My Best Friend Just Told Me That He Loves Me, But I Don't Even Know If I'm Straight. Help!

Susan
asks:
I'm a 15-year-old girl who's best friends with a 15-year-old boy. He just told me that he likes me, like a lot. He wants to start dating, but I haven't talked to him about the fact that I'm not sure I'm straight. I don't want anything to change between us, because I love him a lot, just not romantically. Please help!
Siân replies:

Hi Susan,

It sounds like you have two separate things going on here. We can break it down into smaller pieces and talk about them individually.

1. Your friend likes you, but you don't like him like that.

The most immediate thing is that your best friend has expressed a romantic interest in you, which you don't reciprocate.

It actually doesn't matter why you don't feel the same. You never need a reason to say no to someone - you just don't. It's hard when we care about someone and they want something we can't give them, but dating someone just to avoid hurting their feelings is only going to make you both feel worse in the long run. It sounds like you need to talk to your friend and tell him that you don't want to date him.

How do you tell him no without hurting his feelings? Well, the bad news is that however gently you tell him, it's probably going to sting a bit, I'm sorry. If I were you I'd keep it brief and to the point - you've already said it yourself in your question here: you care about him a lot but you don't want to date him. You'd really like to keep being his friend because you value him.

Hopefully, he'll accept your answer and in time you'll be able to keep appreciating one another as friends, but don't be surprised if he needs a bit of space while he works through his feelings. He's been vulnerable in telling you how he feels, he has taken a risk and faced rejection -- it's okay if he needs a moment to recover from that.  If he needs you to, wait a little bit before you reach out and suggest catching up or hanging out.

Of course, he might be less accepting -- get pushy, demand you give him a reason, or start lashing out -- in which case you've got another reason not to date him. Stand your ground! You don't need to justify your feelings or find a "compromise." You've said no.

2. You're figuring out your sexual orientation.

You also talked about not knowing whether you're straight. Your question didn't say whether that's because you've been noticing interest in or attraction to people of similar or other genders, or if you've just not really had any crushes yet to indicate either way. That's okay, though; understanding your sexuality is more a process than an event for a lot of people, and you don't need all the answers now (or ever, really).

One of the things that the Q can stand for in LGBTQIA+ is Questioning. Personally, I think that this is really underrated! Questioning says, I don't know, and that's okay. It's useful for people who are just starting to explore who they are sexually and romantically, and also for people who have spent some time feeling that one orientation described them and start noticing new things that make them start to, well, question that.

We have a whole lot of resources on our site for people who are figuring out their sexual identities and I'll link to a few of them below. They can be useful guides when figuring out what words feel good to you, but that's all they are: guides. At the end of the day, the authority on who you are is YOU.

Some things to pay attention to along the way are whether you find yourself having crushes, or wanting to be around someone a bunch, or fantasizing about people of particular genders. If you're noticing mostly attraction to other girls and women, maybe you'll find yourself talking about being a lesbian, or gay. If it's mostly boys and men, perhaps you'll try the word straight. If you're noticing attraction to a range of genders maybe bisexual or pansexual will feel right. Or maybe you'll like queer, which captures a whole wide spectrum of different feelings - including the ones just mentioned.

Of course, it might be that when thinking about who you're interested in the answer is "no one, not right now." At 15 it's not particularly weird to still be waiting for those kinds of feelings to emerge - perhaps because we just haven't yet met the people who appeal to us. Some people find that those feelings don't show up at all, and start trying out the words asexual or aromantic.

If that all sounds like a lot and you want to bounce ideas around as you're figuring it out, you can always come chat to us over on our message boards and we can help you think about what all this means for you!

Some articles you might want to check out: