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Dire Straights

By: The 4-Way Panel

Dear 4-Way
,
I am a gay woman who often falls for straight women. I am not stupid enough to date them anymore, but I’m way more attracted to them. My friends and articles I have read have had all kinds of theories—that I am subconsciously afraid of intimacy, that I am suffering from internalized homophobia so unconsciously don’t like gay people, that I don’t want to be happy, and so on. The thing is, I have been out and proud for nearly twenty years now and I have worked through my “issues.” I don’t think I am doing anything subconsciously and feel very healthy and ready for love. I think it happens because I grew up in the South and was only around straight women my whole life. What do you guys think? Does my attraction to straight women have to be pathology? Also, how do I make it stop? CW—Richmond, VA

  The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown

I think we’re capable of being attracted to and having chemistry with all kinds of people, and sometimes that attraction and chemistry is sexual or romantic in nature, and sometimes it’s not. When I look at my group of close friends, for example, I can actually remember thinking right after I met each of them—male and female—that they were really cool people. Something just clicked—I had a connection with each of them, and wanted to know more about them. That allusive “good connection” is what we’re all looking for, and when we find it—even on a friendship level—it can be so intoxicating that we ignore our brain and instead follow our heart.

But our hearts sometimes ride the short bus, as far as making smart decisions. (Trust me, I know.) Eventually you’ll tire of having feelings for women who are unavailable to you, but until then you can try to stop the feelings by developing the Ring Reflex (I just made that up but I kind of like the sound of it), which is the reaction I have when I meet a fantastic guy who’s married or taken. The second I notice the ring, or get any whiff of a girlfriend, I take him off my radar of romantic interest and move him over to the friend bucket. Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t easy, it takes a lot of practice to hone, and you have to catch the feelings in the beginning, before they get too out of control. But after a couple of torturous crushes on people who were completely unavailable and who dangled pending breakups (that never happened) in front of me, I think I finally learned my lesson. And that lesson is this: putting all your energy into someone you can’t have doesn’t leave much for the people you can have. Every second you waste pining away for a straight woman is a second you take away from pursuing the love you want.

A smart and coincidentally lesbian woman once gave me that advice while I was wasting my time on someone completely unavailable. She also promised me that if I stopped focusing all my thoughts and energy toward that one person, someone else would come along. And guess what? She was right—someone did. It was only for a few weeks, but after he was gone, I found that I didn’t have as much interest in Mr. Unavailable and that I began to notice other, more available men. As the ladies of En Vogue once so sagely said, “Free your mind, and the rest will follow.”

Check back tomorrow for the gay man’s perspective by Darren  Maddox.

The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at rbrown@realgirlsmedia.com. To read more of The 4-Way columns or to listen to our podcasts, visit The 4-Way now.