I have a real problem that I need help with. My best friend, who I just recently found out is gay, have told me he loves me. He said it through a text message since I'm out of town right now and I haven't responded. I'm not gay and don't feel about him this way but I'm worried that if I tell him this then it might ruin our friendship. Also, he gets depressed really easily and has been suicidal before. I don't want to be the reason he has a relapse, especially since he said I'm one of the reasons he is so happy these days. I need some advice on what I can say to keep our friendship strong and not hurt him or make him depressed. Please help me, I really don't know what to do or say.
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That is, indeed, a quandary, and Papabear is glad you are being so kind and considerate about your friend’s feelings. Certainly you need to be honest with him, because if you’re not you’ll just be leading him on, giving him false hopes. You need to have a dialog with him in which you carefully balance the fact that the two of you cannot have a sexual relationship (I’m assuming that’s what he meant by “love you” and not just platonic love) with the even more important fact that he is a dear friend whom you care about greatly and will always support and love in a brotherly way.
Did you see the “Lord of the Rings” movies? A lot of people made fun of the characters Samwise and Frodo because they expressed such love for each other. They kept putting posts on various sites, often including movie stills with highly suggestive captions, implying the two hobbits were gay (like there was time for sex when you’re starving, exhausted, and fighting off orcs and other evil creatures). Anyway, at the end of the movie, Sam and the others return to the Shire and Sam meets a girl, gets married, and has kids.
When you talk to your friend, you can use this analogy of your being like Sam to his Frodo, and how much you care about him, but asserting you are straight like Sam. Also, reassure him repeatedly that you are absolutely fine with his being gay and that under no circumstances does it mean you cannot be close friends. Explain to him that you respect him for being who he is and, as good friends, you expect him to also respect you for being who you are. Also, apologize that if you gave him the impression you were gay, it was not your intention and that you in no way were trying to mislead him. You are simply a straight man who does not exactly fit into a macho lifestyle.
Tell him you are very proud of him for coming out to you; it was a brave thing to do, and you are very glad he felt the two of you were good enough friends that he could do so. Reiterate that the two of you can still have a very caring and close friendship, filled with many good times ahead, and that friendships—true friendships like that between Sam and Frodo—are rare and to be treasured. Your being straight is not a rejection; it is simply who you are. You are not rejecting him, and, in fact, your friendship is even stronger now because it is completely open and honest. The two of you know who the other one is, inside and out, and you are good with it and content to be good friends.
Your friend might be emotionally fragile, but if you give him enough reassurance that your friendship is not only intact, but stronger for his confession, as well as telling him how proud of him you are and how glad you are to have him as a friend, then you should be fine.
Finally, it is extremely important that you do not change your behavior in a negative way toward him. That is, you do not reduce the number of times you see him or talk to him on the phone or online. You might even wish to increase this contact somewhat as further reassurance to him that the two of you are cool. Remember, it is not just what you say but also your actions that reveal who you are and what kind of relationship you have.
Please write again if you have more questions, and good luck!
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