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My Wife Thinks I'm Straight, But I Have Feelings For My Gay Best Friend — WTF Should I Do?

"I got married last year to a girl, but...I'm also into guys."

Hello, world. My name's Stephen LaConte, and this is Hey Stephen — a cozy little corner of the internet where BuzzFeed readers like you can DM me for advice.

Today, we've got this man, who recently came to terms with the fact that he's bisexual. Should he tell his wife so he can explore it further — maybe even with his gay best friend? Here's what he wrote to me, via Instagram:

Screenshot of message, reading, "What makes it more complicated is that I have pretty strong feelings for my best friend who happens to be gay. ..."
@stephenlc

My reply...

There are two separate issues you're grappling with right now: First, is it okay to explore your sexuality by hooking up with men outside your relationship? And second, is it okay to explore the strong feelings you have for your friend by hooking up with him? Those two questions present entirely different complications to your marriage, so they require different answers. Let's break this down.

We'll start with #1: Exploring your sexuality with men. You write that this is something you already know that you need. I think it's valuable that you were able to look inward, be honest with yourself, and come to this realization. That can be hard to do. An even harder thing, of course, will be telling this news to your wife. But you should certainly do that before you start any sort of exploration.

Staras / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Now, just to be clear, I don't think every queer person is required to disclose the full range of their sexuality to their partner. If you were happy to stay monogamous with your wife forever, I think you would be well within your rights to keep your bisexuality private, if that's what you preferred. But you're looking to change the terms of your marriage, and that decision obviously can't be made without your wife's involvement. The alternative would be cheating on her, and of course, I do not recommend that.

So yes, I think you should discuss this with her! Be prepared to answer questions — she's likely to have a few, since you recently got married and this has never come up before. You don't owe her an apology for your sexuality, but you should acknowledge any hurt and confusion that this revelation may cause her, especially given the timing. It might be helpful to explain some of the reasons that you kept this private at first. From there, you should let her know that you'd like to stay in your marriage, but you've also been feeling a need to explore this new and unknown part of who you are.

A man and woman sitting on a couch, not looking at one another.
Fizkes / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Of course, I can't tell you how she will respond. Some people would be thrilled at the prospect of opening up their marriage. Some would never do it in a million years. And plenty of others fall somewhere in the middle. Just be sure to give your wife whatever space she needs to process what you're suggesting. Encourage her to make the right decision for herself, in whatever time she needs. There's no need to rush this. Make it clear that you don't want to pressure her into any arrangement that she would eventually come to resent.

But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the conversation goes smoothly, and you now have an open marriage with full clearance to experiment with men. That brings us to question #2: Should you sleep with your friend?

A man and woman talking while drinking coffee
Delmaine Donson / Getty Images

You write that you have "pretty strong feelings" for this person, so I think you need to consider your actions carefully here. Hooking up with him would be more than just physical; you'd be fostering an emotional connection, too. Even if your wife is okay with you sexually experimenting with other people, is she okay with you actually dating them and forming long-term relationships with them? Maybe she would be, but it's a different calculation that you'd need to make together.

The truth is, there's no "right" way to have an open marriage. Some polyamorous couples have several long-term, emotional relationships with outside partners. Others stick to their spouse for their emotional needs, but have sex with whoever they want. Some couples only allow one-night stands outside the relationship; others are totally fine with repeat partners. Any path is valid, so long as it is thoroughly discussed and enthusiastically agreed upon by both people involved.

A man and woman laying in bed, each on their cell phones.
Cravetiger / Getty Images

But you did write in asking for my advice, so what the heck, I'll give it: I think you should avoid sleeping with this friend for now, and try to explore your sexuality with other men first — people with whom your connection is more physical than emotional. I think you'd have a clearer head throughout that process, enabling you to really focus on your own journey of self-discovery, untethered from your feelings about any specific guy. And your wife might take some comfort in remaining your sole emotional partner. That is, after all, slightly closer to the arrangement she originally signed up for. If your wife is willing to open up your marriage at all, this seems like an easier, lower-stakes path to start.

Peopleimages / Getty Images/iStockphoto

And that brings me to my last point: I really hope you and your wife can find an arrangement that works, but it absolutely must work for both of you. If your wife does ultimately consent to letting you explore outside your marriage, please make sure she is genuinely comfortable with it. Heck, maybe she'll be interested in sleeping with other people herself, which of course, would be fair enough.

But if you sense that your wife is at all uncomfortable, that she's only going along with an open marriage because she's terrified of losing you, then it's time to pump the brakes and consider alternatives like marriage counseling, a trial separation, or even divorce. I hope that splitting up isn't the outcome here — but it would certainly be better than an unhappy relationship. Good luck. I'm rooting for both of you.

That's all the advice I've got for today's DM'er, folks. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @stephenlc. And if you happened to miss last week's column, read on!

Last week, we heard from this woman, whose friend's husband keeps sending her increasingly flirty messages on Facebook. Should she tell her friend or stay out of it? Here's what she wrote to me, via Instagram:

The reader says she has a good friend whose husband has also become a good friend, but he's sending her increasingly flirty emails on FB, including asking her what she's wearing and saying she's gorgeous, and her boyfriend is starting to notice
@stephenlc

My reply...

I think you should tell your friend what her husband is doing. It would be one thing if his messages were frequent but totally innocent — maybe you could chalk that up to some social ineptitude on his part and shrug it off. But there's no ambiguity about his intentions when he's asking you what you're wearing, telling you you're gorgeous, and saying he wishes you were with him. You should let your friend know about all this, for three reasons.

First, to protect yourself. You shouldn't have to spend time around this guy when he's making you uncomfortable. You would be well within your rights to cut him off at this point, but it's hard to communicate that sudden new boundary to your friend without explaining why.

Woman sitting on a couch and looking at her phone while covering her mouth with her hand
Urbazon / Getty Images

Second, do it to protect your friend. She deserves to know that her husband is attempting to flirt with another woman — let alone someone so close to her. Frankly, I doubt you're the only one who's received messages like this from him. If he's not cheating on your friend already, he's sure to keep trying. Give her a chance to GTFO before his behavior gets worse.

And third, do it to protect your friendship. It's very possible that your friend will discover those Facebook messages on her own someday. You haven't done anything wrong just by being the unlucky recipient of them. But if she were ever to find out that you hid them from her, it would likely spell the end of your friendship.

Two women sitting on a couch, one with her head in her hands and the other saying something to her
Urbazon / Getty Images

So yes, please do tell your friend what her husband's been up to. Do it privately, when this guy isn't around to argue over your points or make excuses. Do it as tactfully and gently as you can, knowing that this news will likely come as a painful shock to her. And do it without any apology on your part — again, you haven't done anything wrong in this mess. You're a victim of the husband's actions, just as she is.

Of course, I can't guarantee that your friend will take this incident seriously. It's possible she'll deflect the conversation away from the situation or deny that it happened, or even defend her husband's behavior somehow. And ultimately, it's not your job to convince her to do anything. All you can do is present her with the facts and let her make whatever decision she will with them. The only thing she owes you in the process is respect, trust, and a promise to honor whatever boundaries you need moving forward.

And speaking of boundaries: Please do set some with this man ASAP. He's already shown that he's willing to cross lines with you on the internet. I worry that eventually he'll start crossing those lines in person, too. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is create as much space from him as possible.

Woman looking at her phone with a shocked look on her face
Dmitry Marchenko / Getty Images/EyeEm

Tell him to stop messaging you (or, better yet, just block him). Avoid seeing him socially, especially in settings where you might wind up alone with him. Turn down any invitation that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable. Listen to your gut and prioritize your safety above all else. You don't have to be polite. You just have to be firm.

I hope your friend listens to you and takes these messages seriously. But no matter how she responds, you'll have done the right thing by telling her. You deserve relief from this man's behavior, and she deserves the truth about who he really is — whether she's ready to believe it or not. Good luck. I'm rooting for you.

Got a problem you want solved in this column? DM me! My inbox is always open. Just read the fine print below first.

THE FINE PRINT:

All DMs sent to me are for publication on BuzzFeed only. I do not respond to individual messages or provide any advice one-on-one. Please don't submit a question unless you want it published on BuzzFeed. We'll always keep you anonymous. You must be 16 or older to submit. Also, please try to keep your DMs as concise as possible. Instagram has a limit of 1,000 characters per message. Try to fit your whole problem in one message if you can. It will greatly increase your chances of getting picked!  If you want, here's a handy character counter you can use to draft your question before DM'ing it to me. Thanks, y'all!

PS: If you've got any advice for today's DM'er, sound off in the comments! I'll be reading...