Love & Relationships

You're Catching Feelings For Your Guy Friend. Now What?

Let me just start this all off by saying that I will never be the kind of person who thinks that men and women can’t be friends (or that single people and married people can’t be friends). Choosing friends is about looking into someone’s character and how they complement your life; it should never be about their gender or relational status. Don’t get it twisted, though — in order to properly navigate the dynamic between a man and a woman, there are some things that should be pondered and then discussed.

For instance, is the relationship truly platonic? Even though our culture has reduced that word to simply mean that two people are friends and nothing more, the actual definition is that BOTH individuals do not have any type of sexual interest or attraction at all; that only a spiritual kind of love exists. Is that possible? I have a few male friends where that word applies. I won’t lie, though — most of my (unmarried) male friends are more in the lane of, “You could get it. We just value the friendship too much to explore it”…and no, it hasn’t been “game” whenever they’ve brought it up.

Contrary to the notoriously toxic belief of so many folks out here, not every man has coochie on the brain 24/7 and/or lacks self-control and/or is willing to risk it all in order to get some. In fact, not one man in my life is even remotely that shallow.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t get that the line between just friends and possibly more isn’t a tightrope for some friendships from time to time. Like, what happens if the person who ends up “with a little extra,” as far as emotions go for a friend, ends up being you? Even further, what if that question isn’t even close to being rhetorical because it’s something that you’re experiencing right at this very moment, and you’re not exactly sure what you should do about it?

If that’s the case, have no fear. I think I might be able to offer up a bit of insight that can get you through the (potential) internal stress of what happens when you look up one day and it really does seem like, out of nowhere, you suddenly want your guy friend to become something…more.

What Kind of Friendship Is It?


So before we talk about anything else, the first thing that you should get clear on is the type of friendship that you’re in. What I mean by that is, although we tend to use “friend” to cover all of the bases of someone who we’re not romantically involved with (or isn’t a relative or we can’t stand — and chile,don’t even get me started on frenemies), the reality is that friendships definitely have levels to them (check out “Always Remember That Friendships Have 'Levels' To Them”).

Like,is he a work friend? Is he a church friend? Is he someone you’ve recently gotten to know over the past couple of months? Is he an online friend? Or is it deeper, like a guy who you’ve been friends with for a couple of years now or someone who you used to have in the friend zone (check out “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.”)? Or — and lawd have mercy, if so — is he your best friend, and you’re starting to see him in a completely different light?

Do you see how, just breaking down some of these friendship dynamics, the situations are quite different? For instance, if you have feelings for a co-worker friend, you’ve got to take into consideration what your work environment will be like if the two of you date and it ultimately doesn’t work out. If he’s an online friend (especially if he’s in another city, state, or country), the risk of potential rejection probably won’t be as impactful as if you have to see him every weekend at church.

If he’s someone you already put into the friend zone, I’m gonna tell you right now that if he has any sort of self-esteem, you’re gonna have to eat a few slices of humble pie to get him to entertain being more than friends (because guys tend to move on once they find out that they fall into that space). And if he’s your best friend? Well, while it probably won’t cost you your friendship, it could make things awkward for a while at best or shift the relationship a bit at worst.

That’s why I definitely think that getting real about the kind of friendship you have with the guy is what you should get mentally cleared up first. Then, we can move on to the next thing.

What Do You Want to Come from the Matter?


Anyway, because I do have a nice circle of male friends, many of whom are single or divorced, I get asked often if it’s hard to be just friends with them. It’s not because I really like what we have as being friends only. There is a type of intimacy and balance of energies that come from a male-female friendship that you can never get from same-sex ones. I value it all too much to risk it. What I want from my male friends — a certain level of protection (because I’m single), insight from a male perspective, doing things that my female friends may not want to do, etc. — I get…and that’s worth more than seeing if the sex would be bomb or if we should try something more and it end up being a bad decision that we can’t come back from.

That’s me, though. That doesn’t have to be you and your guy friend. For example, what if what you want is to explore a sexual relationship (check out “5 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Having Sex with A Friend”) because you can’t seem to get sex with him out of your head? For better or for worse, chile, back when I was out in these sex streets, that was pretty much my pattern: sex with close friends (check out “14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners”), and it’s not an impossible feat.

You’ve just got to be real with yourself about whether that’s truly all that you want and if you can handle it gracefully if things don’t go as planned (check out “How To Preserve Your Friendship After BAD Casual Sex”) or the sex is so good that now you can’t decide if you’re into him or just into…it. Oh, and don’t even get me started on if he’s seeing other people (because all you wanted was sex…right?). Yeah, a movie that I like calledSleeping with Other People has a scene where a woman is mad that her casual sex partner is sleeping around. His response was on-point: “Keeping our arrangement doesn’t make me an as-hole, but it does make you a liar.” #checkmate

That’s just one example to emphasize the point that, yes, you need to figure out what you want to come from your more-than-just-friends feelings. Do you just want to get it off of your chest and you’re not sure if you want or need to do anything more than that? Do you want just sex? Would you like to go on a few dates to see ifthe chemistry is mutual? Are you “deeply in” and you’re hoping that he feels the same way so that you two can have a full-blown relationship?

Listen, I have watched enough relationships in my lifetime to know that when it comes to something that needs to be as thoughtfully approached as this, it’s not fair to share your feelings with someone and then expect them to know what you want to come from doing so. You need to know…first. So before bringing it to him, figure it out on your own.

Tell Him the Deal. No Hinting Around.


Although timing and delivery matter, I don’t know one man who isn’t a “straight no-chaser” type of individual. This means no hinting around. No guessing games. No 50 million questions to try and see if he likes you first. I promise you that all of these approaches are off-putting to guys and will get them to mentally and emotionally tap out before you get around to making your point. Besides, if he’s a FRIEND friend, you should be able to express your genuine feelings — and honestly, this is a huge plus to telling him: you will be able to see how mature he is when it comes to handling matters of the heart.

Can there be a reason to not tell your guy friend how you feel? I mean, honestly, if you’re avoiding it, I’m assuming that it’s mostly due to fear, and trying to maintain anything with fear as your “fuel,” ultimately, isn’t going to get you anywhere. Plus, the more that you suppress what is going on inside of you, the more it’s going to alter the energy between the two of you, and that could cause unnecessary stress and strain to where either you start unnecessarily projecting things onto him, or he wants to spend less time around you because you’re making him feel as uncomfortable as you are.

Are there any exceptions to this? Eh. If you’re more like good acquaintances than actual friends, perhaps. Personally, though, I think that solid friendships are rooted in honesty — and how can you claim that you’ve got a healthy friendship with someone if you’re holding something as big back as having feelings for them away from them? Logically, it just doesn’t make much sense.

Prepare Yourself for His Response. And Don’t Penalize the Friendship If He Doesn’t Feel the Same Way.


Once you tell him, for the most part, there are three ways that telling him can go: he can like you back, he can want some time and space to consider the possibilities, or he can not be interested. Let’s briefly unpack all three.

Liking you back...

So, what if you tell him how you feel, and he feels the same way (or something close)? My two cents would be for the two of you to still go slowly. Where I’ve seen many mess up is they think that they can go from friend to more-than-friends in two days or less, and that’s super unrealistic. Meaning, someone having feelings for you, too doesn't mean that they can, should, or will automatically stop seeing other people or that you two can or should immediately start becoming intimate.

Take some time to really discuss each other’s feelings, thoughts, and expectations — and what you guys should do trying to move into a different relational space ultimately proves to not be the best thing for one or both of you. If anything should take the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” approach, it’s friends who are transitioning into something more — or else.

Wanting time and space...

Going from friends to potentially something different is a lot like shifting gears in a car — and if you move too fast, you can strip them. That said, just because you’ve been sitting with your feelings for a while, it’s not fair to want to rush him after he finds out. Whether he wants time and space to figure out how he feels about your feelings or time and space from you altogether — both are warranted.

Should it be for weeks with no contact? Not if he’s a good friend. On the other hand, should you pressure him into making you feel at ease about what he’s just now learning? Eh. You might want to go to another friend to help you out with that. I mean, how would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot? Right…exactly.

He's not interested...

No one likes rejection; that’s real. At the same time, though, it’s not fair to penalize him if he doesn’t feel the same way that you do. Clearly, if he’s your friend (especially a close friend), he adores and values you on some level. However, if that’s not romantically, try and be emotionally mature enough to know and then accept that not wanting all of what you desire from the relationship doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want you in his life at all.

At the end of the day, if it’s too hard to be his friend when you want something else, you’ve got to do what’s best for you. Just make sure that you’re not going to lose a great person in your life because your ego got bruised or your pride couldn’t handle him not reciprocating what you were offering. It’s not fair, and it could end up costing you…A LOT. Take the kind of space you need to redirect your focus. If he loves you, he’ll be there when you get…back.


I’ve developed feelings for a friend before; more than once. Was it always easy to work through? Not always. My friendships always survived it, though — whether the feelings were reciprocated or not. And it was because we valued the friendship too much to lose it.

And honestly, I think that is one of the best things to come out of having feelings for a friend: you end up finding out just how solid the bond actually is. And in a world where really good friends are hard to come by…that can never not be a good thing.

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This article is in partnership with SheaMoisture

Skylar Marshai is known for her extravagant style, and her hair is no exception. But now, she’s giving her hair a break and focusing on hair care with SheaMoisture’s Bond Repair Collection. “I feel like my hair has always been an extension of my storytelling because I know it's so innately linked to my self-expression that I've been thinking a lot about how my love for crafting my hair into these different forms and shapes has honestly never given it a chance to just be,” Skylar explains.

Gail Bean

When I was a child, one of my favorite pastimes was theater. There was something so fulfilling about being on stage and connecting with the talented individuals breathing life into characters and stories. So naturally, I entered college as a theater major, hopeful of creating more of these moments; I ended up switching later on. However, the love for the craft never left, and my respect for actors only grew. And every now and then, I watch a movie or television show, come across a new actor, and think to myself, ‘Ooh, you can tell they’re for real about this.’ This background brings me to the present and our conversation with NAACP award-winning actress Gail Bean.