My College Roommate Became A Close Friend. Then I Started To Develop Feelings — And Didn’t Know How To Tell Her.

For those who haven’t heard it, a “U-Haul Lesbian” is an old term based on the joke/stereotype that queer women go from one date to rapidly moving in together. I must have set some kind of record, because I was already living with my girlfriend, Taryn, when we started dating.

I was nervous to meet the four random dormmates I was assigned to live with when I returned from studying abroad in Hong Kong. My first-year roommate experience had been a nightmare, so I started to panic when I couldn’t find any of the girls on social media, which seemed like a huge red flag.

I asked around, and finally, a friend said the magic words, “I know Taryn! She’s so sweet, I think you’ll love her.” We had no idea how true those words would be.

I didn’t expect to have a romantic interest in Taryn. The day I met her, in fact, I had just arrived back in Savannah with two suitcases and bruised lips from kissing a boy — what turned out to be the last time I ever did so.

She stood in the doorway of her room across the entire living space from mine. We exchanged pleasantries, and her skater-girl look and undercut with short curls made me wonder if she was a lesbian. It was a little bit thrilling because I didn’t know-know many queer women at the time.

It doesn’t take a genius to wonder why I felt that way. I was already having suspicions about my own sexuality. Taryn’s appearance intrigued me, not only because I suspected she was queer but because it looked so effortless on her. Whether I knew I was a lesbian or not, I wished I felt effortless, too.

Over the next few weeks, we got to know each other and our other two roommates, Jordan and Maggie, over late-night pots of coffee, school projects, and birthday celebrations. I turned 20, and Taryn turned 23 eleven days later.

Taryn (left) and the author (right) enjoying a park day three days before they started dating.

Photo Courtesy Of Kylie Sapphino

During these many conversations, she confirmed she was, in fact, a lesbian and asked about my preferences. I froze. I had just started talking to a few close friends about what I cringe to admit calling “broadening my gender horizons,” but I had never told a near-stranger.

But something about Taryn made me feel safe enough to say, “I think I like girls.”

Those were big words. Even though I was talking to another queer person, telling someone that for the first time felt like walking into a room naked. It’s not something straight people probably ever feel when it comes to their sexuality. It hurt a little bit, too, weirdly enough. It felt like the person I had thought I was for 20 years was a lie.

When I looked back at my life for the signs of my sexuality, I expected to need a microscope. To turn over stone after stone, searching for subtext. And yet, it was just text. Very bold text.

I did all of the closeted lesbian things. I kissed my friends when I was little, thought “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry was the coolest song ever, shared my first “real” kiss with one of my female best friends, and felt friendship breakups more like real, crushing heartbreaks. Oh, and boys made me super uncomfortable even though I desperately tried to get their attention.

In that single conversation, one Taryn probably thought nothing of, I was confronted with a truth I couldn’t take back.

Everyone’s coming out story is different. Taryn, like me, struggled the first time she said those same words, and she only told her cat, Finn. After she did it though, it was like finally finding the key to herself, and she never felt the need to come out again. She just was.

I woke up one day with the further realization that I might like Taryn. It started with us hanging out as roommates, then as friends, and then in a way I couldn’t quite name. It felt completely different than any crush I’d suffered through with a boy. I was always way more nervous about what he thought about me than what I thought about him. But with Taryn, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. It was like I finally got that effortless feeling.

A month later, I accidentally blurted out that I thought Taryn and I were soulmates. We laughed about it and joked that many types of soulmates existed, explaining away my confession as totally normal. At first, I worried that I was attaching myself to the first available lesbian friend I’d made. But after a few lackluster attempts with other people, I realized it was just Taryn.

Taryn was everything I ever wanted for myself. She was kind, she made me laugh, and she had quickly become one of my closest friends. We got each other in ways that no one else seemed to. I was head over heels for my roommate and couldn’t avoid it.

A new panic set in. Did she like me? Would she date someone who wasn’t entirely out? Suddenly, it seemed less scary to come out as a lesbian than to work up the courage to admit my true feelings.

Deep down, I knew that before I could tell Taryn how I felt about her and risk our entire living situation, I had to stand on my two baby gay legs and walk in the world. When I went home for spring break, I told my parents.

I didn’t necessarily doubt their support, but it was still a vulnerable conversation to have. I almost didn’t go through with it, but it helped to know I had someone to lean on back at my dorm. I word-vomited the whole situation to my mom on the way to Target. Luckily, both of my parents were supportive of my sexuality, though my mom thought trying to date someone I lived with was a terrible idea.

She could’ve been right. I went back to school, and it took me seven days to finally tell Taryn how I felt. Those 7 days were basically a weeklong date in which we went to the beach, made a fort in the middle of our living room, and played Uno at the park.

Author (right) and Taryn (left) exploring Bangkok, Thailand, one day before getting engaged.
Author (right) and Taryn (left) exploring Bangkok, Thailand, one day before getting engaged.

Photo Courtesy Of Kylie Sapphino

After three months of living together, I mustered up the courage to tell her the truth. We were sitting on our couch when I told her I had something important to discuss. I must have blacked out the specifics of the embarrassing monologue that came out of my mouth, but I do remember Taryn starting to laugh at me. I thought I was going to have to melt into the couch forever, but then she told me she felt the same way.

I was relieved to finally embrace my feelings and put everything out there. That day in 2019 marked the start of our relationship, with little discussion of what that meant. We probably should have set some ground rules, but we knew each other so well that we felt comfortable embarking on such an unknown journey, even though we were roommates.

You would think that all my coming out was finally over. But we had one more conversation to go, and it was by far the scariest: telling the other roommates about us. Taryn awkwardly pulled Maggie aside while I awkwardly pulled Jordan aside to reveal what we thought would be big, jaw-dropping news. We were surprised when both of them said something along the lines of “Finally!” or “I knew it!”

It was further confirmation that the weeks of couch cuddles, park days and dinner dates leading up to our relationship were not normal roommate behavior.

When our semester ended, we were both determined to sign separate leases, but after a colossal failure of trying to live separately, we moved in for real and have lived together all the way from college to the beginning of our lives in New York. Living with Taryn was easy, and trying to force being apart for the sole purpose of appearances never felt right.

Now, five years later, we’re getting married. Taryn proposed to me in 2023 on the beach during a girl’s trip to Thailand. My best friend, Taryn’s sister, and, of course, our old roommate, Jordan, helped us celebrate. Even though I was dying to get engaged, the proposal took me completely by surprise in the best way possible. And yes, all these years later, it still popped into my head that I was marrying my roommate — or, really, my soulmate.

Taryn (left) and author (right) moments after getting engaged on a beach in Phuket at sunset.
Taryn (left) and author (right) moments after getting engaged on a beach in Phuket at sunset.

Photo Courtesy Of Kylie Sapphino

We often reflect on those early days together. Our relationship blossomed even as I navigated my coming-out story, but it was because of having her by my side that I could do it. The forced proximity of our relationship pushed me to be more open, compassionate, and communicative. It helped me grow into the proud queer person I am today.

Taryn and I started dating so early in my journey that it really took the pressure off what “label” I hold. I can introduce her as my fiancée and that be that. Some people really like labels, but I like letting my relationship speak for itself. Coming out for the only person I would ever date feels like the best story in the world.

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