Friendships are a key component to our lives and help us grow emotionally and mentally. In all its beauty, the dynamic is essentially rooted in a specific concern and care for a friend. Most times it’s a concern and care which might reasonably be understood as a kind of love, though at times a broader set of concerns begin to form and branch out, ultimately blurring the two. With such progression, love and friendship get lumped together as a single topic as you both experience life together bringing some to question, “How do I tell my best friend I’m in love with them?”
Image Credit: Flickr/Lacejoy
When you’re best friends with someone and begin to feel a great love towards them, it’s not easy to deal with. It’s something that will bring forth a lot of thought and for good reason, as there’s a great inner fear of losing them, being rejected and the possibility of going down a path with unrequited feelings. Traveling from friend to lover is a road riddled with confusion and uncertainty. It’s not easy and though its a gradual process, falling in love with a friend is a big step. Depending on the friendship, it might twist into romantic love or it might even alter if things turn sour and unexpectedly head down an emotional affair.
One of the hardest steps might be the single one that tears you up inside, where you wonder if you should you tell your friend you love them. Feeling love towards another is like putting words to a sensation felt inside.
This week we hear from Grace of Spokane, Washington who is wondering if she should tell her best friend who she has known for years, that she is in love with him. Our team of writers share their advice with the confused Grace.
I’d say go for it! I know it’s scary to admit to a friend you have feelings for them, but it definitely sounds like you feel very strongly for this guy. You two are already close and care about each other. I think you can take a chance and be honest and open with him. Keep in my mind that if you do tell him it might be confusing for him, especially since he’s dating someone else, so try to be understanding if his response is not what you expect or if he needs time to think things over. In the end, I think it’s better to be honest and brave about these things because otherwise you might spend a lot of time in the future wondering what if…
It is odd that he didn’t tell you about his girlfriend. However, if he wanted to keep it a secret he wouldn’t have put it on his Facebook, right? Is it possible he just forgot to mention her or didn’t think it was that big of a deal? I say this because, at least with some of my guy friends, they just don’t put that much importance in their love lives and don’t rush to tell their friends about it like some of us do. Maybe his relationship is not that serious so he didn’t think of telling you? Or maybe it is serious and he didn’t tell you because he didn’t want to hurt you. Maybe he feels awkward about telling you because he knows there are some feelings between you two beyond a simple friendship.
My point is, you could spend your time stressing out or you could just talk to him about all these things and get some answers. I know it’s easier said than done but you’re lucky in the sense that you two care about each other and have a close relationship. It’s not like opening your heart to a random guy. You know he will be kind and honest with you. I wish you all the best, good luck!
This is not an easy situation to find yourself in, Grace. From the sounds of things you two were very close right up until the time he left for college. Perhaps, he felt that his leaving was almost sort of a natural break in your relationship? Were you two ever more than just friends? Other than the kissing of course. If you were, then I find this to be rather strange behavior.
If he felt like his leaving meant that it was time to move on, then I am unsure why he omitted to tell you that he was seeing someone. That sort of thing makes me think that he knew that you would be hurt by this, and that’s why he didn’t tell you. To me that sounds like he knows that you care about him already, and that he is either not in the same place as you are, or that he is afraid of changing the relationship you already have.
There are a couple of things you can do:
- Like Andrea said, you could go for it, and let him know how much he means to you. To be honest though, it sounds like he already knows how much you love him.
- Or you could sit back and let it bother you.
In all brutal honesty, I think you owe it to yourself to let him know how you feel; even if he does know it already, tell him to his face. Let him understand the love and the pain that you have been burdened with. At the very least you will be able to clear the air with him, and maybe allow yourself to move on from this. However, there is always the chance that he feels the same way, and maybe you two can be together.
None of this is easy. If you tell him it could scare him off and you could lose him forever, but is it really worth not saying anything and being in the pain you are in?
If it were me, I would say something…
Grace, I really feel for you. I’m a little on the fence with you telling him you love him. On one side of the situation, the part about him not discussing the girlfriend with you has me worried that perhaps he already knows how you feel and doesn’t want to lead you on. I don’t know why he wouldn’t tell you in the first place and it’s awful that you had to find out through Facebook of all places. Maybe he was afraid of losing you so he kept mum about it. I know some men who keep things like that to themselves out of fear of losing someone they genuinely care about, but considering your long friendship with him it should have been brought up.
Don’t you just hate when you love someone and they’re with someone else? It’s complete torture and watching it unfold is misery as you can’t show that side to him because you’re going to have to pretend like everything’s okay, when in reality it’s not. With that being said, on the other side of the situation I strongly agree with Andrea and Stephen and say go for it! Sure you might be risking a lot, but you really owe it to yourself to take a chance. You have to take care of yourself and what you’re feeling because in order for good things to take place in your life, you’re going to need to be the one to move forward and take that risk. Real love has never seen boundaries so take a chance because you never know how much more can blossom between you two. I truly believe there are a few people in this life that we really connect with and if you’ve found your “soul mate”, don’t let your fears get in the way of going after someone you love. It would be terrible throughout the course of your friendship to continuously wonder and keep thinking what if.
Love is all about being brave, about risk and putting your heart out there knowing that it’s not always going to be the way you want, but proves you were tough enough to truly express yourself. Not telling him though? That will be painful. It will eat you up and turn you into someone you’re not (ie. jealousy, anger, frustration, resentment, etc). It’s not always going to be like a movie or a fairy-tale where it goes the way we plan. You have to take control of your heart and remember that life is about moments and time, so let everything you do take its course. If he’s currently with this girlfriend and wants to stay with her, then let him. You must be the friend you always are to him. If it’s meant to be, you both will find your way back to one another. Through the friendship he will realize what more you truly mean to him and perhaps that will guide his own heart to you. You have to be prepared for if he doesn’t feel the same way towards you though. I hate to admit it, but that part is going to hurt a lot but I believe you will have to separate your love for him and your friendship towards him and just keep it at that. You can’t blur them. Be his friend through good and bad and love him the way you always do without expectations.
I really wish you luck and strength in this, Grace.
Grace, I have been in your shoes. I was head over heels in love with my best friend in high school but scared to tell him because he had a girlfriend and, well, I’m a guy. The entire thing ate me up for those two years and then I finally told him and found out that he had some feelings for me too.
In the end, we only dated for two months and had a bit of a falling out afterwards but we still talk now and I feel like I’m far better off having told him. My mind was preoccupied all the time and I was really depressed when I was keeping it all inside; and now I’ve been dating someone else for four years who I love and has helped me be a much more open, honest person.
That’s not to say that your relationship with him will take that kind of turn, but the point to my story was that even if things go sour after you tell him, you’ll be fine! I think Stephen and the ladies are right but I know it’s not that easy to just come out and say it, especially when they have a significant other. You’ll get to the point where you just need to put it out there and see what happens because you can’t keep feeling this way about him forever. Life’s too short to be obsessing over a person who doesn’t feel the same way about you!
Either way, I wish you the best of luck Grace and I hope things turn out in your favor but if they don’t, just remember that you’ll be okay! Everything is a learning experience so, win or lose, you’ll be better off knowing.
If you seek advice from our writers, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Perhaps your question will be featured in our next installment.
While our team of writers have given their advice with the best of intentions, they nor anyone of this site assume responsibility for your actions or the results of them.
Tags: andrea lozano, andrew rogers, best friends, featured, he said she said, stephen king, tania hussain
Watching her walk away, though, in her velvet slip-ons and wrinkled blouse, I felt a strange pang, a slow pin of sadness that I suppose could best be described as loneliness. Suddenly I was dashing into the dirt road to say that I was sorry, that she had caught me in the middle of work, but that, yes, I would enjoy seeing her garden.
“Not the gin and tonic?” she said.
“Sure, that too,” I answered, blushing. And before I could suggest a visit the next week, she said: “So I’ll see you in a few hours, then. Shall we say 4:30?”
I had to admire her sense of time. Next week is for someone who can afford to put things off. Austin, in her 80s, surely felt no such luxury.
“I liked your face,” she admitted later, telling me she had spotted me at the mailbox.
As she poured the gin, I told her I had seen her at the mailbox, as well, and liked her face, too.
“I wish I had better eyebrows,” she said. “They used to be fabulous.”
Her garden was astounding, like something dreamed rather than planted, a mad-hatter gothic in which a lawless grace prevailed.
At dusk, the deer arrived, nibbling the crab apple blossoms. We had been talking for hours, slightly tipsy, and then we were in the kitchen cooking dinner. A retired psychologist, Austin had traveled extensively, spoke terrible Spanish and worse French, and was a painter now. She had had two husbands, the second of whom died in this house, in a small bed in the living room.
“That’s what I’ll do,” Austin told me. “This room gets the best light.”
We turned to the windows, but the light was already gone. That we could be quiet together so soon, and without strain, felt auspicious.
“So you’ve run away from home?” she said at one point.
From the beginning, there was something about our interaction that reminded me of friendships from childhood, in which no question was off limits. On religion, she claimed to be an atheist. I admitted to being haunted by the ghosts of a Roman Catholic upbringing. She said her sisters believed in hell and worried about her soul. Austin, though, seemed afraid of nothing, least of all death. I said I was still afraid of the dark.
“Living alone,” she said. “It can make you funny.”
I laughed but changed the subject, telling her I would like to see her paintings.
Later, crossing the road back to my Craigslist sublet, I wondered what I was doing. I reminded myself of my plan: hiding out, staying in the dream of the book. I wasn’t here to socialize. After years of work on a single project, I was in the final stretch. I could finish a draft in a few months and head back home.
Besides, if I wanted a friend during my retreat, I would find someone my age to throw back beers with. Gin and tonics with an old lady in her garden? That wasn’t in the plan.
But there I was the next weekend having dinner with her, and then it was every weekend. Sometimes we went out to a restaurant or hiked in the mountains. Austin’s older friends seemed confused.
“Is he helping you with the computer?” one asked.
When I first started talking about Austin to my own out-of-town friends, they assumed I had found a new boyfriend.
“Austin’s a woman,” I would say. “Besides, she’s in her 80s. She’s just a pal.”
Even as they replied, “That’s cool,” I could almost hear them thinking: “Must be slim pickings out in Oregon.”
What was perplexing, I suppose, was not that two people of such different ages had become friends, but that we had essentially become best friends. Others regarded our devotion as either strange or quaint, like one of those unlikely animal friendships: a monkey and a pigeon, perhaps.
Admittedly, when I would spot us in a mirror, I saw how peculiar we were. This vivacious white-haired imp in her bright colors and chunk-style jewelry sitting with the dark-haired man in his drab earth-tone sweaters and Clark Kent glasses. Maybe I looked like some nerdy gigolo or this elegant woman’s attentive secretary. If we made no sense from the outside, it didn’t matter. We were mostly looking at each other.
One night, Austin chatted about her life as a middle-aged wife in academia. “I completely missed out on the wildness of the ’60s,” she said.
I told her I had missed out, too.
“You weren’t born yet,” she said. “Or hardly.”
Often we cooked together, as we had that first night, after which she would show me whatever painting she was working on. At her request, I also started reading to her from my book-in-progress. We gave each other feedback; our work improved.
When my six-month lease was up, I renewed it. The novel wasn’t finished. Plus, I couldn’t imagine a better neighbor.
Before I knew it, three years had passed. I was writing seven days a week and spending most evenings with Austin. Sometimes she had spells of vertigo now, and when we walked together she held my arm. Often she couldn’t find the right word for something. When she wanted to keep away visitors so she could paint, she hung a sign on her studio door: “Do not destroy.”
Soon the headaches came, and more jumbled language. “I need to screw my calls,” she said, meaning she needed to screen them.
We laughed, then sobered. Tests were scheduled.
Now she is eight months into what the doctors say is a quick-ravaging illness deep in her brain. They say there is no stopping it. A year more, if she’s lucky. Even as I refuse to believe this, I prepare for it.
How? By keeping my promise to her.
A few months before her diagnosis, Austin had attended a wedding. She showed me a copy of the vows, which had been distributed at the ceremony — a detailed list. I read it carefully, at Austin’s bidding. We were sitting in a car, waiting for our favorite Thai restaurant to open.
“I never had anything like that with the men in my life,” she said, pointing to the vows. “We loved each other, but we didn’t have that.” She was crying now, something she rarely did.
I took her hand and said, “Well, you have it with me. Everything but the sex.”
At which point, the monkey kissed the pigeon.
That night, I had an odd realization: Some of the greatest romances of my life have been friendships. And these friendships have been, in many ways, more mysterious than erotic love: more subtle, less selfish, more attuned to kindness.
Of course, Austin was going to die long before I did. That’s not what this is about. This, I have come to understand, is a love story.
Austin continued to paint for several months more, fractured, psychedelic self-portraits in scorching colors. Her best work. Lately, though, she is tired and hardly leaves the couch. I sit with her, at the opposite end, our legs intertwined.
“Read to me,” she says.
When I tell her the book is finished, she tells me to read her something new. But whenever I do, she promptly falls asleep.
I don’t leave, though. I stare out the window. Austin was right. This room does get the best light.
Recently her hair has thinned, but she has a shock of white up front that a friend’s daughter has dyed with a streak of fuchsia. She looks like some punk girl I might have dated in high school.
She had a bit more energy the last time I came to visit and said: “Oh, Victor, I had the most wonderful dessert yesterday. Peaches and Connecticut. Have you ever had it?”
“No,” I said, smiling.
I loved the idea of it. Two things that don’t seem to go together. Monkeys and pigeons. Peaches and Connecticut. Unlikely, yes — but delicious beyond measure.
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