Welcome to ¡Hola Papi!, the advice column where John Paul Brammer helps people work through their anxieties, fears, and life's queerest questions. If you need advice, send him a question at [email protected]
I’m a queer man in my late 30s, and over the course of the last year, I’ve developed a close friendship with a straight man in his mid-20s.
We’re in the same performing arts scene in our city and share in some of the same projects and social circles. I love our friendship. We plan trips, we collaborate, we listen to music and watch movies together, we arrive to social functions together and leave together, and he stays over at my place at least half the days of the week (not in the same bed, no sex or anything like that).
The trouble is, I’m afraid of what’s going to happen when he meets a woman who interests him romantically. I don’t think I have romantic feelings for him because I’ve never thought of him as queer, but at the same time I fear the void he will leave behind if he starts seeing someone else regularly. I get moody on the days after he goes on dates, worrying if this girl is The One who will spell the end of this close friendship that I value (depend on?) so much.
I don’t want to stain the time that we do have with my dumb insecurities, but I’m not sure how to manage my feels. How can I put this into perspective?
Hey there, PB!
Yeah, so I think you’re romantically interested in this guy. It’s not really platonic behavior to be biting your nails over him going on dates because you’re afraid he’s going to fall in love. It brings me no pleasure to report this, but that’s pretty gay.
It’s also toxic and unhealthy for all parties involved. We gotta get you out of this one.
I don’t mean to downplay this beautiful friendship you’ve established. Some of my favorite relationships are ones I have with straight men. Straight men aren’t all bad! I don’t understand their culture and sometimes it’s hard to connect because their memes are obsolete, but it’s so lovely when we do find ourselves in a friendship. It’s like one of those viral videos where a crow befriends a golden retriever.
Anyway, let me state in no uncertain terms that a functioning platonic relationship wouldn’t feel like this. The idea of your friend finding someone who makes him happy ought to make you happy. Something that might get in the way of you feeling that way would be, I don’t know, unrequited love.
But let’s pretend I’m a fool of a Took and I buy into the idea that you’ve got no romantic feelings for this guy. The situation still reeks of codependency. Your happiness shouldn’t be so tied up in one person that him getting in a relationship with someone else would shatter it. Trust me, PB, I’ve been there! Even when times are good with that person, the anxiety makes it not worth it. You’ve got to find a more reliable source of self-worth.
Yes, unfortunately that means you’ve got to find a way to be enough for yourself. I don’t like it either, but as far as I’ve seen, it’s the only way to get through life. It helps me to think about having an actual relationship with myself the way I do with others: Am I treating myself well? Am I speaking to myself fairly and with kindness? Is there something I can do for myself today that would make life better?
We really are all we’ve got, PB. I don’t mean that in the “screw everyone else” sense. I mean that life is often difficult and painful and we have each been charged with ferrying a flickering light through it, a task that will prove quite impossible if you’ve deprioritized yourself. You’ll snuff yourself out if you’re not paying attention.
I think what you need here is some space from this guy. I’m sure he’s lovely, and it’s great that you’ve developed such a close bond. But this dynamic is untenable as it presently exists, and so it must change. Don’t attempt reentry into his orbit until the idea of him getting married to a woman no longer feels like the end of the world.
Meanwhile, I suggest getting involved in some new hobbies. Have you tried a dodgeball team? Gays love dodgeball. Or maybe try painting, or maybe try finding a romantic relationship of your own with someone who reciprocates your feelings.
I really am rooting for you, PB! You’ve got this.
Con mucho amor,