One of the common plot lines of romantic comedies involves a relationship that has to change from a best of friends into a romantic couple.
The standard story elements are that one person has more intimate feelings for the other person. Or, each person doesn’t really know how she or he feels for the other until the last minute.
We love these relationships because, well, so many of us identify with them. So, just what should you do if you really have fallen in love with your best friend?
Of course, you can’t make someone fall in love with you, but you can take the steps below to get out of that romantic limbo and find out whether your best friend is harboring romantic feelings for you.
Steps to Finding Out if Your Secret Love Feels the Same Toward You
1. Explore—in Depth and With Honesty – Why You Haven’t Expressed Your Romantic Feelings
Read the statements below and make a note of which ones best describe what has been holding you back. When you know your reasonable and unreasonable reasons, you will be better able to address them with your best friend. Chances are that he or she might be worried about the same things! If you do not see your reasons on the list, add your own.
a. I would rather live with longing and hope rather than face the truth that he or she doesn’t feel the same way.
b. One or both of us is currently in an unhappy relationship.
c. I am not as good-looking as his or her current or previous partners.
d. We are from different economic, cultural or racial backgrounds, and I don’t know if that is an issue with him or her.
e. One or both of us just got out of a bad relationship, and it might seem the wrong timing to express my feelings.
f. We have income and educational disparities, and I worry those are things that concern him or her.
g. We don’t live near each other.
h. One or both of us has changed for the better, but he or she doesn’t know about it.
i. One or both of us is dealing with a major issue such as illness or financial difficulties.
j. One of both of us has children, and there might be some concern about how we would handle parenting.
k. I don’t deal with rejection well.
2. Reread Your Noted Items on the List
Mark which ones you think match your friend’s feelings, thoughts and concerns about you. Pretend that you are on trial in the Love Court. You must defend or reframe each item to your secret love.
What would you say to him or her to help change this person’s heart and mind?
For example, let’s pretend that you picked item e: One or both of us just got out of a bad relationship, and it might seem the wrong timing to express my feelings.
Rather than ignore or fight this concern, bring it out in the open by saying something like:
“I know that it’s usually not a good idea to jump into another relationship right away after a break up. But we aren’t just anyone. We are friends, and our friendship is based on all the things that go into a good relationship. We like and respect each other, and we’ve been there for each other.”
3. Test the Romance Waters
Start now to take small steps to change your behavior with this person. Consider doing all or some of the following things.
a. Invite this person—and only this person—to celebrate something with you. Pick a place that is better than the local salad bar but not obviously romantic. Or, conversely, send a gift to this person to celebrate his or her good news—and then make similar arrangements for just the two of you to celebrate.
b. Tell your friend that you are concerned about him or her. You might say something like:
“I hate to see you so unhappy or confused. Now that I’m in a good place in my life, I can see more clearly that you’re in pain. How can I help?”
Conversely, you can ask your friend to help you. You might say something like:
“The road to my happiness hasn’t been easy, but I feel really good about me now. I’m settled, I know what I want—and who are the people I trust and respect. And I trust and respect you the most. I could use your help with…(finding a new apartment; buying a house; picking a car; dealing with your child; redoing your resume.)”
It doesn’t matter what kind of help you want. The goal is to increase your friend’s emotional involvement with you in a ways that resembles couple’s real life interactions. Asking for personal, private assistance increases a person’s regard and attachment to you!
c. Increase the amount of time the two of you contact each other and spend time together. Sit closer together. Touch your friend casually when you talk. Let your hello hugs linger. Observe his or her body language. Does the person move away or closer to you?
d. Add everyday tasks to your time together. For example, run errands together. Go with the person to buy an outfit or pair of shoes. Let him or her see how much fun the ordinary can be.
e. Eventually, the kind of connection your friend feels will emerge. And if not, then do a Hail Mary Pass and either reveal your feelings or tell this person that you have to stop spending so much time together since it’s clear that he or she just wants to be a friend.—and that you are looking for more from him or her!
I wish you bravery!