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  • Matthew Frank
    Matthew Frank

    How do I Navigate Developing Feelings for My Friend?

    Dear eNotAlone: I've been friends with a guy for over 6 years. We hung out in the same group but never spoke to each other. However we recently became closer after I joined a band he's part of and have grown fairly close.

    Recently, over the past few days I found myself developing feelings for him. I can't tell if he feels the same way about me or not as sometimes we act flirty and then like nothing ever happened. I feel really uncomfortable around him now and at the same time, I crave to be close to him. I don't know what to do because it risking our whole friendship in the process. I don't want to talk to anyone at this point since they'd judge me and call me stupid for the circumstances I'm in.

    * * *

    Navigating developing feelings for your friend can be a complicated situation. It can be difficult to determine if these feelings are genuine or if you're merely afraid of the potential consequences of expressing them. This can lead to confusion and uncertainty—feelings you may want to avoid but cannot ignore.

    As hard as it might be, it's important to take the time to evaluate your emotions. Ask yourself what is causing these feelings. Is it the way you interact with your friend, or something more? When you're in a vulnerable state, it's easy to misattribute feelings solely due to familiarity—which can quickly snowball into romantic feelings. If you're thinking more along the lines of the former, it's likely best to take a step back and reexamine your friendship rather than taking a deep dive into your soul searching.

    But, if you find that you're genuinely drawn to your friend in a romantic way, it's ok to explore that chemistry. While dating someone you already know is often a safer option than stepping outside of your comfort zone, being honest and communicative within the relationship is essential and should never be overlooked.

    When it comes to the conversation about your developing feelings, honesty and openness should be the backbone of your efforts. Before doing anything else, ask yourself how you would feel if your friend express the same sentiments. Consider their boundaries and whether or not pursuing a relationship would hurt their feelings, their friendship—or maybe both. Furthermore, how would this affect your other relationships with those in your inner circle?

    There's no clear-cut approach for how to deal with something like this because emotions are so unique to every person. All you can do is gauge how comfortable you feel discussing this issue with your friend. If your answer is "very uncomfortable," you might want to consider keeping your feelings to yourself—at least for now. Or, you could take a different route by having an impersonal conversation with your friend. This kind of dialogue allows you to communicate your feelings in an indirect manner that doesn't put too much pressure on either of you.

    Either way, it's always important to remember that feelings can change and should never be forced. If they aren't mutual, these things don't always have to make or break friendships. Don't be too hard on yourself. You're allowed to feel however you need to—so take the time to really focus on yourself and your needs first.

    Sometimes things don't work out the way we want them to, but that doesn't mean the world is about to end. Don't be discouraged if the outcome isn't everything you envisioned—there are loads of other avenues and opportunities you can pursue. Take your time and try to enjoy the process.

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