Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My best friend is in love with me

Question:  My best friend recently told me she has feelings for me.  Not only that, she then proceeds to say that she’s in love with me! When she first told me, I told her that I don't feel that way back. I recently broke up with my girlfriend so I’m assuming she thought it would be a great opportunity to let me know how she feels. Unfortunately, I just don't like her like that and don't want to ruin our friendship.  Even though I don't feel the same way about her, I do value our friendship a lot. I still want to be friends with her (we've known each other for over 15 years) but I feel like things are so awkward between us now. Is there a way I can repair our friendship without leading her on? (Irvine, CA)

Social Shrink: What an awkward situation! That is what’s tricky when you are close friends with the opposite sex.  You have to give her credit for waiting until you broke up with your ex to tell you.  Remember how Julia Roberts told her best friend in "My Best Friend's Wedding" she loved him the day of his wedding?  That couldn't have been worse timing and all this drama ensued.  Although she poured her heart out to you and you didn't reciprocate those feelings, it doesn’t mean that your friendship can’t be repaired if the two of you work on it.

First things first: don’t brush off her feelings towards you as if you’re disgusted. Acknowledge her feelings and let her know that your friendship means too much to you to risk a relationship.  What if you two were to break up?  She should understand this scenario as it’s always hard to remain close friends after a break up.  Tell her that you love her – as a friend – and that you are so glad she felt comfortable enough to tell her how she feels.

Now that you set the record straight about how you feel, don’t expect things to go back right to how they were before.  Though it will take a while to get your friendship back to how it was, it can be done if you do a comfortable and timely transition back. Try just chatting with her online or on the phone for a while before hanging out with her in person.  This way, the comfort level can be based strictly on your conversation before meeting face-to-face. After awhile when you feel like you two are at a good place, try meeting up with her for lunch or events that are not “date-like” (i.e. avoid movies, dinners, etc. where she may be reminded of being a couple).  To summarize – you may feel awkward at first, but don’t avoid her!  That will ruin your friendship.

Things between you two are awkward for now, but it doesn't always have to be that way. Just make sure you are respectful towards her when you guys are out at bars/clubs and not making out with other girls in front of her until she is okay with you being in a relationship.  Keep her in the loop when you’re talking to other girls and ask her opinion.  Make her feel like she’s still valued as a friend.  Reassure her that you care for her as a friend – the more you remind her that you two are friends, the more the boundary will be clear to her.

Hope this helps.  What do others think, has anyone been in this situation?


  1. I disagree with the advice given on this one sorry, don't amplify the situation by changing, putting your relationship to a "less than before" status.

    Tell them you love them to but not in a sexual way, you have no interest in having children with them or anything else, they are more like a sister, and you are just simply not interested in that way. Then get on with your relationship.

  2. Umm...I disagree with the advice too. Sawry. :( Telling her that he values their friendship too much to risk a relationship is an outright lie. He just doesn't like her like that and he shouldn't insult her by telling her otherwise.

    He should be honest, tell her exactly how it is and assure her that he still wants to be friends. If he reduces their friendship to online and telephone chatting when it used to be a hang-out-all-the-time thing, it will make it 10x more awkward. Behave as he did before.

    I agree that he should be respectful of her feelings but keeping his dating life a big dirty secret until she feels comfortable with him being in a relationship is just crazy. After he's told her he's not interested, it's up to her to reconcile that in her own mind. There is no need for him to pussyfoot around her and there is certainly no need to tell her whenever he talks to a new girl. It is none of her business. As long as he's not deliberately shoving his conquests in her face, he is free to do whatever he wants.

  3. Hi PBScott and Cranky Canadian,
    While what you guys said is true, I know what it feels like to be in that girl's position. I realized I had feelings for my best friend (who is a guy) and told him. At first, I was extremely hurt because he didn't feel the same towards me when I thought he did, otherwise I wouldn't have said anything. The next day, he completely acted like nothing happened. We hung out like normal but it was like I never said anything at all! I did want things to go back to the way they were but he could have at least acknowledged the fact that I also have feelings for him. I think I would have at least felt better if he told me that I am a good friend and didn't want to ruin our friendship.
    I don't have those feelings for him anymore because eventually I got over it and now we are still friends (though not as close as we were before cause things became awkward) but I was very hurt and wish he did have more sensitivity towards me, even if it is just as a friend.