Understanding Your Urges: Sexual Tension Between Friends
Sometimes a friendship blossoms over time into something deeper, eventually becoming a romantic relationship. Since the foundation of these partnerships is friendship, they can produce some of the deepest and longest-lasting relationships. Taking the time to develop a strong foundation upon which you know, care for, and understand each other, can lend itself to nurturing a healthy romance. Not all friendships will (or are meant to) turn into something more than that. It’s normal to have romantic tension between those you call friends but knowing what to do with those urges is what matters.
Catching Feelings For Friends
You may feel more comfortable interacting with someone that you consider more of a good friend than a potential romantic partner. However, over time, more romantic feelings may start to grow. If you realize that you’re attracted to your friend, know that this is normal. When someone knows you deeply (and vice versa) it can be hard not to become attracted to them. Knowing someone for a longer amount of time can also increase their attractiveness. Deciding what to do with this tension will be up to you; there is no one right answer for every situation, though there are factors to consider.
The innate desire to be seen as who we are is what steers the emotional attachment termed "intimacy." As social creatures, this is something we all long for. It is defined as a positive emotional bond that evokes feelings and behaviors related to understanding and support. Through self-disclosure, mutual acceptance, and valuing one another (or showing respect), we can build intimacy with others. Intimacy is associated with positive emotions and is considered one of the biggest rewards to humans in pursuit of maintaining close relationships.
Types Of Intimacy
Intimacy is normal within relationships, even those between two friends. There are different types of relationships – with specific needs that each of them meets. You can have familial bonds, sexual bonds, or friendships. In each of these relationships, the kind and level of intimacy will look different. Intimacy can be:
- Intellectual: You can have discussions that center on big life questions, philosophies, and political ideologies.
- Emotional: When you are emotionally intimate in a friendship or relationship, it means your innermost thoughts are bare before the other person. You can be vulnerable around them instead of walking on eggshells, and you don’t feel judged.
- Physical: Physical intimacy means you can be affectionate towards someone without necessarily being sexually intimate.It is most common within the bounds of people dating.You hold hands, cry on each other’s shoulders, or hug.
- Sexual: Those who have sexual intimacy are often highly passionate toward one another. Usually, it involves both people physically pleasuring one another. This kind of intimacy can be the most powerful and vulnerable.
Intimacy can be built over time, and every relationship will move at a different speed. Keeping different boundaries with different people can help keep relationships healthy and thriving.
Signs Of Sexual Tension
Noticing sexual tension is something you may feel or experience rather than be able to explain.The signs of sexual tension can even be physical, such as prolonged eye contact, continually talking about the person, increased heart rate, or how you respond to the person's touch. You may feel nervous around this other party or giddy to see them.
Acting On Sexual Tension
Even if you're friends, sexual tension can be very natural between two people that find each other attractive and have the same sexual identity. It's up to each person to decide if the sexual attraction you feel is something that you want to or should act on. Choosing to act on a sexual attraction may change the relationship the two of you already have, and there could be both positives and negatives to that.
There are many different reasons why some people act on sexual attraction and why people may decide not to 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 are 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 toward them.
Maybe it’s appealing to think of starting a romantic relationship with a person you already know and care about. You may have already 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 make sense of your urges.
Coping With Unreturned Urges
What if the sexual feelings you are having are not returned? People can’t always readother people’s behaviors, and we are especially bad at reading minds. Even if you're almost sure that your friend feels the same tension you do, it's a good idea to check for certain before you act on anything. While it may be awkward to take that risk and ask, it could save you from awkward, uncomfortable, or more hurtful situations down the road.
Your friend might feel differently than you do, and rejection is never easy. Accept how you feel and validate your own emotions. Being sexually attracted to someone is normal, but those desires don’t need to be fulfilled each time if there are healthy, logical reasons for moving on instead.
If you have acknowledged that 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":
- Avoid being alone with the other party.
- When you are tempted to act on your sexual desire, remind yourself why you cannot be with this person.
- Do not flirt with or touch them; "friend zone" yourself.
- Have an honest conversation with the person.
- Spend less time together.
- If you're single, try dating other people to see if the way you feel has more to do with needing physical intimacy or feeling lonely.
- Talk to another friend about the tension you are feeling and let them be your voice of reason.
- Focus on yourself – your hobbies, needs, and interests.
- Talk to a mental health professional.
Communication Is Key
Becoming romantically intimate with a friend can change the friendship. If this happens, be honest with them about what you are feeling and what you hope to get out of becoming closer to each other in a new way. You may be able to avoid pain and confusion with open communication and respect for one another as people.
Online Therapy With BetterHelp
Interpersonal relationships, whether they involve sexual intimacy or not, can be confusing. If you have found yourself in a situation that you are having a hard time making sense of, or if you feel you could use some guidance in your relationships, you are not alone. Speaking with a therapist through BetterHelp could be beneficial for your mental health.
The only relationship guides we have are the ones we have experienced or observed, and it can be hard to recognize the qualities of supportive, healthy relationships. It can be helpful to have a support system to lean on as you work through your feelings. A therapist can provide you with the tools and resources you need to move forward productively. Though you may not have healthy friendships you can turn to in difficult times, you can message your therapist at any time throughout the day for advice.
The Effectiveness Of Online Therapy
If you’re experiencing problems in your interpersonal relationships, you may develop mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Online therapy can be an effective option to help you move forward. One study found that online therapy benefitted people with both anxiety and depression, as well as those with emotional distress. In this study, the results showed that online therapy was just as helpful as traditional face-to-face options.
Feeling sexual tension between you and a platonic friend can be confusing, but it’s a common experience. However, itmaystill be difficult to decide what to do with your feelings.With the right tools, consideration, and support, you can work your way toward a decisionyou feel confident about. Should you need guidance while you make choices about your relationships, online therapy may be of benefit.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do You Know If There's Sexual Tension Between Two Friends?
It's not uncommon for two close individuals to experience some type of attachment after spending time together and building memories. Sometimes, that attachment is purely emotional. Other times, there is a build-up of sexual tension that occurs, either with or without the emotional aspect. If there's sexual tension between two friends, you may notice the following signs:
- Eye contact:Two friends may find themselves constantly locking eyes with one another, with or without being conscious of it.
- Staring: Persistent staring can occur when two people admire each other. They might be staring at the other person’s features that they find attractive, or simply enjoy seeing the other person smile and talk.
- 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: Two people who enjoy one another’s company are more likely to laugh and smile when in each other’s presence.
- Heart rate increases:Your emotions have a connection with your heart. When you feel scared, stressed, tired, troubled, or excited, your heartbeats can be different. The influence of chemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine, and norepinephrine when you are sexually attracted to someone can increase your heart rate. It's a process you can't control because your feelings direct your body.
- Response to touch: Either consciously or subconsciously, both parties may move closer to one another and engage in touching, even if subtle. A brush of the arm or leg, for example, can convey sexual tension.
- Comments from otherpeople: Sometimes, people don’t realize the tension building between themselves and another person; however, outsiders may start to express their observations.
- Changes in the way you speak: Emotions can automatically reconfigure your physiology. When you're attracted to someone sexually, you may uncontrollably express yourself in a higher-pitched voice.
- Leaning: This is a powerful sign of attraction; when someone is into you, they may try 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?
In some cases, sexual tension may not necessarily require any further advancement or action. Sometimes, the other person may not be worth the risk-taking or crossing of boundaries. In these situations, here are a couple of steps to take:
- Come out open, honest, and clear: Your assumptions may be wrong at times. Being open andhonest with the other person about how you’re feeling can clear up several misconceptions.
- Take control of your senses: Your senses and emotions may cause you to make decisions that you later regret. Learning emotional regulation and controlling your desires can help you make choices you can be proud of.
- Keep your distance: It’s not always possible to keep distance between yourself and the other person, especially if you work or go to school with them. However, it can help to create more space than usual as you sort through your feelings.
- Avoid unhealthy habits: Certain choices and habits may worsen the situation.For example, using alcohol may make it harder to regulate and control your emotions.
- Avoid inappropriate touching: Use only touches that friends would use or avoid touching the person altogether if that helps you more.
- Don't Flirt: Flirting can be done unknowingly, which may make it difficult to stop. Being conscious of your word choices and tone of voice can help.
- Draw away your attention: Your relationship may be more important than your sexual advances. If so, look for ways to build your relationship platonically.
How Do You Build Sexual Tension With A Friend?
Sometimes, you may develop feelings for a friend and want the relationship to move beyond platonic lines. The question is, how? The following are some tips and tricks for you.
- Touching: Touching can help the chemistry to gradually start setting in. You may slightly or subtly touch or brush the back of a person's hand or shoulder. Over time, your touching can become bolder, depending on your friend’s response.
- Eye contact: Eye contact can be an effective way to establish attraction with someone. It can show that you are interested in and intrigued by them.
- Spending time together: Don’t underestimate the power of spending quality time with your friend. Let them see your true self and allow their attraction to you to grow.
- Flirt:You can flirt in person or over text. Fun emojis, cheesy messages, and funny pictures can create a unique bond between you and your friend.
Can You Feel Sexual Energy From Someone?
You may be able to feel sexual energy from someone else. However, how you feel toward the person may influence your perceptions.
How Do You Know If Someone Is Thinking About You Sexually?
Since we can’t read minds, there’s no surefire way to know that someone is thinking about you sexually, or at all for that matter. The only way to know for sure is it they tell you. There are, however, signs that someone is feeling sexually attracted to you. Some of those signs could be:
- Eye contact: If someone intentionally looks you in the eyes constantly, it may signify that they are attracted to you. The eyes can be a gateway to one’s feelings at times.
- The feeling you have: If you regularly feel chemistry anytime you are around a person, you may be right in your assumption that they are into you.
- Always being around:When someone is attracted to you, they may want to hang around you often. If someone is not interested, there will usually be more space between the two of you.
- Always want to touch: Touching, even if subtle, can signal sexual attraction.
- Flirting: Flirtingcan be an output of one’s thoughts, but sometimes kindness can be mistaken for flirtation.
- Nervousness: Feeling nervous in someone's presence could mean that there is sexual tension between the two of you.
- Fidgeting: Many people tend to exhibit certain behavioral patterns when they are into someone. They might become fashion-sensitive and seek ways to impress the other party, regularly adjust themselves, or play with their hair.
How Do You Tell If Someone Is Attracted To You Sexually?
It’s not always clear when someone is sexually attracted to you, especially if they don’t outright tell you. However,here are some signs of sexual attraction:
- Staring and eye contact: The eyes can be used in communication. If someone is attracted to you, they may stare at you and, at times, lock eyes with you.
- Smiling and blushing: The heart rate of someone who is attracted to you may increase when they see you. This rise in blood pressure cancausethem to blush.
- Touching andproximity: Someone attracted to you may make constant attempts to touch and be near you. They might sit close to you during conversations or lean on you.
- Sensitive to other people: If someone is attracted to you, they might be sensitive to other people who are interested in you.
- Voice changes: Someone’s voice might become more high-pitched if they’re attracted to you. Their tone might also change.
- Flirting: Verbal or non-verbal flirting can signal attraction. The person may touch or talk to you in a flirtatious manner.
- Lip licking: Lip licking is common. When you see someone that you are attracted to, you may be tempted to lip your lips to show how vehement your interest is. However, this often happens subconsciously.
What Does Sexual Tension Feel Like?
Sexual tension, just like other feelings, is difficult to explain. Many times, you feel moved, your heartbeat increases, and your body's nerves become very active. You may feel like you can hear your heartbeat in your ears, and every nerve in your body screams for you to lean over and kiss them. The feeling is metaphorically explained as "butterflies in your stomach, every little hair on your arms standing up, and sweaty palms." If you feel this way, it may mean that you're sexually attractedto someone.
How Long Does Sexual Attraction Last?
Sexual attraction can last for any amount of time, depending on the person or people involved. Usually, sexual attraction is strongest at the beginning of a relationship. Then, over time, it tends to fade. Conflict or unexpected turn-offs can make the sexual attraction go away sooner, but every situation is different.
Can People Feel Sexual Tension?
Yes, people can feel sexual tension at times. Most times, it is intentionally caused by someone you're attracted to behaving differently, which then builds tension in you. When it's built, the feeling is inexplicable but can be described as butterflies in the stomach.
How Do Men Build Sexual Tension?
Building sexual tension can take time and often requires endurance and patience. The following may be used by men to achieve their aim:
- Making eye contact: Your eyes are connected with your mind. What you look at, you think about, so men may increase eye contact with you to build tension with you.
- Using compliments: Men may give out compliments directly when they want someone to know they’re interested in them.
- Physical contact: They may make a move into your personal space through touch when the opportunity presents itself. Hugs may start to last longer, and they may always attempt to get closer.
How Do You Tell If Someone Is Thinking About You?
The way you think about someone may be different from the way they think about you. This makes people's unspoken intentions unpredictable. You may think someone loves you and later find out that your initial assumption was wrong. Humans cannot read minds, so we can never be certain what someone else is thinking, or if they’re thinking about us. However, when someone is attracted toyou, especially when it's romantic, they tend to show some signs. These could include:
- Impulsive smiling: Normally, people, smile at what they find pleasing and exciting. But when someone is thinking about you, such a person's smile may be born out of strong emotion with a hidden voice right underneath. Sometimes, theycan't stop.
- Change of emotions: The center of a person's attraction is emotion. You can observe this in the way someone talks or relates to you.
- Uncontrollable eye movements: If someone is into you, they may be shy to make eye contact, or make it frequently.
- Goosebumps: Getting goosebumps when you’re with someone can signal there’s an attraction between the two of you.
- They check on you: This is one of the surer ways to know that you are on someone’s mind. They may check on you through calls, texts, or a brief visit.