Her sex­u­al­ity tests a friend­ship

Star Tribune - - ADVICE & GAMES - E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@wash­post.com.

Adapted from a re­cent on­line dis­cus­sion.

I have known “Sarah” for half my life. We are now in our late 20s. I came out to her as a les­bian two years ago and am cur­rently dat­ing some­one.

Sarah is a con­ser­va­tive Chris­tian, so I have made sure to be care­ful around her re­gard­ing our pub­lic dis­plays of af­fec­tion. I ba­si­cally told my girl­friend we should act the same around Sarah as we would around fam­ily. The oc­ca­sional kiss on the cheek or hand-hold­ing, noth­ing more.

Re­cently, my girl­friend and I asked Sarah out to din­ner. She ini­tially replied maybe, then about an hour later told us she would come if we “chilled with the PDA,” and added, “I would ask the same if your girl­friend was a man.”

I am an­gry. I have been very care­ful around her, and was shocked at her re­quest. I don’t re­ally know what to do. My fam­ily is un­sup­port­ive so I hide a sig­nif­i­cant amount of my life al­ready — they know but refuse to talk about it — and I don’t want to have to hide around my best friend. Any ad­vice on how to pro­ceed?

Dear Carolyn:

Her be­liefs do not carry an obli­ga­tion for you to sug­ar­coat who you are, so you have al­ready cho­sen to com­pro­mise your­self to please her where best friends typ­i­cally wouldn’t have to.

Treat­ing it as a PDA is­sue is a red her­ring, too. By­standers have begged handsy straight peo­ple to “get a room” since for­ever, of course — but that “Ew, yuck, PDA!” can’t be cover for those who wit­ness same-sex hand-hold­ing to com­plain that they’re “OK with gay peo­ple but sick of hav­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity rubbed in their faces” or

Carolyn says:

what­ever word­ing the Big­otry Lite Bri­gade is cur­rently spew­ing.

So I hope you’ll chal­lenge Sarah’s weak self-jus­ti­fi­ca­tion:

“Are you sure you’d ask the same thing if I were dat­ing a man? Be­cause I am al­ready ex­tremely care­ful about my PDA around you, and that’s some­thing I wouldn’t do if I were dat­ing a man. I would just be my­self with­out even think­ing about it.

“So I’ll ask the same as if your faith didn’t dis­crim­i­nate against me: May I en­joy the priv­i­lege of be­ing my­self around you, as is?”

Say you don’t ex­pect an im­me­di­ate re­sponse, but in­stead hope she’ll give this some thought.

I sug­gest this as­sum­ing you want to main­tain your friend­ship with Sarah. If this in­ci­dent is enough for you to re­think that, then that’s your pre­rog­a­tive and don’t let her or any­one else tell you oth­er­wise. In that case, a di­rect phras­ing will do: “I’ve al­ready held back to avoid up­set­ting you. So, no, I won’t ‘chill with the PDA’ — I’ve com­pro­mised enough.”

Reader weighs in

An im­por­tant life les­son that peo­ple need to learn for them­selves (yes, I did, the hard way) is that friend­ships aren’t al­ways for­ever. Also, some­times it’s bet­ter just to drift apart rather than pro­voke an ar­gu­ment: In this case, “Sarah” will know why even with­out her friend spelling it out.

True. But if our correspondent wants to say her piece for her own rea­sons, then I cer­tainly hope she does.

Carolyn says:

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