I (26M) don't know how to/if I can/if I should proceed with a high school friend (25F) who has an STD
I have known this girl, Annie, since we were freshmen in high school. I have always had a bit of a crush on her, but back then we were wildly different people. Nothing serious either. She was a free-spirit and I was very straight-laced. We would butt heads sometimes. Drift apart. Come back together and have a great time. I don't think we have ever had a common friend group. When we hang out it is almost always 1-on-1. We were always a bit more intimate than strictly being friends. There are pictures of us cuddling on her moms couch. We watched Titanic and she fell asleep on my lap. Nothing serious, but also not strictly something you do with any old friend either.
I went to college. She stayed in our home town. Our friendship fell apart when we were both 21. My fault. We went to the bars. She was talking about a boy. I got jealous. I was drunk and said some really cruel things with the intent of hurting her (ie. what do you know, you are never going to leave our hometown or do anything and your mom babies you). I'll always regret that. I don't even believe those words. I said them because I knew those were the ones that would cut deepest in that moment. Alcohol is a terrible drug sometimes, though it is still not an adequate excuse for what I said. I have apologized as sincerely as I can since.
But in that moment she deleted my number and removed me from social media. It was fair. I deserved that. It still hurt. Badly.
Two months ago, four years since we had talked, I moved back to our hometown. She had added me back on social media. I had kept some tabs on her. I told a mutual friend what happened and heard she was willing to bury the hatchet. I reached out. We got a drink. It was like nothing had happened. We laughed and talked like old friends again. Except we were adults now. I was shocked by how mature and fun she seemed. I loved making her laugh again. A drink turned into karaoke at another place (this was when we had less than 100 confirmed covid cases in our county), it was a great night.
Since, she has made this summer one of the best I've ever had. Covid be damned. Annie has helped make me feel confident and happy this summer. I am a chronic over-thinker (evidence being this post from a burner reddit) but when I am with her, that faucet gets shut off. I get to live in the moment and its like a drug. I don't overthink it. I just... get to be. We have tons of fun together. I feel great when I am around her.
But the intimate side is also back in force too. She says things here or there that make me wonder. She does little things like rest her head on my shoulder or touch my hand. Scoot close on the couch. But some of the bigger stuff:
-We hold hands sometimes
-She has terrible panic attacks. She told me all about them. She came over a few nights ago and I held her while she was crying and helped get her breathing together. I sang "You are my sunshine" to her.
-We went skinny dipping one night.
-She comes over to help me clean my new apartment. I don't ask her too. She does it of her own free will. I ask her to stop sometimes, but she jumps into it with surprising gusto that makes my heart swell( I just moved in so none of the mess is mine. All stuff from the last renters).
- Shes gone to the store with me to buy supplies for the new place. She talks about how we will have this apartment feeling like home in no time. She leaves some of her stuff here.
-We watch movies and tv at night. She fell asleep on my lap doing this the other night. I sat up until 3am because I didn't want to wake her, thinking and just appreciating how comfortable she was.
-She brings me food sometimes.
-She invited me to her families game night. I did not go, afraid of crossing that line and this not becoming a thing. Her family loves me. Her mom always told me to "take care of my Annie" in high school. I've seen her mom once since being back. She was happy to see me and wanted to recreate the picture of Annie and I cuddling on the couch. I love her mom.
But here's the rub. One night, about a month ago, Annie and I got dinner and went out to my dads cabin. He has a little dock on some lakefront. We ate and talked and watched the bats and it was a lot of fun. I had invited her to a wedding a few days prior, she had tried to get work off for it, but couldn't. So I asked her to walk out on the dock with me. Out there I said something to the tune of "I don't want to do anything to mess up this friendship. But I was really looking forward to dancing with you at the wedding. Can I have that dance now?" She said yes. I pulled out my speaker and turned on the song "Let it Be" and we slow-danced. When the song was over, to my surprise, she chose another one herself. We slow-danced again. Then we sat on the dock and watched the stars, laughed and enjoyed each others company.
Days later, I would ask her why she danced with me. We were in her car. I wanted to know. Annie got a bit defensive. She said she loved dancing. I said something like "come on, I don't think the way we act is very common." She told me, yes we have always been flirty, but that she didn't know what this was. She said she would always love me, but that she had been in relationships for almost 4 straight years since we last saw each other and they had done a number on her. She has told me about these relationships. They all ended badly for her. She told me after all that she needed time to herself. She then said that her last boyfriend had given her herpes and that she felt tainted by it. Like I could do better. Like I should do better. Like she would have committed suicide over it if she wasn't afraid of leaving her mom all alone. She then said she couldn't be in a relationship right now, but that didn't mean forever. She said she didn't know what the future held for us.
I think, in our own way, Annie and I do love each other. I love how I feel when I'm with her. But something has also held me back from pushing toward more physical stuff. Obviously in light of the std as well, which doesn't help. But the std also doesn't change how I see her much. I think she is incredible. Smart, funny, compassionate. She is this balloon that pulls me up into the air. I was sad and concerned in the moment, but since have done some research on herpes. If the person was right, an std shouldn't stop us, right? We could be careful. If she was my forever-partner, I can handle herpes, I think...
I don't know exactly how she feels, but I know that I ground her. She called me her rock after the panic attack. She laughs freely with me. She trusts me. She confides in me. She is herself around me. Our adult relationship, as currently constructed, is amazing. I love this adult Annie, who keeps surprising me with how fun and engaging she is. I have loved every moment I've been given with her. She took me to dinner for my birthday a few nights ago, and I could not stop thinking how lucky I was, to sit across from such a beautiful young lady and just be around her, despite everything: me being an idiot and pushing her away, the std conversation, the years of separation. That's not the first time I've marveled at my own luck with this.
But when I am away from her, I don't know what to do or how to feel about any of this. I overthink. I think about how crappy it would be if she started seeing someone. But if he was a nice guy, I also WANT to be happy for her. I think about how much I wish she was with me when I'm doing something without her. I have a hard time visualizing us getting physical, though I have still been tempted to kiss her while we are together. I think and overthink. And then get a bit defeatist about the whole thing.
I don't know what to make of this. I have never really felt like this about someone.
I think my next move needs to be telling her that this relationship means a lot to me in a safe space. Not put her on the spot like I did with the "Why did you dance with me?" question. I think she needs to know she is doing a lot for me. That I still really don't want to ruin this, whatever it is. That I'm glad shes back in my life. That the faucet in my mind gets shut off with her and I love that. That I want to know what she is thinking about me and where she is at. I am fine remaining friends for right now. And I truly believe that. My mental health is soaring when I am around her. But at the same time a growing part of me (when we are apart, mostly) wants to know if this is going anywhere for her like it could be for me. I don't need her to want to get physical. I don't need her to love me. But I also want to know what all this is for her. What she wants. Where she thinks this is headed.
If, to her, I can only ever be her friend, I sincerely believe she would be lying to herself, or (and this would suck) that I am not physically attractive to her. Both would be a bummer, but also a good indication that I need to stifle these feelings for her anyways. I don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with me. I know the value I bring to Annie's life. I know the value I would bring in a relationship. I want to be wanted. If that isn't Annie, bummer, but I want to think that I would be ok with that. That I would respect that.
Finally, I want to reiterate that I never think about this when I'm with her. When I'm with her everything feels really simple. I just exist. We have fun. I don't want to lose that either.
My apologies for the length. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and advice.
tl;dr: I like an old high school friend who now has an std, but makes me a better person. She pulled back a little when I put it out there that this might be more than just a friendship.
submitted by ThatGuy007700