I’ve been dealing with some internalized shame lately about my relationship choices that an issue with a friend has stirred up, and I’ve finally come to a decision.
I have a close friend from college who is socially conservative and a very religious Christian. We have never seen eye-to-eye on relationships, even before she knew I was kinky and before I became non-monogamous. But we used to revel in that, even after I came out to her. We would talk about our differences with interest and respect and then we’d talk about Jane Austen movie adaptations and it was a very satisfying friendship. I don’t tell her the salacious details of my sex life (or the boring ones, either), but she knows the broad picture of my relationship style and my sexuality because those things inform who I am as a person and we are close.
Then a few months ago she moved to a different town, and since then I feel like things have been strained when I try to say anything about my personal life, even really, really vanilla details about my primary. It got to the point where I felt like I was walking on eggshells with her and couldn’t talk about anything but work, school and what I’m watching on Netflix. I started to feel frustrated and resentful. I felt like the boundaries of our friendship were changing but in a lopsided way and without her telling me. So I asked her what was going on. She tried to avoid it, but I eventually got out of her that she’s “worried” about my life choices and doesn’t know what to do when I talk about my personal life because she disapproves but doesn’t want to tell me. Then we sort of took a rain check on the “what are we going to do about this” part of the conversation.
That’s given me some time to think, and I realized that I was carrying a lot of guilt and shame into this situation that I didn’t know I had. On some level I felt like, since I was the deviant one, it was my responsibility to hide that from the normal people and I had failed and made my friend uncomfortable. But that’s not right. This is just a part of my life, and a close friend should be able to accept my differences and not shut down when I tell her a funny story about my boyfriend. I don’t have to defend myself to her. I’m going to have one conversation where I explain that this is what’s right for me, and if nothing changes I’ll have to scale back the friendship. Because if I always have to watch what I say around someone, we just can’t be that close.