Dearest Papa Bear,
I've been reading your advice column a lot, and honestly, I've been getting a lot of advice indirectly. Your column is very helpful and I believe you have sound advice. So I want to turn to you...
About two months ago, I met Indy (not real name) on FurAffinity, and we talked to each other a lot because of similar interests. I loved snuggling and chatting, like him. But unfortunately, while I was looking for a friendship, he was looking for a mate. And neither of us knew, because we were just talking casually.
Later on, he made a drawing of the two of us, cuddled, sitting on a couch. I thought it was just for gratitude, for being a friend. He said I was free to upload it to FA, and so I did.
I made it clear on my FA profile page that I am straight, I keep a "straight furries" icon on my profile, but still, one day, he asked me if I was bisexual, and when I said "no", he was devastated. He told me that all his past relationships ended badly. He wanted to leave the fandom, and said he wasn't worth my time anyway. He said he felt very sick. He said he was a fool to think that. I tried apologizing, explaining to him that I was curious (sexuality-wise), and that what he felt was not just his fault, it was also my fault for being too vague with my friendly affections. On that day, we said our goodbyes, and I told him he didn't have to speak to me again if he doesn't want to.
He left a note on my FA, saying that even if we don't speak to each other again, could I at least keep the drawing he made for me. Before I could reply, he sent me another message, saying: "You know what, please, let's forget what happened this morning. I don't want you to leave, I want you to stay like who you are."
I responded immediately, saying that I agree, and we reconciled, and we were friends again. Although for the first few days after the incident, I was very careful of what I said, and he was still being quite pessimistic. This mellowed down, and today, we are very open and casual to each other. Like the relationship of two brothers who are very similar. He relies and depends on my emotional support very much. Now and then, he says "love you," where I respond, "I love you back" but I do feel he knows I only mean it as friends.
Later on, he found a mate, and I congratulated him, but he said even though he's mated, I'm still more special to him than anyone. Later, his mate broke up with him, because his mate realized he wasn't ready for a relationship. Indy poured his sorrows out to me. Like I said, he depends on me a lot.
Now, you see, I realized that even though I am mostly straight, I am bi-curious. I'm okay with dating a guy. I'm not closed in my sexuality. And I really feel like I'm falling in love sometimes, even with those of the same sex, even falling in love with Indy himself...
Papa Bear, my problem is ... I'm afraid to fall in love with someone of the same sex. Indy and I could not be together because I said I wasn't bisexual. But now, I am suddenly okay with it. If I fell in love with another male who isn't Indy, would it not hurt him badly? Would he not feel "cheated" by life?
My question is: What should I do? Should I just let myself do what I want, without acknowledging how I might affect Indy, or is there something I need to do to clarify things to him? I want to keep him as my friend, I don't want him to get hurt if in case I fall in love with another male who is not him. What should I do Papa Bear?
With lots of love and hugs, a troubled coyote,
* * *
Love is an odd fish. There are many kinds of love in the world: love for a parent or sibling, love for a mate, love for one’s child, love for a dear friend, love for one’s god, even love for a pet dog or cat or gerbil. Just because you love someone does not mean you want that person, necessarily, to be your mate.
For instance, I have a dear bear friend whom I call my Spirit Bear because he helped me through the time when I was discovering my sexuality at a late age while coming to the end of a decades-long relationship. I love this furry in a deep way, but not in the same way as I love my mate. I have other dear friends like this as well whom I love very much.
The point is, you are permitted to love more that one person in your life, Gordon. This is especially necessary for someone like you who is bisexual(?) and would probably never be happy with just one sex or another, but it is true of all people, to a greater or lesser extent.
You can love Indy in a perhaps-more-than-brotherly way, and you may find another person or two or more whom you also love. Then there may be that one person whom you love above all others, but this doesn’t mean you have to stop loving those who are still very dear to you.
But Gordon, you might not realize this, but you are really setting off my gay-dar here (and before I get any letters from readers, no, I don’t think all furries are gay, quite the contrary), and I believe you set off Indy’s as well. Your letter is a Freudian psychologist’s dream, rife with clues that tell me you aren’t being entirely honest with yourself about your sexuality, including:
To answer your question, no, you shouldn’t just do whatever you want without regard to how it might affect Indy. Especially when it sounds like you might be doing this out of fear that you’ll fall more deeply in love with him. Letting fear make the decisions for you will likely lead you to the wrong choice.
Papabear suspects the reason you originally backed off with Indy is that you got scared about what you were feeling and what that said about you, so you pushed him away. Fortunately for you, Indy didn’t give up on you and asked you to let him back into your life.
I’m not saying you should immediately proceed into matehood with Indy, but I am saying you shouldn’t keep him at arm’s length because you are afraid you might fall head over footpaws in love with him. Right now, though, you are not quite ready for either choice.
What you should not do is toy with Indy’s emotions again (judging by your letter, he is extremely emotional and wears his heart on his sleeve), which is what happened the first time and why he got crushed. And, yes, here comes that word again that Papabear uses so often: communication. You need to talk to Indy and tell him exactly where you are emotionally and sexually. Tell him you do care for and even love him, but you are still confused about your own sexuality and that it wouldn’t be fair to him, right now, to become his mate because you honestly don’t know where you stand when it comes to sex and matehood (you’ll figure it out, though, I’m sure).
Papabear used to be a bear who always had to have a plan where he was going and where he would be 10, 20, 50 years down the road. I found out in more recent years that it doesn’t work that way. If you had asked me 20 years ago where I’d be today, I would have told you I would be a fantasy book novelist living in conservative Michigan and getting ready for my 25th wedding anniversary; instead, I am a 46 year old divorced, gay, furry, failed writer (but okay editor) living with my mate in southern California. Life’s funny that way. Hell, I was once a registered Republican, for God’s sake (no offense, Republicans).
The lesson here is: don’t fret too much that you are still working on who you are. It is a lifelong process. Think of where you are now, today. And what you have now and today is a very dear friend named Indy who loves you and whom you love back. Who knows where it is going? It might not go anywhere or it might become a wonderful life together. That you are writing to me worried that your decisions in life will affect Indy in a bad way tells me that he is much more than just a friend and that you have a lot to figure out still. Embrace that. And be honest with him.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.