Wise Counsel from Susan Quilliam: I told my gay friend I loved him

Dear Susan,

This sounds like an adolescent romcom, but it really isn’t. I have a male colleague who’s has now become a close friend. We work together a lot, we also go out two or three times a week together to films, meals and such – and over the year we’ve known each other I’ve really got very fond of him. Thing is, he’s gay. In fact, we swap endless notes about the men we like and play ‘who do you fancy’ in restaurants about the same guys.  

But last week he was round at mine to finish up a deadline project, afterwards we cracked some wine, and then I blurted out that I was in love with him. He was very sweet, gave me a hug and left – and has been great to  me since.  

But I can’t believe I said what I said, and  things just aren’t the same. In the cold light of day I don’t believe I am in love with him – I don’t even really fancy him – and I totally accept he’s gay. So why did I say what I did? And can we ever get the old friendship back? I’m devastated.  


Dear Sara

You’re right – your story does sound like a romcom, but that doesn’t make it any less serious for you.

Why did it happen? Fact is, you and this guy are very close, and whether or not you know and accept he’s gay, some part of you wants that closeness on a more regular and more reliable level. Plus you know that if he finds a partner, then he may still see you socially, but it won’t be the same full-on 24/7 that you have at the moment, seeing him at work plus several times a week. And fear of losing that – rather than lust – was probably what made you say you cared. You wanted to know the friendship would last and you wanted to know that the bond you feel wouldn’t be broken.

Has the bond now broken because of what you said? I suspect not. It seems that your friend has coped with your words and has kept his connection with you. So what you need to do is to keep your connection with him. Of course you feel embarrassed, maybe even guilty. But don’t let that stop you from rebuilding the friendship.

What I advise is a heart-to-heart – as quickly as possible and without benefit of alcohol! Just tell him what you told me – that you genuinely don’t fancy him and aren’t trying to pressure him into a relationship. Then tell him what I’ve told you – that what triggered your words was that you need to know the friendship will last even when one or both of you finds a partner.

Open up to him honestly – always the best way to build a friendship – and then listen carefully to what he says. My bet is that he’ll return the sentiment and you can both swear undying friendship.  Then put all your energy into working together, having fun together, and supporting him as a good friend should. Give it time and space and you’ll feel easier around each other again – and with luck your friendship will last until you’re both using Zimmer frames!


Susan Quilliam also offers email, phone and face-to-face coaching on relationship and sexuality issues. Contact her here

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