What To Do When I Love My Best Friend?
Updated January 31, 2019
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Friendship is a close bond between two individuals that have several things in common and share good times together, so it isn't uncommon for a friendship to develop into something more. It can be really confusing to realize you have feelings for a friend and even more confusing to know what to do with these feelings. The first thing to understand is that these feelings are completely normal.
How to Tell if Your Feelings Have Changed to Romantic Ones?
Do you spend a lot of time thinking about your friend? Are they the first person you want to call when something good or bad happens? Do you find that you feel nervous around them now when before you didn't? Do you find yourself looking for reasons to be around them more often? Do you notice yourself touching them when you are together? While many of these feelings are normal for friends to have, these could all be signs that you have developed feelings for your friend.
Romantic feelings are different than regular friendship feelings. Friends share many things together and it wouldn't be uncommon for friends to want to be together much of the time, however, if you are wanting more than a regular friendship with your friend, you might find yourself looking at them differently than you once did. Rather than wanting to just hang out, you may find that you want to do more structured activities that you think your friend may find appealing, much like a date. You may also find that your thoughts have shifted from friendship mode to romantic fantasizing mode. This is where you see yourself as more of a partner to your friend than a friend. This can cause feelings of jealousy if your friend is in a dating relationship or looking to enter one.
What's Wrong with Me?
Nothing. It's perfectly normal to have your feelings for someone change and developing feelings for your best friend can lead to a great relationship. The problem is when the feelings are not reciprocated. Taking that step between friendship and relationship can be tough. I realize you have romantic feelings for your best friend you may be worried about it changing the friendship if they don't have the same feelings for you. While many great relationships have started from solid friendships, this is not always the case; for every great relationship that started with the friendship, there are several where friendships have been broken. The dynamic of the friendship changes greatly when entering a relationship and some can handle the change is well while others cannot.
It is a risk and you should decide if you want to take or not. It can be helpful to talk to another friend, family member, or therapist before having that conversation.
What If They're the Same Sex?
It will depend on your friend and if they have the same feelings for you. It does not mean that you won't be able to take your friendship to the next level of a romantic relationship. It is one more thing to consider. Knowing your friend, have you ever had the impression they might be open to a same sex relationship? There have been cases where friends are open to an experimental occasion or two and has blossomed into a fantastic relationship. There are also times where one friend had romantic feelings for another friend and when acted upon the friendship was permanently broken. Knowing your friend and what they would be open to is essential before acting upon this feeling. This is another instance where talking it out with a therapist can be helpful.
What if They Say Yes?
How exciting! Now you and your friend can talk about what you want your relationship to look like and it's a good idea to also discuss what would happen to the friendship in the event that the two of you break-up since you did start as friends. Relationships that start with a solid friendship base have more of a success rate than relationships that start out of physical attraction. The reason this happens is that you are not falling for an individual that you are lusting after based on their good looks but one that you know on a personal level, someone that has shown you their flaws and insecurities.
Since you have already been friends, you may want to take things at a much faster pace, but this may not be ideal. While you have known each other as best friends, you have not known each other in a romantic relationship. This means that you will have things that you still need to learn about each other, like how does your partner enjoy being kissed or do they like to show PDA in public. You may know the answer to some things, however, it may be different when you attempt them in the relationship. For instance, your friend may have mentioned that they do not like holding hands in public, but holding hands is important to you, so your friend retry to hold your hand because they realize that it means something to you. There will be a new learning curve for this relationship and it would be a good idea to take things slow as you learn.
What if They Say No?
It will be disappointing for you and you may want to step away from the friendship either temporarily or permanently. You friend may feel uncomfortable as well. Depending on the friendship, it doesn't mean that you can't still be friends. Hopefully you and your friend can have an honest and direct conversation about the friendship and where you both would like to see it go. Just because a romantic relationship did not work out that does not mean you cannot still be friends. There are many Friends that started out as a couple and then became best friends, there are also best friends that became a couple and when it didn't work out they remained great friends. So, do not lose hope if a romantic relationship does not work out between you and your best friend. It's important to remember that there was a connection between both of you that made you best friends and that connection will still be there
Talk to Someone
Your best friend isn't likely to be the appropriate person to talk to so consider another friend, family member, or a therapist, Express and explore your feelings and allow yourself to mourn and grieve this loss. It can feel like a break-up and you need time and space to heal.
Focus on Self-Care
It's amazing what a little pampering will do when you're dealing with a breakup. Spend some time on you - do your nails, have a massage, and find music that helps. There are tons of feel-good playlists out there and while you might end up having a good cry at some of the songs which can be very therapeutic.
When we're putting energy into a relationship, we often neglect our self-growth. To keep your mind busy try to be proactive and work on something that improves you as a person. Consider taking some classes, starting a fitness routine, doing some yoga, or even learning a new language. By using your time productively, you'll likely heal faster.
What If I can't Get Over Them?
This is when talking to a therapist is especially helpful. Sometimes our well intending family members and friends don't know how to help. A therapist can give you the time and space to grieve and process and help you create a plan for moving forward. You can get started right away with a trained therapist on BetterHelp anywhere you have an internet connection.