There’s no denying that every girl loves her gay best friend, and for 20-year-old Marisa*, this statement is especially true. After Marisa met fellow college student Alex at a party, the two began spending more and more time together. Soon, things got a bit messy for Alex when Marisa would deliberately over-flirt with him whenever they were together, despite his blatant interest in men. But Alex was not alone: Over the course of three years in college, Marisa developed feelings for two other close gay male friends. Could this be a new behavior with straight college women today? If so, it could result in serious heartbreak, lost friendships, and missed opportunities to meet other guys these ladies could actually have a chance with. Here, HC investigates and breaks down several warning signs to look out for to know if you or one of your friends is on a similar path. Read on to spare yourself a similar fate.
Why It Happens
HC’s resident GBF, Scott Rosenfeld, certainly knows a thing or two about the relationship between a gay male and a straight female in college. “I think this can come from two places. The first is comfort,” Scott explains. “A gay man is someone that girls can easily be themselves around, just like a girl friend, but there is still the awareness that he is of the opposite sex. Some girls eventually see an attractive man that they are already so comfortable with and begin to assign those feelings a greater importance than they should,” he says.
Hofstra University graduate assistant in the Office of Multicultural and International Student Programs, Samantha Bucher, runs diversity socials about Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer issues and tries to get college students informed. Bucher agrees with Scott: “This behavior isn’t healthy for either party involved. There is a comfort and confidence that exists when a gay man is close with a straight female and this can be lost if she expresses serious feelings for him.” She says that though one can’t control who they fall for, pursing a GBF basically means “I want you to change.” This can be especially detrimental if there isn’t a gay-friendly community around him for support; potentially he could be losing an ally.
Scott also believes that the other reason why some straight girls develop feelings is the challenge. “A girl sees something that she can't have, and as a result it becomes more appealing to her, like the forbidden fruit. A very similar thing happens in the gay community with straight men. It's the thrill of the chase, the acknowledgment that you can't have something, but the excitement you get from trying to get close to it anyway,” he explains.
Here are some ways for you to know if you or a friend may be on this path:
She’s Too Touchy-Feely
While it’s totally normal to love your GBF, it isn’t normal to be really intimate in public. “Marisa would give Alex unnecessary hugs around campus or when we went out,” says John*, a close friend of Alex’s. “I could tell that he wasn’t comfortable but didn’t want to hurt her feelings by asking her to step off,” he says. It may just be for fun, but overstepping a friend’s boundaries is always a no-no. Consult her GBF if you notice a pal doing this excessively and consistently. Then pull her aside and tell her, “I think you’re making Chris a little uncomfortable,” to make sure she’s aware of her actions.
She Only Hangs Out With Him
Once Marisa is hooked on constantly hanging out with her GBF, she cuts the rest of her friends out of the picture. This in turn results in an obsessive need to always be with him. “For two semesters, she would show up at our room unannounced and demand to hang out him all the time,” says John. “Even if it was late and I was getting rest before class, Marisa had to make sure she had her ‘Alex Time’,” he says.
Though Alex explains he enjoyed the company, Marisa manipulated a lot of his time. Soon it became hard for Alex to hang out with different people. “My other friends would text me to hang out and tease me by saying ‘Oh, I’m assuming Marisa is coming along too,’” Alex said. This invasive behavior restricts freedom and creates tension; a surefire way to cause conflict and put strain on a friendship. If a friend is spending too much time with her GBF, suggest an outing and explain to her that you miss the time you two used to spend together. This way she’ll remember there are other people who care about her too.
She’s Terribly Clingy
When asked to give an adjective that described Marisa, both Alex and John chose “clingy.” According to dictionary.com, clingy is a word that describes something that adheres strongly; consequently it’s a trait that virtually all guys find bothersome.
“Marisa would go off imagining that she’s in a relationship with Alex,” John says. “I just really felt bad for Alex more so than Marisa.”
These feelings were felt by Mr. GBF himself, too. “She always had to be there with me or texting me when we weren’t together,” Alex says. “If I wanted a break without telling her directly, she’d get upset when I didn’t answer,” he says. This overbearing behavior almost cost them their friendship when Alex finally let off all of his steam and told Marisa how he felt. The two didn’t speak for over a week and until they reconciled soon after. “We really needed the distance,” Alex said. “She wasn’t my boyfriend; I hoped this would finally show her that.” Remember readers, it would be best to confront these issues as soon as they arise.
Though Marisa chose not to participate in this article, there are still lessons to learn from her behavior. Stepping over any friend’s boundaries or comfort zone will never end well. Always be mindful of your actions and ask yourself what your motives are regarding your GBF. It’s very possible that someone can be confusing her GBF’s positivity and encouragement as feelings.
“I’ve heard friends say ‘Why would I choose to be gay?’…There is so much negativity out there and not enough acceptance -- You have to be the change,” Bucher says. This all starts with setting up a boundary and ensuring that everything is out in the open. “I always make it explicit that I've never had any sexual thoughts about women and maintain a boundary with the females I meet so that I never find myself in this position,” says Scott. Make sure you do this with your GBF to avoid any of the mishaps Marisa faced during college.
Graduate Assistant at the Hofstra Office of Multicultural and International Student Programs Tineka Brown suggests, “Get informed! Take the time to sit down with your GBF and actually talk to them to understand. You must be open and willing to learn and discover.” And isn’t that what being a BFF is all about?
What do you think readers? Do you know a peer who has expressed too much interest in her GBF? Start the conversation below!
Scott Rosenfeld, Her Campus Contributing Writer
Samantha Bucher, Graduate Assistant at Hofstra University
Tineka Brown, Graduate Assistant at Hofstra University
Alex, a college junior
John*, a college junior