During the summer between eighth and ninth grade, my friend told me that she had lost her virginity and that she had been over to this kid’s house multiple times to hook up. My friend and I, we can call her C, went to the same private elementary school and most of middle school together at a very small Catholic school. She knew about this really big crush I had on a kid that we went to school with, and she liked him too. For my first high school dance, I got just enough courage to ask him to the dance. (It was boys ask girls, but he went to a different high school then me, so I figured I better do something before it was too late.) At the dance, I kind of ignored him for some of the time because of how nervous and scared I was, so C decided to dance with him the whole night.
Me and C fell out of touch for a while because she knew that I was upset that she “stole my date,” and we had been good friends before, so I thought she would respect our friendship a little more than that. Towards the end of the year, we started becoming closer again, despite the fact that she continued to text and hang out with my crush after the dance (it had ended before we rekindled our friendship.)
Fast forward about a year, and me and C are super close friends again. We tell each other the majority of what is going on in our lives, but for some reason, she forgot to share with me that she and my crush also had oral sex with each other the summer after freshmen year while we were becoming friends again. (I found out by accident, and that’s when she finally decided to come clean.)
This year, she has a boyfriend of three months, and she just broke up with her best friend, who is also a good friend of mine. One night, after the break up, she texted her ex-best friend saying that her boyfriend was her first time having sex and that she never actually did anything with P or the kid she hooked up with the summer before freshman year. So I asked C about it, and she said that everything in that message is true and that nothing ever happened between her and anyone but her current boyfriend, and her excuse for lying about it was that she wanted to be more like her ex-BFF. The thing is, that doesn’t make sense at all. She became best friends with her a year ago, during freshmen year, and she had already told me about her summer fling before she had met her BFF. But she still keeps the lie up!!!
Another part of it is that she knew what she was doing at the dance would hurt me, but she did it anyways. And yeah, after the dance she sent me a long message saying how sorry she was, but in the end, she may or may not have had oral sex with P, but regardless, we were friends and I can’t believe she would ever do something like that to me. I certainly wouldn’t EVER do that to her. Yeah, it was a long time ago, but I don’t believe that people change. I really respect our friendship, but sometimes I’m not sure she feels the same way. What do I do? I don’t want to be a bad friend and accuse her of lying, but I also don’t want to be a part of a fake friendship where she won’t even tell me the truth.
Because the only thing that separates a real friendship from a fake one is full disclosure about how much sex you’ve had?
That’s an honest question, Sparkler—and it’s one I’d like you to think about, especially in light of the fact that you’re putting so much weight on the truth as a principle while at the same time apparently not caring much about what said truth actually is. I can’t remember the last time a sentence made my head spin like this one did:
“She may or may not have had oral sex with P, but regardless of whichever it was, we were friends and I can’t believe she would ever do something like that to me.”
So what you’re saying is, you can’t believe your friend did this thing she may not have actually done? And you don’t care whether she did it or not, because either way, you’re so mad at her for doing it?
Does that make sense to you, Sparkler? Because it does not make sense to me, at all. The more I try to understand, the more my brain goes DOES NOT COMPUTE until it goes into emergency shutdown mode and sets itself on fire.
But to return to the question of your friend’s sex life—or sex lies, as the case may be—there are a million stupid reasons why she might be trying to edit her history, and they all have one thing in common: they have everything to do with your friend’s impulsiveness and insecurity and flailing attempts to present herself as a certain kind of person, and absolutely nothing to do with how much she “respects” your friendship. Maybe she’s lying because she regrets her past acts and doesn’t want it to get back to her boyfriend that she’d been around the block a few times before she met him. Or, on the other hand, maybe she’s actually never hooked up with anyone, and only claimed she’d done it because she wanted to come off as cool and/or experienced (which could well be a desire that predates her friendship with any one person.) But whatever the lie, and whatever the reasons, it doesn’t make your friendship “fake”; it just means your friend is uncomfortable with the truth about herself.
Which is something you’ll understand as soon as you accept that not everything she does is about you.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand how hard that is. Freshman year is such a weird time; it’s a period of major transition, where even the littlest change in circumstance can blow up into a giant sloppy drama, all of which is compounded by the fact that most of the players on your social scene are giant walking hormone bombs with a lot of feelings and not much impulse control. And when that’s the case, it can be truly tough to recognize the line where your own life ends and someone else’s begins. But it’s important that learn to recognize it, especially in cases where you want information that someone else wants to keep private. Your friend’s sexual activities, even if they were with a guy you had a crush on, are none of your business.
What is your business, of course, is the way she bogarted your date at this frosh year dance, which was quite rude and something you had every right to be peeved about. (Although it’s also worth noting that if you wanted to be the guy’s primary focus, ignoring him for much of the night was perhaps not your smartest move — especially not at an event where one of the only other people he knew was a girl you knew had a crush on him.) And if you can’t get over the way she hurt you by doing that, then you don’t have to keep her in your life.
But if I may say so (especially since you said it first!) it was a long time ago. And not only that, she apologized. I’ve gotta ask: Are you sure you don’t see any value in that? You must have done things in the past that you aren’t proud of; how would you feel if someone held one of those things against you the way you’re holding this mistake against your friend? What would you say if someone told you that you could never be forgiven for a single bad choice you made as a 14 year-old, no matter how sorry you were, because “people don’t really change”?
I don’t know about you, darling, but that sounds pretty unfair to me. And not only that, it’s contrary to everything that’s good and true about human beings in general. Growing and changing is what people do, and while the basic tenets of your friend’s personality might be more or less the same throughout her life, there’s no reason to think she won’t make better choices through maturity, confidence, self-awareness, and experience — including the experience of having done something she really regretted and hurting someone she cared about. So while you don’t have to give her the chance to prove that she’s learned from her mistake, that chance is arguably something that the people we love deserve… especially if we’d want the same from them were the situation reversed. And if you’ve ever asked for forgiveness after you screwed up — or if you think you might, someday — then maybe this is a good chance to practice it from the other side.
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