It’s one thing to realize you’re attracted to the same sex. It’s another to come to that realization after drunkenly hooking up with your best friend. And that fraught situation sent one hitherto-straight guy running to Slate’s “Dear Prudence” advice columnist, Daniel Mallory Ortberg.
The advice-seeker, labeled Possibly Bisexual, writes in his message that he has always identified as straight but is “panicked and confused” about his newfound feelings for his best friend since college, a guy he calls “Greg” for the sake of anonymity. He recently went over to Greg’s place to comfort him after a breakup, and he and Greg ended up getting drunk and sleeping together. “He didn’t take advantage of me,” Possibly Bisexual adds. “I remember everything I initiated it, and he asked several times if I was OK with what we were doing.”
After the hookup, Possibly Bisexual talked to a friend about what happened and was “stunned” to find out from the friend that Greg had been carrying a torch for him. “It turns out that she and another mutual friend have known that Greg has had serious feelings for me for years, and that our whole friend group has been waiting for me to ‘figure out’ I’m bisexual because I’m ‘obviously into Greg.’ This is all news to me!” he writes. “I can’t stop thinking about it, and I am putting off replying to a message from Greg asking to meet up because I don’t know what to say.”
Possibly Bisexual says he is “definitely attracted” to Greg, but he’s racked by questions: “Can you come out as bisexual when you’re only really into one guy, and in your late 20s? Have I destroyed my most important friendship by unknowingly messing with Greg’s feelings? Is it worth risking hurting him more by asking if he wants to try a relationship with someone so confused about his sexuality?”
In his response, Ortberg starts with the good news: “You’re doing fine! You do not need to keep apologizing for having sex it sounds like you enjoyed, with a friend you trust and find attractive; your hookup sounded complicated and flustered on a number of fronts but nothing that can’t be ironed out by an in-person conversation.”
And in fact, that last point is Ortberg’s only piece of advice. “Talk to Greg!” he writes. “Talk to Greg, and only Greg, about this. Not the rest of your friends, not to me, not to trustworthy-looking strangers on the bus who look like they have a lot of wisdom to share. Just Greg.”
Ortberg points out that someone can come out as bisexual at any age and that someone can be bisexual even if they’ve only been attracted to one member of the same sex, and that asking a best friend out on a date is no riskier than asking anyone out.
“Tell him that you’re attracted to him, that you care about him, and that you would be interested in going on a date or having sex again or whatever else you’re interested in exploring with him, then ask him how he feels,” Ortberg writes. “You don’t have to take yourself out of romantic contention just because he’s the first man you’ve slept with.”