Understanding Your Urges: Sexual Tension Between Friends

By: Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated July 09, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley

Developing a romantic relationship over time through friendship can produce some of the deepest and longest-lasting connections. Taking the time to develop a strong foundation upon which you know, care, and understand each other, lends itself to nurturing a healthy romance.

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You may feel more comfortable interacting with someone that you consider more of a friend than a potential romantic partner. You feel like this person already knows who you are and accepts you. But is what you have just a deep friendship, or is it something more? Do you want something more or different with this person? There may be many more things to seriously consider beyond your initial desires. There are several approaches you can use to cope with these emotions. Some examples include avoiding flirting with this person or making it a point not to be alone with them. We'll discuss these both later in the article.

Defining Intimacy

Intimacy is defined as a positive emotional bond that evokes feelings and behaviors related to understanding and support. Relationships are enhanced by our interactions with one another, through self-disclosure, mutual acceptance, and by valuing one another (or showing respect). Intimacy is associated with positive emotions and is considered by some to be the biggest reward to humans in pursuit of maintaining close relationships. There are different types of intimacy, but the one that most often comes to mind is sexual intimacy between two people.

Sexual Tension Between Friends

Noticing sexual tension is something you feel or experience rather than explain. Other people that know you well may have picked up on a change in your behavior. Maybe someone has even commented or mentioned that you seem different around your friend. Even if you're friends, sexual tension is very natural between two people that find each other attractive. It's up to each person to decide if the sexual attraction you feel is something that you want to or should act on. One consequence of choosing to act on a sexual attraction is that it will complicate the relationship the two of you already have, and there could be positives and negatives to that.

There are many different reasons why some people act out a sexual attraction and why other times people decide to not follow through on these feelings. One example might be that sexual tension can exist between two people who are already committed. It's unrealistic to think that you'll no longer find others attractive just because you decide to commit yourself to a relationship. Other reasons could be that you work together, or that you're not interested in a long-term romantic relationship and are worried that sex could ruin a good friendship.

You might worry that the person will treat you differently if you get physical, or that you could start acting differently towards them. Maybe you are unattached and the urges you have are making you think of starting a romantic relationship with a person that you already know and care about. Or it could be that you have discovered that you are ready to take a relationship to the next level. Either way, it's wise to talk through your feelings with someone you trust to try to help you make sense of what they are telling you.

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How to Cope with Unwanted Urges

What if the sexual feelings you are having are not returned?

Believe it or not, people aren't great at reading each other's behaviors and we are especially bad at reading minds. Even if you're almost sure that your friend is feeling the same tension you are when it comes to hooking up, it's a good idea to check for certain before you act. If you think it seems awkward to ask someone, "Hey, I think I am picking up on some attraction between the two of us, are you feeling that too?", then think how awkward it would be to try to make a move on someone who finds it coming from the left field.

Keep in mind that sexual tensions or attractions are feelings or impulses and that not all those feelings need to be fulfilled if there are healthy logical reasons for not going down that road.

If you have acknowledged that maybe a sexual relationship with a certain person is unwise, then what do you do with the feelings of attraction you can't seem to shake? Here are some helpful tips to avoid "getting physical" if you think that would be a bad idea.

  • Avoid being alone with that person (develop fear of intimacy with such a person)
  • When you are tempted to act on your urges, remind yourself why you cannot be with this person
  • Do not flirt with or touch them.
  • Talk to the person about what you are feeling and why you think it's a bad idea to act on sexual feelings for each other.
  • Spend less time together as a whole.
  • If you're single, try dating to see if the way you are feeling has more to do with needing physical intimacy or feeling lonely.
  • Talk to another friend about the tension you are feeling.

Cards Fall Where They May

Some people come into our lives and become like family, knowing and nurturing us in ways that our biological families sometimes can't. As adults, we get to choose with whom to spend our days, celebrate our triumphs, share ourselves, and create our memories.

The ties of friendship are crafted through the shared experience of walking through life together, and physicality is sometimes a part of this path. Becoming physically intimate with a friend is not necessarily "bad," it just changes things.

Why Do I Feel Attracted To My Friend? And Do They Feel The Same?
Ask An Expert. Chat With A Licensed Relationship Counselor Online Now.

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If this happens in one of your friendships, the best thing to do is, to be honest with them about what you are feeling and what you hope to get out of becoming closer to each other in a different way. A lot of pain and confusion can be avoided with open communication and respect for one another as people, not just a hook-up.

Other Solutions

Focus on yourself. Taking time out of each day for self-care will help you to be more in tune with yourself and your emotions. Anything you can do to take time away from thinking about your friend will be a time you can distance yourself from the feelings you have toward them. While you are focused on a good part of yourself, improvement will creep in by time.

Talk to your friends. If you are having trouble deciphering your feelings, having a sounding board can help you. The support system you have behind you will make all the difference as you go down this path.

Find a hobby. If you find yourself spending too much time obsessing over your friend, this is a great option. Channel all that energy into something you are passionate about and watch your outlook improve. Try to make every day a good day.

Seek professional help. If you have found yourself in a confusing situation that you are having a hard time making sense of, or if you feel you could use some guidance about how to be healthier in your relationships, you are not alone. Interpersonal relationships, whether they involve sexual intimacy or not, can be confusing, and at times, can almost seem like minefields.

A mental health professional may be someone to consider speaking to about healthy dynamics of friendships and other relationships and about healthy relationship behaviors. It's okay if you're feeling like you may need help. The only relationship guides we have are the ones we have experienced or observed, and it can be hard for many people to recognize the qualities of supportive, healthy relationships. Below you can read some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people who have been helped with similar issues.

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Feeling sexual tension for a friend can be unnerving. It can be difficult to unpack and decide what to do. But with the right tools, you can work your way toward the answer that is right for you. Take the first step today.


How Do You Know If There's Sexual Tension Between Two Friends?

It's apparently not uncommon when two close individuals get to experience some emotional attachments after spending good times together. One of the exhilarating sensations that you can experience is sexual tension. Believe me, it's fun when it emerges from a positive mutual attraction. Sexual tension isn't one that comes up accidentally, it's a gradual process with conspicuous signs prompted by your brain. You can scrutinize yourself to know if there're sexual tension signs around you  If there's sexual tension between two friends, the following are tension signs to take note of:

  • Eye Contact: When you and your friend constantly find yourselves locking eyes, it is an obvious sign that not of you are m into each other. There's is no doubt that the chemistry in your body can be influenced, and consequently, lead to instantaneous development in intimacy through the constant meeting of both parties' eyes. This is practical.  When you see someone looking at you, you may be tempted to look back even if you are trying not to, or vice versa. Through eye contact, there's a specific way your body will react to such a situation telling you that something is happening.
  • Staring: There's no doubt that when you love or admire someone, there's a higher probability that you will keep staring at them. You may be staring at their lips, breast, butts, and so on. So, when two friends are into each other, one of the ways to know if there's sexual tension is when they persistently stare at each other.
  • Flirting and Awkward Conversations: Your inability to control yourself from flirting with your friend and saying what you may not ordinarily have said such as silly jokes, that may sound a little bit awkward are signals for sexual tension.
  • Laughing and Smiling More: When there is a constant reciprocation of inner feelings through smiling and laughing, this automatically means that both parties' intimacy is vehement. It's one of the common ways to convey sexual tension.
  • Heart Rate increases: Your emotions or impulses have a connection with your heart. When you feel scared, stressed, tired, troubled, or, excited, the way your heart beats will be different. The influence of chemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine, and norepinephrine when you are sexually attracted to someone, will instantly increase your heart rate. It's a process you can't control because it's directed by your feelings.
  • Response to Touch: This is an obvious sexual tension sign. Both parties may sensationally respond to subtle touching or brushing of some body parts such as hand or leg.
  • Notices and comments from People Around: Sometimes you may be unconscious of the knowledge of your tension; however, you may get to know this when people comment on it.
  • Changes in the Way you Speak: There may be changes in your voice pitch if sexual tension is involved. This is because emotion has set in which automatically reconfigures your physiology. When you're attracted to someone sexually, sometimes you may uncontrollably express yourself in a different normal way to speak.
  • Leaning: This is a powerful sign of attraction, when someone is into you, such a person tends to be around you all the time and notably lean on you to offer you their full attention especially when you are talking.

How Do You Get Rid Of Sexual Tension Between Friends?

On several occasions, sexual tension may be a normal reaction that does not necessarily require any further advancement or action. You may be at the honeymoon phase where you have a mild feeling at the start of your new relationship with such a person. This implies that the signs you see do not give you the clearance to immediately react as moved by your feelings. Sometimes, the other person may not worth the risktaking or crossing boundaries.  Therefore, it shows that it's time to get rid of it. How then can this be effectively done:

  • Come out Open, Honest, and clear: Your assumptions may be wrong at times. The best step you can take in this situation is to be open to such a person and honestly, with a comprehensive explanation tell such a person how you feel. With this, there won't be any confusion —Don't forget it might not be as you might have hoped. If this should be the case, then do yourself the favor by letting it go and then you walk away.
  • Take Control of your Senses: Your senses may cause you at times to make decisions that you may later find unworthy. This is the main reason why you must not let your sexual desire to gain control over your feelings and passion. When you are in charge, it will be very easy for you to get out of your sexual desire chains.

Constantly remind yourself that it's not a good idea. Register this in your mind and it will keep you off it. You don't have the intention to sleep with such a person, then there's no need of troubling yourself with such tension.

  • Keep your Distance: Some people may tell you that it not necessary to keep your distance. But you must know that it's easier said than done when battling with sexual tension and still in close proximity with the concerned person.
  • Avoid Unhealthy Habits: There are some hazardous situations you can put yourself that may make the condition worse. This may be drinking. You don't want to try that because it's not worth it.
  • Avoid Touching: Subtle touching is one of the basic triggers in the first place. So, when this continues, probably, in an accidental occurrence, such tension may be difficult to get rid of. Although, it's hard for you not to touch your friend, you need to put in mind that your emotional stability is the center of concern. Keep off.
  • Don't Flirt: Flirting is another basic sign of sexual tension. Most times, it is done unknowingly and this makes it difficult. But if you actually want to get rid of it, you must avoid your flirtatious moves towards them or vice versa.
  • Draw away your Attention: Your relationship may be more important than your sexual advances. So, in this situation, you may need to ignore the feelings and look for a way to build your relationship platonically.

How Do You Build Sexual Tension With A Friend?

The way your body responds to stimulus is a normal thing. Even at times, it conforms you to be in a healthy state. When you are given butterflies by someone with whom you share similar chemistry, you tend to feel nervous and happy at the same time. You have to believe me. It's a beautiful atmosphere. Sometimes, you may meet someone or a friend close by that you wish you have such chemistry for by moving beyond the Platonic lines. The question is How? The following are some tips and tricks for you

  • Through Touching: This is a crucial step that you must take. Gradually, the chemistry will start setting in. But if it's a friend, it's a way to establish your intention. You may slightly or subtly touch or brush the back of such a person's hand or shoulder. At first, you may design the scene as an accident, but for subsequent touching, after you two begin to get along, you may purposefully do that.
  • Eye Contact: Eye contact is an effective way to establish attraction with someone. When you look into the eyes of such a person, give the impression that you are flabbergasted and intrigued by them. Look into such a person's eyes with a half-smile, look away, and then take another look at such person again in the eyes.
  • Flirt through Story Telling: This is one of the ways to build sexual affection with someone. By telling a personal or flirtatious story that has an element of humor. This story may be about your past flirting experience or someone else's. Ensure you don't make conspicuous your sexual feeling but keep it undertone and let the process flow.
  • Use a push-and-pull dynamic system: This is a dynamic system through which you can build your sexual tension. Push such a person away and pull closer physically and through your words. This implies that you'll make your interest known but not that you are too interested. This may arouse within such person the passion for more. This you can do through flirtatious interaction or remark such as “I want us to be closer than this, but I don't think you can be trusted". Leave such a person in a state of curiosity.
  • Use social media for your advantage: You can build sexual tension through exiting. It's a great way to show how good, interesting, and funny you are.  There are emojis you can you and teasing messages you can send to form a push and pull dynamic.

Can You Feel Sexual Energy From Someone?

There is a possibility of feelings of sexual energy from someone else. This is normally done after you've successfully developed your own sexual energy. If you're feeling sexual energy from someone, it requires some important exercises that involve training your sexual energy, that is, training the organs responsible for perception. These organs help decern the presence of sexual energy in you. So, when you channel it towards others, it makes the process easy.

One important question you need to ask is, "Do you need to differentiate between other people's projections of sexual energy from your attraction". It is good to differentiate so as not to be seeing sexual energy when someone tries to elicit attraction.

To feel someone's sexual energy, you must stay neutral with no attractive preferences because it may affect your observation. You must be objective with respect to your perception and awareness to know the status of such a person's sexual magnetism

How Do You Know If Someone Is Thinking About You Sexually?

Everyone is entitled to think as pleased. It is an intrinsic exercise that is personal to the person involved. Sometimes when you think about someone, it comes in different ways without excluding sexual thoughts. People can do the same for you, but how will you know when someone is thinking about you sexually?

  • Eye Contact: The ways such a person gazes at you during the act may be a considerable factor. If such a person intentionally looks you in the eyes constantly, it may signify that such a person is tinder sexual tension. Your eyes may be a gateway to your feelings at times.
  • The feeling you have: If you regularly feel the chemistry anytime you are around such a person, you may be right with your assumption that such a person is into you too.
  • Always being Around: You must know that when someone is attracted to you, such a person will always want to hang around you. If such a person is not interested, there might be a wide space between both of you.
  • Always want to touch: Touching is one of the ways to get someone interested in you. It is also a signal that validates that you are the subject of someone's thoughts which may be sexual.
  • Flirting: Hardly will you see someone who feels nothing for you to flirt with you. If they want to get closer, they will want to flirt. Flirt is just the output of their thought.
  • Nervousness: You may feel different when you are attracted to someone. This may be the way your body reacts to the situation instantly. Sometimes, you may feel giddy. It's a normal state that indicates your attraction towards someone.
  • Lip Licking: This is a vivid action. Sometimes this may be done inadvertently because such a person is carried away by emotion.
  • The consciousness of their appearance and fidgeting: Several people tend to put up some behavioral patterns when they are into someone. They become fashion-sensitive and seek ways to impress the other party. Also, anytime they are around such a person, they regularly adjust themselves or play with unnecessary objects such as hair.

How Do You Tell If Someone Is Attracted To You Sexually?

The attraction is the business of the mind connecting with your feelings. If someone is attracted to you, the following are some of the ways you can tell:

  • Staring and eye contact: Why will anybody stare at you if nothing is happening? Eyes can be used in communication. If someone is attracted to you, such a person may stare at you and at times lock eyes with you.
  • Smiling and Blushing: These are attraction signs. The heart rate of someone who is attracted to you will increase the moment such a person sees you. The rise in the blood pressure will then be responsible for the blushing. Such a person will also smile subconsciously to show that there is no harmful impression or to make you see them more friendly.
  • Touching and Close Proximity: These are common signals to show that someone is into you. Such a person will constantly make an attempt to touch you and always want to be where you are and sitting close to you during conversations. Such a person with no fear of intimacy may lean on you.
  • Sensitive to other people: If someone is attracted to you, such a person will be sensitive to other people that may be interested in you. Such a person may even bring it to your awareness those that are flirting with you
  • Voices Change: Such a person's voice may reduce when having a conversation with you. This is done because such a person sees you as a special one.
  • Flirting: This is one of the ways to know if someone is sexually attracted to you. Such a person will systematically show interest through verbal or non-verbal communication. Such a person may give physical remarks or move ahead to touch you in a flirtatious manner.
  • Lip Licking: Lip licking is common. When you see someone you are attracted to, you may be tempted to lip your lips to show how vehement your interest is. So, if someone is attracted to you, for such person to subconsciously so this is high.

What Does Sexual Tension Feel Like?

Sexual tension just like other feelings is difficult to explain how it feels. Most times, you feel moved, your heartbeat increases, and the nerves in your body become very active. All that you do after is to kiss the one you love. can hear your heartbeat in your ears and every nerve in your body screams for you to just lean over and kiss them. So, when you're feeling this way, that's sexual tension.

The feeling is metaphorically explained as "butterflies in your stomach, every little hair on your arms standing up, sweaty palms." If you feel this way,  it may mean that you're sexually attracted to someone.

How Long Does Sexual Attraction Last?

The sexual attraction is can last as long as some other two types of attraction are not affected. The moment they begin to reduce, your sexual attraction will be affected which probably may make it fade. These two attractions are behavioral and emotional. Your sexual attraction will last as long as there is no clash or disagreement with any of these.

Can People Feel Sexual Tension?

Yes, people can feel sexual tension. Most times, it is intentionally caused by someone who you're attracted to doing things or behaving in a different way to build the tension in you. And when it's built, the feeling is inexplicable but can be related to butterflies in the stomach.

How Do Men Build Sexual Tension?

Building sexual tension isn't something you build just for fun. It's a serious process that may at times take your time and require your endurance and patience. If it goes wrong, it may make the girl detest you. The following are tips and tricks used by men to achieve their aim:

  • Making Eye Contact: Men know that your eyes are connected with your mind. What you look at for too long, you thin about. So, they use this method to implant feelings in you.
  • Naughty Talks: They engage in conversation with you talking about naughty things but not dirty. If you're talking about winning her over, then you won't want to make your intention completely open. They may at times look away after taking an obvious look at your cleavage. This is a signal for sexual desire.
  • They compliment you with a hint of sex: Here, they appreciate the girl's beauty and talk about her curves. This is one of the sexual tension signs where they get to tell indirectly the girl that they admire her sexually.
  • Physical Contact: They may make a very smart move into your personal space through touch when the opportunity is opened. They always want to get close to her in group settings and make hugs last longer. She may emotionally respond to touch being aware of any physical closeness. This may increase her sexual tension.
  • They Show off their sexy assets: This is a very effective way if already she's already into you. You may first check if sexual tension is mutual. If so, a little bit of awkward conversation will increase sexual tension.
  • Say Goodbye Intensely: When it's time for departure, they make it look like they don't really want to. Before they finally say goodbye, they hug her with a little bit of lingering more than normal and delay their leaving with small talk and stare deeply at her in the eyes like they are short for words. If she emotionally reacts to this, that's sexual tension.

How Do You Tell If Someone Is Thinking About You?

The way you think about someone may be different from the way such a person thinks about you. This, apparently, makes people's unspoken intention unpredictable. You may think someone loves and later find out that your initial assumption is wrong. That's how humans are. it's hard to know what's running through their minds. However, when someone has someone in mind, especially when it's romantic, such a person tends to show some obvious or physical signs. This makes knowing the connection between two individuals a little bit easy. So, want are these signs and how do you tell that the thought of someone is centered on you at a particular moment:

  • Impulsive smiling: Normally people smile at what they find pleasing and exciting. But when someone is thinking about you, such a person's smile is born out of strong emotion with a hidden voice right underneath. Sometimes, they can't stop
  • Change of Emotions: The center of such a person's attraction is emotion. If emotion is not involved, then it's definitely not it. You can observe this in the way such a person talks with you or relates.
  • Natural Urge to Connect: You are a subject of nature and you are bound to her rules. If someone is thinking about you, there will be natural magnetic forces bringing you both together. This implies that you are emotionally connected or possibly sexual tension is mutual.
  • Uncontrollable Eye Movements: This is a common way to know. If someone is thinking about you, such a person's eye movement won't be stable. Sometimes, they may even be shy to make eye contact. And at times the eye contact may be frequent especially in a crowded room. This is a good indication that you're attracted to such a person.
  • Goosebumps: Receiving goosebumps is a sign that someone is thinking about you. This experience can occur at the same time with you too.
  • A signal from Dream: Your dreams may give you a glimpse of what's going on. Such a person may pay you a visit in your dreams.
  • They Check on you: This shows that you are in such a person's mind. Such a person may check on you through calls or a brief visit.

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