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Many of us have been there before – that weird moment where you realize you see your best friend as something more.
Maybe the attraction has been growing for a while, or maybe it’s hit you like a truck.
Either way, it can be really confusing and can put a lot of strain on the friendship.
Don’t panic! We’ve put together some advice on how to deal with these feelings and move forwards, whether that’s as a couple, as friends, or alone.
1. Give it time.
Remember that our feelings can come and go, and that the intensity of what we feel today might not be the same as how we feel tomorrow.
If you’re unsure exactly how you feel about your friend, try to give it some time. It’s probably bringing up a huge range of weird emotions for you, and you might feel a bit awkward around them at the moment, but try to wait it out.
Your feelings may have arisen due to specific circumstances – maybe you’re going through a breakup and that friend has been really supportive, maybe you’re projecting your feelings for an ex onto them, or perhaps you both got drunk and kissed.
What it is, you may feel the way you are for many reasons.
Don’t make any rash decisions based on how you’re feeling right now! Give it a little bit of time; keep hanging out with them as normal and see what happens.
If the feeling fades, it was maybe just a little crush! If not…
2. Talk about it.
Speak to someone you love and trust about how you’re feeling.
It can be really hard to keep all of this bottled up – you feel like you need to keep a secret from your best friend, which makes you feel guilty and ashamed, almost.
Letting it all out with someone else will help you process your feelings and establish what’s actually going on.
This is not an uncommon experience, so your loved one will hopefully have some great advice for you.
Knowing that this is totally normal and that you’ll get through it, can make dealing with the here-and-now a lot easier.
3. Gauge their feelings.
If you’ve fallen in love with your best friend and they don’t know, they might have feelings for you that you don’t know about.
While it’s important not to get your hopes up, consider the fact that this may not be one-sided.
While you’re spending time with them, see how they act around you. Has anything changed recently, have they stopped dating other people, do they look at you differently?
Maybe they’re also testing the waters and are unsure of what to do with their own feelings?
This can be a hard one to gauge, but it’s worth trying. You can see how they react if you get a bit flirty with them, or maybe if you’re more touchy-feely than normal.
Suggest a nice dinner some time – pick a date-worthy restaurant and see if you both change your behavior in this setting.
Sometimes we need to be in the right atmosphere to be able to address our feelings, and a candlelit, romantic meal can be the perfect place to let those feelings come to the surface!
See how they act – maybe they’re acting exactly the same as normal, or even joking around and being silly because it’s such weird territory for you. Maybe they seem a bit shyer, or they’re making a real effort to engage with you.
See how things pan out and trust your gut on this one – you might really, really want there to be something between you, but you’ll know for sure if there isn’t.
4. Get some perspective.
Dating other people should be something you do for yourself – it should never be about hurting another person.
In this situation, you could try meeting a few other prospective dates. This is absolutely not to try to make your best friend jealous, as that’s very unfair and manipulative behavior.
Instead, it’s about seeing if your feelings for your best friend are genuine or if you can feel those same things for someone on the 2nd date!
Sometimes, we think we’re falling in love with someone because of who they are. However, it might just be a projection of emotions onto someone stable and secure, someone we trust, someone who validates our need for attention and affection.
So you might not actually love your best friend; you might just love the idea of being with someone similar to them. Which is why meeting other people can help you identify how you really feel.
You might come away from a date really fancying them and wanting to see how things go, safe in the knowledge that your ‘feelings’ for your best friend weren’t what you thought.
Or, you might come away feeling sick at the thought of even kissing someone else when you’re so in love with your best friend.
Either way, you know how you really feel and you can start to move forward…
5. Tell them how you feel.
At some point, you may want to consider telling your best friend you’re in love with them.
It might feel incredibly daunting and scary, but there comes a time when it needs to be done.
Ease them in, rather than shouting “I love you” or planning some huge romantic gesture. Those things can be very sweet and they do have a time and a place (mainly, rom coms and Friends), but they can also be very intense!
Imagine how you’d want your best friend to tell you if the situation was reversed – probably somewhere private and quiet.
Just let them know that you think you’ve got feelings for them and that, while you don’t want to ruin the friendship, you want to know where you stand.
Never ever blame them or get angry if they don’t feel the same – you can process that rejection later, but it is not your friend’s fault if they don’t want the same thing as you. Stay calm when you speak and respect their feelings.
One option is that they ask for some time to process. Another is that they immediately tell you they don’t feel the same way. Of course, the ideal option is that they grab you for a hug and a big kiss.
6. Be patient.
If they’ve told you they need time, respect that. Don’t stage a run-in or confront them, and don’t put pressure on them and demand an answer within 24 hours.
Give them some space and let them come to you when they’re ready. Use this time apart to remind yourself that, however things work out, you want this person in your life.
Feeling rejected is so painful, but it will get easier, and you will get back to how things were before.
Equally, they may feel the same way as you, so try not to get too down during the waiting phase. If they come back and want to give things a go, amazing! If not…
7. Getting closure and moving on.
So, they made it clear they don’t feel the same way. Sure, this is horrible for you, but consider that they may also feel uncomfortable or unsure of how to act.
Deal with any ill feelings in private rather than lashing out at them.
Use this as the closure you need to move on. You’ve done all you can – you’ve been honest and you can’t force someone to have feelings for you, however tempting it may seem at the time.
Give each other some space for a while. You’ll need to deal with these feelings away from them, and to properly heal before you can go back to being friends again.
Remember that you love this person as a friend, as well as loving them, so you haven’t lost them in your life for good.
When you start seeing each other again, maybe make some ground rules – you could ask them not to talk about their dates in front of you, at least at first, or agree that you hang out in groups to start with.
They’re your friend and they’ll want to help as much as they can and be very keen for things to go back to normal, so be open about what you need and you’ll be well on the way to moving on and being best friends again.
8. Friends are still a prize.
Many people get caught up in the idea of the ‘friendzone’ and can wallow in rejection and shame, thus damaging that friendship.
Remember that there is no such thing as a friendzone! It’s just something made up by people who feel very bitter and only see people’s worth if they can be with them romantically.
There is still so much worth to having ‘just’ a friend – it’s not ‘relationship or nothing,’ and you loved this person as a friend before you developed feelings for them, anyway.
Try not to let any of this get in the way of your friendship if things don’t go the way you want them to.
Follow our advice, give yourself all the space you need, and you’ll soon be back to being best friends again.
Still not sure what to do about the feelings you have for your best friend? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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