We are both hetero, could she really be in love with me, or is she confused?
A female friend of mine, (22), has told me she is attracted to me. I am also female, (36), and we are both heterosexual. She is very distressed and confused. I was her teacher in school and helped her a lot. We work together now at times. I realize she is confusing feelings of admiration and respect for an authority figure and reading it as love. I have explained this to her as gently as i can. Is there anything i can do to help her to overcome this? We can’t avoid each other (and don’t want to) and have a very good and solid friendship. I feel guilty that she is so upset, she says she is going mad and is very embarrassed. Please advise. Thank you.
Thanks for coming to Alterheros. I’d like to break your question down a little bit and take a look at it in smaller pieces.
First of all, you are saying that your female friend has recently told you that she is attracted to you. It is completely normal that you are shocked, this probably isn’t something that you were ever expecting. I get the impression that you understand how overwhelming and confusing this situation is for your friend right now. How much courage it must have taken her to risk everything and confess her feelings to you! It is probably not a decision she made overnight, but probably something that she battled with for a long time.
You then state that you are both heterosexuals and that you ‘know’ that she is confused about her feelings (admiration vs. love). While it is impossible for me to know all of the details and the history of your relationship, I’m wondering how you can be so sure that she is confused? Overwhelmed, embarrassed, ashamed, and scared perhaps, but how are you so sure she is wrong? She could admire you so much that she fell “in love” with you, or she could just simply BE in love with you. Plain and simple. She knows how she feels more than anybody, and for her to take a big risk and come out to you about how she feels, I’m quite certain that she must be rather clear about what exactly those feelings are.
You mention that you have tried to explain to her that she is wrong and confused about her feelings. My advise to you, Lisa, is to support your friend. As long as you are clear about your feelings and intentions then there should be no confusion for your friend about your relationship together. I would recommend focusing your energy on helping her to not feel alone, and to help her sort through all of her thoughts. This is not something that she needs to ‘overcome’, but something that she needs to get through and understand. If she were to ignore these feelings that she is having, the repercussions could be dramatic for her in the future. You can help her to explore her emotions by going with her to a support group, heading to the library or bookstore to find some books, being a shoulder to cry on and a good listener. She shouldn’t have to continue to feel embarrassed about her ‘crush’ on you (whether it is indeed love or something more confused), and you can try to tell her that, if you haven’t already. You can perhaps tell her that because it doesn’t embarrass you, that she should stop beating herself up about it.
You also have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. You have done nothing wrong and in the long term, this probably has very little to do with you. This is a part of your friend’s journey and sexual exploration, it is nothing you could have any control over. You also need to know your own limits and if you are feeling uncomfortable and that your boundaries are being crossed, you can always take distance from your friendship for a little while. If this is the case, then your discomfort might be something you want to try to understand.
Here are some resources I found online that might help the two of you:
And you can always refer her to Altherheros if she has any questions.
Good luck and please don’t hesitate to ask more questions!
Hillary, for Alterheros