I Love My Friends, But It Feels Like They Don't Love Me

Updated January 25, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Maintaining friendships may come with conflicts, hardships, and changes. You may notice friendships from childhood changing over time. Your life may become busier. Some people select partners, get married, have kids, build careers, buy homes, move to new places, and struggle to maintain contact. These changes might sometimes make you feel that your friends don't love you. 

On the other hand, you could be experiencing conflicts with friends and don't know where to turn. Maybe you give more than you get in your relationships. No matter the circumstance, there may be ways to find support and reconnect with friends or decide that your friends might not be healthy for you.

Unreciprocated Love Can Hurt

Friends Not Staying In Touch

Life might get busy for some friends. Friendships may not be the top priority in someone's mind. Additionally, friendships might not last long-term. The feeling of being ghosted or ignored by a friend over time can still hurt, even if you understand the cause. 

It could be that your friend is going through a transition preoccupying them. They might be experiencing something challenging and worry that reaching out could be too much for you. If you are unsure of the status of a friendship, consider asking your friend. You can try the following methods: 

  • Mail them a brief note or postcard telling them you're thinking of them 

  • Comment on their posts on social media with kind words 

  • Send a message and tell your friend you miss them and are thinking of them 

  • Ask if they would want to plan a hangout sometime soon 

If they continue to leave you on "read," ghost you, or ignore you, it may mean that the friendship is not double-sided or healthy. As healthy relationships are essential for physical and mental health, deciding to end the friendship may be beneficial. 

Feeling Unrequited Platonic Love

Even if you have healthy self-esteem, you might feel that your love and care for your friends are unrequited. If your friend makes rude jokes, arguments keep popping up, or your plans with them keep getting canceled at the last minute, you might feel pushed aside. You could also find that you put a lot of effort into your friendships, check in with them often, offer emotional support, and do not receive the same effort back. In these cases, it could be valuable to reconsider the friendship and how healthy it has been for you. 

Just as a romantic relationship can require commitment and respect to flourish, a lasting friendship may require respectful communication to stay healthy. Think through how you communicate and when you last had a pleasant, sincere conversation with your friend. Have they acted unkindly, dismissive, or rude toward you? If so, it might mean the friendship is unhealthy. 

Suppose you've only caught up via brief texts and social media comments and can't seem to maintain a caring or sincere dialogue about deeper topics. In that case, you and your friend may have differing interests or feel you're growing apart. Try to converse with your friend about how this makes you feel. It may be that you both feel unloved, and talking could improve the situation. If your friend is unkind or dismissive of your concerns, consider taking a break from the friendship.

They're Your Best Friend, But You're Not Theirs 

It may feel heartbreaking to find out that the person you consider your best friend doesn't feel the same way. You might have loving feelings toward your friend and feel they're not reciprocated because your friend has another best friend or only considers you a casual friend. You might feel jealous or hurt when you see them making posts with others. 

If you find yourself in a painful situation, consider why you consider this person your best friend. Were they supportive of you through a difficult period, or did you live, attend school, or work closely for any period? Ask yourself if the friendship was rooted in something temporary or situational.

Although you might choose to keep your friendship with this person, if the love is unrequited, it could also be beneficial to seek other friendships. You can try to have more than one friend, and you might have more than one best friend. If your friend hasn't expressed that they don't think you're their best friend, ask them if your worries are correct. You might find that they show love and care differently but still appreciate your space in their life. 

How To Address Unrequited Platonic Love 

It could be valuable to open a discussion if you think there's a conflict in your friendship or feel uncomfortable with your friend's actions. Be as honest as possible and allow your friend to speak. Actively listen to their response and try to understand their point of view, as long as they're respectful toward you. You may learn that a previous action or conflict angered or hurt your friend. In these cases, you might be able to resolve the conflict by talking about it and apologizing if you made a mistake. 

When talking with your friend, try to use "I" statements. For instance, instead of saying, "you hurt me when you did this," say, "I felt hurt when this happened." Using "you" statements might feel aggressive toward your friend. If you feel the relationship is one-sided, consider saying: 

  • "I feel like our relationship is one-sided sometimes. I'd love to try to spend more time together." 

  • "Can we hang out more often? I miss you." 

  • "I'd love it if we talked more. I have been missing our conversations." 

  • "I want to keep supporting you, but it feels like I don't receive support as well, and this friendship has felt one-sided to me." 

If your friend is unkind, rude, or dismissive, try setting boundaries. Note that you do not necessarily have to offer extra support, gifts, conversation, or attempts to reach out if your friend is not doing the same. 

Unreciprocated Love Can Hurt

Ways To Support Yourself

If you feel constantly stressed over the state of a friendship, you could be experiencing anxiety or another mental health concern. In some cases, the relationship might not be healthy, and you may choose to leave your friendship. Choosing to "break up" with a friend can feel challenging and may cause feelings of grief, which can be normal.

Consider partaking in self-care during these times, including trying mindfulness exercises, journaling, or talk therapy. If you feel nervous, scared, or shy in social situations, you might find support from therapy for social anxiety. Treat yourself as well as you'd treat a friend you love. Consider taking yourself out on outings you want to do with your friend if they're unavailable. Spending time with yourself could feel rewarding. 

Start a new hobby or social activity. Whether you want to make new friends or find something fresh to do with your existing friends, a new hobby could be a valuable option. Join a club, social group, or activity group to learn new skills. 

Seeking Help

Evaluating friendships and building new ones can feel intimidating. Many people seek additional professional support to deal with feelings of low self-esteem, grief, or hurt. A therapist can be a neutral third party to offer advice about the situation with your friend. 

If you often feel too busy to meet with an in-person therapist, consider online therapy. You can choose between video, phone, or live chat sessions on many platforms and attend a session at a date and time that works best for your schedule. Additionally, studies show that online therapy is more effective than in-person therapy for treating loneliness, isolation, and symptoms of depression.

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Takeaway

Feeling like your friends don't love you can be painful. However, you may have options for improving your friendship or finding support. Even if your current friendships feel one-sided, you may be able to find new friends who can offer the same energy as you do in your connections. If you want professional guidance, consider contacting a counselor for further support. 

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