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. On the one hand, there’s a lot to gain.
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 great foundation to build upon.
On the other hand, what if your friendship collapses during the attempt to shift it into something more? Then you'd lose the possibility of a relationship and a friendship you have come to cherish.
If you’re like most men, you probably have no idea how to tell a friend you like her. It is an extremely delicate proposition.
The very premise 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 have tried and failed wish they had.
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, so we’ve come up with a guide of sorts to help minimize the chances of a not-so-desirable outcome.
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 with whom you have shared time, thoughts, ideas and experiences. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily 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? How are your schedules compatible for dating? 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 have considered the important issues at hand and have decided that yes, there are plenty of reasons why a romantic relationship with your pal could actually work, keep those at the forefront of your mind.
They will help push you beyond the nerves to let her know you are interested in more than just friendship. It will also give you a calm confidence that will help you to approach the whole thing in a smooth, assured way that will feel natural and reassuring to her.
Speaking of natural, attempting a transition from the friend zone to romance territory can seem anything but that. This is where many guys screw up. They harbor these blossoming feelings and continue to act completely platonic, then spring it on the unsuspecting female 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 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 and your friend. So when you do let her know how you feel, it won’t feel like a bomb is being dropped out of nowhere. It will also help you to gauge her feelings based on her reactions to your subtle flirting.
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 that 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 are 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 or 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 is receptive and/or reciprocates, your feelings may very well be aligned. In either case, you are given the information needed to proceed in the appropriate way.
If she’s not receptive to your touch, 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 a little awkward, it can be done.
You can also slip in comments that extend a little beyond the friend line. Compliment her looks. Tell her that her date is a lucky guy. 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.
When you’ve established enough of a bridge between friendship and romance, it’s time for a conversation. To ensure that this 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 are 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 or embarrassment of an audience.
When you are 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 that she knows that 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 has had a chance to respond, you can ask if she has ever considered the possibility of dating you.
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 that she has 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 has never thought of you as anything more than a friend and can’t imagine thinking of you that way, accept what she says and make sure she knows that the friendship will continue.
Or maybe she’ll say she hadn’t thought of you that way because she didn’t think you saw her in that light. You could then suggest in your own way that she be open to thinking about it, but again, reassuring her that you are 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 that 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 to feel at ease through your calmness and willingness to hold space for her to share her feelings.
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 wants to remain just friends, 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 that 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.