Dear Dr. Darcy:
I’m not gay, but a few years ago my best friend of 11 years came out to me. It’s weird because we both got married around the same time, bought houses at the same time, planned to be pregnant together and now everything’s changed. I don’t know what my role is in her life anymore. She’s in a committed relationship and it seems like her girlfriend has become her new best friend. I’ve recently become confused about how to act around her, especially when her girlfriend is with us. I want to be close to her but I’m not sure where the line is between is acceptable “friend” behavior and what could make her girlfriend feel threatened.
I am deeply touched by your openness to learning and by your desire to accept your friend unconditionally. She is lucky to have someone who is so committed to her and who is willing to grow and change with her. I imagine that some of these changes are difficult for you. It sounds like you feel replaced by your BFF’s girlfriend. It gets tricky in lesbian relationships. Her girlfriend may be fulfilling needs in her that you used to meet. Rather than sounding resentful of this (and I wouldn’t blame you if you were), you sound respectful of her relationship and more concerned with redefining your friendship moving forward.
I’m a big fan of avoiding problems before they occur. I’d suggest that you bring up the following topics, and ask for guidance on how she’d like situations like these to play out: 1. Sleepovers: Who sleeps where? What do you each wear? 2. Physical contact: Many hetero GFs do not hesitate to hold hands or cuddle on the couch. When you discuss it with her be specific, (i.e., “So do we still kiss on the lips when we say hello?”) 3. Two is company, is three a crowd? Ask her how she feels hanging out with her girlfriend and you together. Encourage her to let you know (privately) if you ever happen to do or say something that makes her uncomfortable. 4. Girls Night Out: It may no longer include getting annihilated and entering bikini contests. It may need to include frequenting lesbian establishments. Think of what your husband would feel comfortable with if your life-long BFF was a guy who you were going out with on Saturday night.
Most importantly, tell her how much she means to you and that you may need guidance every now and then in navigating the laws in the land of Lesbos.
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Dr. Darcy Smith received her Masters degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from New York University. She has been a practicing social worker for over 10 years and is in private practice in both New York City and New Jersey.
*By submitting questions, the writer acknowledges that she has no rights of confidentiality and that her question or a version thereof may be printed in GO Magazine. Correspondence between Dr. Darcy Smith and a writer does not constitute a therapeutic relationship and such a relationship and the rights/privileges associated with such can only be established through a scheduled, in person session.