There's just something so special about the bond you have with your best friend. In many ways, they know you better than just about anyone else. You can also fully be yourself with them and get the same in return. Whether it's living your best life or struggling through heartbreak and hard times, your best friend's the one who's always by your side. But all that closeness and connection can occasionally make the line between platonic and romantic love get a little, well, fuzzy. In that case, recognizing the subtle (and not-so-subtle) signs your best friend has feelings for you can help if you know when you need to let them down easily, or, if the desire for more is mutual, shoot your shot and take your friendship in a new direction.
But how can you tell if your best friend's feelings have evolved? After all, when other people show attraction and romantic interest, the behavior's pretty obvious because they're putting in the extra effort to get closer. But in the case of a BFF, they're already deeply connected to you, so those signs of interest may be getting lost amid the usual bestie stuff. However, according to Brenda Della Casa, a relationship coach and author of Cinderella Was a Liar, the evidence is easier to spot than you might think if you're paying attention. Here's what she says to be on the lookout for.
Have the words “friend zone” come out of their mouth recently? That could be a very clear sign that they're eager for your friendship to evolve into something outside said zone. If they cringe when you refer to them as a friend, Della Casa says they're trying to give you a big hint about their true feelings.
Talking to your best friend about the person you’re crushing on is pretty standard bestie fare, but if they seem uncomfortable whenever you bring up a new attraction, Della Casa says that jealousy's a sign that they're catching stronger feelings. “Maybe they neg the person you're interested in or subtly try to sabotage your relationship by planting doubts or rushing to quick negative judgments about your partner or crush,” she says.
Giving each other compliments and building one another up is not exactly uncommon between best friends. After all, would you be friends if you didn’t like and admire one another? However, not all compliments are the same, and if the tenor of your friends' accolades changes, that might be them tipping their hand about their feelings, says Della Casa. “Most friends will tell you when you look great, what they appreciate about you, and congratulate you on a job well done, but if you notice you're getting compliments every time you're in contact, it's a sign they're interested,” she explains.
Have your hangouts taken on a weirdly date-y vibe? That may be because they're trying to steer your relationship away from the platonic, says Della Casa. “It’s not uncommon for friends to meet for dinners, brunches, or drinks, but there's a big difference between grabbing a bite with your buddies and going to a romantic restaurant just the two of you,” she explains. “Going out for cocktails in candlelight doesn't always mean someone is interested but if they are constantly asking you to ‘date-like’ activities together, it's a sign they are trying to move the relationship into another direction.”
If your friend has recently made the effort to get closer to your other friends and family, Della Casa says this could indicate that they're trying to win their approval, which is typical in someone who has romantic feelings. “Is your friend inviting you to brunch with their mom or constantly trying to impress your parents? When someone likes you, they'll want the approval of those closest to you,” she explains.
If you suspect something is changing in the dynamic of your friendship, Della Casa advises paying attention to the signs that you would normally look out for when trying to determine if someone's attracted to you, especially if they're flirting. “Whether it's touching you on the shoulder or knee, lingering eye contact, or raising their eyebrows when they see you, humans tend to give out subtle signals they are interested,” she says. “This won't change just because you’re friends so keep your eyes peeled.”
If some — or all — of these points are sounding familiar, the next step's to decide how you want to more forward. Ask yourself if you're interested in something more with your friend, and proceed accordingly. Sometimes, the best relationships start with a friendship, but other times it's better to keep things as they are. It's up to you to decide the right path for you.