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I have a boyfriend — and a crush on my friend, who’s a woman

Do I stay with him — or discover more about my sexuality?

Love Letters

Love Letters

Q. I’m wrapping up my first year of college, probably young and naive, but that’s exactly why I need help.

I’ve been in a relationship with my high school boyfriend for over two years, and things with him have been going great. He’s a year younger than me, so for the past nine months we have been long-distance and we’re going to have to continue long distance for another year (with the exception of summer breaks), at least while he prepares to transfer into a college closer to me.

Long-distance, too, has been super smooth. I love him, and we both are pretty confident in our future together.


But I’m pretty sure I’m also into women. And the prospect of never knowing the truth of my sexuality really scares me. I’ve told him this before, but it didn’t sink in. He still always makes the assumption that I am only attracted to men.

Which is why he isn’t suspicious at all about how close I am to the new friend I met in college; I’ll call her Maria. The two of us flirt and joke about being in love with each other. When we hang out together, it’s usually in a pretty romantic setting — picnics, farmers’ markets, going on walks after getting coffee. Sometimes she’ll rest her head in my lap or hold my hand. I always long to be closer with her.

Maria also has a boyfriend; I’ll call him John. Maria, John, and I are all friends and often hang out together. During late-night chats, the three of us often discuss topics relating to sexuality. None of us are fully straight, and Maria and I have often spoken about how it can be difficult to differentiate attraction from friendship, but with John being there, that conversation never went further.


Both of us really love our boyfriends, but I think we also both know that our relationship is deeper than friendship, but haven’t acknowledged that to each other. The second we acknowledge it, I think it’s going to force us to do something about it — make decisions, discuss it with our boyfriends, change/lose our friendship, etc. — and I’m fairly certain it would cause problems with my relationship with my boyfriend, because, by the way, Maria and I are roommates next year.

I’m tired of movies and TV shows glorifying the new relationship just because it is the more exciting and dramatic one in front of you. What really makes the most sense? What is more important? Preserving the relationship with the man I think I want to grow old with? Or discovering how it feels to be in love with a woman?


A. This might be easier to navigate after a summer break. You’ll have a great few months with your boyfriend. Then you and Maria will return to school with fresh eyes.

Maybe it’ll make the path more clear — that what you have with Maria will seem less intense.

Table it for now. But consider this: If you stay in an exclusive relationship with your boyfriend forever, you’ll miss out on more than just Maria. You’ll forgo the experience of being with anyone else — and that might be totally OK! I’m not suggesting it isn’t! I just wonder if there are ways to open the relationship or take breaks without losing your partner. Maybe he wants a little freedom, too. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.


I love your point about what’s new and shiny, by the way. We’re very quick to tell young people that if they have feelings for someone new, they should move on to the next experience. But some people are happy staying with their first love.

Also, you say “the prospect of never knowing the truth of my sexuality really scares me,” but it sounds like you do understand what you like. You’re just confused about acting on it.

You might want to reconsider the roommate situation. Maybe it’s too late to change that plan, but … it could be a recipe for confusion and yearning. Or maybe the experience will turn this into a stable platonic relationship.

I just want you to be able to escape when you need space. Think about where you might go when you need a break.



The answer is to be honest. If you want to see where things go with Maria — or another woman or man — then you need to tell your boyfriend that. Maybe he’ll be open to something open. If not, you’re way too young to sacrifice figuring out what you want because you think you met the one. Maybe rethink this long-distance thing and focus on your experiences at school.


You’re old enough to decide whether you want to accept Maria’s clear overtures. Beyond that, I can’t tell you what to do. I can say that people do sometimes find their partner in life when young (high school or college), and that breaking up with one of my boyfriends in college was one of my biggest life mistakes. If you have to break up with him, it’s only fair to know that he would go on to date others and probably marry someone else, as may also be the case for you. What would that be like?



This is why we don’t take high school relationships into college; they simply don’t work as we grow and change and learn new things. Let him go, but don’t jump into just anything. Date around, do your thing.


A high school boyfriend and I went to separate colleges, and after a few months I realized there was NO WAY we could make it work. He’d call me and ask me to come see him all the time on weekends, and I needed time to integrate into my school, and he needed time to integrate into his. That includes being able to enjoy weekend college events. We broke up and it worked out for the best, I feel. If this guy transfers to be closer, that is a BIG commitment/change on his part for her sake; meanwhile she wants to play around with others? Doesn’t seem very nice to him. The nice thing would be to consider his life as well and cut him loose while experimenting.



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