Dear Richard: Crushing on the Straight Guy

By: Dear Dick

Dear Richard,

I am in a happy 6 month relationship. My boyfriend and I are both young (23 and 22) and we live together. Thing is, I never expected our relationship to develop this far.  When we started dating, I was getting over being rejected by a friend of mine that I was nearly in love with. He made it clear that he was straight by introducing his girlfriend to me, but when he did he had so much sadness in his eyes. He even tried to stop me from leaving his place. We hung out a lot. All of my friends who knew about the situation felt that we were afraid to admit what we each really wanted.

Then I eventually felt like it was silly of me to try to be with someone when I was unsure about their sexuality. I started dating the best guy ever to come into my life. My boyfriend basically put me back together after the rejection. I told him a few months into our relationship about my crush on my 'straight' friend and he said did not care. Then my crush and I started hanging out again. He says he isn't 'crazy' jealous, though.

My boyfriend is compassionate, loving, just great. But I still have feelings for my 'straight' friend. Strong ones, though I keep them repressed. I never admitted to my friend the feelings that I have. And I don't know why I like him so much, if it's because I'm black and he's Asian,  or if it's because we are so much alike. I feel a bit guilty because it seems I'm leading my boyfriend on but I seriously do love him. Any advice on what I should do?

Love, Divided

Dear Divided,

So often what we feel and what we should do are not the same thing. Do you want an intriguingly painful romantic fantasy life? Or do you want a promising grounded relationship? Sounds easy right? But obviously not if you are knocking on Dear Dick's email door.

The good news is that you are in your early 20s and this is exactly the kind of thing that should be happening now. You are figuring out what matters and what has lasting value. You are discovering the difference between a mature love that has the foundation to endure, and the adrenaline rush of sexual possibility. You are intuitive enough to know that this is not an easy answer, so you are seeking outside advice. Well done.

Here are a few things I have learned about unrequited love, and sex with guys who identify as (for the time being) straight.

Nothing can compare with the delicious ache of loving from afar. Or, in this case, close up — but with an unwilling partner. Having something just out of reach can make it so much more tempting and exciting. Fantasizing about what "could be" can fill a void, but ultimately, it's a fantasy that doesn't allow for the reality of two independent guys with thoughts and wishes of their own. It's a script inside your head. Now there is really nothing wrong with this kind of infatuation if you can see it as such. But sometimes we hold on to these hopes for so long we get a little batty about them. We stop seeing the great stuff around us because we stay so attached to our dream. Then obsession can happen. Stalking. Boiling rabbits. [See the 1987 film Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close]

You suggest he may have issues about his sexual orientation. That's nice, but it's still not a reason to hang out waiting for his big revelation. Even if he did decide to play for our team, that's a pretty complex evolution to still go through. Jumping right into an affair at that point would be fairly heedless. And if you jump into that affair, then what? Tell the boyfriend you live with "Guess what! He's gay now! See you later."

If you have been honest with your boyfriend that you are wrestling with this attraction, you are not leading him on. Infatuations spring up even for long-time partnered folks. It's best to treat it like the flu. It sounds like he is able to look at this in that perspective, which says a lot for his character and viability as a solid partner. You may not want to lose that.

Dear Richard is not a medical doctor, a licensed psychiatrist, a counselor, a reverend, or a rabbi. He has not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, or the BBC, and his words are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The information is for educational purposes only and it not intended to serve as medical advice. Dear Richard does, however, love hearing from you and answering your questions. Leave a comment or send him an e-mail.