College Week

I 'Went Gay' in College and Ended Up Ruining My Friendship

went gay lesbian relationship
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

I live with my long-term boyfriend and am happily settled in a heterosexual relationship. We've been dating for more than two years; and while every relationship comes with its share of pitfalls, our partnership is stable, healthy, and I'm sure one day we'll get married. Yes, OK, he's the one. Let's move on.

In a world full of labels designed to put people into boxes, I identify, officially, as "mostly heterosexual." But this isn't a label people easily understand. "What do you mean, 'mostly'?" people will ask me. What I mean by "mostly" is MOSTLY.

I am mostly sexually inclined toward the D, but that doesn't mean I am ALL the time. This proves problematic for both me and the people I have around me. A lot of my sexploits, both male and female, have been selfishly inclined. I have been a bit of a fuckgirl in my day. Since I experience with both sexes, I can often mislead and hurt people of both sexes.

I've had a lot of boyfriends and a lot of sex with men. And I've had sex with some women, too. Sexuality is fluid, man. Selfishness is universal.

So while my boyfriend's a cisgender male and I definitely prefer D to V, my last relationship was with a woman.

Why not date women?

I dabble. I have enjoyed the company of the ladies in my time. What is there not to like about women? We're soft, we smell lovely, and there is none of the fuckboy shenanigans we're used to dealing with when it comes to guys.

But while women have been on my sexual menu, the sex I've had with them has been mostly experimental: a college girl in her early 20s rampantly exploring her sexuality in a sea of available partners. Yes, I had a really great time going to bars and clubs and sleeping with women. But I didn't see myself pursuing anything serious with any of them.

Until I met my ex, Rae*. She was the only real female relationship I ever had. And it really messed me up. And I really messed her up because I was a selfish asshole. Let's talk about that.

I explored sexual fluidity under the false security of alcohol

Rae was my best friend all through college in New York City. And she was a lesbian. Our crossover to a more-than-friends relationship started out like your classic Van Wilder movie. Yup: we drank too much at parties and made out. A lot.

Little did I know, the makings of real feelings were bubbling under the surface. I didn't want to acknowledge them. I was not gay, so this was not fair to Rae.

Any time we drank together, I told her how much I liked her. I was messing with her head and didn't even realize it, or I guess I didn't care. They say alcohol-fueled words are sober truths; but I had a bit of a drinking problem -- and a bigger issue with taking a long, sober look at what I'd done the night before.

We'd wake up the next day and act like nothing happened. This went on for months until one morning, fighting a severe hangover in late spring, I realized that my feelings for Rae were not simply the product of alcohol. They were very real.

We went from best friends to girlfriends

I jumped at this miraculous epiphany and asked her to be my girlfriend. I didn't care that I wasn't really gay. "I like people, not genders," I told myself.

We went on dates, held hands, kissed, and fooled around -- but in the three months we were together, we didn't have sex. I tried to sleep with Rae after we'd been drinking and I had the courage to ask, but she always said she wasn't ready.

It didn't take long for me to completely freak out. It wasn't just because Rae was a woman and I was (mostly) straight -- I'm also a huge commitment-phobe. Turns out, the combination was lethal. I still can't decode all my feelings from that time, but I can tell you it was a vivid combination of anxiety, suffocation, and self-loathing.

The situation was especially complicated due to our friendship. I knew I was going to lose her as a girlfriend AND a friend, but I didn't want to face it. I'd text her things she wanted to hear and do things I knew she'd want me to do, all while screaming inside my head and wanting to run away.

Rae ended up spending the summer after graduation outside the city. I let things fizzle out. I never offered an explanation or a breakup; just ignored her until she went away.

What I learned: the good, the bad, and the ugly

My sister is a lesbian and absolutely hates when I talk about this, especially publicly. When she came out at 15, my parents were understanding and supportive in spite of not really understanding lesbianism or the LGBT community in general.

It wasn't that they were angry -- they simply assumed it was just a phase she would grow out of. She hasn't, obviously, and it's been a long road for my mother to total acceptance that this is the way things are going to be forever.

When I talk about my fleeting romance, my sister gets angry with me. She laments that I'm messing up everything she's worked for and that I should shut up because I’m straight. So, I never did tell my parents about Rae. Things burned out so quickly that there wouldn't have been a point anyway.

I get my sister's annoyance, to be honest. I'm not a lesbian. What I did was messed up because I went forward with my feelings without being totally sure of them. I ruined one of the most amazing friendships I’d ever had. I liked the attention I was being given. I was desperate for love and was willing to take it from anyone who was handing it out. I loved the person I was when Rae looked at me. It made me feel special and powerful.

Looking back, my actions were exactly like what ex-boyfriends have done to me. What I did to Rae wasn't about sexual preference; it was about me being scared, selfish, and utterly conflicted. Ultimately, though, I was cruel to Rae. She never spoke to me again, and rightly so. I wouldn't speak to me either if I were her. But what happened between us has changed me, and the way I treat people I'm intimate with.

I'm now in a wonderful relationship with a man I'm honest with; someone I share my misgivings, insecurities, and anxieties with. And in some way, Rae taught me how important that is.

If you're going to attempt a same-sex relationship, you should first figure out if you're someone who can function in a same-sex relationship. There is a sizable difference between having fun and screwing with someone's emotions, however unintentional.

The way to explore your sexuality is with openness and vulnerability -- not alcohol and conflicted, hidden emotions you don't share with the person you're exploring this with. There's a big difference between exploring your sexuality and being unfair to someone you care about.

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Gigi is Thrillist's Sex and Dating staff writer. For Gigi, sexuality will always be a source of confusion and genuine amazement. Follow her lovable crazy on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @GigiEngle.