What to do when you have feelings for a friend

Developing feelings for a friend sounds so romantic. You’re already super close. You hang out all the time. You know each other inside out – it’s a match made in heaven right?…

… welll, perhaps. But maybe not. 

If you have feelings for your friend it can be really tricky to know what to do. Do you tell them and risk ruining a friendship? Or do you stay quiet and always wonder “what if?”.  In this article we’re here with honest, actionable advice to help you figure out your next steps if you have fallen for someone close to you. 

Be honest with yourself

First up, it’s really important that you do a lot of introspection and soul-searching to try and understand your feelings. This means being honest with yourself about whether your feelings are work risking losing a friend over.

Once you have put your feelings out there, one of two things will happen. Either you’ll find out that they feel the same and it will be the start of something magical, or (and this is a big or), they might not. In which case your friendship will probably never be the same again.

Do you have strong feelings for your friend for reals? Or is it just because they are out of bounds? Only you can answer this question, so take some time to really analyse your situation, trust yourself, and let your intuition and heart guide the way.

Photographer: Matheus Ferrero

Look out for cues about how they feel

Before you jump right in to declaring your love,  first start by truing to gauge how they feel. Pay attention to the cues they might be giving you that they’re into you. 

For example, do they make eye contact with you across a room? Do they mirror your body language? Do they touch your arm or hand when you’re talking? Or do you simple feel a chemistry between you? These are often good indicators that your feelings might be reciprocated.

Drop subtle hints with your friend to see how they fly. Perhaps be a little more flirtatious, or drop a few compliments here and there. If your friend seems to follow your lead, then it’ll make it much easier to share your feelings.

Consult your friends

Another way to try and understand how your friend feels is to ask a trusted mutual friend. Confide in them and ask for their honest opinion. You could consider asking if they’ve ever talking about you “in that way”, or if they have a gut feeling about the situation. 

Hopefully the mutual friend will be able to offer a new perspective on things that could help you gain a little clarity, but also accept that they might not want to get involved. 

Decide what you want to do

At some point, you’re going to have to make a decision about what you want to do. Either you decide to share your feelings and see where it goes, or might decide to keep it to yourself. Only you can figure out what’s right for you.

One thing that’s for sure, the only way to know for sure how your friend really feels is to be brave, and have that conversation. If you do decide to bite the bullet and go for it, here are a few suggestions to help you choose your words wisely.

Photographer: Todd Sollie

Give them an ‘easy out’

Whilst you might want to be direct,  it’s important that the other person feels they have  options available to them that don’t involve humiliating you. 

Rather than saying, “I like you as more than a friend and need to know if you like me too”,  try, “I like you as more than a friend, and I felt I needed to share that with you. There’s no pressure for you to do or say anything, I just wanted to be honest and share my feelings with you.”

Say what you mean

This can be really tough, but try to be as clear as you can. It’s very easy for your meaning to get lost when you beat around the bus, so state clearly how you feel and what you would like to happen. 

Don’t be afraid to use phases like “be more than friends”, or “go on a date”. These leave zero ambiguity for the other person about where you stand. It’s hard, but it would be so much worse for the other person to miss what you’re trying to say. 

Accept that things might change

Look – we’ll be straight with you. There’s a chance that your friend won’t share your feelings, and that, if you put your feelings out there, your relationship could change.

But you know what? That’s ok. 

Being so emotionally open and vulnerable takes real courage, and though the rejection might really, really hurt – in the long run you’ll be so much stronger for it. Imagine spending a lifetime not living your potential cause your heart is pining for someone you didn’t have the courage to be honest with? That would really suck. So whatever happens as a result of this, know that you have been brave – and that life comes to those who live boldly.

Take a deep breath, be kind with yourself, and go for it. You got this.