We asked queer women to tell us about their own experiences falling for, or hopelessly crushing on, women who identify as straight.
These are the stories they shared:
1. "So for the past few months I've been in and out of this weird limbo of denial and doubt and feelings of stupidity."
"This is kind of hard to talk about right now because my feelings for my straight best friend are very powerful in the way that girl best friendships typically are. We have an incredibly close friendship, make jokes about being a married couple all the time, but she has no idea that sometimes I think about her in a deeper way. The confusing part is that those deeper feelings come and go and are super fleeting.
She's crazy attractive and the funniest person I know. I have dated gay and bi girls in the past, and I consider myself bi. As much as I've thought about it, I could never act on my feelings for her in the event that it would destroy everything we have and ruin our friendship. So for the past few months I've been in and out of this weird limbo of denial and doubt and feelings of stupidity. Once those negative feelings pass, I come out of my hole and feel fine again. It's the ebb and flow of the 'yes I'm attracted to her' juxtaposed with the 'actually wait maybe I'm not really / don't be stupid' that's been a great challenge to deal with."
2. "I saw her holding hands with a guy and felt weirdly disappointed, not even for myself but just for like... all women."
"When I was still in school a few years ago, I had a class located in this huge lecture hall in the university's business school building, which was weird because there were only like 35 students in the class. One of them was this reeeaaaaaally hot girl who I just ... could not stop looking at during class. We sat on opposite ends so I could not even see her that well, but, you know, well enough to know she was really hot. She was really tan (it was fall semester and her summer tan just seemed to never go away, which was unfair), and had really short blonde hair swooped to the side. Like, just the best alternative lifestyle haircut. And she always wore a leather jacket, which looked great. Anyway, I never even figured out what her name was (somehow?? despite the small class size?) or even spoke to her. Eventually I saw her holding hands with a guy around campus and felt weirdly disappointed, not even necessarily for myself but just for like... all women."
3. "I'm just as confused as the rest of them."
"I don't have a legitimate story, other than I think I have a problem because I am attracted to a lot of my close friends who are straight. I wouldn't necessarily call it falling for them, because it's just the physical attraction. If I'd found out one of them had feelings for me then perhaps I'd be in a different place. But girls are so confusing and no one knows what they want until maybe they have it. But who am I to say? I'm just as confused as the rest of them."
4. "At first I tried to deny it and tell myself I just really liked being friends with her."
"I used to be obsessed with this girl on my soccer team in high school. I always used to ask her for a ride home and every time I switched classes I would look for her! Biggest straight girl crush I've ever had. At first I tried to deny it and tell myself I just really liked being friends with her. We just had so much fun and I wanted to hang out ALL THE TIME. In my last two years of high school I began to realize it was more than that, but I was still not ready to come out to anyone.
That was years ago and I've been out for almost four years now. Every Thanksgiving everyone comes home and goes out in our hometown. I always hope I'll see her. Unfortunately, I just recently found out (via Facebook creep) she's engaged to this guy. I've never been a home-wrecker, but I must admit I still secretly hope she'll call off the wedding and call me. A girl can dream, right?"
5. "I burst into tears and they were both happy and sad tears. It wasn’t what I wanted, but hearing it that way was exactly what I needed."
"The first time I fell for a girl, it was for my best friend in high school. When I realized I was attracted to her, I took a step back and thought "yeah, OK, I might not be straight, but I'm pretty damn sure she is." Which was, you know, problematic for several reasons. I felt so awkward and uncomfortable because it was the first time I had fallen for a girl and not only was she one of my best friends, she was straight and from an extremely conservative religious family.
It's hard to hide a crush when you're 16. She brought it up late one night while we were eating ice cream in her kitchen. I thought for sure she was going to tell we couldn't be friends anymore or I was going to hell (again, conservative religious family), but I was totally wrong. Instead she said, "I just wanted to tell you that you're my friend, and I want you to be happy. I do love you, I hope you know that. You deserve someone who loves you and appreciates you for being the amazing person that you are. But I can't give you what you want. What I can give you is my support and my ice cream and my laughter and my friendship, and I understand if that's not enough for you, but I want you to know that it's yours regardless."
I burst into tears, and they were both happy and sad tears. It wasn't what I wanted, but hearing it that way was exactly what I needed. So she hugged me and held me while I cried, and then we finished off the pint of mostly melted ice cream and I went home. Fifteen years later, I can't convey how much that one conversation meant to me. The fact that she didn't judge me, didn't push me away, didn't freak out, didn't make me feel like what I was feeling was wrong… it meant everything."
6. "I do think she loved me, but I don't think we were ever on the same page."
"The details leading up to me falling for my best friend in college are not important – even though those months will always hold special sentimental value for me. The fact that we both identified as straight at the time, the fact that she had many boyfriends and so I never expected anything, the fact that we both took this brave chance on our hearts and acted on these secret feelings – it's all pretty amazing. Of course, what followed was the total shitstorm that comes with dating someone in the closet for a year and then having them break up with you. She made it clear she would never date another girl again, it was just a "me" thing. Is that something to feel good about? I still can't decide.
I learned a lot about myself (that I'm not straight); I learned a lot about what I want out of a relationship (someone who is also not straight and willing to be open about our relationship). I'll never let anyone 'hide' our relationship again. So in a lot of ways, I don't regret what happened because it was such a huge learning curve for me.
We are still very close, but as with all horrific dumpings I still harbor some heartbreak. I do think she loved me, but I don't think we were ever on the same page. I don't think she will ever understand how painful it is for me that to this day our relationship is an ugly secret. The fact that she has clearly chosen to never reveal it to anyone makes me angry and sad for her, but proud of myself for not being ashamed of who I am – every part of me. I will always be there for her as a friend, but it's hard to move past entirely."
7. "We never had sex, which is what made it so much sexier."
"I was leaving for New York City the next day. There was this girl, someone I'd been crushing on for YEARS, possibly the most beautiful girl I've still ever seen, in that never-gonna-happen-but-can't-hurt-to-look kinda way. The night before my departure I was saying farewell to my friends and this goddess showed up to the bar professing that she had a crush on me too. Of course, I couldn't let this sit. I pressed and I pressed and before I knew it we were making out in the middle of the bar. That is, before we were both unceremoniously kicked out.
We never had sex, which is what made it so much sexier. We talked on her porch, in the sticky southern summer, about tattoos and philosophy and the unequivocal desirability of women. She kept flashing her criminally adorable smile and saying, "I'm from Alabama," in that remarkably southern way which was code for "I'm straight." When we woke up cuddling the next morning, an hour before my flight to NYC, it was the most bittersweet good-bye I've ever had.
Optional addendum: The next time I heard from her, she was dating a lady. It was somehow both flattering and tragic, the road not taken and everything. But I still feel a little tang of pride when I think about it."
8. "But more than anything, it left me a little shell-shocked because all of a sudden I was left to question my own sexuality alone."
"I fell in love with my best friend towards the end of my time in college. We dated for almost a year — arguably the loveliest, most freeing, fulfilling, beautiful year of my life — and then she broke up with me because she was sure she was straight and didn't want to be with a woman. It made me question who I was as a romantic, as a sexual partner, as a friend. It took me a long time to accept that this was more about her preferences than it was about who I was as a partner. A really long time. It actually might not totally be all there right now.
But more than anything, it left me a little shell-shocked because all of a sudden I was left to question my own sexuality alone. I'm in a hard place — knowing it will take more partners for me to figure out who I am and who I want, but nursing a broken heart that keeps me from trying. I've built a fair amount of resentment towards her, feeling like I may never find someone again who will take care of my heart the way that she did, and yet never getting the chance to win her back (as if, by some romantic gesture, I could will her to change a part of her that simply cannot be willed). Where do I go? I'm not entirely sure. I get up every morning trying to believe, if only in the most dormant corner of my soul, that one day the world will not be 10 sizes too small for my pain, and that this is all just sort of the way. And for now, that is enough."
9. "She insisted that she was straight and just wanted to experiment, so we couldn't continue to do what we were doing."
"I used to work out with a girl named "Katie"; she is about 8 years older than me and incredibly attractive. Yes, I thought she was hot, but I also had a gut feeling that she could very well be into girls. I went out of my way to hang out with her for a couple of weeks until the opportunity presented herself.
I met her and her male friend, who she had dated in the past, at a bar uptown. When he left our table and went to the bar to get drinks, we chatted for a bit. I took the opportunity to let her know that I date both women and men; she responded by saying that she "may be attracted to women too." This was the best news I had received in a while.
The three of us went back to her apartment, which was a bit of a hike uptown from my apartment, so she suggested that I stay the night, which I accepted. Once her friend left we went to bed... I made a move, and one thing led to another.
It was absolutely fun and lasted for about a month or so, but then she started to freak out. She insisted that she was straight and just wanted to experiment, so we couldn't continue to do what we were doing.
I understood that she was "straight," and I agreed to never disclose any of what happened to anyone if she was not comfortable with it, so I did not understand why she would be so cold towards me. She was rude, argumentative, and all around bad energy, which I did not appreciate at all. It was immature, especially for a 30-year-old, but her subversiveness was relentless and awkward for everyone that we would spend time with.
I decided to tell our mutual friend what had happened, and explained that I didn't want to be around Katie, but I also didn't want her to be offended when I did not go out with them in a group. She of course understood and also agreed that she would not let it be known to Katie that she knew what happened, but also mentioned that she had a hunch that Katie was gay and had been struggling with it for a while.
Fast forward four months: Katie comes out of the closet to everyone. She apologizes, which I appreciated, but then goes on to explain that she misses me, thinks about "us" and what we could have been very often, etc. My response was something along the lines of "thank you for your apology, but I don't want to hear it."
10. "For me, I feel like hooking up with straight girls is so much easier than getting things started with lesbians."
"For me, I feel like hooking up with straight girls is so much easier than getting things started with lesbians. They usually come on to you, are totally into it and curious, and there is no pressure about it, so both of your guards are completely down which actually leads you guys to bond better than you would if you were guarded and insecure. When it starts to work out, you're like, This is so amazing, she's not gay, so we must have this super special rare connection that no one else has, and when it doesn't actually work out you're like, It's not me, it's the fact that you are not gay, so it's less personal. Also, you totally fell for this chick and are completely heartbroken.
Getting started with lesbians is so complicated because everyone is friends with everyone and chances are the girl that I am crushing on already dated my best friend for three years orrrrrr all my friends like the same girl so it turns into this giant competition. OR you actually have to be so vulnerable for half a second because you have to admit you have feelings for someone that might not like you, not because you're a woman but for who you really are... shit."
11. "All of my crushes on women were quiet and intense."
"When I was in the process of accepting my attraction to women, especially since I was still attracted to men and coming off of a six-year relationship with my high school boyfriend, all of my crushes on women were quiet and intense. They all seemed unattainable. I developed a full-blown obsession with a woman who rode the same shuttle as me to campus twice a week. She always smiled at me like she knew me, wide and bright. Her hair was red with a soft wave and what looked like gold threads shot through. I couldn't tell if she was straight or not, and I felt ill-equipped to help her find out, so I just sat across from her on Mondays and Wednesdays, pining for her, hoping she'd make a move.
One day she got on the bus and sat next to me. The entire right side of my body lit up like a bonfire, and I thanked god for the thin blood and dark skin that kept my blushing minimal. We said hi to one another, barely making eye contact. We both had these small goofy smiles on our faces. I was certain she was going to make a move, when my friend Drew got on the bus and said, "Oh my god, Ashley! I heard about you and Brett breaking up! You guys have been together forever! Are you OK? Never mind. You know what they say, to get over one man you just need to get under another one." I smiled at him, shell-shocked. When I looked back at her, she already had her nose buried in a book. It was like the last 60 seconds — the culmination of weeks of desire — had never happened.
She got off on the next stop and I never saw her again."