A couple of years ago, I reconnected with an old high school friend. She was curious about my queer identity—I hadn’t yet discovered it as a teenager—and wanted to experiment with her own sexuality. Unfortunately, I ended up being on the receiving end of her indecision and mixed messages.
She was the first one that got away and all those feelings came rushing back. In 9th grade, we were best friends—the kind that do everything together. We would have sleepovers and cuddle almost every weekend. I ended up moving away a year later and we lost contact over the years. The thrill of reconnecting with my first queer crush and having that blossom into a possible real romance was heady and hard for me to resist. Many queer people fantasize about how high school could have been different if they were out, and I was definitely living that fantasy.
She was intrigued by my lifestyle and freedom and I was proud to share my experiences. While I moved on, she still lived in the small, conservative town of only one thousand people where we grew up. This common connection made it easy to find things to talk about, but our conversations would often stray into talk of my life and sexuality. I would tell her about my experiences as a bisexual woman who’s very open about my life and my politics. Even though I lived in Salt Lake City, not quite the most exciting city out there, she often expressed that she thought my lifestyle was interesting and inspiring, which prompted me to share more. It started to feel like she was living vicariously through me.
Our conversations crossed some lines, which made me feel confused. Our friendship deepened and grew more intense as it went on. We would often talk about sex and sexuality, sharing stories of our sexual encounters, and she would ask me what it’s like to sleep with women. It was hard for me to tell sometimes if she was just curious or if her interest was something else. Straight women can sometimes flirt with you and not realize it, so I wasn’t sure what to make of it. We’d share videos and photos of ourselves in lingerie and it felt sexual, but she never clearly defined it and neither did I.
I let the flirting go on even though I felt conflicted. The more we flirted, the more confused I became. I kept feeling like I should end the flirting because it was stressful for me to try and decode every message. Still, I thought she was attractive and there was something thrilling about our encounter. It’s nice to be wanted and to indulge in flirtation. It’s only human to not want special attention to end. In part, it also spiked my adrenaline because she wasn’t single.
She was engaged and the dream of being chosen by her was attractive. I’m not proud of it, but at the time, she was engaged to her boyfriend that she’d been with since high school. I could tell she was feeling like she’d missed out on life by being with the same man for so long. There was some part of me that fantasized about being with her and her leaving him, even though I knew it was ridiculous and unlikely to happen. We all reach for what’s forbidden and our hearts speed up at a little rule-breaking. This is a dangerous road to go down, but it was definitely one that was appealing.
She wanted me to help her find men to hook up with. When we finally met up, she insisted on going to a straight bar despite the fact that I’m not generally comfortable in those spaces. While at the club, she spent most of the time on Tinder trying to talk to other men in the area and asking me if I could help set her up with anyone. We danced together a little but it felt awkward. I was put out by the whole experience and was starting to feel used and also guilty. In some sense, it was a rejection on top of a rejection. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.
She kept trying to set me up with another guy for a possible threesome. She brought up a man she’d met online who lived in the area and who she’d shown my photo. He thought I was pretty, according to her, and she hinted at a threesome situation. I was uncomfortable with that so I shot the idea down quickly. It felt like she wanted to create a situation where she would be able to sleep with me without it seeming “gay.” I’m proud of my sexuality and refuse to let it be defined by the straight perspective of how it would be acceptable to engage with me.
She kissed me when we got back to my apartment. We went back to my apartment, a little drunk but starting to sober up. We watched The Office for a while and hung out. I told her I was ready for bed and got up from the couch, but she told me to wait and stood up after me, leaning in for a kiss. The kiss was good; I couldn’t deny the attraction I was feeling. However, it was all too wrong and confusing, so I pulled away before it went further. She didn’t know what she was feeling, but she wanted to test drive the possibility for her, not for us.
She said I was a good kisser but that she was sure she was only into men. I went to my room to sleep while she stayed on my hideaway bed in the living room. She texted me from the other room saying that while I was a really good kisser, that kiss helped her realize that she’s straight. Talk about a punch to the gut. Needless to say, I felt completely used and also pretty disappointed in myself. It wasn’t just a matter of a kiss, it was a week’s long flirtation, an edging of boundaries, and a blurry space that she’d had a hand in just as much as I had.
I broke off our friendship but I’m still angry about it. She left the next day. After letting things settle, I called her and told her that we couldn’t be friends anymore because it wasn’t cool for her to use me to experiment with her sexuality and lead me on. I also told her that just because I was a woman, it didn’t mean she hadn’t cheated and that she should consider clearing the air with her fiance. I don’t know what I’d been thinking over that time. I definitely learned my lesson, but I’m still angry about how I was treated.