OK, I’ll say it — sometimes best friends are way better than significant others. You don’t have to worry about looking flawless when you’re around them, and you can be your absolute most embarrassing and know that they’ll still love you. You can sit on your couch, cry over stupid work problems, and gossip about that mean girl who lives down the street. What’s not to love? Things get tricky when the lines start to get blurred — look out for the subtle signs you might be falling in love with your best friend.
We hear stories about people who fell for their best friend when they were least expecting it, but how do you know if this is happening to you? Sometimes it’s difficult to discern when your feelings are shifting. After all, you’re already close to this person, and you might start to develop a crush without really knowing what’s going on. Before you know it, you’re wishing for a full-blown relationship with the person who used to be your best pal, and that’s a recipe for a lot of potential confusion and stress. Behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva and relationship expert Susan Winter know how to spot the signs, and they’re sharing their best tips with all of us. If you’re worried about the direction things might be going, keep a close eye out for these factors.
1. They're Your Go-To Person For Everything
Do you find yourself wanting to text them about every single detail in your life? Often this is what friends are for, but if this person starts taking over your every thought, you might be wanting something more. Silva cautions that when you start turning to them for everything, you may be catching feels. “They are your ‘ideal’ partner because you already know they will complement your goals and desires and assist in fulfilling your dreams,” she says. You know them and feel comfortable with them, so it feels natural that they would become your number one person.
2. You Catch Yourself Getting Jealous Of Their Potential Partners
“You can’t help but keep tabs on their love life, telling yourself it’s out of concern for their well-being,” Winter explains. “Though you don’t want to think of yourself as the jealous type, you fear your role of importance in their life will be replaced.” It’s one thing to be interested in who your best friend is seeing, but it’s another issue when you find yourself feeling resentful. This might be a warning that you wish your best friend would think of you in a romantic way.
3. Everyone You Date Sucks In Comparison To Them
You just can’t connect with anyone you’re going out with, and you’d much rather hang with your bestie instead. “When you start to compare your exes and new potentials, all you seem to highlight are negative things,” Silva notes. You may find yourself venting to your best friend, “I haven’t met anyone I like! Dating really sucks and I’m glad I have you to talk to about it.” Are you really glad to have them as a friend? Or are you wishing for more?
4. You Want To Be Around Them All The Time
Silva explains that the chemical processes in your brain can change when you’re falling in love with someone. “Your body is releasing adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin, in addition to testosterone and estrogen,” she says. “When you’re in love, your body speeds up to process them all. The intensity of these reactions are euphoric and make you ‘addicted’ to your best friend.” It’s not just in your head — you might literally be feeling chemically attached! Be careful if you start to notice that you want to be around your BFF every second of every day. Your body might be telling you, “Hey, I’m in love!”
So if your friendship fits into any of these categories, what can you do about it? Winter suggests you pose a hypothetical question to yourself. “If I could only choose one classification for this person, which would it be: Having them as a friend, or having them as a lover? This will be your guide to the necessary actions,” she advises. If you’re sure you want to pursue something more, it might be time to broach the subject.
“Make sure that you are truly attracted to them romantically and not falling for them because they are convenient,” Silva notes. “In cases where you intuitively feel it may be reciprocated, you can broach the subject of transitioning from a friendship to a relationship … However, if you doubt it’s reciprocal, broaching the subject will alter the nature of the relationship in a disempowering way to you.” You’ll have to trust your gut when deciding how to talk to them about your feelings.
If you don’t think your friend feels the same about you, you may have to distance yourself from them for a while until your feelings fade. “In general, suppressing your feelings is not advisable and not realistic,” Silva says. “Your friend will most likely pick up on your behavioral clues … even if you try to suppress your feelings, they will present themselves in some form.” She suggests taking a step back to try to discern where these intense feelings came from. It is possible to maintain the relationship while still giving yourself space to work through your emotions.
Ultimately, try not to panic. It’s more common than you might expect that best friends fall for one another — after all, you already know you get along so well! Every friendship is different, so it will be up to you to determine what the best course of action is for the two of you. Maybe it’s elevating the relationship, or maybe it’s taking space apart to let the feelings fade. If your pal really loves you, they’ll understand and want to help support you through the process.