It's both delicious and dicey to develop a crush on a friend. Having someone you can dive into shared interests and exchange banter with is a treat. And once you bring romantic and/or sexual attraction into the mix, those things can feel like the foundation for teasing and flirting and perhaps, even something more. If you find yourself attracted to a friend, you're probably at the crossroads as to what to do about it. Should you gloss over your feelings (even though you've known about this crush for weeks, months, or maybe even years)? Or should you just get over it and tell them you've caught feelings? And what if that officially makes your dynamic weird?
Well, there are def a few signs that you should say something. For one, if you've been avoiding your friend or talking about them to others because you don't think you can hide your feelings? You should probably get this crush off your chest! It's worth a shot if it's already affecting your relationship with your friend-crush as well as other other people.
Some more tell-tale signs are your dating life suffering because you only want them, overanalyzing everything because you're curious if they feel the same way, and getting jealousy when they bring up their love interests. And of course, maybe you've got a sneaking suspicion that they like you back. Either way, you might be wondering how to proceed.
First, you've got to scope out what Shan Boodram, sexologist, intimacy expert, and author of The Game of Desire, refers to as "IOIs" or "indicators of interest." Some are that your crush often faces you or speaks directly to you in groups, or they touch you while you're talking. Maybe you often catch your crush looking at you or your body. One specific behavior to look out for is them sitting up, making space and adjusting themselves when they see you coming. "Think of what you do when you see your food coming at a restaurant," Boodram says.
Of course, you could write these signs off as this particular friend being a touchy-feely person. Or maybe they were really just vibing with your conversation that day! Boodram's best tip to see if feelings really are mutual comes from poker. "Put some of your chips down — make a small move — and wait," she says.
For example, let's say you give the object of your affections a flirty compliment, like telling them their arms look great in that shirt. Taking the poker analogy further, Boodram says see if they "call" (match your bet), "raise" (raise the bet), or "fold" (give up their cards and call the hand off). In the case of flirting, a call would be your crush giving you a compliment that's equally direct. A raise would be them making a gesture that's even flirtier, like returning the compliment and touching you. And a fold would be them giving you a polite "thank you" and changing the subject.
With a call, you might not want to make anymore moves, but you should keep an eye out. On the other hand, with a raise, Boodram says, "Now could be a great time to make a slighter bigger move to see where it goes." And finally, with a fold, you'd best back off and call it quits there. "Healthy intimacy is taking one small step, seeing if that person takes that step with you and then waiting to see if they take the lead next," Boodram says.
When it comes to flirting with your crush digitally, the same process applies. "You don't wanna be that person who goes full speed ahead only to look back and see the other person wasn't remotely interested in going that way with you," Boodram says, "[For example, like] sending a d*ck pic out of the blue." A few starter texts to send if you're crushing on a friend include:
- "I really like hanging out with you, and it's been great getting to know you better."
- "Do you want to get dinner together before we go to [XYZ group activity]?"
- "I just saw [XYZ thing] and it made me think of you."
- "IDK if you've noticed, but I'm starting to catch feelings for you. If you're around this week, I'd love to talk to you in person about it."
- "I just want to say that I think you're great and I like you."
The key is thinking about how you message someone who you're just friends with, and then going one or two degrees beyond that. One tip to keep in mind is that you shouldn't worry about being too subtle. Chances are if you're nervous about shooting your shot with your friend, then your strategy might be too extreme.
A big question mark in these situations can be should you just go in and kiss your friend. Here, Boodram advises, "You have to become a master at social cues to answer this question." Part of that involves throwing away two ideas. One, that people are great at hiding their "true feelings." Two, that people ever play hard-to-get. "These ideals are the foundation of non-consensual advancements that can go terribly wrong. Most people are not self-aware enough to hide their true feelings, especially a feeling as strong as attraction," Boodram explains. If you're not sure how to proceed, go back to the call, raise, and fold method.
And while being very direct is efficient and effective, the process of flirting here and there (and dropping hints) can be a quite enjoyable and entertaining. "I think there's a lot of joy, fun, and education that comes with flirting and slowly feeling your way through a connection," Boodram says. "This slow, intentional advancement gives you time to learn more about the other person and yourself."
Yes, catching feelings for a friend can be scary, especially since there's the chance your crush might makes things awkward. That being said, indulging your feelings for them could also open the door to a fresh, thrilling aspect of your relationship. And who knows? They might like you back. But you're never going to know unless you make your move.