Dear Captain Awkward,
How is a good way to let a friend know that her mildly homophobic comments are hurtful to me before I move in with her?
My friend Ella would probably be offended if she knew her comments come across as ‘othering’ to me (I’m a bisexual woman, not yet fully out to her, and only newly out to myself). Nonetheless, the things she says make me feel I can’t be fully myself around her.
When Ella heard I’d been on a date with a woman, she grilled me about my sexuality at a point I was feeling uncertain myself and unready to talk.
Now when we go clubbing, Ella will grind up against me, pant against me and generally invade my personal space in a way I don’t like while looking at all the men near us. It makes me feel like she’s trying to ‘put on a show’ to attract men, and I don’t like being a part of it.
Ella has often said things that make me think she views sexuality as very binary – a female friend of ours was once in a three year relationship with a woman, and is now with a man. Ella immediately dismissed the previous relationship as “just experimenting”.
Ella has low self esteem and is dealing with anxiety right now, which is why she wants me to live with her. She’s a nice person and I think it could be really fun to live together, but not if these things that make me uncomfortable continue.
How can I respectfully and kindly assert what I need, Captain Awkward?
Not in Kansas anymore
Dear Not In Kansas:
I’ve read and heard a lot of accounts of newly-out bisexual and gay women who become the creepy object of their straight female friends’ curiosity and ignorance, so, you’re depressingly not alone here. None of this is your fault! Just know, it’s okay to shut it down and shut it down hard.
Please, if you take nothing else away from this post today, I strongly suggest that you put the brakes on the process of becoming Ella’s roommate. Whatever good qualities she has as a friend, the two of you are a bad mix right now. Until and unless you can be really clear with her about boundaries and trust her 100% not to do and say homophobic stuff around you, she is not the roommate for you. Don’t move in with someone who steamrolls you and makes you feel like you can’t ask for things you need!
Your scripts for Ella could be:
- “We need to clear some stuff up if we’re going to keep talking about becoming roommates.”
- “I’m pretty sure I’m bisexual. I’m still figuring it out for myself, and it’s been hard for me to come out to you before now because of [above-described comments and behaviors].”
- “I don’t like it when you grind on me in the club and try to put on a show. Please don’t touch me like that when we’re dancing.”
- “That’s not how bisexuality works.” (re: her comments on the female friend and “experimentation”)
- “If you want to do some reading about bisexuality, here you go: https://biresource.org/bisexuality-101/. I don’t want to be grilled about my dates or be your specimen for educational purposes.” You’re not her identity tutor!
- “I know we’ve talked about living together but I think it’s not the right decision for me. I’m going to get my own place/stay where I am.“
None of these scripts are rude or unkind. They are reasonable responses to the gross ways she is behaving. A good person who is your friend will be embarrassed, mortified, and apologetic. She will not try to defend or justify the behaviors. Most importantly, she will not do the gross things again.
I hope you can find some some room to figure out your identity without the scrutiny (& performative dance-groping, ugh!!!!!!!) of Ella. Please be good to yourself. And please reconsider this living situation. If I were to make a flow chart of “should you become roommates with this person?,” “They do weird touching stuff that makes me uncomfortable” would definitely lead to “Do not live with.”