If you’ve realized that you have romantic feelings for your best friend, you may wish to take some time to decide whether you’d like to tell them about those feelings or continue the friendship as usual. If you choose to express your feelings to your friend, it may help to consider their possible responses and what might come next. If they respond positively, you may choose to embark on a relationship together. Alternatively, if your friend does not have same feelings, you may want to take some time to cope with any emotions that arise, such as through self-care or online therapy.
Here, we’ll explore how to determine if your feelings have shifted to romantic love, and a few tips for navigating the situation if so.
How To Tell If Your Feelings Have Become Romantic
If you are unsure if your feelings toward your friend have shifted to romance, you may wish to ask yourself questions like the following:
- Are you spending more time than usual thinking about your friend?
- Do you suddenly feel nervous around them?
- Have you been looking for opportunities for physical connection, such as placing a hand on their shoulder when they’re having a hard day?
While these feelings can be common in platonic relationships, they could also be signs that you have developed romantic feelings for your friend if they indicate a shift.
For example, it’s not uncommon for close friends to want to be together much of the time; however, if you are developing romantic feelings and falling in love with your best friend, you may find yourself looking at them differently. Rather than wanting to hang out as usual, you may find that you want to plan more structured activities or dates that your friend may find appealing. You may also find that your thoughts have shifted from friendship to romantic fantasizing. You may even find yourself jealous if your friend is in a romantic relationship or looking to enter one.
How To Move Forward
If you have determined that your feelings have indeed shifted to romance, you may weigh a few different options for how to proceed. For instance, you could choose to keep the feelings to yourself for a time or forever, or you could choose to tell your feelings with your friend to see if they feel the same. If you choose to confess your feelings to your friend, it might be helpful to consider their possible responses ahead of the conversation.
What If They Feel The Same?
If you express your feelings to your friend and learn that they feel the same, you may both decide that you would like to pursue a romantic relationship. If so, you would be in good company: recent research suggests that two-thirds of romantic relationships started as long-term friendships.
Relationships that start with a friendship may benefit from having a solid emotional connection already in place before the shift to romance, which may contrast to those relationships that start with an initial physical attraction. In addition, you may be aware of their flaws and insecurities, and vice versa, because you know them well already.
In this situation, it may be tempting to jump quickly into the relationship or fast-forward through the early stages, since you already know each other well. However, it may be useful to recognize that the shift to romance may still be uncharted territory, so it might make sense to take the time you need and move at a comfortable pace for you both.
While you have known each other as friends, you may not yet know each other in a romantic relationship. There may be things you still need to learn about each other, like how your partner enjoys being kissed or if they are comfortable with public displays of affection.
What If They Don’t Feel The Same?
If your friend does not have the same romantic feelings, it may be disappointing or upsetting, and your friend may feel slightly uncomfortable after you express your feelings. It is possible that your confession could make the friendship awkward or complicate things for a bit, but this doesn’t mean you can't remain friends.
The awkwardness could be temporary, and perhaps it could be quickly resolved with an honest conversation about the friendship and where you both would like to see it go. Or, perhaps you both will need some time away from each other before returning to how things once were. Whatever you choose, it may be helpful to recognize that there was likely a strong connection between you that made you friends in the first place, and a friend connection may still be there if you both choose to cultivate it.
How To Cope With Rejection
Unrequited love can hurt. If you find yourself in this situation after expressing your feelings to your friend, you may consider some of the strategies below to help you cope.
Realize That It Isn't A Reflection Of Who You Are
Rejection can hurt deeply, and sometimes, we may incorrectly view it as an indication of our self-worth. But rejection is common, and sometimes it may even be for the best. It doesn't mean that there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed; try not to let rejection make you feel like any less of a person.
Focus On Self-Care
Self-care can be a great reminder that our relationship with ourselves may be the most important one of all. It can also be an excellent way to set yourself up for healthy love in the future. After experiencing rejection, you may find it comforting to spend some time on yourself—enjoy a good book, get a massage, find music that carries you through your emotions, or try anything else you find soothing.
Turn To Self-Improvement
To keep your mind busy or try to lift your spirits after rejection, it may be helpful to turn your energy towards something that improves you as a person. Consider taking some classes, starting a new fitness routine, or even learning a new language. By using your time to focus on something new and positive, you may be able to move on more quickly from the rejection.
Get The Support You Need
Seeking support in tough times can be very beneficial, but sometimes, opening up to a friend about your feelings may feel too vulnerable or you may feel intimidated speaking with a therapist face-to-face. In these instances, you may find it more comfortable to try online therapy, where you can meet virtually with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your home or anywhere you have an internet connection.
Therapy can help people work on self-esteem, self-worth, and interpersonal relationship challenges, and research has found that internet-delivered therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy. For instance, this study concluded that online therapy may be “a viable alternative to in-person therapy,” while also offering unique advantages such as no travel time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a friendship turn into love?
A solid friendship can be an excellent basis for a strong romantic relationship moving forward, and it is quite common for romantic relationships to start as friendships. A romantic relationship that starts as a friendship may have a strong foundation from the outset, such as liking the same things, having good friends in common, going through same experiences, and holding some of the same goals and values in life.
Can best friends kiss on the lips?
How friends express affection for each other physically can be completely up to them, and it may vary widely from person to person. Different cultures may also have different norms for the most socially acceptable way for friends to greet each other and express affection. Overall, though, how you interact with your platonic friend—especially when it comes to physical displays of affection—may be best guided by respect, communication, and consent.
What can I say instead of, “I love you”?
Here are some alternatives for the phrase “I love you” that you can use to express love and appreciation:
- You’re an amazing friend.
- I love spending time with you.
- I’m excited to see where this relationship goes.
- I really value your friendship.
- You’re always in my heart.
- Thank you for being my best friend.
- I’m so grateful to have you as a friend.
- I couldn't have asked for a better friend.
- You’re my favorite human on this planet.
Please see below for more questions that might be beneficial to explore in therapy.
What do I do if I love my best friend?
Is it OK to love my best friend?
Can I say I love you to my best friend?
Why do I love my best friend?
How do I stop crushing on my best friend?
How do I stop falling for my best friend?
Is it OK to tell my friend I love her?
What is the strongest way to say I love you?
Do I have a crush on my friend?
Is it normal to kiss my best friend?
Is it normal to want to kiss your best friend?
Is it normal to love your best friend so much?
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