Am I In Love With My Best Friend? The Difference Between Friendship And Romance
Sometimes, the line between friendship and romantic love can seem very blurry, and you may find yourself wondering, “Am I in love with my best friend?” Love and friendship are two concepts that can be closely related and have many similarities, but they can also have large, significant differences. Let's break this down and explain why.
Romantic Love Versus Friendship
One of the largest traits that friendship and romantic love can have in common is emotional intimacy. This is the emotional connection you feel with someone and makes the difference between a friend and acquaintances. An acquaintance is a person you may have a conversation with and see from time to time, but you not connect on a deeper level. Meanwhile, a friend is someone you can be more open with, whose company you really enjoy, and who you feel very connected to. This emotional intimacy is also a key piece of romantic love, which can be confusing sometimes.
Then, there's commitment. Commitment can be quite important in a romantic relationship. You have likely established some clear expectations around what you mean to each other, what you see for the future, and how you both honor the relationship. Commitment may also exist in a friendship, though often in less clearly defined terms. For instance, you may trust that you will be there for each other when you need each other, and that you will see each other or catch up fairly regularly.
According to the psychology of love, true love involves commitment and intimacy, which friendships can have, but also involves a romantic and/or physical attraction to that person. That said, some friendships can have a sexual component, such as in a friends with benefits situation in which 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 often isn't as strong as love would be.
How To Tell If You Love Your Friend
Wondering, “Am I in love with my best friend?” Well, it can be hard to tell the difference between romance and platonic friendship. A platonic relationship involves the two of you having a close emotional bond but no romance. Here are some things you can consider to help you determine if what you’re feeling might be more than friendship:
You Get Jealous
If you have no romantic attachment to your friend, you're likely not going to experience strong jealousy if they get in a relationship. You may feel some slight jealousy or fear that the romantic partner will distract your friend from the time you get to hang out. But if you have strong romantic feelings for your best friend, you may feel intensely jealous. You 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, now that you’ve missed your moment.
You Can't Stop Thinking About Them
A best friend is likely going to be on your mind for a while, more than your other friends. You have an intimate bond with them, after all. With that said, if you are always thinking about this friend and you can't stop, it may be more than friendship. Try to be mindful of your thoughts. Write down how often you think about your friend, and try to determine if it's a sign of romantic love or just friendship thoughts. Observe what pops into your head when you think about your best friend. There’s a difference between recalling good times together and fantasizing about wanting more. 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 can be a sign that you have feelings that go beyond friendship.
You're Sexually Attracted To Them
If you’ve realized you are very sexually attracted to this friend, then that is likely more than a platonic friendship. With that said, you can be sexually attracted to someone and not have any romantic bonds with them or realize that you have no interest in pursuing anything beyond a friendship. However, if your sexual attraction is combined with any of the other dynamics on this list, it may be proof that you see your friend as more than just a friend.
You Talk About Them A Lot
Whenever you're talking to your friends or other people in your life, you typically don't bring a person 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 to bring this fact up, then there's a chance that you're in love with this person. If you're unsure if that's the case, you could choose a different friend you trust and talk it out with them to get another perspective.
You Have Noticeably Different Feelings Around Them
The butterflies and nervousness you may feel while falling in love are often quite noticeable. You may feel a sense of nervous excitement when you are around them, and perhaps especially when the two of you are alone or physically close to each other. One thing you can do to try to assess your feelings is to 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? Do you feel a nervous excitement when they get close?
Getting Help Through Therapy
Friendship and romantic love have similarities and also key differences, and figuring out what exactly you’re feeling toward a friend can sometimes be difficult. If you need advice or help as you try to sort through your feelings, you can speak with a counselor for support. A therapist can help you make sense of your feelings, teach you how to express your emotions to your friend, and help you manage the relationship as it blossoms.
In this kind of situation, you may find that you have confusing thoughts about your friend that pop up at random times. For instance, you may notice that you feel nervous excitement right before seeing them, or that you can’t stop thinking about them after you hang out. In these situations, being able to reach out to a therapist in those precise moments may be very helpful. With online therapy through ReGain, you can use in-app messaging to reach out to your therapist at any time, and they will respond as soon as they can.
With romance, love, relationships, and friendships, there can be all sorts of dynamics, challenges, and issues at play, and so you may have a range of concerns to discuss with your therapist. Research has found that online therapy is just as effective as in-person sessions for a range of concerns.
It can sometimes be hard to differentiate between feelings of friendship and romantic love. If you are grappling with the question of whether or not you are in love with your best friend, consider some of the ideas detailed above to help you sort through your feelings. If you would like to talk with a trained professional about your thoughts and feelings, an online therapist can help.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is falling in love with your best friend normal?
In the past, you may have had no romantic feelings for your best friend. But then, you realized or start to figure out and notice you have a crush on your friend. Maybe you even fall in love with them and hope for a future relationship with them. If this is something you’re experiencing, you’re not alone, and this can be common. Many people believe that a strong friendship is an ideal foundation for a romantic relationship, so starting out as best friends and growing into something more can make sense.
How do I know if I am in love with my best friend?
The way you love someone is different for each person. But, you might consider some of the following: If you hear their name and perk up, that might be a sign. If you notice you incessantly think about them and talk about them with others, that could be another sign. If you always want to bring them to all your social events, or even start thinking about them sexually, you may be feeling love. If you feel like you’d do anything to help them or make them happy, and if you want to build a future with them, you may be in love.
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