I Have a Crush on My Friend. How Can I Tell Him?

How do you tell a friend you’ve known for years and never considered as a potential mate that you have changed your mind? Reality is, as I’ve evolved and grown, I realize that he is absolutely amazing.

Thanks, Anna

Dear Anna,

Good for you that you’ve evolved and grown to appreciate a man that you’ve never before considered as a potential mate. The only issue standing between you and eternal happiness is this minor one: does this guy think that YOU are absolutely amazing and a potential mate?

If not, this might be an ill-fated love affair.

The only issue standing between you and eternal happiness is this minor one: does this guy think that YOU are absolutely amazing and a potential mate?

Your email is short on information, so I’m left to extrapolate based on my experience as a dating coach. But one thing I can say definitively is this: if this man once had a crush on you and you turned him down because he wasn’t your type, you have a MUCH better chance of entering into a relationship with him. Men, especially nice guys, often stay “friends” with women in hopes of some miraculous situation like yours, where one day, you wake up and realize that the love of her life is right under your nose. (Don’t hold your breath, nice guys, women still tend to prefer the cocky unavailable types.)

On the other hand, if you’ve never had any indication that your friend has had any romantic interest in you before, what makes you think he might be interested in you? Because you’re interested in him? Sorry, but there’s no correlation. Unless he’s a super shy guy who doesn’t understand what every man has been taught since he’s 10 years old – men ask out women – my reflexive reaction is to wonder why he hasn’t ever made a move on you in all of your years as friends? My guess is not that he “didn’t want to ruin the friendship” but rather that he wasn’t attracted to you in “that way.” So, to me, the future of your crush isn’t really at all dependent on how you tell your friend, Anna. It’s dependent entirely upon whether he’s been holding a torch for you for all these years. If he has been, you’re in luck. If not, prepare to have a very, very awkward conversation with your close friend. Either way, I recommend you do it under the influence of alcohol.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Marc

    Also, don't confuse his potential sexual interest with anything romantic.  Just because he does you after you proclaim your love for him, doesn't necessarily mean he wants you. It's hard for guys to say no to sex when it's handed to us on a silver platter. I'd say that if you never got any vibe from him that he was interested romantically, best to keep your feelings secret.
     

  2. 2
    Selena

    I like Evan's suggestion of having alcohol involved. :)
    Really though Anna you don't have to make a big production out of it – one night when you're sitting around talking (with or without wine) just casually ask him if he ever thought about the two of you together. See what he says.
    It could be he never pursued anything with you because the timing sucked. You were into someone else, or getting over them, or he was.  Or he thought you would never consider him as anything but a friend because you had been "just friends" for so long. He might be open to the idea if you bring it up first.
     
    Happened to me. 

  3. 3
    Karl R

    Anna,
    I would say you need to be prepared for the possibility that he's not interested. However, if I were in your position, I would mentally prepare myself for that possibility, then broach the topic. I'm not willing to pass up the chance for a relationship with an amazing person just because I might get rejected.
     
    Selena said: (#2)
    "you don't have to make a big production out of it – one night when you're sitting around talking (with or without wine) just casually ask him if he ever thought about the two of you together. See what he says."
     
    I agree completely. I would strongly recommend against making a big production out of it. If you keep it low key, then he'll probably feel comfortable remaining friends even if he's not interested.

  4. 4
    JC

    I once told a good friend that I liked him, and his response was he liked me back like a friend, like a sister, etc.  Although we maintained our friendship, but it wasn't the same since.  Our friendship seemed distance and awkward.   I certainly felt like I lost my best friend in the process.  So, good luck Anna!

  5. 5
    Luxe

    Either way, I recommend you do it under the influence of alcohol.
     
    LOL!! God I wish I wasn't allergic to alcohol sometimes. Damn genes! ;)  I agree, you need to feel it out to see if he had any interest in you before. I'd probably make some sort of silly light hearted joke out of it and see how he responds. But I'm not that smooth ;) I don't have a lot of guy friends, but don't most have had some interest at some point with their female friends?

  6. 6
    IamDavid

    Just tell him casually that you like him and if he ever thought of you two as anything more. Just be prepared that he may not be interested in you and it may adversely effect your friendship. With that said, Evan is right in the sense that if a guy likes you, you would have already picked up that vibe, and Marc is right in that he may be sexually interested in you, but that won't necessarily correlate into him being romantically interested in you.

  7. 7
    Jane

    Nothing ventured nothing gained.  Sometimes our minds are closed until a new idea or vision arrives….. or is presented…  and then, all of a sudden, a whole new way of seeing presents itself.  Ask gently as has been suggested and give him time to sit with the idea and open his mind to seeing you differently.  
    Just don't ask with a whole list of answers in your mind that are what you want to hear.   Be open.  This may be the most zen thing you have ever done!!! 

  8. 8
    Lulubell

    Since having the actual "talk" can be awkward, I suggest trying some new body language first. Just touch him more on the hand, arm or shoulder when you talk…hold your eye contact a little longer, and then see if he returns the change in "atmosphere." I have to admit that this is just a guess…I have never done this in your particular circumstance. But I try to do these things on a conscious level with a new guy that I am interested in dating, as a way to move things forward.  Good luck to you, and I am interested what Evan thinks of this idea….

  9. 9
    Christian Internet Dating

    Being friend for a long time does give you a feeling of togetherness and girls usually start thinking on the terms of living with this best buddy happily ever after. But that might not be a case for guys. They are not always very serious about marriage with the best buddy and are more on the friendly terms. I would say girls become more emotionally attached. In this scenario, you might want to ask him of his future plans on the girl he might want to settle with. What qualities is he looking for in his girl and how long he plans to remain single. That might give you a hint of his choice and opinion for you.

  10. 10
    Annie Gleason, Midlife dating coach

    My fiance and I knew each other for 20 years before our first date. We moved from platonic friends to lovers through a combination of body language and increasingly romantic-centered conversations.

    Conversations, which occurred over a period of a couple of months, included asking what was currently going on in our respective romantic lives, what we were looking for, what each of us found attractive in the opposite sex, and what our romantic ethics were and how they had evolved over the years. And more, but you get the idea–bringing the concept of romance into the friendship.

    Body language included longer hugs goodbye, more touching–like Lulubell describes, and as we got closer, teeny pecks on the cheek or neck goodbye. Longer hugs apparently sent a very clear message–especially on a tricky night when another man who was interested in me was paying a lot of attention at a dance we were attending.

    Good luck!

  11. 11
    Parker Lee | howtomingle.com

    Either way, I recommend you do it under the influence of alcohol–Marc

    Ha ha.. that’s damn funny Marc! Very good advice, I found your site through Marry’s book. I thoroughly enjoy your take in the book and am definitely a fan of your blog now.

    Excited to read more of you!

    –Parker

  12. 12
    Parker Lee | howtomingle.com

    What’s wrong with me, I meant Lori’s book. not Marry *arrghh! my mistake

  13. 13
    Bill

    I have to second Annie’s thoughts (#10) on this – to put it simply, FLIRT with the guy! Do what you lovely ladies do when you’re interested in a guy.

    Ok, some more direct advice. Like everyone so far, I agree with low key. Like Annie, I too found my “keeper” in a friend I’ve known for years (across marriages/divorces/boyfriends/girlfriends), and never thought of her “that way”. I’d always thought she was attractive, but neither of us felt a connection, until we started talking often when both of us were single again, and needed an ally from “the other side”. During those conversations we talked about everything under the sun, openly and honestly, because neither of us had an agenda – we were just two friends talking. She discovered my priorities in women, and I discovered how deeply she had thought about relationships. We were both surprised.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, start exploring what he’s looking for in women-ask him what he finds most important in a woman, and what he won’t tolerate, but in a fun, light way. Don’t think of it as interrogating, but that you’re curious about what he likes/dislikes. Along the way express your priorities/likes/dislikes. Just discuss this stuff as friends do, and find out if you both are on the same page, values-wise.

    If you happen to share common values, those conversations may be enough to get his attention. If he’s still not realizing it, then you can (as Annie points out) let your body language do some communicating for you!

    Most of all, don’t stress about it. Just look at it as you know a guy who seems like good dating potential, so you’re going to explore his and your values. You’ll express your interest in him in a natural (not forced) fashion. If he bites, great! If not, maybe he’s just not feeling that for you. Keeping him as a friend is up to you-shrugging off any rejection will be key.

    Best of luck!

  14. 14
    Adult Casual Contacts

    Ok, I also had a crush many years ago with my best friend and when I say best friends I really mean soul mate friends.I knew he didn’t want me (we were 17 years old) but I couldn’t live without telling her, I just loved her so much.I decided to tell her knowing that he was so mature and even though he didn’t want me, I was sure that this confession wouldn’t ruin our friendship.So I told her, he was in shock but I said to him that I knew that he didn’t want us to have an affair and that the reason that made me tell him, was the fact that I couldn’t hold it any longer.Luckily this didn’t ruin our friendship and guess what?After 2 years of me telling him and while still being best friends, we fell for each other and after all these years we are still together.

  15. 15
    allie

    think twice or a hundred times before you say something romantic to your friend, you don’t want to lose a friend just because you blurted out your feelings to him. test the waters as evan said, if he hadn’t expressed any romantic love for you then why bother telling. but if you already have decided on this then go ahead, anyways, the last decision is yours. goodluck!

  16. 16
    Demi

    “…if this man once had a crush on you and you turned him down because he wasn’t your type, you have a MUCH better chance of entering into a relationship with him.”
    What if a man takes you on a few wonderful dates and wants to see you again, but you tell him you only want to be friends, only later to realize you made a mistake and would like to try again?
    In my case we have actually hung out about 5 months after the “I just want to be friends”, at my initiation…but…what do I do now…

    1. 16.1
      Cat

      Demi, (#16) I’d suggest telling him exactly that, that you think you made a mistake and would like to try again! Otherwise, he will assume you still “just want to be friends.” Yes, you do run the risk of being rejected, but he sounds like he’s worth the risk. Good luck!

  17. 17
    Demi

    Cat (#17)
    Doesn’t this fly in the face of Evan’s advice about letting the man pursue?  Wouldn’t he pursue me again given the slightest encouragement if he were really interested?
    I’ve asked him to do something again, and he’s agreed…but I can’t help thinking this is the wrong track to take.  Should I stop all communication and wait to see what he does?

  18. 18
    Cat

    Demi (#18) asks: “Doesn’t this fly in the face of Evan’s advice about letting the man pursue?”

    I’d say he did pursue you until you told him not to. He’s doing exactly what you asked! It’s hard to tell what you mean by: you “asked him to do something.” Did you ask him for a date or to hang out again? If you haven’t been clear about what you want, don’t expect anything to change. But if you have told him you want more, yes, I think you should let him decide if he wants to pursue. And if he doesn’t, then accept that and move on.

    And the next time you go on “a few wonderful dates” with a guy, don’t be so quick to pull the “let’s just be friends” routine. You’ve learned something valuable!

  19. 19
    Karl R

    Demi said: (#18)
    “Wouldn’t he pursue me again given the slightest encouragement if he were really interested?”

    Not if you told him you weren’t interested.

    As men, we misread signals all the time. If I believe a woman is interested in me, and she tells me that she’s not, I trust her ability to express herself more than I trust my ability to read her body language.

    A woman knows how she feels about me. I’m only guessing how she feels.

    You need to be at least as clear when you tell him that you are interested as you were when you told him that you weren’t.

    Men who pursue at the “slightest encouragement” usually end up being referred to as stalkers.

    Demi said: (#18)
    “I’ve asked him to do something again,”

    If that’s an example of how clearly you communicated your interest to him, then he still hasn’t gotten the message.

  20. 20
    Demi

    Karl R said (#20):
    “You need to be at least as clear when you tell him that you are interested as you were when you told him that you weren’t.
    Men who pursue at the “slightest encouragement” usually end up being referred to as stalkers.”
    I found myself nodding my head to this in agreement!
    I still haven’t quite made it to explicitly telling him I’m interested in being more than friends, however we continue to hang out together (this last weekend at his invitation!)  I am also doing more flirting and waiting for the right moment…

  21. 21
    Gene

    I’m in a similar situation to Anne. I’m interested in dating a male friend.  We met in college but were never really close and reconnected a year ago purely as friends.  We’ve known each other for 10 years.  We started hanging out platonically a lot the past year and he used to live two hours away so he would drive from far away to see me.  I thought nothing of it.  Then he moved to my city and we were close to each other now. One night we went out and he made a move on me.  I froze.  And we pretended he didn’t try to kiss me.  This was three months ago.  We kept hanging out then, pretending nothing had happened, me sending mixed signals, both of us casually dating other people.  But I recently broke off casual dating because I realized I had strong feelings for him but now I wonder if it is too late?  I still spend a lot of time with him and I don’t want to emasculate him by not letting him make the first move.  He’s a macho type of guy and I’m trying to apply EMK’s philosophy in his book to embrace being the girl and do nothing, let him come to me.  But I feel like that advice applies more to strangers dating versus friends potentially dating.  We recently got back to a great momentum where it isn’t weird after all the mixed signals, we’re having a good time hanging out and enjoying the present and I feel like I am ready to tell him I wasn’t rejecting him when he initially made a move on me but was just scared and surprised.  So should I make a move (physical or verbal) or will that emasculate him?  And if we do date?  Do the same rules apply?  Should I wait to sleep with him?  Because I feel like we already have been on 100 dates (platonically), so I don’t feel weird about sleeping with him sooner if he were ready to commit etc but I guess that is more of a down-the-road concern?  Now I’m just freaking out on how to exactly let him know I like him but not nudge or nag or pressure him.

  22. 22
    Marie

    So, it appears as though I have developed romantic feelings for my best guy friend. And guess what?  It’s terrible. 
    The worst part about it is that I’m struggling to “move on” with things because we are in a close social circle.  I can’t ignore him because he’s well, my best friend.  And I can’t just turn off the “I like you” switch because if I could then, I would be the luckiest girl in the world.
    He’s not crazy about me; I know this.  I haven’t told him that I have feelings for him, but I’m pretty sure he knows and he doesn’t want to deal with it.  After reading through this blog, I’ve convinced myself that he cares for me as a friend and he’s lonely and so, I’m the “fill-in” girl for now. In some ways, I feel as though I could say the same for him.  I’m not crazy about him, but I love him, I trust him, he’s entirely entertaining and bright, and I want the best for him.
    We have really solid boundaries, well not so sure about the emotional ones.  We share quite a lot about ourselves with each other.  Physically, he never hugs me though, in fact, he never touches me at all. This is probably a good thing.  I think if he actually touched me, it might actually burn.
    However, on occasion, he has done very date-like things (asks me out to shows/movie, comes over to cook dinner, wants to hang out over the weekend, brings me dessert, emails almost every day) but it’s never “romantic,” and it’s always done in the spirit of “best friends.”  Pseudo girlfriend right here, don’t you think?
    He has dated other women over the course of our friendship.  He used to volunteer information about his dates, but now he will only talk to me about other women when I ask him point blank.  And then, no details, just unenthusiastic answers.  I assume he’s down because things aren’t working out with these women, including me.
    There are a couple of guys who seem interested in me at the moment but I’ve kept them at arms length. However, I’m emotionally exhausted from this current situation and I’m ready to move on.  I’m ready to date.  Deep down, I’m scared of how this will affect our friendlationship, but really, its not making me happy anymore.
    I don’t plan on befriending any more men; they’re too easy to fall for.

  23. 23
    Eva

    Here’s another approach you might try…. Next time you’re hanging out, you could mention that you have a female friend or, perhaps, co-worker etc. who has told you she has a crush on her male best friend. You might then ask his opinion, as a male, what this girl should do.
    Or you could ask whether he thinks male/female best friends could ever be more than just best friends. All this in a light-hearted, casual manner, of course…..
    His reaction should give you a pretty good idea of what his thoughts on the subject are.
    Good luck, and hope it all works out for you!

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