One of the most perplexing dating quandaries you can find yourself in is deciding if and how to tell a friend you like her.
You’ve probably heard people say they married their best friend or have a great relationship because it’s based on a strong friendship. You may wonder how that idyllic-sounding phenomenon could possibly come to be.
Does it start out romantic and then friendship grows right along with the passion? Or is there an existing friendship that becomes something more? Both have been known to happen, but it’s the latter of the two that seems to really trip people up.
The concept of taking a friendship from platonic to romantic is both exciting and horrifying. But there’s a lot to gain if you do it right.
Should I Tell Her I Like Her?
“Should I tell my friend I like her?” is one of the most common questions men ask. And the answer is almost always a resounding “Yes!”
Really, what better start for a relationship could there be than a solid friendship where two people have already established that they care about, trust and value each other?
You already have great communication, enjoy each other’s company and know a lot about each other. That’s a wonderful foundation to build a romantic relationship on.
However, there’s always an inherent risk. What if your friendship collapses during the attempt to shift it into something more? Then you'd lose the possibility of a relationship along with the friendship you have come to cherish.
The very premise of telling your friend you like her evokes fear in the hearts of even the most confident men. For that reason, many guys keep their feelings for female friends buried. And those who actually try to express their love and fail wish they hadn’t.
That’s why the real trick to telling a friend you like her is to do it in a way that won’t create any awkwardness or frustration if she doesn’t have the same romantic feelings for you. But tell her you must.
You see, in the vast majority of cases, it’s always better to tell your friend you like her. Because if you like her romantically but don’t dare to express those feelings, your whole friendship is effectively based on a lie.
If you don’t tell her you like her, your unrequited feelings will gnaw at you constantly, which will eventually degrade the quality of the relationship. She’ll notice things starting to get weird between the two of you, and eventually, your friendship will be doomed to fail.
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How to Tell a Friend You Like Her Without Ruining Your Friendship
So is it even worth the risk to let a friend know you have feelings for her? I think so. But I want to roll the odds in your favor to help minimize the chances of a not-so-desirable outcome.
First, attempting a transition from being just friends into romantic partners has to happen gradually and without any unexpected surprises.
This is where many guys screw up. They harbor these blossoming feelings and continue to act completely platonic, then spring it on the unsuspecting woman out of the blue. She, in turn, is usually taken off-guard and has a lot to process all at once.
The natural human instinct is to stay in the comfort zone where things are safe, predictable and familiar. A sudden, drastic shift in any relationship is usually very distressing.
Your friend most likely values the friendship she has with you and feels safe and comforted knowing she can rely on you to be there for her as a friend. The prospect of changing that dynamic could be anxiety-inducing as it's such a dramatic departure from what she has had with you in the past.
Therefore, it’s your job to gradually close the gap between what you’ve had in the past and what you hope to have in the future.
Subtle gestures on your part can help to gently shift the dynamic between you two. So when you do let her know how you feel, it won’t feel like a bomb’s being dropped out of nowhere. It’ll also help you to gauge her feelings based on her reactions to your subtle flirting.
In effect, when figuring out how to tell your friend you like her, it’s more of a “show” and not “tell.” You show her you like her with your actions throughout the whole friendship.
How to Tell Your Best Friend You Like Her
When it comes to figuring out how to tell your best friend you like her, here are some practical tips:
One of the easiest ways to gradually mix some sugar into the recipe of your friendship is through the eyes. Look at her just a second or two longer before turning away. Or look back at her after you’ve walked away. She’ll notice.
When she’s talking to you, make sure she feels your attention is fully on her. Look her in the eyes. Lean in. Hold your gaze.
Then add a physical touch every now and then. We’re talking an appropriate touch here, not a sudden ass grab.
If it feels natural to put a hand on her hand or knee when you’re engrossed in conversation with her, do it. Or playfully put your arm around her when you’re walking together. Let a hug last just a little longer than a platonic one and add a gentle rub of her back.
Pay attention to how she responds. If she looks uncomfortable or pulls away, she may not be ready and/or interested in taking a romantic turn with you. If she’s receptive and/or reciprocates, your feelings may very well be aligned. Either way, you’re given the information needed to proceed in the appropriate way.
You can also slip in comments that extend a little beyond the friend line. Compliment her looks. Tell her she’s making you feel “weird stuff.” Think of something you could do together that’s a little more personal than your usual outings and ask her if she’d be interested.
If she’s not receptive to anything, you can decide to keep the friendship how it is or you can choose to talk to her about it. While the latter choice may seem awkward, it can be done.
How to tell your friend you like her without telling? Let her see you in a different light
One of the best ways to evoke romantic and sexual feelings in a long-time friend is to change your behavior. Do it in a way that she won’t be able to help but feel attraction towards you.
You see, if you’ve been friends for a long time, she’s always seen you behave in a certain way around her. She’s very used to you and there’s little excitement and attraction left in your interactions.
She expects you to act a certain way around her, and she doesn’t have any strong feelings for you.
To change this, start behaving in a way that evokes emotions from her. Be more lighthearted, start teasing her, start being weird, joke around more, and flirt with her constantly. But do it gradually.
Start telling her “no” more often and stop being there for her whenever she needs anything.
Stop seeing her so often and stop responding to her messages as soon as you get them. Don’t be at her beck and call and go find other stuff to do with your life.
Basically, start treating her the same way you’d treat a new potential date. Scarcity is the key here, both with your time and your affection.
This will make her see you in a much different, better, more emotional light. She’ll start missing you more often, she’ll start thinking about you more frequently. And if you practice teasing her and flirting with her more, her thoughts will eventually start being more sexual towards you.
Also, don’t forget to change how you look as well. Hit the gym if you have to, to make yourself more appealing. Change your clothes or your style, get a great cologne and an awesome haircut.
The point is to become a “different” person. Unexpectedly new and fresh to her.
Other Things to Consider When Thinking of Telling Your Friend You Like Her
Before you take any steps toward letting your friend know how you feel, make sure you’ve thought the whole thing through.
It’s not uncommon to start to form an emotional bond with someone you shared a lot of time, thoughts, ideas and experiences with. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be compatible when it comes to a relationship, even if there is a physical attraction as well.
So before you take that leap, really consider whether or not this thing would have a fighting chance if you did take it to the next level.
Are you in similar stages in life? Are your current dating intentions aligned? If you are thinking in terms of the future, would your personal goals and plans take you in different directions or would they complement each other?
If you run through all of this in your head before making the decision to attempt something more with her, you may come to the conclusion that, although your feelings have grown, you’re probably better off as friends.
However, if you’ve considered the important issues at hand and decided that yes, there are plenty of reasons a romantic relationship with your pal could actually work, keep those at the forefront of your mind.
They’ll help push you beyond the nerves to let her know you’re interested in more than just friendship. It’ll also give you the confidence to help you approach the whole thing in a smooth, assured way that’ll feel natural and reassuring to her.
Find the right time
When considering how to tell a girl you have feelings for her, you have to find the right time to do so.
When you’ve established enough of a bridge between friendship and romance, it’s time for a conversation. To ensure it goes as well as possible, keep in mind these three brilliant words: Timing is everything.
Let’s start with when not to have the conversation. Don’t try to squeeze it in when rushing somewhere. Don’t bring it up when she’s preoccupied or stressed about work or such. Abruptly changing the subject when she’s trying to talk to you about something else is another no-no.
When deciding how to tell a friend you like her at the right moment, find a time when you’re both feeling calm and comfortable and are in no hurry.
Also, do it when you’re alone. Don’t bring it up at a public place or near other friends or family. Neither of you needs the added tension nor the embarrassment of an audience.
Have a good lead-in
How do I tell a friend I like her? When you’re getting ready to broach the subject, be prepared. Know what you’re going to say and come up with a carefully worded preface. But present it as casually as possible, as though you haven’t rehearsed it in your head a million times (even if you have).
Don’t scare her with a “we need to talk” statement or a similar panic-inducing intro. Try something like sincerely letting her know how much you value her as a friend and a person.
Let her know that when you first started to become friends with her, your intention was only to be friends. This is important so she knows all the times you were there for her, it was out of genuine care for her as a person and not with the intention of getting in her pants. Tell her how much you appreciate her friendship.
After she’s had a chance to respond, you can ask if she’s ever considered the possibility of dating you.
Listen to her and be sensitive to what she has to say
However she reacts, keep in mind your desire to preserve the friendship. Holding this intention throughout the conversation will help you to be receptive to her response, whether or not it’s what you hoped to hear.
If she tells you she’s thought about dating you but decided she didn’t want to risk the friendship, you can share how you feel about that and what conclusions you came to after thinking it through.
If she says she’s never thought of you as anything more than a friend and can’t imagine thinking of you that way, accept what she says. Then make sure she knows that the friendship will continue. Or take the drastic step described earlier above and change your behavior around her. That way, she sees you in a completely different, more attractive light.
Or maybe she’ll say she hadn’t thought of you that way because she didn’t think you saw her in that light either. You could then suggest in your own way that she be open to thinking about it. But again, reassuring her that you’re happy to remain her friend if that’s what she decides she wants.
When she’s telling you her thoughts and feelings on the subject, give her the sense you really care about what she's saying. Look at her when she’s talking to you. Listen to any concerns she may have. Help her feel at ease through your calmness and willingness to hold space for her to share her feelings.
Be completely cool no matter what her response is
This is a close relative of the previous point but it deserves its own section. Not only should you make her feel comfortable with whatever her response is while she talks to you, but also afterward.
If she just wants to remain friends and you understand that nothing you can do will change that, don’t pull back or treat her differently. Don’t let a bruised ego keep you from continuing to see all of the wonderful things that made you such great friends to begin with.
If she says she’d like to give dating you a chance, don’t get crazy with lust and/or emotion and jump all over her. Take it slow!
This is something very new for both of you. And if you really want to preserve what you’ve already spent significant time and energy creating, you’ll take care not to rush the process of developing it further.
Equipped with these guidelines on how to tell a friend you like her, you should be able to muster up the courage to go for it. If you do it the right way, you may successfully cross the bridge from friendship to love. At the very least, you won’t burn it.