In an ideal world, lesbians can have partners, even multiple partners, and still have close friends within the lesbian community and with straight girls too. This ideal world isn't quite "there" yet, although it has really come a long way from even the 90s.
Let's return to the old traditional heterosexual world when LGBTQ folx lived in the shadows. Most heteros lived in their acceptable "world," paying little attention to queers other than to mock them or, on many occasions, physically harm them. Straight girls and boys became couples; straight girls were best friends with other straight girls. It was unusual for a straight girl and boy to be best friends because jealousy often got in the way.
And so it can be with lesbian best friends too. If a lesbian is in a monogamous partnership and has another lesbian bestie, jealousy can also become an issue. But what if a lesbian has the best friendship with a gay man, a gay man with another gay man, a gay man with a straight girl, or another straight man? What are the dynamics of all of these friendships? You see, they can be complicated for outsiders looking in, wondering what in the Hell is going on between these two best friends. And what about a lesbian who has a straight woman for a best friend? Can this remain truly platonic, or will it either end in a breakup (because the lesbian makes it known she has a sexual attraction) or a crush turned into sex?
Those who have seen the movie "My Best Friend's Wedding" saw a BFF relationship between a straight girl and a gay man. These are considered "safe" friendships in the hetero world because there is little chance of a romantic relationship developing. And, that gay man can be a major help to a straight woman - helping her decorate her home, being genuinely honest about her wardrobe, hairstyle, makeup, accessories, and more. Each of them is comfortable in their own sexuality and can just enjoy their friendship with no "strings" or innuendos.
But what about a straight woman developing a bestie relationship with a lesbian? Traditionally, these were the "rules" and responses from hetero society:
The lesbian didn't reveal her status for fear of being rejected by that straight friend
If the lesbian's status was known, she avoided getting close to heterosexual girls for fear that they would think she was "hitting" on them
For straight women, having a known lesbian bestie left her open to all sorts of eye rolls and rumors that she herself was actually a lesbian too. Was she engaging in lesbian sex? Guys would avoid her.
Today, largely because of millennials, who have far more progressive attitudes toward LGBTQ lifestyles, the term "lesbian bestie" has arisen. And it applies specifically to straight girls who have lesbian best friends. And before you Gen Zer's dismiss this as a cheugy term, you need to think about what it means for your generation too.
So, let's forget that millennials adopted this term and focus on the many benefits of lesbians developing BFF relationships with straight women in our Gen Z world.
Think of the term as a statement of how far things have moved since earlier times. This was perhaps best shown by the 2016 movie, "Almost Adults." The two lead actors are Cassie and Mackenzie, straight and lesbian in that order. Cassie has no idea that Mackenzie is a lesbian - a girl who is trying to figure out how to let her best friend know. There are no romantic feelings on the part of Mackenzie - she just wants to be honest with her bestie. Does the best friend connection survive? View the movie and see for yourself.
But let's look at the benefits of a lesbian bestie relationship:
Sometimes, especially when coming off of a bad relationship, a straight female will want to vent about what absolute bastards men are. They have been wronged and need a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. A lesbian girlfriend can listen to her story, empathize (she doesn't like men either), and agree with the real feelings her straight girlfriend is having right now. The straight girl who vents to another heterosexual girl, especially one who is in a great relationship with a man, may not be able to relate well.
Here's the thing. Lesbian relationships have all of the same challenges, struggles, and heartbreaks the heterosexual relationships have. While she's not able to relate to what absolute bastards men are, she has probably experienced what absolute bitches other women can be. She's gotten involved in wrong relationships too - with women who have been unfaithful, who were narcissistic, and who have not treated them well. With those experiences, lesbian besties can listen critically and provide insights based on them. She can help a straight best friend look for a sign that a potential partner may not be all that they seem to be. And she can point out mistakes that her straight bestie may be making. Likewise, the straight woman can do the same for her lesbian best friend.
A lesbian bestie will be honest about clothing, makeup, and accessorizing. Why? Because that best friend is not in any "competition" for attention from the male sex.
There is a large chunk of research (going back to 1958 in fact) showing that all humans need the bonding that friendships create. People without friends suffer more emotional and physical problems than those with friends. Without friends, where do we find a sympathetic shoulder and a listening ear when we face struggles, setbacks, and crises? A somewhat detached therapist can only partially meet that need.
The other important point of the research is that we tend to choose friends that are of the same gender, but also who are close in age, the same race, and social class, of similar education levels, and often religious beliefs and moral values. In the case of straight adult women, researchers find that they tend to choose friends who share their marital and parental status, including the choice of a male partner for romantic relationships. How confining this is, but it is the context in which they are raised.
At the same time, lesbians tend to veer toward others of the same sexuality. They love lesbians romantically. While they may not hate men, they have no use for straight men in their circle of friendships. Lesbians, like heterosexual girls, have a lot in common and feel comfortable with their "own."
Fortunately, new generations have opened up their own thinking with cultural values of diversity and equality for all, whether in school, in the workplace, or society at large. A person is a person, and that is the ultimate truth. All genders and gender identities are now thrown together in college dorms and campus organizations, in career choices, in the workplace, and even socially. And this brings about an appreciation for all lifestyles. But appreciation does not necessarily bring understanding and close friendships. And here's where straight women with lesbian best friends can be so beneficial.
And no, lesbian sex is not one of them.
Unless they are strong allies of the LGBTQ community, heterosexual women will have little knowledge or understanding of lesbian culture and lifestyles, not to mention their unique language terms, signals of dress styles, sexual behaviors, and more. Given that the vast majority of the romantic film and book plotlines deal with heterosexual couples, this is understandable. Here are just some of the mutual activities that can enrich their lives and connections.
Shopping trips. Where do they each shop and why?
Support groups. A straight female may hate men at the moment because a male partner has cheated. The same happens to lesbians. Both have support groups and can attend one another's.
Lesbians love lesbians. But they can also love straight women without the sexual overtones. Both can learn how to enrich each other's lives without sex or romance.
Lesbians can school straight girls about their sexual behaviors through videos.
Participation in gay pride activities
Reading lesbian magazines, short stories, and books
Going to gay and heterosexual clubs and bars at night and observing flirting and hookups
Sharing talk of their sexual encounters and exploits
Participating in each other's hobbies and interests
Cry with and for each other when a break in a love affair happens. It's a female thing, no matter what the gender identity.
Venting about a crappy time they had on a date
If some of these look a lot like what any female would share about her life or story with any best friend, straight or queer, you are right. And finally, we can put to bed the idea that lesbians and straight women can't be best friends. Lesbians love lesbians but so can straight women.
Yes, it does. If you have not seen the movie, "Carol," now would be a good time to watch it, if you are in a lesbian best friends connection with a hetero. Carol is going through a crappy time and befriends a young aspiring lesbian artist. They become best friends and then lovers. The story is romantic and poignant. Carol was actually bisexual at one point - getting none of the emotional support from her husband and engaging in lesbian sex with a friend who did add that emotional component that a female often needs. But this new one is far more connected. Finally, it ends, but telling that part of the story would be a "spoiler."
If you are a lesbian who truly just wants to be best friends, then you need to watch for the signs that your straight bestie is edging toward more:
This is a clear sign that she wants you all to herself, with activities that seem more like date night. But you are a person who enjoys lots of casual friendships and activities with others. It will make you uncomfortable and feeling a bit trapped. You get the sense that she is becoming romantically attached.
Without any prompting, she brings you gifts of things you once mentioned you wanted. Gifts for birthdays and holidays are normal and expected, but these aren't given in the same way. She keeps track of your favorite foods/meals and cooks them for you often - too often. You're getting the feeling that she is wrapping her life around you. That's smothering.
You notice that she is not spending money on herself but seems to be sacrificing that in favor of taking you out, buying you things, etc. in an effort to please you more.
It's normal for best friends to share details of their dates, their feelings about a guy or another girl, and even who they may have a crush on. and it's normal to laugh and cry together. If she seems to want to know everything about your dating and relationships and keeps turning the talk in that direction, chances are she is jealous and is trying to guess just how to compete. Her supposed interest in your fun and happiness is beginning to look a lot like another motive.
Best friends hug and kiss. But when you are getting kissed on the lips and those kisses linger longer than they should, take that as one thing that shows romantic feelings. In fact, there is no other way to take it. She is becoming attracted to you in a new way and doesn't pretend about it.
Are you getting calls and texts at all hours? More than should be right for best friends? And how about the content of those texts? Is she saying things like, "Just thinking of you - hope you sleep well," or "Hope you are having a great day - can we get together tonight," chances are the connection is becoming more in her eyes. Getting together is more like a "date" for her. And if she is often talking about how hot you are looking, get a clue.
She has heard around town that you have a new love interest. She texts and wants to know all about it right away. This "smacks" of too much interest and an almost obsessive need to have an immediate one on one conversation, whether you are busy or not.
She is trying to get to the root of how you are feeling about her. Is there a chance for a romantic involvement? If it's getting awkward, then it may be time to engage in a lesbian chat with others who have felt pressure of this kind and how they handled it. Of course, if you are now interested in a romantic situation with your straight girl, and you feel that desire, then you may be happy with the way things are turning out. Go for it! Finally, though, you have to explore your own feeling about all of this. If you are not interested, end it now.
She has heard and knows what impresses you. And via social media, messaging to you, and even to others you are both in contact with, she focuses on those behaviors, work, and achievements that you will value. Her goal is to keep you fully interested and what and how she is doing and to be impressed. This behavior can be pretty transparent and may turn you off.
"Girls can survive without a boyfriend, but they can't survive without a best friend." This anonymous quote seems to fit this piece of writing pretty well. And, if a boyfriend is not also a best friend, girls will find other friends to fill those voids. It might include lots of talk and one on one meetups, outings, and yes, even bed. Plenty of women become bisexual as they seek out emotional and physical needs and love this lifestyle.
Sexual identities are fluid, as they should be. Friendships, not so much. We have strong connections with our closest friends that often last a lifetime, and we don't want to be fluid about those. And as we march through our life journeys, we have to make choices and decisions about our close connections. How many of us have lost connections with friends, relatives, and even our parents over our lifestyle choices?
If there is any takeaway it is this: Be who you are; find emotionally satisfying and supportive connections.
Oprah Winfrey is not a spokesperson for our generation - that's no cap. But when she says this - "What I know for sure is that if you can survive 11 days in cramped quarters with a friend and come out laughing, your friendship is the real deal..." If you are a lesbian with this kind of a connection with a straight girl, keep that sis close. Even more, be your own main character.
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