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Why My Friend Thought I Was Gay April 30, 2010

Posted by Onely in Dating, Everyday Happenings.
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My friend at work told me the other day that he used to wonder if I was gay (I’m not). Why did he start to think that? Because he heard me tell a story where I said, “My friend and I were driving around the other day and happened to find this great Thai restaurant.”

Um. Sounds pretty gay, right? Yeah.

My coworker is a very intelligent, funny, kind person who just happens to get wierd ideas in his head sometimes. In this case, his thought process went like this:

Hm. Christina and ‘her friend’ were ‘driving around’. You don’t usually ‘drive around’ with someone unless you have enough time to spend together to do something totally innocuous and timewasting like ‘driving around’, and that would only happen if you were in a romantic relationship with them. And if she were in a romantic relationship with a man, she would have said ‘my boyfriend’, but because she just said ‘my friend’, her partner must be a woman.

I was interested in his assumption that someone wouldn’t just “drive around” with a platonic friend. Since when did driving around become an exclusive habit for couples?

I don’t actually remember where or with whom I was driving on the fateful day of the Thai restaurant. My mystery friend and I might have not actually been driving around aimlessly at all–I may have just misspoken when telling the story to my colleague. Or perhaps we were driving aimlessly. All carbon footprint discussion aside, I do have some friends with whom I could imagine myself ending up “driving around”. Probably it would have to be a pretty good friend, to be with in such a spontaneous and undirected environment.

Do people tend to think that friendships are not strong enough for such “driving around”, but romantic relationships are? My coworker seemed to feel that way. What other activities do people think are fine for couples, but unusual for friends to do together?

I’ll answer my own question: getting tickets together. Apparently this same coworker became further convinced I might be gay because I sent out an email to some friends inviting them to the D.C. Improv, and I told everyone to get their own tickets, because “Susan and I already have our tickets”.  This was because Susan and I regularly go to the Improv–it’s Our Thing. We get our tickets, and then ask other people if they want to come. But somehow the way I worded the email made my coworker–who really is a lovely person and I feel bad blogging about him behind his back–think that Susan and I were a couple.

My theory is that so many couples overuse the “we” construction that they have effectively co-opted it exclusively for couples’ use, and therefore we single people can’t even use “we” without being presumed to be part of a couple (gay or otherwise).

Christina

Photo credit: Philippe Leroyer

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Comments»

1. autonomous - May 3, 2010

How familiar this rings to me. Last summer my housemate and I bought a couple of trees at Costco and lugged them out to the truck, then loaded them ourselves. We were laughing because of the knowing looks we got: one petite long-haired woman with a tall short-haired woman doing some heavy lifting. No-one said anything, but it was sensed. I often spoke in “we” terms and it was often met with raised eyebrows- as in “sure, you and your so-called housemate”….

2. Lauri - May 4, 2010

interesting point on the “we” issue, especially wrt tickets. I go to a lot of concerts with my brother. “We” share a fan club membership and thus tickets for a certain arena rock band…I have actually noticed that it is weird to say something like “we got our tickets through the fan club” – I will actually say something like, “my brother and I got our tickets through the fan club.” Why? I think the couples HAVE claimed the use of the word “we.” My fan club tickets are linked to my brother, when I talk about going to those shows, I think in “we” terms. And yet, it sounds weird.

3. Paul - May 4, 2010

Before I moved away, I used to have a very good friend with whom I spent a lot of time. We shared several interests, so I would see him multiple times a week. I am very happy to know him because as a fairly introverted person, there aren’t many people who I get along with, much less understand my personality/needs. Apparently, this was odd to a lot of people, including my family.

If you’re a single guy in your 20s and you’re not trolling bars and having sex with random women, you MUST be gay. Many people have this mindset and I find it ridiculous. Oh you’re single and not looking, so you MUST be hiding something or are just severely damaged in some way.

4. Amy J Pirt - May 6, 2010

I haven’t been single for nearly six years (jeez, scary thought), but I’ll never be a ‘we’ girl. I’ve just never spoken like that; even if I’ve done sth with my partner or my family, I’ll say ‘I’ did so and so. Intersting post, though. People will think what they like I suppose.

5. Singlutionary - May 9, 2010

In regards to driving around with a friend. I don’t do that so much anymore. Partly due to the price of gas but also because time is short and the friends who I would enjoy driving around with are far away. And mainly because time is short and schedules are crowded. In many ways, I’ve come to think of driving around with another person as something I did in my youth — when gas was cheap and time was plentiful. Of course, there are so many friends that I could spend hours in a car with and it would seem like seconds. Whereas being in a car with a partner has often times made me feel like pulling my hair out.

6. Trauma Queen - May 11, 2010

oh i know that feeling! for a long, long time a lot of people thought my best friend and I had the hots for each other cos we luuurved hanging out….

all jealous bastards if you ask me! stuck to one lover/spouse person and not having any other friends 😛

7. Angie - May 14, 2010

My feelings exactly! I want to be single yet be a high priority in someone’s life, and it seems like the only way to do that in today’s society is to get involved in a romantic relationship. Since dating/marriage is the only acceptable lifestyle for people, you can’t just do things as friends anymore! f you’re single, you’re either seen as afraid of getting involved in a relationship, or else blissfully waiting for your soul mate to come along while you’re flying solo. Here’s another beef: Say you’ve had a best platonic friend for 10 years,, you’re so intimately close you’re joined at the hip. Then your friend starts dating someone (of course you’re put on the back burner), and gets engaged after 2 years of knowing that person, and calls that person their “best friend”. Why does the first social/companionship priority go to lovers who develop intimate relationships in so short a time? Shouldn’t the social/companionship priority go to the friend that you’ve spent 10 years getting to know and developing a friendship with? And instead that friend gets put on the back burner in favor of a new relationship, where the intimacy that took her years to develop with you, was achieved in a 2-year courtship with someone else. On top of that, you’ve spent years getting to know a friend intimately but you won’t get physical with them, yet you date someone for a year and you decide to sleep with them, get engaged/married, parenthood, etc. Your friend was here before the lover, the lover was here before the kids. Even if you did the friends-with-benefits thing, even if you have that close emotional bond and make it a sexual one, the romantic relationship is still the top dog, the only meaningful thing in life. And what are you doing in a romantic relationship but emotionally/sexually bonding with someone, and doing things together for companionship! Doesn’t make sense! I tried to get a friend in a relationship to explain the difference and I got the “you wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been in one” response, along with a vibe from her that my attempts to dialogue with, and understand her, were pointless because I’m single. I think it’s where the “we” comes from. I hate it, but that’s my take!

8. Change - June 29, 2010

I’ve had this experience more than a few times–most recently when my cousin from the US visited me in Europe two weeks ago and WE went on a Eurotrip. When I talked about it to colleagues/friends I kept switching between “when we (my cousin and I) went to ” and “when I went to with my cousin” to avoid the hint of incest.

Actually at this point I’m nearly immune to people’s assumptions about my relationship status. When I was in grad school (that was in the US), I had great friends (many of them male, but not all of them knew each other in person). So when I said to friend A, “H and I hung out last night, we went to a movie*” certain assumptions were made by A. Similarly when I said to H about K and I having fun at the party, again assumptions were made by H. And I used to hang out with my male friends so much that often somebody (an acquaintance) would say “I saw you at XYZ event with your boyfriend/spouse/partner.” In the beginning I would clear up the fact that person I was with wasn’t my bf/spouse/fiance/partner. Later on (and now) I just reply, “wasn’t that event quite fun/boring?” and ignore the part about my assumed relationship to the friend that accompanied me to the said event.

I also have these great married-couple friends (D & M) that I used to hang out with quite a bit before I moved half-the-world away. My other friend A once commented that it’s as if M has two wives (D and me).

About going to the movies: it’s quite a couples’ thing in the US. When my friend H and I used to go, many times the two of us would be the only group in the movie theater that’s not a romantic couple.


Just found your blog through Living Single by Bella dePaulo. Sorry the comment is too long and has too many personal anecdotes.

Onely - June 29, 2010

Your comment is great–we love personal anecdotes. That’s what it’s all about in the end, isn’t it? I think that like movies, comedy clubs also tend to be a couple’s thing, like a classic “date night” activity, which is one reason my friend thought that my “we” was a romantic one. Hmm.
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