The best thing about falling in love with a friend is finding out that the friend feels the same way about you. But what if they don’t? It would heartbreaking.
Here are three steps you should follow if you’ve fallen in love with a friend:
- Analyze your feelings to be certain they’re valid.
Having romantic feelings toward a friend is confusing. Questions buzz around inside your head: “What am I feeling? Is it true love, or is it just a crush?” You must be sure that what you’re feeling is love before you start thinking about if you want to try to escalate your friendship into a romantic relationship. Make sure that you’re not misinterpreting your friend’s care for you because you’re risking your friendship.
- Discuss your feelings with somebody else.
Choose another friend or a family member whom you trust. Tell them about what you’re feeling, and ask for advice about what you should do. It’s better if this person has gone through a similar situation. Nobody can fully understand what you’re feeling, but someone with a similar experience has successfully navigated the difficulties.
- Distance yourself for a while.
Putting space between you and your crush doesn’t mean that you must completely block or ignore the person. This space will protect you as you consider your feelings, without completely cutting your friend out of your life. Intentionally taking some time apart will help you process your feelings and shift your focus onto other things about yourself.
Eventually, you need to talk to your friend about your feelings. It will be difficult, but it’s the best approach. Express your feelings, but you should strive to preserve your friendship and maintain the way you’ve always treated each other. Your romantic feelings shouldn’t destroy your bond of friendship.
But what if you discover that your love is unrequited—that is, your friend doesn’t love you romantically? Unrequited love feels like a nightmare from which you can’t wake up. And what will happen to your friendship? What if you completely lose the person as a friend?
Handling this kind of pain is an endurance test. You may feel as though you’re the only one who’s ever faced a challenge like this, but many people have gone through it before. Shattering your friendship built over time would be far more heartbreaking than being romantically rejected.
Here are some tips to help you get over your crush on your friend:
- Don’t condemn yourself.
If you’re hurting, you’ll start placing all fault in the situation on yourself. You’ll start having insecurities and doubts, and you’ll tend to criticize yourself because the friend doesn’t romantically love you back. You may even persuade yourself to believe that you aren’t worthy of maintaining your friendship with the person, even if you’ve been friends for a long time. Know that nobody’s to blame—not your friend, and certainly not you.
- Give yourself time to grieve.
Loving somebody who doesn’t love you back is heartbreaking. The pain of unrequited love for a friend is even more intense. What you feel is genuine. You’ve spent a lot of time together, and you share a lot of good memories. The best thing to do is to let yourself feel the pain. Scream and cry if you have to. Let the emotions that you’ve kept secret for so long pour out of you. It’s normal to be upset, so don’t let anybody try to stop you. You’re the only one who knows how you truly feel inside.
- Focus on yourself.
Distract yourself from the pain and do some of the things you enjoy most. This will allow you time to breathe in the midst of heartbreak. You’ll have more me-time, on your hands, so use it to learn to love yourself more. Explore a new hobby, or travel somewhere you’ve been eager to go. Turn the difficult experience into a lesson, and take steps toward becoming a better version of yourself.
- Make more friends.
Overcoming unrequited love toward your friend will be easier if you meet some new people and make some new friends. This will get your mind off of your broken heart, and help you understand that your friendship circle isn’t restricted to that one person. Building friendships with others will reduce the intensity of your attachment, and give you a wider circle of people to rely on and socialize with.
- Accept the relationship for what it is.
Acceptance is the most critical thing to do. It’s also the toughest. You have to accept that your friendship with each other will only ever be a friendship. Since you developed romantic feelings toward your friend, it’s helpful to set boundaries in order to protect your future self from getting hurt in this way again. Respect the boundaries between you to avoid crossing the line, which would interfere with your healing process.
- Believe that there’s someone else meant for you.
There is someone out there who’s destined to be with you. It may not yet be time for you to meet. But eventually, you will. Your current heartbreak will help you to learn that positive things are included in every rejection and failure. And when you meet the partner who’s meant for you, you’ll be grateful for what you learned.
Love isn’t only about you and your happiness. It includes being happy for the person you love, even if you’re not the one they love. If your friend doesn’t want to level up your friendship, you need to respect that. Love is a process of give and take. But you can’t force somebody to return the love you give. Not all things work out how we want them to. The pain you’re feeling will fade, and you will move on. Everything has a purpose, and things will work out for the best.