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This is such a terrible situation and I feel like crying as I can't seem to escape it. I could really do with some advice if anyone can offer any. I will try and explain without writing twenty pages.

 

I am gay, out, 28 years old. I have a good friend called Brian of many years (12+), also gay. We are just friends although I have got the signals that he has always liked me more. I have never felt that way. Our friendship on the face of it seems toxic, he has done terrible things to me, but we always make up -- I think think life is too short to cut people out. He has a younger sister who is a lesbian and out, and another older straight sister and straight younger brother called Shane who is 22.

 

Shane and I have also got along well but in the last couple years I have felt an attraction to him that I ignored. Although I thought things, I didn't think it appropriate to be considering that especially how he had a girlfriend in the past. However I have always noticed he has had an interest in me and we have a spark. In any case, last year I held a party at my flat and Brian and his boyfriend and Shane came along. We had a great time, the night ended normally but Shane had to sleep in my bedroom as Brian was with his boyfriend in the other room. I had not planned anything but Shane and I ended up hugging, a lovely hug that seemed to last ages. I have never had a long term relationship because I can't fake feelings for people and would rather be alone. This wasn't fake for me, I felt a real spark. It felt like a relief and I didn't want it to end, but I was also confused. Shane did not have a girlfriend at that time. I decided not to read into it, and enjoy it for what it was.

 

Two weeks passed and I went to Brian's family home (he still lives at home) for another party. Similarly, the night ended with Shane and I close in the living room alone. My head was resting on his leg, and he would push into my head. I just held him close. I thought to myself to make sure I wasn't just making something up in my mind. In any case, things progressed and before I knew it it seemed to get sexual. His breathing got heavy and we seemed to be sort of dry humping / moans. It was electric. But that was as far as it went. No actual sex or even hands going places they shouldn't.

 

As I got up, I made sure to give Shane a shake and say goodbye. He opened his eyes (even though I know he wasn't asleep) and he said goodbye with a smile. For me, this was a bit of a head f***. Part of me felt happy that something had happened, twice, and it felt so great. But another part of me felt guilty that it was my good friend's little brother and part of me thinks I shouldn't have even entertained the thought. But I couldn't help how I felt. Then a bigger part was thinking oh god, what is he's actually gay, and scared to come out. He already has two gay siblings, and Brian's father has not been kind over the years and kind of referred to Shane as the real man at times. Brian's Dad refuses to give him well paid work because he's ashamed he's gay, but gives Shane work all the time. Terrible I know but that's the situation.

 

Around that time, I started to hear things about Shane. He would be going out all night, getting drunk and high, and making everyone worried. I started to feel like perhaps he was hiding something causing him to turn to drugs and alcohol. I was so worried, because... what if something happened?

 

To cut to the chase I then made the biggest mistake I ever could. One night last summer, myself extremely drunk, I told Brian that I felt like there was a mutual attraction between Shane and I, that I was worried he was going to end up hurting himself or getting into a bad spot with drugs or alcohol. I did this purely because I was really worried. His reaction was not too bad at that time. He said that it was probably nothing, drunken, and asked if I still had feelings for Shane. Of course I did, but at that time I said no because I was more concerned about his brother's welfare than any fledgling romance. He told me not to worry, probably a misunderstanding, and it would pass.

 

At the end of that night, I went back to Brian's house, and Shane was there - I had not seen him since the last time. Shane, who didn't know what I had just disclosed to Brian, burst into the room we were in with his top off, winking at me when Brian was looking away. He had never done that before. Brian didn't know where to look, shocked, like somebody had informed him of a death. I immediately felt like I had betrayed Shane massively. It broke my heart, because I've never seen Shane so happy. Regret, regret, regret. Why had I said anything to Brian?

 

The guilt building, a week or so after I sent Shane a message telling him that I had feelings for him but understood if he did not feel the same way. For me, I wanted to at least take a chance with it. Life is too short. Something went wrong though, because it was only a matter of time before Brian confronted Shane about what had happened. Brian was all over it. Shane knew I had betrayed him. I think I cried because of course from his perspective he must have thought I ran to his brother to rat him out. That's not what I intended at all. I ed up. I really did - I still hate myself for it.

 

I received an email from Shane saying that he does not have feelings for me because he is not gay, although he counts me as a close family friend and things would not be "weird" between us. I replied saying I had to at least let him know my feelings and we could all move on. Obviously in my mind this was the only way it could go now. The script was playing out. Also, part of me tried to remember that nothing physical really happened, maybe it WAS in my head? Or he didn't feel the same? Although let me tell you in my heart I believe he felt what I felt too.

 

The summer came, and before long I was confronted with news that Shane was getting very close to another gay guy. This was a shock because he posted on his Facebook publicly "Pete, screw it, I only just met you but can I f*** you?!" This got tongues wagging and there were rumours they had slept together. For me this hurt, but I was also happy for Shane as I thought he was perhaps on the road to coming out. Maybe I had given him a push in the right direction?

 

Brian on the other hand was going around town telling everyone VEHEMENTLY that his brother was absolutely not gay, was straight straight straight and would challenge anyone who said otherwise, even in the face of mounting evidence. I would hear they would have fights about it. Brian saying Shane should defend his reputation more. I feel like Brian is so against the idea of his brother being gay he is actively keeping him in the closet. Like he wants to be the only gay guy in the family. The one and only. Shane got a girlfriend of 33 years old at the end of last year - in my mind a response to this pressure. So I saw him here and there but it was always a bit awkward. He has been round my house again. Me too at his. Sometimes we saw each other out. Always polite, no hate, but always an elephant in the room. I decided the best thing I could do was stay away from Shane for the sake of everyone, even though he tried to reach out a couple of times here and there. I wiped his number from my phone because it was too painful and also because I was scared I'd get drunk and contact him. Brian was always never far away and he felt like this barrier. Now I think this may have been a mistake, because yesterday things came to a head.

 

Brian came over to my house last night and, according to Brian, said that Shane is now, suddenly, after nearly a year, VERY angry at me. He had by chance bumped into my older brother and god knows how but the topic of what happened last year came up in their conversation. About my messages etc. Shane reiterated that nothing had happened between us. My brother said that was cool. And that was it - I spoke to my brother today. However Brian was saying that Shane was very angered and came home to him and unloaded that he wants to hurt me, burn my house down, that I was dirty and he had no memory of anything happened at that time. Why or how has this reaction occurred now??!

 

Of course I defended myself on a number of counts. One being I didn't do anything wrong. Two being nothing sexual like that happened or would have happened. I would never hurt Shane. Three being we were cool and fine since it happened. Brian said Shane's first memory that second night was a note from his friends and doesn't even remember seeing me that night. Total bull, because we spoke when I left. He then laid into me. How disgusting I was to leech on his younger brother. That this was all my fault. His brother is not gay. That I was wrong. That I deserve to be punished. This hurt like hell, but I decided I wasn't going to stand for this character assassination. Perhaps I was bold by being honest with my feelings, but never would I do anything remotely like that. It hurt that Brian refuses to believe me. I told Brian to f*** off and today I texted Shane (found his number online) and told him what Brian had said. That I don't understand why NOW he is so angry. I tried to explain I stayed away because I thought it was for the best, and that my biggest regret was ever telling Brian anything. That I was sorry for the situation but that I had done nothing wrong. That I hoped one day we could be OK. No reply but I don't expect one tbh.

 

I'm so, so upset by all of this though. I thought I could move on but seems like Shane is still thinking about what happened and is pissed. He can't suddenly have this reaction now can he? I feel like I'm being painted as this horrible person in all this, when all I did was be honest about my feelings. I have been a close family friend for a long time and now that is all ruined. Do you think Shane could feel upset that I haven't been around? Lashing out and forcing a response from me? I find it hard to believe that if he was not truly emotionally invested he would even care. It's been such a long time.

 

Would just appreciate someone's thoughts on this, if any of you took the time to read. Thanks

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Whatever you think is going on or not going on, Shane has rejected you. He does not feel the same way about you. He could be bi and deciding he rather have a girlfriend or he could have been just been drunk and is straight. Also, when you hear "he is getting closer to a gay male" it could be because half his siblings are gay, he is comfortable with a close friendship. Bottom line overall is that Shane does not want a relationship with you. Respect that. Don't go tattling to his brother. If he is really gay and does not want to be out - respect that. Or if he is not gay - respect that. He has the right to be closeted if he is gay and if that is what he chooses or he has the right to have been curious and now realize that he was straight and just curious all along. Back off.!

 

Shane could also be upset because things you have said hurt him - people found out that you have feelings for him, or you have been too forward and he doesn't like it. Please leave Shane alone.

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That's what I've been doing. I haven't contacted him or spoken to him for many months. Did you read my post fully? I was even moving on and looking forward. I respect his decision one hundred percent. But now he is going around telling people I did something wrong when I know I didn't! Should I not stand up for myself?

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That family has some screwed up dynamics! Sounds like internalized homophobia in both Brian and Shane is leading them to take out their frustrations on you. Subtext was fine, but speaking up led to other people questioning Shane's sexuality.

 

You have a dad who hates that he has 2 gay children and who won't react well to having a third. You have Brian who wants his brother to be the "normal"* one who marries a woman and has kids. And you have Shane, who at the very least flirts with men denoting he may be attracted to other men. Coming out would be threatening his financially security via losing work from dear old Dad..

 

OP, you unintentionally stepped into a minefield here! I think the vibes you picked up from Shane was indeed sexual interest. He's too closeted/confused to acknowledge that..

 

I think you should step back. Let Brian and Shane be mad at you for now. Be the bigger person and rise above this drama. Spend time with your other friends. If asked by mutual friends, just say you'd rather not get into it and you wish the brothers well. In time, Shane, Brian and their Dad will have to make peace with the youngest brother's sexuality, whatever it might prove to be!

 

You are not evil. Their attacks are painful, but try not to take it personally! They are in the midst of their own issues. When cooler heads prevail, Brian has a lot of work to do to repair your friendship. Do not initiate but be receptive to his attempts to make amends.

 

*Due to internalized homophobia, Brian is classifying "normal" as being heterosexual. Also part of his reluctance to consider that his brother might also be gay may be protectiveness, as he doesn't want his brother to face the same hurts that he did once he came out.

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Whether or not Shane was gay or bi does not particularly matter. You would have been better off to stave off any feelings you thought you may have had for you friends little brother. Brian is probably denying rumors about his brother because he does not want him to go through the same struggles that he himself endured (or because hes just not gay). You would be best to leave the situation be. If you take any further action you can risk losing two friends forever. Try to move ahead from this and progress your friendship or else you guys can be stuck in a rut or worse, end it.

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One thing that confuses me is why you would trust a toxic friend with such intimate information. Maybe on some level you knew it would bother Brian or make him jealous in some way? Regardless, I don't think you should ever let toxic people have leverage over you because they'll use it to mess with you.

 

I think it's important to stand up for yourself without escalating the situation. Don't expect anyone to side with you or to change their minds about the situation, but you should be allowed to keep your mutual friends without your reputation being tainted, for example. Is there any way you can sit down with Brian, Shane, and a trustworthy mutual friend as a mediator, to keep people from flinging unnecessary accusations? People behave much better when they know they are being watched by an outside party. Just to make it clear that you weren't trying to embarrass Shane or be manipulative. You guys might not ever be friends again, but I really think it's important to not let people just push you around like that and stress you out. It will be more uncomfortable to not say anything have this weird bitterness or discomfort just under the surface. People's imaginations often run wild when there is total silence.

 

If someone asks you about it, I think you should just say it was a misunderstanding and that you hope that they can understand why you'd rather nor make it messy by getting others involved. You're allowed to ask them not to judge you negatively for it. Then leave it at that. I think that strikes a good balance between standing up for yourself but not acting confrontational or weird about it.

 

I think it would be a good idea to hash it out with them one last time, just do it in a way you haven't tried before. Change your attitude about the situation, don't do it alone since they'll not be thinking clearly about the issue and be quick to anger. If you do decide to try to talk it out, plan your words carefully and let them know it hurts to have lost them as friends even if they still won't budge on the issue. Next time you're in a situation like this, try to be very sensitive.

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The way you speak of Brian is like saying, "Sure, the local bully always beat me up, but we've always been close..."

 

Maybe it's time to rethink that.

 

Sounds as though Brian had not stirred up the brother back when you believed that he had--he did it recently. Couple that with remembering your proposition, and the brother is now a bit ticked.

 

If you leave it alone, he'll likely get over it. If you feed it with defenses, it will keep burning.

 

Probably time for you to consider expanding your circle of friends. You got too intense with these two, and you're best leaving them alone.

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You both raise valid points. Why I told Brian and why I am still friends with him with the awareness our friendship is so unhealthy. The answer is I don't know. I told him when I was very drunk. Previously I had told myself I would never tell anyone as it would do no good. Sometimes in life I can see a situation play out before it happens, yet I am powerless to stop it.

 

I don't know why Brian enjoys hurting me or having control over me, even if he won't see that or realise that consciously. I have tried to pull away from him in the past, but something stops me in the end or I relent and smooth over it. Countless people have warned me about him. I sometimes think what my life would be like if I was never his friend, what damage he may have done, things he may have said, that have set me back. He is even aware of that. But when you've known somebody for so many years, I find it hard, or even almost impossible to break free even though I am getting hurt again and again. I don't know. I need to be better with setting boundaries. It's tough. But I think I know what I have to do....

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Good for you! Whatever your game plan is, it seems like you've worked through some of the conflicting emotions you were feeling.

 

I think if you have that awareness, seeing those situations play out before they happen, you should use it to your advantage as much as you can. Maybe you're not trusting the good instincts you have. You might be happier if you use them.

 

It's really tough to fully let go of friends that you've known forever. I've always liked the idea of keeping the same friends for decades or something but sometimes real friendships don't quite live up to that ideal and can actually be more harmful than supportive. I think you'll be amazed by how much less stressful your life is if you let go. Once you let go emotionally, and also physically distance yourself by cutting contact or seeing them a lot less, you'll learn so much about yourself and the friendship. At least that's how things worked for me when I started letting go of some old friendships. I didn't even realize how much it was affecting me. I would never go back...no more mind games, walking on egg shells, having to compromise constantly and getting nothing in return, during the worst times those friendships were basically sucking the life out of me like pesky little mosquitos. It was never so bad I couldn't deal with it, but I was using too much of my time and resources planning my life around their drama.

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