Relationships aren’t always simple, so unsurprisingly, friendships can get a little messy. Some friendships are so fulfilling that they can develop into a more romantic relationship. Unfortunately, these romantic feelings can be completely one-sided, leaving one person feeling extremely conflicted and confused about what to do. The common core conflict is the possibility of confessing one’s feelings at the risk of changing the relationship. Being the unrequited lover is never fun, but its an arguably more miserable position within a great friendship. Here are some important factors to consider if your friend wants to be more than friends.
If Your Friend Is In Love With You…Be The Bigger Person
I’m guessing you’re here because you suspect that your friend has grown romantic feelings for you. I commend you for being a good friend and seeking out advice on how to deal with this delicate situation! You probably don’t need me to, but just to be safe, I’m reminding you to consider their feelings and their situation. Your friendship is now imbalanced and you have the upper hand. This gives you the responsibility of being the bigger person and doing your best to be gentle and compassionate.
I know that this situation can be kind of upsetting. Maybe you’ve found a kindred spirit in this person, and a part of you feels resentful that they would develop feelings for you despite you being very clear that you have no interest in pursuing a romance. Maybe you’re feeling a little annoyed and frustrated because you’re scared of losing a great friend, and you’re feeling a little jaded because this might have happened to you before. Maybe you’re a little angry because you’re wondering why your platonic friendship isn’t enough.
This situation is tough for both friends involved, but just imagine how your friend feels. Your friend is probably miserable because all they want to do is make you happy, and they might even hate themselves for threatening an amazing relationship by wanting more. Though your frustrations are totally valid, your friend is probably feeling twice the frustration so be as understanding as you can.
As you let your friend process their emotions, the best thing you can do is to apply some damage control. Don’t make the situation worse for your friend; don’t inspire hope where there is none. Unconsciously or subconsciously encouraging them to feed and invest in their romantic interest towards you will just make the situation more complicated for the both of you. These are 3 behaviors you should absolutely avoid if your friend is pining over you.
Damage Control # 1: Stop Complaining About Your Love Life
Your complaints about your love life only fuel your friend’s desire.
1) Want to fix your problems and be the person you’re looking for.
2) Feel absolutely terrible that you feel sad which causes them to feel more passionately about reason 1.
3) Obsess about why you don’t see that they have the qualities your dates don’t seem to have.
This is even worse if you’re in a committed relationship because your friend will now be hoping and waiting for the day that you break up with your partner.
Someone who is in love with you will want to solve all of your problems. If your friend believes more and more that they could be the solution to your problems, then your friend will only develop deeper feelings towards you. Do your best to prevent this by refraining from telling them about how unfulfilled you are with your love life.
Damage Control # 2: Stop Hanging Out In Intimate Settings
It may not seem cruel, but hanging out with your friend in your room, laying close together, or talking on the phone for hours can mess with your friend’s feelings more than you expect.
Intimate settings will only encourage intimate feelings if your friend is in love with you. It’s like dangling a beautiful promise in front of them and letting them feel what it could be like, only to remind them that it will never happen. You might feel comfortable and totally platonic about resting your head on your friend’s shoulder or spending all day with them alone at their place or partaking in other touchy and intimate behaviors, but this behavior only makes your friend want you more. This also convinces them that you might want them because you’re spending so much time with them in such close proximity. Your friend probably equates your level of comfort with your level of affection and interest.
If your friend is in love with you, resolve to spend time with each other in more casual and public settings. Hang out as a group or go out. Don’t engage in touchy contact. Don’t be so affectionate and playful, even if your behavior stems from purely friendly and platonic intentions.
Damage Control # 3: Stop Telling Them How Much You Love Them
People love to feel appreciated. All relationships need mutual acts of appreciation to thrive. But when your friend wants to be more than just your friend, the appreciation game becomes much more imbalanced.
If you keep telling your friend that you absolutely love spending time with them, think that they are so funny and smart and understanding, and wish that other people clicked with you the way that your friend does…then your friend will only be encouraged and further confused.
If you tell your friend that you think they’re amazing, they will wonder why you aren’t together when you think so highly of them.
You will also be the person who makes them feel really, really good, and this will only cause them to crave your love and affection even more.
Damage Control # 4: Give Them Some Space
I know it sucks. You love hanging out with your friend. But right now you should give them some space and set a new pace for your relationship. Encourage them to see other people. Give them the time and space to process their feelings.
If your friend asks why you’re so busy or MIA, tell them that you’re craving some more alone time. Maybe they will bring up their feelings, maybe they won’t. Let them decide if or when they want to have that conversation. Your only job is to set healthy boundaries.
I know it sucks to hear, but maybe your friendship might change. Maybe your friend will realize that being just your friend is too painful, and they will retreat and drop out of your life. This might leave you feeling abandoned, and I know that can be really hurtful. Try to put yourself in their shoes and be as understanding and empathetic as you can be.
Like some romantic relationships, some friendships just don’t last. Be grateful for the lessons you’ve learned and all the great memories you’ve shared. Life will go on.
Maybe your friend will choose to maintain a relationship with you. This relationship will probably be different. You will have more boundaries between you. This is totally fine and healthy. Maybe you can gently prompt them to bring up the conversation in the future, when they no longer feel so romantically inclined towards you.
Ultimately, this is your friendship and your life. Don’t let this problem sour your view on relationships, and don’t let this conflict take power over your mood. Don’t obsess about it. Don’t spend all of your time and energy trying to solve it. Don’t feel completely responsible for someone else’s feelings. Sure, you may influence someone else’s mood and well-being, but you can never be held completely accountable for how someone else feels. You will both figure it out.
Have a great day.
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