I met Rebecca* on Twitter in 2016. We went to different high schools in the same school district, so our paths were bound to cross at some point. She had just signed a modeling contract, and one of our mutual friends retweeted one of her photos onto my feed. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen with her long, thick, dark hair, doey eyes, and tall, thin frame. Not even knowing her, I wished her good luck, because I too model — or at least at the time, I thought that’s why I responded. Little did I know I was using it as an excuse to get to know her.

Rebecca followed me back, and we quickly became internet friends. We flirted on Twitter often, and our followers noticed. That same month, however, I met my ex, and within two weeks, he became my boyfriend and Rebecca became just a friend. We weren’t living in the same city at the time, so we FaceTimed to make up for not being able to hang out IRL.

Anytime my ex and I had a problem, I would vent to Rebecca — I loved talking to her, and she always offered such wise advice. She was the most nonjudgmental friend I had, so I felt safe telling her my secrets and worries. Pretty soon, our conversations became a lot less platonic — she admitted she liked and wanted to be with me, but she never tried to get me to leave my then boyfriend. Nonetheless, we went from speaking bi-weekly to every day, and our 20-minute phone calls began lasting for hours. We FaceTimed and left heart-eyes on each other’s photos. I was marking my territory without even knowing it. 

I was selfishly living in the best of both worlds. I was in a thriving sexual relationship with my boyfriend and a thriving emotional relationship with Rebecca. I thought my attraction to her was a phase or existed because she was genuinely a good person. I didn’t even give much thought to how she felt falling for someone who was in a heterosexual relationship with no intention of leaving it. The idea that I might be bi and developing feelings for a woman was pretty easy to ignore. 

One day, while scrolling through Instagram, I noticed a girl’s comment on Rebecca’s photo, telling her that she was beautiful. I was used to women commenting on her pics, but I never worried about it before because Rebecca never responded. This time she did: “No, that’s you. Hope to see you again soon <3.” I was livid. Who is this girl? Is she into women? See you again? So they’ve already hung out before? I had to remind myself that I was the one choosing not to be with Rebecca, and that her business did not concern me, but I hated to admit that. 

Shortly thereafter, Rebecca started appearing in my dreams, sometimes as my partner and other times as my friend. I couldn’t make sense of it. I was happy with my boyfriend, and I had never been into women before. Even more confusing, I wasn’t noticing other women now. I still only had eyes for Rebecca. In an attempt to remain a wholesome person, I told Rebecca I couldn’t talk to her anymore. While we hadn’t done anything physical, I felt like my thoughts were a form of cheating, and I didn’t want to confuse her or hurt my then-boyfriend. 

For four months, things were fine. I pushed the memory of Rebecca to the back of my mind. I got engaged. I started planning my wedding. Rebecca was just somebody who I used to know. She found out about my engagement on Instagram like everyone else from my past. She stopped watching my stories and liking my photos. She was, it seemed, trying to unlearn me, as I had tried to unlearn her. 

My engagement lasted three short months for reasons that have nothing to do with Rebecca. But it was a pretty shitty time in my life, and she was the only person I wanted to talk to. Yet I knew it would be wrong to keep dragging her in and out of my life when it was convenient for me. I planned a trip home to visit my parents and get away from the stress of my failed engagement and the busyness of New York City. I told myself I’d reach out to Rebecca to let her know I would be in the area and we could talk if she wanted, and if not, I would let it go. To my surprise, she was down to meet. 

That meeting made it abundantly clear that we had strong feelings for each other. It felt easy to be around her, as if we had years of shared history and memories. But she lives in Texas, I live in New York, and neither of us think a long-distance relationship would work. To make up for all the dragging along I did before, we would need a strong foundation, one we built together in the same place. 

Rebecca is the sweetest love I’ve ever known. Each time I came back to her, she was there to listen. She made me feel beautiful and important. She cared deeply about my mental health and always made time for my bullshit. She was unselfish, moral, and loving — the total package, TBH. And thanks to Rebecca, I’ve learned something about myself: I’m attracted to good people, whether they are male or female. In another life or another time, I would have given us a chance. But I was young, confused, and also very blinded by a heterosexual relationship that looked good on paper. I don’t know if I deserve this, but I am eternally grateful that Rebecca and I are still friends to this day.

*Name has been changed.