I Love My Best Friend: The Difference Between Friend Love And Something More
Updated July 03, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: 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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should I do if I’m in love with my best friend?
If you are experiencing romantic feelings and attraction toward your best friend, you may be overwhelmed, stressed, or even scared. You may be worried about how your feelings will affect your friendship regardless of whether or not you say something. When you value the relationship you have with a friend, it can feel very difficult to do or say anything that may jeopardize that.
Whether or not you share your feelings with your best friend is ultimately up to you and your scenario. Certain circumstances may impact your decision; for example, if your friend is already in a relationship, you may feel more inclined to keep your feelings to yourself. However, the value of being honest and openly communicating your thoughts should not be understated.
A good option is to simply talk to your friend. Be open, honest, and patient during this conversation. It is a time for you to share how you feel, but also an opportunity to hear how you friend feels. They may return your feelings – if so, great! If they do not, or if they are unsure how to immediately respond, thoughtful communication can help the two of you work through things in a way that does not strain your friendship.
Of course, if things do not work out, you may be disappointed or hurt. These feelings are totally normal parts of rejection. You may feel you need some space from your friendship or some time to process things. Again, these are good feelings to communicate with your friend.
Something that may be beneficial to you is opening the conversation with questions rather than statements. Telling someone directly that you like them can put a lot of pressure on them, and it might make them nervous or uncomfortable, even if they feel the same way! It can be far more beneficial to instead approach the conversation with curiosity. Ask this person, do you think we would ever work together as a couple? Ask them if they are looking for anything romantically right now or if they prefer to be single. If the conversation starts with a question, you can gauge their response before going forward, and get a good idea of how they feel before being vulnerable and putting your heart on the line! You already have the benefit of being best friends, so the conversation will be very accessible, and it does not need to be awkward if you handle it right.
Remember that relationships evolve over time, in the same way that you change and grow over time. This is not only normal, but also healthy and encouraged. Do not worry about your relationship with your best friend changing, because change is an inevitability. That means you could start as best friends with someone, then move toward a relationship. It also means that there may be times you stop talking to someone, and you think you have lost them, only to have the joy of becoming friends all over again somewhere down the line. These are all the natural rhythms of life, and it is okay to just be along for the ride.
Why do I love my best friend?
Best friends oftentimes have a lot in common, whether it be personalities, hobbies, or experiences and goals. Falling in love with your best friend may be frustrating or scary, but if you spend a lot of time together and get along well, it makes sense!
It is normal to have platonic – or non-romantic - love for all sorts of people in your life, including your friends. It is possible to care greatly about someone you have no interest in pursuing a romantic relationship with. However, if you feel like your feelings go beyond normal friendship, you might find it helpful to unpack some of your emotions.
Maybe you and your best friend do a lot of your favorite activities together. Perhaps your friend is supportive, thoughtful, or knows you better than anyone else. You may experience falling in love slowly, or over time – you might not even realize it until something happens to spark a reaction, like seeing your best friend pursue someone else.
The simple answer to why you love your best friend is that they are your best friend; the same things that make them an important friend might spark attraction! Your best friend has likely been through a lot with you, and you might feel a connection to them that you do not with others in your life.
Can best friends fall in love?
It is not as uncommon as you may think to fall in love with your best friend. Much like romantic relationships friendship is based on shared qualities, values, and personal connection. Best friends who spend a lot of time together and have had valuable experiences together may already have some qualities of a romantic relationship. In fact, some of the best relationships are built on the foundation of a strong friendship.
Of course, there is a distinct difference between having a strong friendship with someone and being romantically attracted to them. You’ve read some of the signs you may be developing feelings for your friend. If you know you are in love with your best friend and are worried or concerned, rest assured that your feelings are normal and valid.
Should I tell my best friend I’m in love with her?
Honest communication with your best friend about your feelings is important. As discussed earlier in this article, there can be some considerable drawbacks to deciding not to tell your friend how you feel. You might struggle with secret feelings of hurt, jealousy, or other emotions as time goes by. You might have a hard time seeing your friend date someone else, and the longer you decide to wait, the more difficult it may feel.
Even if your conversation does not end in a romantic relationship, it may be beneficial to share how you feel. It is likely that you want this person to remain in your life even if a relationship does not work. There may be other factors at play that present challenges, like long distance situations, but you may find that you feel much better simply being honest.
You and your friend can work out how to proceed. Remember that you are best friends for a reason; even if feelings are not reciprocated, it’s likely your friend will be grateful for your transparency and want to work to support you as much as possible.
If you do decide to share your feelings, try opening the conversation with a question, not a statement. You can take a lot of pressure off if you start asking your friend about her feelings and you let her lead the conversation. That way she will be much more honest, she will feel much less awkward, and you can both open up to each other.
Remember, if your friendship with this person is important to you, then it is possible to maintain it by respecting each other’s feelings. That means you will not shame your friend if they do not feel the same way, and you will also take time for yourself if you need some distance from this person.
How do you know if your best friend loves you more than a friend?
Earlier in our guide, we discussed some typical signs of attraction. It can be hard to draw the line between friendly behavior and romantic behavior, especially if your friend is especially affectionate in general.
There is no foolproof way to know that your best friend likes you or loves you as more than a friend (other than to ask them!), but there are some things that may hint at it. It may help you to think of your friend’s behavior more objectively; how would you interpret these behaviors if they came from someone else?
Your friend may appear jealous over the prospect of you dating someone else, for example. They might act flirtatiously (giving compliments, initiating physical contact, etc.) in ways they haven’t in the past. Or their behavior might change in less obvious ways – maybe they seem more closed off or removed as they struggle to process their feelings.
Again, the best and most sure way to understand how your friend feels about you is to discuss it. If there are certain examples of behavior that has made you question your friend’s feelings, use these in your discussion. Encourage your friend to be honest with you and ensure them that it’s safe to do so. You want your friend to feel comfortable being truthful and thoughtful.
Is it better to marry your best friend?
Marrying a best friend can certainly be rewarding. If you have been friends for a while, it is likely the two of you have lots of shared memories and experiences. You might have an especially strong connection and a deep understanding of one another that can be hard to find elsewhere.
If you pursue a relationship with your best friend, you might want to keep in mind the importance of communication. Things that may have led to spats in the past may lead to more serious arguments if you enter a serious relationship, for example. Be diligent about being honest and open.
Can girl best friends fall in love?
It is totally possible (and totally okay!) for girls to fall in love with other girls, best friends included. It may be disorienting if you have never experienced attraction toward a girl in the past, but sometimes our closest friends have qualities that naturally lead to attraction.
If you are struggling with your sexuality and understanding how you feel about your best friend or anyone else, you may find it helpful to confide in someone else you trust. It could be a parent, another close friend, a sibling, or even a mental health professional like a counselor or a therapist. Find someone accepting and open-minded to have a healthy discussion about how you feel.
Some of the best relationships come from friendships. This is true for both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. You have probably been subject to a very heteronormative rhetoric throughout your life, which means it is more difficult to find examples in the media about relationships that look like yours. But that does not invalidate your feelings in any way, and it does not mean that you are alone.
Never let anyone make you feel lesser because of who you are. Prioritize self-love and acceptance in your life, and you will unlock deep reserves of power and confidence!
How do I tell my best friend I love her?
Telling anyone how you feel can be a scary experience, especially if you are worried about rejection. The best way to have such a serious discussion is in person, ideally, and in a private, quiet place. Trying to discuss your feelings at the lunch table might not be the best idea, for example.
When you discuss how you feel, it is important to be honest. Do not lie or downplay how you really feel – you want your friend to understand your thoughts and emotions, and you want to be sure that you are heard.
You might find it helpful to practice your conversation and words with someone else beforehand, or maybe write them down. This can help you feel more confident in the moment and make sure that you’re including all of the things that you want to say.
Another good tip is to ask questions instead of making statements. If you let your friend lead the conversation, she will be much more open and honest, and you can avoid putting pressure on her. Remember, this is a scary situation for her too, and it should be handled gently and with respect.
It is easy to feel nervous but remember that this person is your best friend for a reason. They likely care about you a great deal and will be willing to listen and understand how you feel.
Is it OK to say love you to a friend?
Expressing love for friends is a completely normal thing to do – in fact, being open about how much you care about your friends will probably do wonders to strengthen your relationship! If you’re worried your friends will misunderstand you and take your comment as an indication of romantic love, you can feel safe knowing that there’s nothing weird about loving your friends.
You can show your love for a friend in other ways too. Be supportive and thoughtful in moments of need. Be sure to remind them how important they are to you. You might feel more comfortable sharing your love if you practice being open about the value of your friendship in other ways.