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How Can I Tell a Friend I Have Feelings for Them?

February 11, 2021
How Can I Tell a Friend I Have Feelings for Them?

Developing feelings towards someone you are close to as a friend is normal - but how do you broach the subject? Could you lose a friend if you reveal that you want to take things further?

How do you know whether it's genuine romantic attraction or friendship that means a lot to you?

The Best10 team has created this guide to help you navigate the minefield of transitioning from friendship to something more intimate - and what you can do if those feelings aren't mutual.

How to Tell if a Friend Wants Something More from Your Relationship?

Regardless of the situation, or the relationship dynamic, it would be best to express your feelings. 

If you ignore them, it could lead to frustration or jealousy if your friend meets someone special, and you'll forever kick yourself that you silently watched a potential love of your life pass on by!

Don't dive right in and express your unrequited love - but take a small step back from the situation and think about the following questions.

  • Do you suspect they like you too? Or are they clueless about your attraction? Try to spend a little time observing body language and hints to see whether there are any signs that your friend harbours the same secret desires.
  • Is your relationship strictly platonic, or is there room for manoeuvre? For example, if a mate chats to you all the time about their love life or sex life, they probably don't see you in a romantic light.
  • Are you physically close? Friends, who hold hands, touch each other when they talk, hug for long periods or naturally find themselves making physical contact are usually interested in each other.
  • Have you ever hinted to your friend that you're interested in something more? How did they react? Mild hints, subtle compliments and saying nice things can be a gentle way to get an idea about how those comments are received.
  • Do all your mutual friends think there is something else going on, or all 'know' that you're made for each other? Remember that being too close to a friendship might mean you're missing the wood for the trees, and a mutual attraction is obvious to everyone else!

You won't necessarily have all the answers, but it pays to be mindful and honest about your expectations before taking the plunge.

Should you see sure-fire signs that your feelings are shared, it might settle your nerves and make the conversation more natural.

How To Let a Friend Know You 'Like Like' Them?

The next step is probably the most challenging part - letting them know.

As I've said, I think there are very few situations when it's advisable to bury your emotions and never tell someone you feel a romantic connection.

Of course, your friend might not share those feelings, and that's another situation we'll talk about shortly. Still, concealing real feelings can be far more harmful to your friendship than having a one-sided attraction.

If you value someone in your life, you're not going to run for the hills if they tell you they have a crush on you, after all!

Here are my tips for making the talk as relaxed as possible:

Always meet in person!

Never have a serious conversation via text - you lack the inflexion, tone, and body language that can make such a difference.

Think about what to say.

No, you don't need a script, but having a run-through of what you feel and what you'd like to say can take a bit of the pressure off.

Don't demand an immediate response.

There isn't any set number of potential outcomes, since people all react differently! Perhaps this person will be bowled over, and feel the same.

They might be surprised, and need a little bit of time to think it over.

In some cases, they might not feel the same and want to salvage a friendship without stepping over that line. Let them feel how they feel, and think about it as much as they need to.

Talk in private.

It's not a conversation you want to rush through in the corner of a party. Nor do you want interruptions or distractions. Meet somewhere quiet and private where you've got time and space to talk properly.

Try not to dive straight in!

Sure, if you've been mulling it over for months, you might want to get it off your chest, but putting someone on the spot can make them feel under pressure! Start with a normal chat, and then let them know you've got something you want to tell them.

Make sure your friendship is the top priority.

Good friends are hard to find, so regardless of how strong your feelings are, you need to clarify that, if your feelings aren't shared, this isn't something that you are prepared to sacrifice your friendship over.

What To Do If a Friend Doesn't Like You Back?

This is where it gets tricky.

You are falling in love with your bestie, but they don't feel the same way... Oomph.

The problem is that you do, in reality, risk damaging a friendship by stepping over that thin line between intimacy and close friendship - but again, bottling up feelings isn't healthy.

Perhaps you'll feel that things are awkward between you from now on, or your friend is very conscious of your body language.

They might seem more distant, in a way to try and avoid giving mixed signals, or be empathetic to your feelings and attempt not to encourage them.

Your gut knows, and if your instincts tell you this person really does feel special, and it's worth the risk, then trust yourself to see if it's something worth pursuing.

Say it doesn't go to plan; here are a few things you can do:

  • Find another date! If you're not looking for something serious, there are a million casual dating sites or places where you can network and meet new friends to give you something fresh to focus on. Check out Best10 for independent reviews of the best dating sites out there.
  • Take some time to process the situation. It hurts to be rejected, so it's perfectly natural to step back for some time and let yourself work through those emotions in your own space.
  • Be honest about your friendship going forward. Tell each other what you value about your presence in each other's lives, and make an effort to preserve that.

Telling a friend you have feelings for them is a big risk - but it's a risk you have to take if you have strong feelings for them.

While you can't know the outcome, you can only try; and the most significant risks lead to the biggest rewards.

Remember that there is a chance your friend won't feel the same way, and prepare yourself for the fact that their response isn't something you can be sure of, but stay true to your emotions, and see how the situation plays out.

Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren is a freelance writer passionate about how we develop rewarding experiences, and overcoming the barriers we face to living our best lives. Lauren writes regularly about the modern world of dating, relationships, parenthood, and social dynamics.