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When He Just Wants To Be Friends, But You Want More...

Of course, he loves you. But what if you want more than he does? Then what?

What About Your Friends?

Lord. If this wasn't, once upon a time, the story of my life, I honestly don't know what is. I'll start with this sordid lil' tale. My last pregnancy was with a guy who I was besties with. Although initially, I didn't have feelings for him, once they started to grow, I accepted that they weren't going anywhere. So, I told him what's up. After I did, I remember him saying to me, "I'm in love with you, and I don't want to be." Sis, if a man tells you something even remotely similar to this—RUN! The only thing worse than not having your feelings reciprocated is sharing feelings with someone who is fighting them, and you, at every turn. Trust me.

My last relationship was with someone I was also close friends with. He loved me so much that I tried to convince myself that I felt the same way. All it ended up doing was wasting a lot of time and ultimately ending our friendship. So yeah, to me, these two examples alone are enough of a reason to explore the topic of what any woman should do if she has strong feelings for a friend while her friend loves her too—just differently.

If this is the exact state that you are currently in, although finding a balance to it all can be a little tricky, it's my hope that the bumps and bruises that I encountered from my own experiences with help you to deal with your own; that way, you can process your emotions in a healthy way so that your friendship can remain intact. Why? Because, if he's a true friend, while he may not be reciprocating the kind of love that you wish to receive from him, it would be a shame to sabotage the love—even if it's only platonic love—that the two of you already share.

1. Ask Yourself: “Have I Always Had Feelings for Him?”

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Personally, I'm not the individual who thinks that it's impossible for men and women to be "just friends". But what I do know is a lot of people will go into opposite sex dynamics as a form of settling. What I mean by that is Person A will know, straight out of the gate, that they want more than a platonic situation, but since Person B isn't giving off that same kind of vibe, Person A will push their feelings aside thinking that something is better than nothing. Or that the person will change their mind over time.

There are a few problems with this type of strategy. One, it's never healthy or productive to deny your own feelings. Two, to go into a friendship like that is operating from a place of dishonesty—both to you as well as to him. And three, there's a pretty good chance that as you grow closer to him, the feelings will only get stronger and will eventually come to the surface. And the thing is, him not feeling the same way as you do won't be his fault, even if you're tempted to think so. He didn't have all of the puzzle pieces to begin with. Now that he does, it could change the entire picture overall.

So yeah, if you're into a friend who isn't into you "like that", go all the way back to the beginning. Have things been a little "off", on the "keepin' it 100" tip, since day one? As far as your feelings are concerned, were things ever strictly platonic?

2. Figure Out What YOU Want

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Again, as someone who owns a few T-shirts in this department, what I think is probably the trickiest thing about having feelings for a friend is trying to find the balance between preserving the friendship without putting your own needs on the backburner. That said, once you are able to answer the question that I just posed, it's time to decide what you want.

This point is two-fold. First, what do you want, in general and then, what do you want with/from him? Just so that there's no confusion, let me break this point down even more. Is a part of the reason why you're so into your friend is because you're sick of being single and you think he is a viable candidate? Or is it that you were just fine with your life until you realized that you wanted him to play a deeper role in it?

I promise you, the answer to what I just posed will help to bring clarity. I say that because if it's more about being ready for a relationship and he's not interested, it just sets you up to focus your attention elsewhere. But if who you desire is him and him alone, I'll be honest—you'll get through your emotions with time, but there will be a few bumps in the road along the way. Mostly because you'll have to figure out how to maintain a friendship with someone you want more from. And just how do you do that?

3. Keep “Outside Voices” to a Minimum

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First, you're probably going to be tempted to call every girlfriend and guy friend that you have to get their perspectives. It's understandable that you would want to do that, but from the very bottom of my heart, please don't (one or two is fine; but not the masses). Having feelings for a friend is already "layered enough" without you throwing more opinions into the mix. Not only that but, based on what each person thinks about him and your friendship with him, that could either bring you up really high or take you down really low.

Besides, we typically look for advice either to get someone to co-sign on what we think (that's another message for another time) or because we don't know what to do. And when it comes to this particular kind of situation, I can already recommend how you should handle it. You need to tell him.

If the two of you are for-real-for-real friends, you're not going to be able to hide how you feel forever. And why should you want to? The two of you are close enough that you can—and should—be totally transparent. Anything less than that is living a lie.

4. Fess Up—Tell Him What’s Up

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Straight up, this is the hardest part. Well, actually I take that back. It might be. It all depends on how close the two of you are and the kind of character that he has. If he's a good man by nature—and hopefully he should be; otherwise, why are you even friends with him?—being straight up with him about your feelings may catch him off guard, but if he truly cares about you, he will be gentle with your heart; even if the feelings can't be reciprocated.

Just make sure that you do it face-to-face (body language speaks volumes) and that you are as candid as possible. Then listen, really listen, to what he has to say. While it may not be what you want to hear, he may drop some gems that can be helpful in ways that you never would've predicted. After all, he is your friend. Friends have a tendency to do that.

5. Don’t Penalize Him for Feeling Differently Than You Do

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Some of us bring a lot of ego into our love for other people. What I mean by that is, just because we may feel a certain way for someone, that doesn't mean that they owe us reciprocation. It also doesn't mean that they are stupid for not feeling the same way or they are somehow blind to how good we are. More times than not, it simply means that they don't feel the same way. Over and out.

And here's the thing. Although the reality of that may sting a bit, if he is really and truly your friend, don't you want him to be with someone who he desires to be with? Don't you want him to be happy? Deeper than that, if you are your own friend, don't you want to be with someone who is just as excited about the idea of being with you as you are about being with them?

Your friend is in your life for a reason; that is clear. But if it's for no other reason than friendship, you're human. Grieve that for a season. Just try and not be so "in your feelings" (or ego) that you end up sabotaging the friendship—all because you wanted it to be more than that.

6. Know That This Is a Different Kind of “Rejection”

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A wise person once said, "Never chase anyone. A person who appreciates you will walk with you." When you have feelings for someone who didn't start off as being a close friend, sometimes the best way to get over them is to move on. But please don't do this with a true friend. Even if he has no intentions of romantically walking by your side, to some extent, he has been doing it the entire time, right? And if he's being just as honest with you as you are with him, he's "rejection" is opening up the way for the one you're supposed to be with to come into your life.

Look at it this way—just by the two of you being friends with one another, he sees the good. Don't punish him for valuing you differently by distancing yourself from him and the friendship. Good friends are hard to come by. The longer you live on this planet, the realer that statement becomes.

7. Preserve the Friendship

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There's a guy in my life who, I have such a unique connection with, that he wrote an entire song about it. It's basically talking about how it's hard to define exactly what we've got going on between us. I agree. In fact, what I typically tell people is, "If he doesn't end up being the father of my child, he'll be the godfather." In a weird yet very relevant way, I totally find comfort in that.

That said, my disclaimer before bringing this article to an end is that I definitely don't want you to take this out of context and/or negate everything that I just shared with you. But any spouse (who is in a healthy marriage), relationship counselor or coach will tell you that the best marriages have friendship as the foundation. When it comes to two of my friends, although they were besties for years, the now-husband wasn't feeling the wife while she was secretly carrying a torch for him for over a decade. The combination of timing and personal evolution resulted in him ultimately seeing her in a different light. They've got 18 years of marriage underneath their belt now.

Again, the moral to this little story is not that you should put your life on hold while hoping that your friend will "get it together". Actually, what I'm trying to convey is basically the Arabic proverb that says, "What is destined will reach you, even if it is underneath two mountains. What is not destined will not reach you, even if it is between your two lips."

You feel what you feel. Don't force yourself to stop. Just know that fires that aren't stoked tend to fade out on their own. In the meantime, nurture what the two of you do have—your friendship. If it's the foundation for more, as DeBarge used to sing, "Time Will Reveal". If he's ultimately supposed to be the best man (on your side) at your wedding instead of the groom—well, that means there was someone better out here for you. That's cool too; you'll have your close male friend and your life partner. Both in your life, loving you, in their own special way.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Like, Love & In Love: How To Really Know The Differences

What If You Love Someone You Can't Have?

Are You In Love Or Are You In Need?

10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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This article is in partnership with Staples.

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