NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Are You Feeling a Sexual Attraction For a Friend?

In my last article, 5 Reasons to Be Friends First Before Dating Someone, I discussed the advantages of being friends before getting romantically involved.  And, while there are many advantages to forming a friendship first, there can also be complications involved.

Are You Feeling a Sexual Attraction For a Friend?

Sexual Attraction Between Friends
It's not unusual that two friends, who aren't romantically involved, can feel a sexual attraction for each other.  As I mentioned in my previous article, friendships often involve an attraction.

Sexual tension between friends is normal and natural.  Spending time together and sharing similar interests not only strengthens the bonds of friendship--it can also increase the sexual tension between two people.  

In and of itself, sexual tension between friends is neither good nor bad.  What makes it enjoyable or uncomfortable depends on how each of you feels and what you want from one another.

Sometimes other people notice the sexual chemistry between you and your friend before you do.  You might be in denial about it and not even notice it until other people comment on what they've observed.  

There can be many signs they pick up on that you might not notice. They might comment that you seem different or have a certain look with your friend as compared to other friends.  They might notice that you light up when your friend walks into the room or that you and your friend sit close together or touch each other more than usual.  

Sexual Attraction That's Mutual Between You and Your Friend
If you're aware that your friend also feels a sexual attraction for you and might be open to getting romantically involved, you're more likely to feel comfortable with the sexual tension between you.  But if you're not sure and you're worried about jeopardizing your friendship, this can become a source of stress for you.

There can also be extenuating circumstances that make getting romantically involved a problem.  For instance, if you or your friend are in a committed relationship with someone else, you would be wise to pause before getting involved and creating emotional pain for everyone involved.  

Likewise, if you're in a situation where transitioning from friends to a romantic relationship could jeopardize your job or professional relationship, you probably won't want to take the risk.  

That being said, work situations often create the environment for spending a lot of time together and getting close. There are also many people who meet in a work situation and who go on to have a successful relationship without jeopardizing their job.  It depends on your work environment (some companies have specific rules about not getting involved with colleagues and you want to avoid the risk of sexual harassment charges). There is also the issue of whether the two of you can conduct yourself in a professional manner while at work.

Deciding Whether or Not to Reveal Your Sexual Attraction to Your Friend
As previously mentioned, on the one hand, you might enjoy your attraction to your friend without ever doing anything about it.  

On the other hand, your sexual attraction might make you feel uncomfortable and create a painful yearning for something more.  This can be especially painful and triggering if you grew up in an environment where your emotional needs weren't met (see my article: What is Childhood Emotional Neglect?).

Only you can decide the risks or rewards of whether to broach the topic with your friend.  If neither of you ever brings it up, you could both be depriving yourself of a great romantic relationship that is based on a solid foundation of friendship.  But the risk is that once you reveal your attraction, there can be some awkwardness between the two of you if your friend doesn't feel the same way.

Talking about the sexual attraction can clear the air and help determine if there is a mutual interest and the possibility for getting romantically involved.  

Chances are that your friend has detected the sexual tension too and might not know how to address it.  A lot of confusion and stress can be avoided when there is open and honest communication between you and your friend about what each of you wants--even if it's awkward at first.

What If Your Friend Doesn't Want to Get Romantically Involved?
The potential rewards of revealing a sexual attraction are many if you and your friend both feel the same way.  But what if your friend doesn't feel the same way or feels the attraction but decides s/he doesn't want to get romantically involved?

Many people think this means the end of the friendship, but this isn't necessarily the case.  You and your friend can still spend time together with the understanding that you will remain friends without getting sexually or romantically involved.

If you're the one who would like to become involved and your feelings aren't reciprocated, you'll need to take extra care of yourself:  
  • Tune into your own needs and take time each day doing something you enjoy without this friend.  
  • Talk to other trusted friends to get their emotional support.
  • Spend time writing in a journal to clarify and release your emotions (see my article: Journal Writing to Relieve Stress and Anxiety).
  • Try not to spend a lot of time alone with your friend since this would create greater emotional intimacy and a deeper yearning for something more.
  • Honor whatever boundaries you and your friend have agreed upon.
  • Develop other friendships.
  • Date other people.
  • Develop other interests that don't involve your friend.
If you continue to have difficulty with being around your friend, you could benefit from seeking professional help.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you find yourself in a situation with a friend where your feelings are unrequited, you're not alone.  This is a common occurrence between friends.

If experiencing unrequited feelings brings up earlier unresolved feelings, this can be especially painful, and you could benefit from seeking help from an experienced therapist who can help you to work through your feelings.

About Me
I am a New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, EFT, AEDP and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article:  The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

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.