STEP 6: TELL YOUR GROUP CHAT YOU WANT TO SHAVE YOUR HEAD
You’ve been wanting to do it all quarantine, and every time you come close, you end up chickening out. The girls in your group chat have talked you out of it every single time you’ve mentioned it, but a couple of them have gotten bangs in the meantime, and that’s practically the same thing, right?
Your roommates have clippers, but they’re at a protest tonight and you’re not quite confident enough to do this on your own. Also, you don’t know where the clippers are. You could text your roommates and find out, but more than the haircut itself, you need the camaraderie that comes with someone else cutting your hair. (Think Shane cutting Jenny’s hair as “Naked As We Came” plays).
One of the girls in your group chat offers to send you rose gold hair dye if you promise not to shave your head tonight, so that solves that problem.
STEP 7: ACTUALLY SHAVE YOUR HEAD
Or does it? Your roommate is back from their protest and they think that, actually, you’d rock a shaved head. And it’s just hair, right? It’ll grow back.
Materials needed for a head-shaving: Whitney Houston blasting from your roommate’s iPhone, a set of clippers, a kitchen floor, and a broom to sweep everything up. You know the moment they turn on the buzzers that this was the right move. Your roommate compares the sensation to a cat purring, and you feel this moment of queer solidarity: this hair cut, this ’80s music, this buzzing around your head as they make sweeping motions with the clippers.
You are itchy with hair by the time they’re done. You look at yourself in the mirror. It wasn’t as radical a change as you were expecting it to be, but it’s good. It’s good.
STEP 8: CHECK THE DATING APPS
Well, you just shaved your head, so those selfies you just took? Totally useless. You’re victorious and, at the same time, worn down, thrilled by the notion of change but terrified that the change is only superficial — that nothing, really, is different.
You sent “hi” to a few girls. Some of them said “hi” back. What else is there to say? Have you screwed this up already? Leave it for tomorrow, when you feel like less of a wreck.
A sense of ennui is winning; you’re the French girl in the turtleneck again. You thank your roommate profusely, promise to go thrifting with them this weekend, and say you’re turning in for the night.
STEP 9: GIVE UP ON HAVING A GOOD NIGHT
Listen: It happens. It’s not going to be a great night. You’re not going to throw an impromptu party. Actually, you’re probably going to go to bed at 9:30 p.m. because you’re just that exhausted and that completely over today.
And you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes you just have to let the parts that suck suck, because there is no quick and easy guide to getting over your straight best friend in 10 simple steps. Because nothing in life is that simple.
It’s going to hurt for a while and you’re going tto have to let it hurt, and that’s just the way it’s going to have to be.
STEP 10: TEXT HER GOOD NIGHT
You said nothing was going to change, right? You assured her that nothing was going to change. And that means saying good night to your straight best friend every night right before you go to bed.
You open the messaging app, type out the words “Night, love” with a heart emoji. That’s what you always send her. Does calling her “love” mean something different now? Is further attention unwarranted and unwanted? She said she’s still your friend. Are you still capable of being her friend?
You send the message. And as you flick off the lights in your bedroom, your phone lights up in the dark: “Night, dear” with a little emoji of a star.