Dear eNotAlone: I have a good friend that I'm hugely attracted to, but I don't know how to make more out of the relationship without risking our friendship. I just can't seem to work up the courage to tell them how I feel, and I'm scared that if I do, it could be the end of our friendship and our closeness. I don't want to stay in the friend zone forever, but I'm worried that if I tell them, things will be awkward and may even end up pushing them away from me.
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If you're feeling the desire to move beyond your current friendship with the person you are attracted to, it is natural to feel uncertain about how to approach the matter. On one hand, your friendship likely means a great deal to you, and as such could be worth preserving - even if it means not taking the leap of expressing your feelings. On the other hand, sometimes, we have to be brave enough to take risks and risk being open, honest and vulnerable in order to pursue something we really want.
It might be helpful to think about this situation in terms of a risk-reward analysis. When assessing the possible outcomes, consider both the potential benefits (for example, getting closer in a romantic way) and the risks (the potential of jeopardizing your current friendship). Sometimes, when we take on a task, there's the chance that it won't go as planned – but that doesn't make attempting it any less important.
At times like these, it can also be very useful to focus on how expressing your feelings might swell one's perception of courage, integrity, and honour. It could also be helpful to try to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Consider how an expression of your feelings could potentially benefit both of you. Acknowledge the potential for awkwardness or rejection, but also take into account that the reward could be immense, if the other person reciprocates your emotions.
What can help us in moments when we're afraid to take a risk, is to turn fear into excitement. If it's too difficult to imagine the success of a confrontation, start small: focus on following through, taking the initiative and overcoming the fear itself. So when the time comes, you can act with composure and self-confidence, even if you feel vulnerable. Never ignore the positive aspects of the friendship you already share with the person you're attracted to. You can take comfort in the fact that whatever happens, at least you started with something beautiful.