What To Do When You’re Stuck as “The Friend”

I’ve liked my best friend for a long time…like 2 years. We’re both single but I don’t know if he likes me like that. We’ve gone to dances together but always as friends. Nothing’s ever happened but we’ve talked about who we like to eachother in the past but since school started he hasn’t talked to me about any other girls. Do you think he could like me? Do you think I should tell him I like him? I can’t stop liking him. Trust me. I’ve tried. So I don’t know how to deal with this cuz I’m closer to him than anyone. I don’t wanna lose our friendship but its hard being just his friend when I like him so much. I don’t know why but I always end up being the friend with guys.

-The Friend

I’ve experienced what you’re going through with two different close guy friends. In one instance, I liked my friend off and on for a couple years. When we were seniors in high school he laughingly said, “Remember when I liked you and you shot me down?” Of course I was shocked, and the funniest part was that we had both interpreted this one time a few years back as “a moment” in which he tried to go in for a kiss but I turned away. At the time, I’d be ridiculously nervous and didn’t think that he was actually leaning in or anything, but it did seem like we had “a moment.” I was so worried about being rejected and ruining our friendship, that I refused to see the signs that he liked me. In the end, we did date but only briefly and it didn’t end well. It turned out he was a great friend but a lousy boyfriend. He was quick to admit as much and since we had so much history, we became friends again and still talk once in a while.

The other situation was my freshman year of college. I finally told my best guy friend that I liked him, but it was done in the worst possible way. I unintentionally spilled it on the phone while he was talking about how great his girlfriend was. I was jealous of her (even though I really liked her as a person). It could’ve all spiraled out of control from there, but instead I felt incredibly relieved. He said he already figured I liked him and that it wasn’t a big deal. It was a little awkward for about a month, but he told me it wouldn’t ruin our friendship and he was right. I later realized that he was not the right guy for me and never had been. He has a lot of great qualities, which I knew I wanted in a boyfriend, but our interests were taking us in totally different directions and I never stopped to see that because I didn’t want to. I think there’s also something really comforting about the idea of getting to be best friends with a guy before becoming romantically involved. You already know you can count on him, laugh with him, talk about anything, etc. It feels a little safer than handing your heart over to some cute guy you’re still getting to know.

So, my advice to you is this: if you can’t let go of your feelings then tell him. Tell him now before you get jealous of his next girlfriend. He will inevitably date someone else if neither one of you makes a move, and so will you if you’re willing to bury your feelings and go after a different guy.

It’s terrifying to expose your heart, and you can’t know how it’s going to go. I can’t tell you if he likes you because I’m not inside his head. But right now you are stuck, so you have to do something so that you can move in a different direction.

No matter what, you will grow from this as I did. Both experiences taught me more about myself and what I want and don’t want in a significant other. It took two experiences of being “the friend” to realize that by not doing anything about my feelings for so long, I was holding onto that dreaded friend label like a security blanket. While it’s a crappy position to be in, it’s safer than taking that scary risk, and I chose to keep that up. I ended up seeing myself as just the friend in many situations, doubting that guys could be attracted to me if I really liked them, assuming I’d end up the friend every time. I had to fix the way I looked at myself. By working on my own issues, I started noticing that guys were noticing me and were interested in me as more than a friend. I hope that you can experience a similar learning curve, but it’s all up to you.

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