Thought Catalog

What To Do When You Fall In Love With Your Best Friend

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I used to think that falling in love with your best friend was only something that happened on TV shows or in the movies. Does it really happen in real life? Do people really just wake up one day and realize that the person who has never given them boners is actually their soulmate?

Yes. Yes they do.

In gay relationships, it’s easy for the line between friend and lover to get all smudgy. Like, I’ve thought about sleeping with most of my gay male friends at some point and sometimes I actually do. But there’s a difference between wanting to see one of your friends naked and actually thinking that you could fall in love with them. What I’m talking about here are the friends you could fall in love with, the ones you see and just want to hug and kiss and lay in bed with, long after the orgasm fades. The ones that actually cause you pain because you can’t just run up to them and start making out.

Recently, my friend asked me for some advice. She thinks she’s falling in love with her best friend but is too afraid to act on it. The fear of being rejected and subsequently losing the friendship seems like too much of a price to pay for her feelings. She couldn’t fathom losing him as a friend. He means too much to her.

Here’s what I say to that: Screw it. Screw the friendship and just go for it. If you’re developing strong feelings for a friend, you’re probably in constant misery anyway. Think about it. Realistically, can you do this forever? Can you actually deal with this pain and this longing for an indefinite period of time? You can if you’re a glutton for punishment. Otherwise, the answer would be no. Face it, you like this person too much to just be their friend. It’s not fair to either of you if you’re not being honest.

I once said something along those same lines, years ago, when I found myself falling for my best friend. I told him that I liked him and he responded, “I think I like you too but I really don’t want to sacrifice the friendship.” I said back, “Look, I’ll be real. I can’t be your friend. I like you so much that being your friend feels like torture so I have to do this. I have to either try dating you and see if it works or not be your friend at all.”

It seems like a “way harsh, Tai” response, right? I’m being selfish. There’s no doubt about that. But here’s how I look at it: There are so few people you really connect with in this world. There are so few people with whom it really makes sense, so you can’t let your fear get in the way of going after someone you love. Don’t let your fear cockblock you from experiencing something that could be potentially great.

If your feelings aren’t reciprocated and the friendship falls apart, well, of course that’s devastating. But you need to understand that it would’ve been devastating either way. If you hadn’t said anything, it would’ve felt terrible. You probably wouldn’t have tried to date or look for anybody else. Why would you when you’re already spending all your time with someone you love? At least now you know and you can start to move on. You can push your life forward. You no longer have to be stagnant and wait for something that’s not going to come.

If I have feelings for someone who’s not interested in me or is already taken, I can’t really be around them. Again, I know this sounds selfish but the alternative feels worse. I was hanging out with this guy awhile ago and started to develop a huge crush on him. Oh my gosh, he was just so cute and funny and smart! Then, just as we were starting to get to know each other, he tells me that he has a boyfriend. I was soooo “high school” bummed out about it and I knew immediately that this meant I couldn’t pursue a friendship with this dude. I had a crush on him the second we met. I didn’t want to be his friend. I wanted to date him! Why would I want to settle for anything less? I had to cut it off for the sake of my own emotional well-being.

If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation of falling for a close friend, my advice is to always just tell them. Yes, you’re risking a lot but you owe it to yourself to take those risks. In order for anything good to happen in your life, you have to be the one to propel it forward. You have to take care of yourself and not worry so much about what other people will say or think. You know what happens to people who never took chances or were always frozen in fear? They become a cat lady with a Xanax prescription. AVOID THIS FATE BY GROWING A PAIR OF BALLS AND JUST TELLING YOUR BFF YOU ARE IN LOVE WITH THEM! TC Mark

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    • EP

      A Clueless reference in there, yeeees.

    • Ralph

      I actually expected to read otherwise. (Since I lost my bestfriend when we tried to get along as a couple. LOOOL)

    • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/07/what-to-do-when-you-fall-in-love-with-your-best-friend-2/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

      […] Thought Catalog » Love & Sex Add a comment […]

    • christine

      ryan, you can’t imagine how fitting this post is for me today. i just did this YESTERDAY… and unfortunately, the outcome wasn’t the way my heart hoped it would be… he didn’t say he loves me and wants to grow old with me and have lots of little adorable babies. instead, when i said i don’t think i can be friends with him, he said he accepts that, and understands that i have to do what i have to do… although it makes him sad, he doesn’t want to hurt me. i respect him for letting me go, but i also wish it didn’t have to hurt so badly. thanks for writing this. it makes me feel like i made the right choice, even though it still sucks.

      • Nadine

        you deserve a hug :) that’s a really brave thing to do! i wish i have the same courage!

        • christine

          thanks! haha it was not easy, but i think it was worth it.

    • http://21stcenturyadd.wordpress.com celinesetiadi

      If only we could all be so courageous. A recent attempt at this very endeavor ended in a lot of heartbreak on my part, but in all honesty, I’m in a much better place now after having given it an honest attempt. I almost feel at peace, knowing that I did all I can in my power and that sometimes, it just doesn’t work out and we have to be okay with that and we all move on. In other words, my sentiments exactly. It takes balls, but by george, go for it.

    • http://twitter.com/innaepark Innae

      Laughed out loud while on the anchor desk during a break when I saw the Clueless ref. <3 it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kjonesnortham1 Kyle Jones-Northam

      I have a problem with the idea that a friendship is somehow “less” than a romantic relationship. Implied throughout this is that somehow a friendship just isn’t good enough in some cases. What a sad, reductive way to look at relationships. Yes, you want to be close or even best friends with whomever you choose to partner. At the same time I think it’s reckless to go around busting up friendships because you start to have feelings for a person.

      • Veronica

        I don’t really think he’s saying a friendship is “less”, because he’s talking about situations when you can’t stop thinking about your crush on the person and feel upset and crushed by longing when you’re around them but denying your feelings (see the 5th paragraph). It’s not that he’s advocating possibly giving up a beautiful, close, great friendship for a shot at romance, he’s advocating possibly giving up a beautiful, close, PAINFUL friendship for a shot at romance because the friendship full of longing and denial isn’t sustainable anyway.

        Of course you may be mildly crushing on a friend and still somehow feeling totally comfortable and at ease around them, but this article isn’t about those feelings.

        • http://www.facebook.com/kjonesnortham1 Kyle Jones-Northam

          Well, first, there’s this little item from above: “I didn’t want to be his friend. I wanted to date him! Why would I want to settle for anything less?” The idea I’m picking up is he’d see friendship with this person as “less”. in other words he’s sacrificing possible good friendships in order to pursue longshot romantic relationships. If his ‘crushing’ is so debilitating, I would submit he needs better emotional management.

    • http://scenefromahat.wordpress.com scenefromahat

      “There are so few people you really connect with in this world. There are so few people with whom it really makes sense, so you can’t let your fear get in the way of going after someone you love. Don’t let your fear cockblock you from experiencing something that could be potentially great.”

      i love you ryan damnnn

      i’m going through this exact thing right now, although it isn’t with a best friend per se, it’s with another girl i dated for a couple of months at work (we still both work together), and although we are apparently still friends, it hurts seeing her and knowing that i can’t have her, especially when i just realized i’m in love with her. i need to be with her or not be her friend anymore…which is hard to do since we work with one another and love our jobs…

      • DD

        “i’m going through this exact thing right now, although it isn’t with a best friend per se, it’s with another girl i dated for a couple of months at work (we still both work together), and although we are apparently still friends, it hurts seeing her and knowing that i can’t have her, especially when i just realized i’m in love with her. i need to be with her or not be her friend anymore…which is hard to do since we work with one another and love our jobs…”

        This is exactly my situation right now, and its destroying me

        • http://scenefromahat.wordpress.com scenefromahat

          to DD –
          wish it wasn’t destroying us so :(

        • GUEST

          It isn’t just the two of you. Almost identical situation. In my case, I went for it. Destroyed the friendship completely and made showing up to work a nearly unbearable experience for months.

          My advice in this kind of situation? Never, ever fall for anyone you work with. If you do, keep it to yourself. Do whatever you have to to get over it. The chance of a happy end in the close-work-friend scenario is almost zero. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but far less bitter than the alternative of seeing them every day and never being able to get away from the reminder.

    • sa8913

      What if you’re falling in love with your gay friend and you find yourself really wondering sometimes if it’s mutual (even though he self-identifies as a gay man)? Like to the point where it messes with your mind and you’re not sure if you can really just be friends because it’s too much to go through emotionally. I have no plans of having that talk with him (I’m actually just trying to distance myself completely because I think it’s best) but just wanted to hear your (or anyone’s) thoughts.

    • Guest

      I understand both sides of this, but I think it ultimately comes down to the “what if” factor – what if you’d given it a shot and something great came of it? This is not to say that the friendship can’t be great, too, but if you want more you want more and nothing can really change that, no matter how wonderful the friendship is. If you don’t go for it you might always be left wondering…what if?

      Speaking from my own experience, I was on the receiving end of this. A good friend confessed to having feelings for me. I’ll admit at first I wasn’t quite sure how I felt because I had long-since put him in the friend category, never really considering something romantic with him. But it didn’t take long for me to realize how great we worked as a couple. Him taking the brave step of confessing his feelings for me was easily one of the best things that ever happened to me. I realize every case is different, and in a lot of cases it won’t end up working out, but given my own experience I can’t help but think about the possibility of missing out on something amazing by not being honest about how you feel. I say go for it.

    • http://howtoonlinedate.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/whats-with-the-ex-on-ex-friendship-part-i-13/ What’s with the ex on ex “friendship”? Part I | How to Online Date

      […] What To Do When You Fall In Love With Your Best Friend (thoughtcatalog.com) […]

    • AH

      Let’s get real – has this ever worked? I’m inclined to believe any story that ends in a mutual declaration of feelings was obviously destined that way from the start or just an urban legend.

      If I’ve ever wondered whether my feelings towards a male friend will be requited, that’s almost certain confirmation they won’t be. And I’ve had to turn people away when the vice is versa. Our gut instincts know this to be true every time. If it was meant to be, you’d know.

      The real takeaway from Ryan’s opinion was just to drop the friendships because they WILL make you miserable, you WILL not get over them, and you WILL miss out on moving on. It’s not noble to stay friends, it’s cowardly.

      Ugh I’m exhausted. Time to get back to making moves.

      • meowface

        Surprisingly enough; it has.

        I moved to a new town, we never really got to know each other until after a couple of months even when we shared the same group of friends. One day we just ended up talking, ’bout where I’m from, where she’s from, how we hated being in that small town, and it just started from there.

        A good while after that, we kissed, albeit slightly intoxicated, and was all “lawl so… I suppose I like you?”. We continued doing the whole couply thing even after that night. It went rather fluid and felt so right.

        We went through the whole “He/She’s my… Friend?” thing when friends asked, till we simply decided two weeks later that we were a “proper” couple the same way you’d decide on chinese take out.

        9 months later I was conscripted and had to leave the country and return home to serve. Uncertainty about my return made long distance much more difficult than it should be, and we broke up after 2 or 3 months of long distance. We agreed that we should drop communication because keeping in contact was just too painful. Though now I’m not sure which is worse.

        I suppose that’s the biggest risk there is; losing that person. I haven’t talked to her since February. She’s moved on, though I still miss my best friend every fucking day. Either ways, was worth it.

    • guest

      Ugh. Ryan, why didn’t you write this 6 months ago?

    • C

      I was in love with one of my good friends for four years, and drove myself crazy trying to figure out if he might have feelings for me too; the whole time I was aware of the way you can always find “signs” when you’re looking for them. I finally let a mutual friend bring up the subject to him and it turned out he’d kind of always known I liked him that way, but he only liked me as a friend and didn’t know how to tell me without hurting me. It was a little bit awkward for a while but it actually brought us closer, because once we’d openly established that we didn’t mutually want it to go further, he didn’t feel as uncomfortable being close with me; he didn’t have to worry about leading me on anymore. As a result, he’s now my best friend. And you know what, I still love him, but what we have is really wonderful and rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    • pat

      ugh i wish i had read this sooner. i’m too late: he has a boyfriend now. brb killing myself. (jk never inflict self harm pls)

    • ecb327

      i love it. this gives me hope, because i am generally in love with my best friend. while my success rate so far in confessing my feelings and having them be reciprocated is zero, i think the attitude of “go for it” is awesome. why not? you don’t want to miss out on what could potentially be a great relationship. if he/she is your real friend, even if they don’t feel the same, they won’t drop you.

    • guest

      What if your best friend’s gay? I have been contemplating on my feelings for my gay friend until I decided I should just let it go because it wouldn’t take off anyway. I still love hanging out with him and sometimes I just thank the stars in heaven that I chose not to tell him, but sometimes when we’re together I can really see us doing great as a couple. Call me in denial, but he often confuses me with his preferences. One minute he’s drooling over a boy from his theater group and next minute he’s saying that he could probably change himself if he really really fell in love with a girl (his standpoint in sex and gender preferences is that they are fluid). Help me Ryan!!!

      • AC

        I was best friends with a boy for four years, before we started a friends-with-benefits relationship. Months later, on the same night I realised I loved him, he tearfully admitted he was gay. It took months of agony, but our friendship has now transformed into one of my closest, one of my strongest, and indeed it is one of the most raw and naturally bonded relationships I have ever felt. We were friends before we became close physically, yes, but the aftermath has shown me that in some instances, it can truly open a wide window. Our friendship was either going to go one of two ways once we told each other how we felt- we could have ended everything, or we could try to painfully mend. I pushed for recovery, and thank God I did. I won’t lie, sometimes feelings, not strong feelings, but feelings nonetheless come back- it’s hard as we are still physically (not sexually) close. But I am glad of two things. I am glad I told him how I felt, I am still open about how I felt, and at the end of the day, I am so glad I pushed for us to remain friends. I knew, deep down, that I would rather have him in my life than out of it, despite the temporary pain. We have both had relationships since then, and I know that one day we will both be happy with other people. Love, no matter what happens, will always leave you inexplicably connected. It doesn’t disappear but it can change.

        You’re not alone with this, but it does get easier! You need to remember he can love you, but he cannot biologically be with you. This does not mean your love has to die. <3

        • http://www.ChristianLines.com Christian Lines

          I”m not much of a writer , but I didn’t want to suggest I am now unhappy and misrable!

          Nothing is ever concrete, but I have a realistic point of view on life.

          The moment I told my best friend that I did love him , it had already been 2 years since I moved on mentality. Over those 2 years we became distant , but only because life moves on , yet we still remain the best of friends, but the kind of friends that don’t need to see each other all the time.

          Once I did tell him about my love for him … it explained so much, and it actually bought out friendship closer. He told me that he’s always loved me too , but never in the way someone can love and without a physicaly attraction , perhaps if I go back in time when we shared some moments there was a possibility , but I don’t have any regrets , I’m actually a very mentally stable person , and I’m glad I did what I did, and said what I said at a time that suited me.

          To this day with remain great friends, and thats all we are. He’s happy engaged , and I am in a happy relationship myself.

    • http://tremblingh4nds.wordpress.com tremblingh4nds

      Reblogged this on comforting sounds.

    • some dude

      I can totally relate, Ryan. I fell in love with my best friend when I was 20. I realized that she and I could have been something great — a “power couple,” as some people would say. I professed my love for her three times over the years, I’m 24 now. Every time we would hang out, there was an unspeakable attraction. At least, I thought there was. After the first time I professed my love, the feelings and thoughts of a potential relationship subsided; however, they would come back over, and again. Being denied and trying to ignore the effects of something so intense such as love hurt, and, for a while, was disasterous. By the third time, I realized that it wasn’t meant to be. We both didn’t want to sacrifice our friendship. She even told me she didn’t want to sacrifice it. We’re still close friends to this day. In the end, I dated her cousin for a couple of months trying, and hoping, to somehow be in a relationship with a part of my best friend, even if it wasn’t her, her. After that awkward ordeal, I turned gay. The end.

    • Lauren

      I agree with this, but at the same time I told my best friend that I liked him and it went great for a tiny bit and then it basically blew up in my face. We haven’t talked since even though I’ve really tried and I’m still not over it. I wish I never said anything at this point…

    • Brillantes O. Pinyon

      Nice one!

      I love these lines:

      “In order for anything good to happen in your life, you have to be the one to propel it forward. You have to take care of yourself and not worry so much about what other people will say or think. You know what happens to people who never took chances or were always frozen in fear? They become a cat lady with a Xanax prescription.”

    • danielle c

      wow, this came at the perfect timing. i actually just told my best friend (who has a girlfriend) yesterday that i have feelings for him and couldn’t continue being his friend for now. this was exactly the reassurance i needed. thanks!

    • yourlovewillbesafewithme

      How timely this article was. I went for it last November. He said he never thought of me in that regard. Nothing changed. We were still best friends. Funny too, we became closer after this. But all the while I was in denial that I was alright with everything. It turned out I was not. My net happiness of still being friends with him and hoping that we can be together was negative. I was more miserable even I was contented being his friend. Almost 8 months after I confessed, of torture and self-loathing, I talked to him how I need to get away because I knew that my feelings and love would not be returned.

      This article was what I need. I cried myself to sleep for 4 days now. No matter how devastating my decision to end the friendship(albeit temporarily so I can remove all the romatic feelings for him), I did the right thing. Thanks Ryan.

    • rg818

      Oh man… this is EXACTLY what I’m going through right now. Wow. Thank you for writing this.

    • Erin

      Literally just ended a relationship with my best friend. And yeah, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. He felt the same way and it was wonderful, but he also moved across the country. We both don’t do long distance, so end of relationship. This was fantastic though. I didn’t tell him right away and it was torture. Thanks Ryan! :)

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