NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Falling In Love With Your Best Friend

Falling in love with your best friend is a common theme in many books, movies, TV programs, and newspaper articles because it happens all the time, no matter how old you are.  The phenomenon of falling in love with your best friend is often portrayed in stories about young people, but I've also seen it happen with people who are older.  It happens among heterosexual as well as gay people.  It makes sense that two people who have a lot in common and who have developed a bond based on trust and affection would fall in love with each other.

Falling In Love With Your Best Friend

What Are the Potential Positive Aspects of Falling In Love With Your Best Friend?

Developing a Romantic Relationship on a Solid Foundation
When the feelings have developed over time and they're mutual, it has the potential to be a wonderful experience.  Since you already know each other so well, your romantic relationship can build on a solid foundation.  If you're best friends, you already know each other's likes, dislikes, interests and opinions about important issues, like views on families, spirituality, finances, and so on.

If it's a long term friendship, you've probably been there for each other during hard times, which is an important element in a romantic relationship.  You probably also have other friends in common.

Developing a Romantic Relationship as an Extension of Your Friendship
Your relationship started as a friendship, and then a romantic spark might have developed between the two of you over time as you got to know each other better.

This tends to be a more stable way of developing a relationship than "love at first sight," although "love at first sight" works for many couples too.  It's just that when the experience is "love at first sight," the romantic chemistry isn't always enough to build a relationship on.  "Love at first sight" is often an unconscious process and, although it can be exhilarating, it's only a first step whereas a romantic relationship that started as a friendship usually has more substance.

What Are the Potential Negative Aspects of Falling In Love With Your Best Friend?

The potential positive aspects that I mentioned above are all based on there being mutual feelings between the two friends.  But romantic feelings between two friends aren't always mutual.

Getting a Sense of Whether Your Best Friend Has Romantic Feelings For You
This can be awkward and tricky.  If your best friend hasn't given you any indication that s/he also has romantic feelings for you, this doesn't mean that s/he doesn't.  It can just mean that you're both too afraid to reveal romantic feelings because you both fear losing the friendship, which is a real possibility.

Getting a Sense of Whether Your Best Friend Has Romantic Feelings For You

Sometimes, you can sense when your friend has a romantic interest in you, and you can broach the topic with some, but not a lot, of risk.  But if you can't tell, in my opinion, you'll need to use tact and be subtle in your approach.

Holding Back If Your Best Friend is Already in a Relationship
If your best friend is already in a relationship, there isn't much you can do.  You need to accept that your friend isn't available and learn to deal with your feelings.  Trying to do anything that would break up that relationship will back fire and, especially if your friend is married, you'll be perceived as "a home wrecker" or worse.  Even if your friend left the other person for you, trust issues could develop about your relationship together later on.

Deciding What to Do If There is No Possibility of Your Best Friend Developing Romantic Feelings For You
It's possible that the timing might be wrong.  But whatever the reason, this is often an emotionally painful and awkward role to be in, whatever role you're in in this situation.

If you've fallen in love with your best friend and you know there's no possibility of your friend feeling the same way, you and your friend have some decisions to make.

There are plenty of friendships that go on to survive and thrive under these circumstances...if you can work out how to handle it.  It might require that the two of you take some time apart for a while so that the romantic feelings subside.  After a while, you might be able to reconnect without damage to the friendship.  You might want to consider if you've been avoiding meeting and dating other people, and if you want to open up to new potential romantic relationships.

Whether you continue the friendship or you take a break, be aware that you'll need to be able to deal with your friend meeting, dating and, possibly, falling in love with someone else.  This isn't easy when you're still in love with your friend.

Be honest with yourself:  Will you be able to handle this or will it be too hurtful for you, even if you take a break?  Will you feel too resentful or jealous?  Only you can decide this.

Falling In Love With a Best Friend Happens in "Real Life," Not Just in the Movies
Falling in love with your best friend doesn't just happen on TV or in the movies.  Movies like "When Harry Met Sally" are popular because they resonate with many people who have had this experience. Knowing that this is a common experience, hopefully, helps you to realize what you're experiencing isn't unusual or strange.

Knowing the potential risks and rewards can help you decide what to do about your feelings.  There are many people who try to avoid dealing with this situation because they're too afraid of risking the friendship.

Falling In Love With Your Best Friend Happens in "Real Life"

While, as I've mentioned, there are potential risks, in my opinion, it would be even sadder to find out years later that  a relationship was possible at an earlier time but that, unacknowledged, these feelings fizzled out for your friend and, although you might still be interested, your friend's feelings changed over time because you were both too afraid to talk about it.  But only you can decide what's best for you.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.