*Coming to terms with one’s sexuality is at times a long and exhausting process. It took me many years to completely accept myself, and try to venture into the dating world. Over time, I have ended up collecting stories and lessons learned from my dating life, which I will now be sharing every month for roughly the next year. All names will be changed to protect the privacy of everyone mentioned, as they deserve anonymity and respect- no matter how bad the stories may have ended. Instead of telling these stories in chronological order, I will be telling them by order of importance of their moral.*
Queer people, especially women, know this person well: the girl who is your friend but seems to have never gotten the memo that she is most certainly not your girlfriend. Different from the friends you engage in casual relationships with, this girl is one who you have never had any interest in other than platonic.
However, despite this, she will still push herself onto you as if she is entitled to your affections for reasons that are never made clear because they never make sense. For those of you with your own crazy-not-girlfriend, there is no way to fix it because only she is able to fix it. I beg of you to please, leave this friendship as soon as possible. There’s no way to fix it, and I had to learn the hard way.
Everyone, meet Karen. I met Karen in High School. She had quite a dysfunctional relationship for some time. I watched the way that her ex-partner walked on eggshells and saw Karen meddle in his life, I should’ve taken these as warnings to stay away from her. Alas, I was young and too friendly for my own good.
After bonding casually multiple times with Karen, I quickly realized she was the kind of person who loved to vent. I mean, really loved it. Every single conversation, she would give the same story of her emotionally abusive family who didn’t approve of her sexuality or relationship at that time. She also would tell me many times of her unhealthy coping mechanisms and her deep self-loathing. Of course, being a good friend, I gave the best support that I could and constantly tried to give advice.
Karen and I grew to be decent friends by the time I graduated, and not long after, Karen and her ex broke up due to irreconcilable differences. This caused us to spend even more time together, and while Karen was definitely tiring, she was my friend. So I thought, anyway. Like many of my friends, Karen met my parents and would spend time with me. We’d go to movies, the mall, sometimes out to eat. While I noticed her attitude towards me would shift a little, I didn’t think much of it. After all, friends are supposed to bond.
Then, I met her family, and after multiple visits, I started to realize some flaws in the long-going sob story she had shared. I found quite a lot of plot holes in her accounts of their “abuse”. She would spontaneously instigate and maliciously insult them when it was uncalled for, which would lead to her getting in trouble, which is what she would then call abusive behavior.
There were times Karen would throw actual temper tantrums at random and often left me confused. Then, finally, I came to find out that not only did her family not care about Karen’s sexuality, but they were also desperately hoping that she and I would become romantically involved since I got along with them so well.
My father would often question as well why I didn’t try to have a more intimate relationship with Karen since at the time I didn’t have much of an active love life, to which I always gave the same answer: I didn’t want one. While I didn’t owe him more specifics, the truth of the matter was that she wasn’t my type and I knew well that she was incapable of a healthy relationship.
She spoke about her ex every single day, long after the two had stopped talking. She was showing very clear obsessive behavior over him. She didn’t want a relationship, she wanted someone to fix everything about herself she didn’t like. This is an impossible standard that nobody can fulfill, and shouldn’t have to.
She would also be manipulative, such as insulting me, and if I ever called her out for it, she would insist I took it the wrong way and then turn things around to talk about how sadly horrible her life was, so I’d comfort her. I couldn’t ever be attracted to someone as pessimistic as she was since all she talked about for years was her self-loathe and being sad. Dealing with depression is a hard and horrible thing, I know this well, which is why I begged many times to tell her counselor the startling things she would tell me. As far as I know, she never once followed my advice.
When I myself was going through a hard time, being around Karen was like being sucked into a black hole. I’d feel hopeless rather than supported, the way I’d done for her so many times. When I was in a good mood, Karen would change the topic in a depressing direction. I once played upbeat dancing music as we were on our way to go to the mall to have a fun day, and she changed it to a song about a girl who wanted to starve herself to death. This was very scary behavior to exhibit out of nowhere, and when I asked her about it, she gave a shrug and started talking about her parents again, and for the rest of the day continued with the same lines I had been hearing for years.
My friend Anne knew Karen about as long as I had, except Anne was very clear that she didn’t like her in the least bit and never had. When Anne had met Karen, she instantly felt like Karen would be the kind of girl that would manipulate people for attention. Anne, unlike me, had no issues calling things as she saw them instead of giving someone a chance to prove her wrong. (While Anne and I are very different people, I do love her for it.)
“Karen is in love with you. You need to shut this down while you still can.” Anne told me once as we were discussing our plans for the week. I remember feeling surprised, thinking that surely Anne was mistaken. After all, Karen had still been bringing up her ex up every day. I would wonder sometimes if Anne was psychic because only one week later, Karen confessed to having romantic feelings for me.
Honestly, I should’ve seen the warning signs. Sometimes, Karen was over-affectionate. She hated my online-girlfriend Alice. Yet, I somehow convinced myself that she had no such feelings for me. Which is why it was much to my dread and fear how wrong I was. I was worried if I’d said the wrong thing, Karen would physically harm herself. I admit I’m not proud of what I did next, but saw no other way to let her down easy without also breaking out every heartbreaking cliche that existed.
I somehow convinced her she didn’t really have feelings for me, only that she thought she did because I was currently the most consistent person in her life. I had pointed out for her that after her breakup, which she was still dealing with, she simply sought comfort in the idea of a consistent relationship. Somehow, I managed to pull this off, and got that all to stop. Again, so I thought. I seemed to be oblivious to her behavior toward me; Karen even managed to help sabotage a brief romance I had with a girl named Faith, who couldn’t stand her. Faith even told me once that she could see clear as day Karen was in love with me, and that I shouldn’t trust her. (You’ll hear more about Faith next month.)
Once I had started spending time with other friends, I noticed some significant changes in my life. I was being treated with decency and respect and allowed to speak about my own issues instead of listening to someone else’s. I also was allowed to be positive, and even happy. I had forgotten what it was like to be treated by a good friend and grew more confident with everything I did. Including dating. When Karen and I went together to a club where a few women were showing obvious interest in me, it did not go over well.
Whereas before the girls showed up, Karen had been fine, when they were flirting with me she had a full-on meltdown and threw a fit in public. By fit, I don’t mean she was a little upset, I mean she was actually acting like a five-year-old child who didn’t get the toy they wanted at the store. Then, when I finally had the nerve to stand up to her and ask her what her issue was, she had the nerve to somehow blame her ex- who wasn’t there and hadn’t spoken to her in almost a year. I finally told her I wouldn’t coddle her anymore, and that we can discuss this on the way home. I then returned to the other girls and enjoyed myself. When the girls left, magically Karen was back to being fine.
That night on the drive home I called her out for her outrageous behavior and asked if she had feelings for me. I was determined to get the bottom of things, and wasted over an hour of finally demanding real answers from her. She only ever gave me the same lines she always had, trying to turn herself into the one who was wronged, and acted as if she were my girlfriend and I had cheated on her. It was then I finally realized it: Karen would never change or be better because she did not want to. As long as I kept her in my life, she would continue to act this way. I told her I wanted two weeks of no contact for space to think things over, and she agreed. It’s been about two years, and I still haven’t spoken to Karen, and I have had nothing but peace since. For those of you with a crazy-not-girlfriend, please dump her for your own mental health.