I typed the words, "should I tell my best friend I'm in love with them?" into Google and found odd comfort in the solidarity that other people posed the same question. Many times, actually, in all sorts of phrasing. I felt particularly grateful for the rhetoric that resonated with my own. But, like many, I took most comfort in believing my situation was different.
For the record, the consensus is not to tell. An overwhelming majority concede that it's best to move on in your own time without causing temporary or permanent trauma to the friendship. After all, what hurts more: losing your best friend, or missing out on the chance they'll feel the same?
There's two important health checks to assess first: One, how do you know it's love? And two, is the benefit of telling the person greater than the loss of losing them?
I decided to tell and here's why.
Health check one: Is it love?
It took months of consideration, assessment and reflection to draw the dichotomy between loving someone and wanting to spend the rest of your life as partners with him or her by your side. I used associated and disassociated techniques found in NLP training to think about how I saw myself and felt in the relationship.
I wondered if conversation and great sex would survive alongside financial fights and domestic chores. Would the bubble around utopia burst with reality? It takes honest consideration because making a permanent decision on temporary emotions is a recipe for regret.
The second part to the first health check (yes, life is complicated), is confronting your motive. Is it altruistic or is it hubris? An altruistic motive places your heart in the right place; you're speaking up with the best intentions and for the selfless greater good. A Machiavellian mind could be acting out of ill-placed emotions.
Are you qualifying your ego? Fulfilling a need for temporary attention in the wrong place? Or even setting up your friend to fail the test of love?
If there's a slice of doubt of whether to tell, it's a stop sign.
Health check two: Will you risk the friendship if it doesn't work out?
Part two's heath check is a balancing act; is the benefit of telling the person greater than the loss of losing them? This is a contingency plan, giving you a taste of the loss that could ensue if your feelings are not reciprocated.
Firstly, a “best friend” is hard to come by and harder to replace. If your feelings have started to encroach on your ability to remain friends and not be disappointed by lulls in communication or unmet expectations, then it's a good sign you're on the way to telling.
For others, the possibility of jeopardizing your friendship is simply too much to bear.
The litmus test for this balancing act comes down to your honest expectation of their response. So you've told your best friend you love them; how will they react? You should have a reasonable expectation of what happens next.
If, deep down, you don't believe they feel the same (maybe they're in a serious relationship or maybe they've never made an advance), then the balance may lean toward not telling. Don't bring unnecessary pain to the friendship if you can move on from your feelings in time.
Again, if there's a slice of doubt of whether to tell, it's a stop sign.
Now, if you've passed health check one and two, you know your love is genuine and the friendship will be unsuccessful anyway given your feelings, it's time to tell.
We live in a fast-paced world crammed with disposable mating, digital dating and medicated fixes. We don't like to feel pain and we're wired to think quick. It's likely why our emotions feel like a moving target; some stay grounded, others are fleeting and some poke their head from time to time. If for no other reason than to slow it all down to be sure, assess your motives before throwing "love" around like confetti and "best friends" around like they're replicable.
How to tell your best friend you love them? Well, that is a whole other story.