How to keep my friend even if she is bisexual ?


Hello Sierra,

Thanks for writing in to us at AlterHéros. You’ve covered a lot of stuff in your post so let’s list out the issues that you’ve brought up:

1. You found out that your best friend is bisexual and this is something you cannot accept;

2. She doesn’t care how you feel about her being bisexual but she knows that it’s killing you inside;

3. You’re wondering if you can still be her friend and love her like you used to before she chose a “bisexual life style”;

4. You want advice on how to accept her for who she is even if you hate it and cannot change who she has become because you are her friend.

That’s a pretty stressful situation you’re in; hopefully we can help you with your questions.

So you found out that your friend is bisexual and you don’t think that you can accept her for who she is anymore. The first question that comes to mind is, “Why do you feel like you cannot accept her?” It’s important to understand why you find bisexuality unacceptable so that you can figure out if you can change some of these beliefs. Is it because you think it’s weird/wrong? Is it founded on religious beliefs? Is it because you’re worried about the effect it will have on her life, like facing discrimination? Are you afraid that she will start liking you romantically? These are all very convincing reasons for someone to feel that bisexuality is not right.

Once you’ve identified these roadblocks, ask yourself if these are beliefs that you can change over time. If it is based on religion, is this something that you can look past so that you can continue loving your friend for who she is? If it’s because you disagree with it, can you change that by learning more about bisexuality and hearing about other peoples’ experiences? If you’re worried that it will change your relationship, do you think you could work it out by talking about it with her and maybe learn to support her if she faces discrimination? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, there is a good chance that you will eventually be able to accept her. If you really can’t see yourself changing, then perhaps you can take the path of tolerance where you sympathize with her but continue to disagree and not accept her. This is something you must figure out on your own through introspection, a bit of research and talking things through.

Before getting into the ways you can learn to be supportive and accepting of your friend, there is something striking about your post and it’s where you say that your friend doesn’t care how you feel about her being bisexual even though she knows you disapprove. Why is it that you feel this way? Is it because she told you despite knowing that you would be uncomfortable? Is it the way she told you (i.e. confrontationally or in a way that she knew would upset you)? Unless your friend came out to you at a bad time (i.e. you weren’t prepared, you were in a weird setting or either of you were upset), most people who tell a friend or family member about their same-sex desire are actually really scared and worried about how the person will react. You might feel that her coming out to you is a huge burden because you don’t want to have to be friends with someone who isn’t straight and you might feel hurt that she didn’t consider how you would feel about it. However, if she sat you down in a suitable environment and took the time to try and explain herself, she was probably very concerned about how it would make you feel and she was most likely worried that you would react negatively towards her.

If you feel like she did try to make an effort to break the news to you gently, it’s now your turn to return the favour and have another sit down chat to work things out. Even if you had a freak-out when she first told you, what is important is that you go back and show her that you’re willing to work at accepting her. You’re definitely allowed to be upset about this kind of news because it can come as a real shock. You should also know that you are a very brave and good friend for wanting to learn more about acceptance rather than blocking her out. Much praise sent your way!

Now, before you seek out your friend for a talk, there are a few things you should know beforehand. Firstly is that you must realise that being bisexual (like all forms of sexual identity) is not a choice; she cannot “change who she has become”. Think of it like a person’s race; people cannot choose whether they are African American, Asian, Mexican etc… just like gays, lesbians, bisexuals etc… cannot choose to be what they are not. Put yourself in her shoes: imagine that the world was flipped around so that being homosexual was the normal standard but you still had your heterosexual feelings. How would that make you feel? It’s a scary, isolating situation that LGBTQ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer) face everyday. For her to have chosen you to tell this secret is a great honour because she trusted enough in you to keep her confidence. Even though she probably knew you would have difficulty accepting her bisexuality, she still felt that you were a great enough friend to stick by her; which is exactly what you are trying to do. She’s probably going through a very difficult time coming to terms with her new identity so having your support is invaluable in her time of need. Remember, she is still the same girl that you love; you’re just discovering another part of her.

The last thing to do before talking to her is a little bit of research on LGBTQ issues. Visit some websites that can help you work through your feelings such as PFLAG (www.pflag.org/) which is a support site for family and friends who have discovered that a friend or family member is not heterosexual. If you want to talk to someone one on one you can also try calling The Gay & Lesbian National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564 from Monday-Friday 6 p.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday noon-5 p.m. EST for additional support.

Once you’ve had time to process all of the above, you’re ready to have a sit down talk with your friend. Tell her that you want to get together with her to share each others feelings. Ensure that you’re both in a good mindset to talk and that you’re in a relaxed setting. Take turns in expressing how you feel about her coming out to you and make sure to listen, ask questions and not make any assumptions or pre-judgments. Ask her what it means for her to be bisexual. Ask if she thinks it will change your relationship. Ask anything that has been bothering you about it. Give her time to explain and also let her know your fears and your difficulties in accepting it. It’s only through back and forth discussion that you’ll be able to work out your friendship.

Hopefully this helps you on your way to accepting your friend’s new identity. Once again, you are truly a good friend for having written to us and for making so much effort in learning how to accept her for who she is; kudos! If you have any other questions or want to share more details or the outcome of your talk with her, please feel free to do so. Good luck!

Sincerely,

K-Wo for AlterHéros


About Kay Wo

Kay holds a master degree in sexology. She has also been involved in public speaking to youth on fighting homophobia in schools, as well as working with youth living with HIV. Kay volunteers also for CAEO Québec (Gay Line, Gay Online and SILK).

Since I joined the AlterHéros team, I have greatly enjoyed my time as an “Tell the expert” expert. Not only do I enjoy writing up tid bits of advice to inquiring minds, I feel that I have gained a lot from hearing about the problems and inquiries of individuals from all different walks of life. This has afforded me to think outside the box, outside of my own context and to expand my understanding of people, sexuality and a wide range of other subjects. This monthly challenge has benefited me in many ways and I have always appreciated how easily it fits in to my schedule. Not only that, but the staff have always been friendly and flexible concerning my needs.

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