Group Therapy is a relationship advice column that asks readers to contribute their wisdom.
A reader writes: I’m a twentysomething gay male with a straight male acquaintance who admits to flirting with me. He makes comments about sexy guys and even once pretended to be my boyfriend when I ran into my ex. When I’ve confronted him, he firmly states that while he is an LGBT ally, he’s straight. He’s also got a female partner and kids. I'm attracted to him but confused by his mixed signals. What should I do?
He’s not that into you
Don’t let your common sense fly out the window. He is clearly unavailable. There’s nothing wrong with finding an acquaintance attractive, but please recognize that it’s no foundation for any kind of relationship. If you choose to continue flirting, do so only after you firmly lock up any possibility of a dalliance in your mind.
– Randa Doche, Oromocto, N.B.
Keep your distance
Sexual attraction is volatile in any friendship, but straight men in particular feel pressure to demonstrate that they are not homophobic. So they might play with an entirely hypothetical gay identity by commenting on attractive guys, but to gay men, it can come across as “mixed signals.” If the guy says he’s straight, then you have to take his word for it. And he has to stop the performances. If your attraction to him is at all strong, you really must distance yourself from the relationship.
– Gilbert Osmond, Montreal
Think of the kids
Whether your friend is confused about his sexuality, afraid to admit he’s gay or simply taking his LGBT support a bit too far … do you really want to get involved? And if he were openly gay and had kids with a male partner instead, would you ask yourself the same questions about acting on your attraction? Consider that the attraction could simply be to forbidden fruit and move on to someone (single!) whose signals are clear.
– Sophie Welsman, Toronto
The final word
What human being with a beating heart wouldn’t want to have gorgeous arm candy when an ex passes by? It’s the balm that soothes a sore heart. So take the entire incident for what it was, a loyal friend who lent an extra bit of sweetness when you needed it.
Randa’s right. Your straight friend is being honest with you. He’s not using the excuse, “I had to get married because I belong to a raging homophobic community.” He has a female partner because he’s heterosexual.
I imagine that you’re a fun single person and he’s living vicariously through you. Your world is a distraction from his normal domestic life. My husband would probably prefer traipsing around the gay village, checking out cute men, to sitting at home watching another mind numbing soccer game.
But you have to protect yourself. There’s a lot at stake here, namely your feelings. As Gilbert says, you may need to distance yourself from your friend in order to find a partner who’s emotionally and sexually available.
And Sophie’s correct. It doesn’t matter if your friend is gay or straight – there are other people involved: a partner and kids. Your friend has made a commitment to another person and a romantic relationship with you would create a giant mess, and with a rather large body count.
You may find it easier to attract a partner without your friend parading around with you. Tell him you need to take a break in order to focus on finding someone who loves you for all the right reasons. Then you can hang out with Straight Arm Candy, while you’ve got the real thing hanging on you.
Regina-based Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of the CBC-TV sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Next week’s question
A reader writes: My middle-aged brother has lived with our mom rent-free since his divorce. It was supposed to be short term but it’s now been several years. He blows what money he does earn and I consider him a poor role model for my kids. I told my mother I wouldn’t visit while he lives there, and that it’s time she got to relax and stop parenting a grown man. Now she refuses to visit my house and see her grandchildren. What do I do?
Let’s hear from you
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are published anonymously, but we’ll include your name and hometown if we use your advice. (Note: All responses are edited.)