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?”
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
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
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
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
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”
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
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.
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