I have a friend, let's call her "Gwen." She and I have been best friends for the past two years. We kinda go together like peanut butter and jelly. I'm a pretty conservative person, never been kissed (because I don't believe in doing that quite yet), and my number one priority is school. And I thought Gwen had the same views, except more loosey-goosey on the whole kissing thing.
In our circle of friends, we have these two girls, "Stacy" and "Tracy," who Gwen and I don't really like. They're kinda rude and self-centered and wouldn't mind telling the world any secret they hear. So Stacy and Tracy and Gwen have been talking about this boy, let's call him Jared. I don't know him, so I asked Gwen about him and she said he's this annoying guy she met at a party. So, ok, that's fine. Then the three started talking about Jared some more and Gwen said "He has a big (d-word) but a small brain" which made me a bit uncomfortable, not because of the cursing, but because I think she was being serious. So Stacy and Tracy started asking her about how far she'd gone with him and stuff like that. Whenever there was a question where the answer was "yes," Gwen just blushed and didn't say anything, so we know EXACTLY what she's done. Turns out she's not just loosey-goosy with kissing. If you're familiar with baseball analogies, she rounded third base with this Jared guy.
I told her I was hurt because she didn't tell me, and then she told me everything, but in more detail. I found out that this wasn't her first time or guy rounding third base with. And she keeps telling Stacy and Tracy about her "experiences" in such a joking way, trying to be cool about it. She said that she's only telling them so they can get this guy to stop obsessing over her, but I know they would do exactly the opposite.
And I feel like I don't know her anymore. She's usually a more quiet person around others, except me. And, in my eyes, she was always a good girl. One of the biggest reasons I trusted her and was friends with her is because of her morals being similar to mine. But after hearing this I feel distanced from her even though I don't want to be. I feel almost as though I've been deceived (that's an overstatement, I couldn't find a word less severe than "deceived".)
So Auntie, please help. I need your wisdom because I feel like I've lost one of my best friends.
Okay, Sparkler, here's the deal. Before we go any further, we're going to do a quick, easy, surgical procedure on your problem—whereby we divide your perfectly reasonable unhappiness (that your closest friend didn't trust you with the truth about an important part of her life) from the not remotely legitimate suggestion that Gwen's sexual experience makes her an unknowable, untrustable, unfriendable cipher.
The former is a valid beef. The latter, however, is going in the trash where it belongs. (And where, for good measure, we are going to cut it into tiny little pieces and then set the pieces on fire.)
Because sweet pea, you must realize: a person can share most or all of your values and still differ from you in experience, sexual or otherwise. Even if two people had identical moral centers—and nobody does, because no two people are alike—they still wouldn't live their lives in precisely the same way, or at the same pace.
Or in other words, as you yourself said, you don't believe in kissing boys... yet. But you also know you'll reach that point someday, when you will want to kiss, to date, to fool around, and to have sexual experiences—just like Gwen. It's just that for Gwen, this all happened sooner, and under different circumstances, than it did for you. But that's all it is: an experience, just like getting your period or going to a concert or eating sushi for the first time. Your friend didn't become a worse person, or even a different one, just because she touched a penis.
Meanwhile, here's what's bothering me: that you've not only distanced yourself from your friend over this, but that you're jumping to a lot of really uncharitable conclusions about her behavior and motivations. You suggest she can't be trusted, that she's "trying to be cool," and you say you feel deceived. But why? Gwen never lied to you. She just failed to correct your assumptions about her sexual values—assumptions which she may not have even realized you were making, particularly since sex probably wasn't something you guys ever spent much time talking about. And while it's totally natural and okay to feel hurt that she didn't open up to you about her experiences, it's also not surprising that she'd keep this to herself. Not just because she might not have been ready to share it yet—it is deeply personal, after all—but also because she's your friend, and she might have thought it best not to bring up a topic she knew would make you uncomfortable.
And yet, when you asked? She didn't hesitate; she told you the truth.
Now, tell me: isn't that kind of a big deal? And isn't the fact that she cared about your feelings, and trusted you with the details of her personal life, a far, far better indicator of her worthiness as a friend than how many times, or with how many guys, she's rounded that figurative third base?
I hope you think so, darling. I really do. Because it would be a huge, huge mistake to base your friendships, and your definition of morality, on something as minor and irrelevant as someone's level of sexual experience. Sexual morality isn't totally unimportant, but it's one teensy piece of a very large pie—a pie that includes vital things like your sense of responsibility, your sympathy for suffering, your empathy for those who aren't like you, and your treatment of the people you come into contact with every day. It's so shallow, and so short-sighted, to make your measure of another person's goodness contingent on the comparatively insignificant question of what kind of sex they are or aren't having. Life is so much bigger than that.
But you know that, don't you? A shared approach to sex couldn't possibly be the only reason you were friends with Gwen in the first place—and surely, you're a better, deeper, more thoughtful person than to abandon her over such a minor difference. And when you say you feel like you've lost your best friend, what I have to say is this: you don't have to, if you don't want to. She hasn't gone anywhere, and she hasn't changed; the only thing different is your attitude toward her, and that's entirely yours to control. And if you want your friend back? She'll be waiting right at the place where you left her.
You might owe her an apology, though.
Have you ever lost a friend over figurative sexual base-running? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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