If you have romantic feelings for a friend and are struggling with how to handle the situation then understand you’re not alone. Just like this love quote says, falling for a friend is bound to happen at some point in time. This is the type of story that has made Hollywood millions over the years and one that almost everyone has experienced at some point in their lives. A simple, platonic friendship slowly turns into something more for one of the friends, leaving them caught in a struggle between acting on their romantic feelings and pretending they don’t exist to maintain the current relationship. So, what should you do when you realize you’re falling in love with a friend?
Evaluate Your Feelings – If you believe your feelings for a friend have turned romantic the best first action you can take is to intentionally, and objectively, analyze those feelings to clarify within yourself what you are experiencing. Is what you’re feeling truly romantic love? With friends, it is possible to feel rushes of affection that may at first appear to signal that you’re in love, but are the product of deep trust and respect you share. Or a strong physical attraction or infatuation can lead you to imagine romantic, intimate moments with them. It can be helpful to spend time considering the source of these feelings and not immediately act upon them.
Make a Decision – Once you’ve given yourself time to analyze your feelings and are confident that the feelings you have are romantic, the next decision is whether to tell your friend how you feel. This can be frightening as you consider all the possible outcomes of this scenario. It can be helpful to remember that he or she is a friend who cares about you. As you are considering whether to share, you can review interactions you have had. What body language do you notice compared to yours? Which one of you usually the one to initiate interactions? Does he or she appear to treat you differently than other friends? By more closely observing your current relationship, you might gain additional context which will impact your decision to disclose your feelings or not, as you evaluate the likelihood that they may share similar feelings to yours.
Act on Your Decision – If you have chosen to keep your feelings to yourself, do so confidently, accepting that you are the one who owns this decision; and you have made it after reasonable consideration. Take intentional steps to help yourself minimize your feelings for your friend. This is certainly easier than done, but there are actions you can choose which can be helpful for you. For instance, you may want to reduce your interactions with this friend for a while. You do not have to be overly obvious about your decision. It is very common, in all our lives, to have periods in which we are just busier than others, or have unusual commitments or responsibilities; need to focus more of our time and attention of various family members, work issues, self-care, etc. Be creative, knowing that your intention is not to be deceptive, but to do what is possible for you to take appropriate responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, and handle them maturely. This can be mutually respectful, meaning that it illustrates respect for both yourself and the other person, without being at the expense of either of you.