I'm having a problem with one of my friends and I was hoping that you in your infinite wisdom would help. We're both girls; I'm straight, and she has told me repeatedly that she's asexual but heteroromantic (would be a-okay with riding off into the sunset with a guy, just no ensuing HND love scene). Which is totally cool and I'd never really thought about twice, but lately she's been extremely... flirty with me. Like, everything we talk about somehow ends up being about sexytimes. And not just any sexytimes, but sexytimes with me. Sorry for saying sexytimes three times in a row. (Sexytimes.)
Anyways, I joke around about this kind of stuff with pretty much all of my other close friends, including my lesbian friends, but this seems like a lot more than joking. She's repeatedly asked me how I would react if she kissed me and it just really makes me uncomfortable because I don't dig her in a kissy way. I don't know what to do and I don't want to hurt her because I think she's really insecure and confused about her sexuality but every time she walks up to me I dread the inevitable comment about how I'd be great in bed or something. How can we just go back to being ladybros?
Well okay: the bad news is, time travel is just as impossible in relationships as it is everywhere else. So unless you’re equipped with a tricked-out, era-hopping phonebooth (or have an alien friend who can lend you his), you’re out of luck. There is (insert ominous music here) NO GOING BACK.
But wait! It’s okay! Because while you can’t return to a time before your friend’s insecurities started making things weird, you can take her hand and charge bravely onward to a place where you’re not just ladybros once again, but closer and better ladybros for having walked through the weirdness together.
Which is not only your best option, but also a kindness to your friend—who is begging you, in all but actual words, to call her out on her comments and ask her what's going on.
So, if you’re up for it, please put aside your discomfort for long enough to have a private, honest, non-judgmental conversation—and the next time she starts talking about sexytimes, say your own version of the following:
“I’m not sure what you’re looking for when you say things like that to me. You know I'm straight, but I think I've been clear that I care about you and I’ll be your friend no matter what your sexual orientation is. So is there a reason you keep bringing this up? Because if there’s something you want to talk about, I’m here.”
Hopefully, your friend will take this opportunity to bypass the oblique “What if I kissed you?” comments and just spit out the straightforward truth about whatever she’s struggling with (which, if I had to guess, is that identifying as asexual but heteroromantic was just an intermediate stop on her journey to embracing a sexual identity that’s actually neither, but who knows.)
But even if she doesn’t, you’ll still have delivered exactly the message you need to: that when she’s ready to talk directly about her feelings, you’ll be there for her... and that until then, she should talk about something else.
Have you ever helped a friend deal with sexual identity issues? Share your story in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related post: Auntie SparkNotes: The "L" Word. No, the OTHER "L" Word.