I Love My Best Friend: The Difference Between Friend Love And Something More
Updated May 27, 2020
Reviewer Karen Devlin, LPC
Love and friendship are two concepts that have more similarities than you would think, but they also can be worlds apart. This sounds contradictory, but it's just the way human nature is. Let's break this down and explain why.
What Friendship And Love Have In Common
Friendship and love have one giant trait that makes them closer than you think: intimacy. Intimacy is the emotional connection you feel with someone and makes the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. An acquaintance is someone you may have a conversation with and may have a few drinks with, but they're not going to be someone you talk to whenever you're feeling down about yourself, or just need a shoulder to cry on.
Meanwhile, a friend is someone you want to be around as often as possible. They're someone you can open your feelings to, and they're a person you can stay a long time with and never get bored or tired of them.
Love and friendship both share this intimacy. A romantic relationship isn't going to last if there is no intimate connection. Your love is often your best friend for a reason.
Then, there's commitment. Commitment is quite important in a romantic relationship. The two of you have a similar goal, and you want to commit to achieving it. You may move in, start a family, build up your finances, and so on. This allows you to achieve your goals much easier than you would if you were just alone.
Friendship may have some form of commitment. Often, your friend can be your roommate, and there are many goals you may want to accomplish with your friend. With that said, commitment doesn't necessarily need to be there for a great friendship. Some friends live entirely different lives but still talk to each other and catch up.
The Difference Between Love And Friendship
True love involves commitment and intimacy, which friendships can have, but also involves a romantic attraction. You find yourself sexually attracted to this person. They make the butterflies in your stomach go wild, and they release chemicals in your brain that make you want to do anything for them. This is a sign of love.
While passion goes down after the honeymoon stage, a great relationship will still have passion in it.
However, some friendships can be sexual. We all know of friends with benefits, where friends can have sex with each other, but still have no strings attached, theoretically speaking. However, these relationships tend to lack commitment, and while there may be an intimate connection, it isn't as strong as love would be.
How To Tell If Your Friend Loves You
Friendship can blossom into something more. We've seen it time and time again, where two people start off as friends but then end up being in a relationship. There's a good reason why great couples consider their partners their best friends. If you couldn't be their friend if you weren't in a relationship, the friendship has nothing.
It's hard to tell the difference between romance and platonic friendship. A platonic friendship involves the two of you having a close emotional bond, but no romance. Here are some ways you can tell if your friendship is a little more.
You Get Jealous
If you have no romantic attachment to your friend, you're not going to experience strong jealousy if they get in a relationship. You may feel some slight jealousy, or fear that the romantic partner is going to distract your friend from hanging out with you. But if you have strong feelings for that friend, you're going to be hardcore jealous. Your subconscious may think that now they are in a relationship, you no longer have the chance to admit your feelings. You may feel some regret, and wished you would have expressed your emotions sooner.
When they do break up with their partner, you feel relief, and you may think you should express your emotions. However, something prevents you from doing so. It may be the fact that it's too soon for them to be in another relationship, so you wait until things settle down. Then they get into another relationship, and the cycle starts.
You Can't Stop Thinking About Them
A good friend is going to be on your mind for a while. You have an intimate bond with them, after all. With that said, it's a bit odd if you are always thinking about this friend and you just can't stop. Love is when that person is always on their mind, no matter what.
Be mindful of your thoughts. Write down how often you think about your friend, and decide if it's a sign of true love or just normal thoughts.
Observe what pops into your head when you think about your best guy friend. There’s a difference between recalling good times together and fantasizing about wanting more. Of course, if you two are close, you’ll remember some fun moments you shared. You may imagine the two of you laughing together. Observe how often you think about them during the day and the content of the thoughts. And naturally, if you’re imagining kissing them, or more, that’s a sign that you have feelings for your best friend. There are also subtle ways to tell if you have romantic inclinations toward your best guy friend. When you imagine him, do you get butterflies in your stomach? Is it difficult to wait until you see him next? These are sure signs that you have romantic feelings for your bestie. It’s important not to rush things if you realize that you love your best friend. Take some time and think about what you want to do with these feelings. If they’re single, that’s a bit easier because you can tell them how you feel and not be afraid that you’re jeopardizing another relationship. No matter what the circumstances, it’s not easy to express your love for your best friend. Take some time to think over your feelings and what you want to do with them.
You're Sexually Attracted To Them
If you want to have sex with your friend, it's definitely not a platonic friendship. A platonic friendship has no sexual attraction whatsoever. With that said, you can be sexually attracted to someone and not have any romantic bonds with them. However, if your desire to have sex with them is combined with any of the above, it may be proof that you see your friend as a little more than just a friend.
When you're attracted to your best friend, it can affect your friendship on a deep level. One day you may realize, "I fell in love with my best guy friend!" Remember, you're not alone! Many people who are in romantic relationships where they fell in love were once friends. They realized that there was more than friendship there. These feelings can be disorienting at first, especially if there's sexual attraction. You're bonded with this person, and you may not want to risk crossing the boundary between platonic and sexual, mainly if it's a best friendship. Your best guy friend understands you on a deep level, and that can be extremely attractive. They're a close friend, and there's nothing more appealing than falling in love with someone who understands you so well. In fact, when people get married, they may say that they married their best friend. They remark that they fell in love with that person, and it's easy to fall in love with your best friend. They know you so well, and that can be so attractive. It can even make you feel sexually attracted to them.
When you realize, "I'm in love with my best friend," it can be an exhilarating feeling. When you start to have sexual fantasies about them, you may not know what to do. That's understandable, but realizing that you love your best friend and want to take it to the next level isn't a bad thing. It could be that it's a sign to tell them about your feelings. Your best guy friend maybe sexually and romantically attracted to you, too, but the only way to find that out is to be open and honest with them. You may confide in other friends and say "I love my best guy friend" to them to see what they have to say and if they can support this situation.
When you have these complicated feelings and don't know how to navigate them, the best thing you can do is be honest. If you're surprised that you fell in love with your best guy friend, don't be! It happens to many people. Your sexual attraction is normal. Your best guy friend is someone that you feel connected with and can have open and honest communication with. Even if there is sexual attraction, he will be open to hearing about it, and it doesn't necessarily mean that it'll alienate you guys from each other. Admitting, even if it's on paper, "I'm in love with my best guy friend," can be liberating because you're honest about your feelings and can work through them.
You Talk About Them A Lot
Whenever you're talking to your friends or other people in your life, you normally don't bring someone up all the time if they're just a friend. However, if you're constantly finding yourself mentioning your friend, and the people you talk to even bring this fact up, then there's a chance that you're in love with this person, and you need to be able to express your feelings.
If you're unsure if that's the case, choose a friend you trust and talk it out with them. Sometimes these feelings are complicated, and you need to unpack them with a person who gets you. You can start by saying, "I've noticed that I'm talking about ___ a lot. I'm wondering if I have feelings for them." And then let your friend respond. It's crucial to tell someone you can trust and who isn't necessarily directly connected to your best friend. It will help you gain perspective on your feelings to speak with someone's objective on the situation.
You Have Funny Feelings Around Them
The anxiety you feel while being in love is quite observable, and for a good reason. You may feel butterflies in your stomach, or feel a deep pit in your tummy whenever they're gone. These odd sensations may be a sign of romantic attraction.
One thing you can do is use mindfulness. Observe how you feel when you’re around your best friend. What are the sensations in your body? Do you have a sense of warmth in your heart? There are physiological signs that you love someone, and one of them is that warm feeling in your chest. Maybe your heart skips a beat when they’re near. That’s another sign that you could have a crush on your best friend. Mindfulness is a great tool to determine how you feel about your best friend, and it can help you figure out what to do next.
If you do love your friend, what should your next move be? Let's look at the possible outcomes.
They Just See You As A Friend
Unrequited love is when you have romantic feelings for a friend, but they don't feel the same way. This outcome can be awkward, and a little disappointing. A friend isn't obligated to love you back, but if you had feelings, it could shatter them into pieces.
In the perfect world, you would just say "Okay," once learning the news and continue your friendship. But this admission can make your friendship awkward. One solution is to give your friend some space. Go on dates, find other people to be in a relationship with, and get your friend off your mind. Return later when the feelings are gone. You can continue the friendship with no problem.
They Do Like You Back
There are some ways to find out whether or not someone likes you back, but other times, it's hard to tell. The body language your friend uses can indicate whether they like you. If they look you in the eyes, like being close, and talk to you all the time as well, this may be proof they love you back. If both of your feelings are mutual, then great. You have a relationship that may last for a long time.
Of course, it's hard to tell sometimes. You may get mixed signals or no signals at all. This may make it hard for you to make a move, and this will cause you to.
Not Say Anything
Some people just won't admit they like their friends and will continue the friendship as normal. The passion may dwindle over time, or it may become bottled up to the point of explosion. Either way, not admitting your feelings can mess you up in the long run.
You may always wonder what could have been. If you don’t take a risk and tell your best friend how you feel, you’ll never know if they felt the same way. You may watch them go off with another partner, and yearn for the romantic relationship you could have had with them. It’s ultimately your choice as to whether you tell them how you feel, but you may go through life with regrets if you don’t confess your feelings.
Friendship and romantic relationships are similar, yet oh so different, and figuring out whether or not someone loves you, or just sees you as a friend, is hard. A romance that started off as a great friendship can be one that lasts for a long time. However, if you have been friends for a long time, that may make it harder to transition to a relationship. Someone sees you as a good friend and doesn't want to lose you by transitioning into something that is more fragile.
The point is: relationships are complicated. If you want to know if your friendship is more than just love, or if you need advice on how to manage your relationship, seeking counseling is the next move you should take. A relationship therapist can help make sense of your feelings, teach you how to express your emotions to your friend, and help manage the relationship as it blossoms.
Your best friend can end up being your partner for life, but making the first move is hard. By looking for the signs, you can transition smoothly from a friendship to a love that will last forever.