How to Tell a Friend You Like Them As More Than a Friend

Some romantic relationships begin with friendship. You might meet someone you click with, become friends, and gradually find yourself developing a crush on them. If they return your feelings, it could be the start of a great relationship.

But telling a friend you like them as more than a friend can feel awkward. In this guide, you’ll learn how to tell a friend you like them romantically, with and without words.

Sections

  1. How to tell a friend you like them
  2. How to deal with your friend’s response
  3. Subtle ways to let your friend know you like them
  4. How to tell whether your friend likes you back
  5. Situations where you shouldn’t tell your friend that you like them
  6. Common questions

How to tell a friend you like them

A direct conversation about your feelings usually takes more courage than dropping subtle hints, but it’s usually the quickest way to find out whether your friend feels the same way about you. Here’s how to tell your friend that you have romantic feelings towards them.

1. Avoid waiting too long to talk to your friend

It’s a good idea to take some time and reflect on your feelings before sharing them with your friend. Some crushes don’t last very long and may pass within a few weeks.

But if you’re sure that you like your friend romantically rather than platonically, it’s usually better to tell them instead of overthinking the situation and building it up in your mind. The sooner you share your feelings, the sooner you can either move on (if they don’t reciprocate) or start moving your relationship in a more romantic direction (if you both want to.)

It can help to give yourself a deadline. For example, you could decide that you’ll talk to your friend within a week.

2. Ensure you’re prepared for your friend’s response

Before you tell your friend about your feelings, make sure you are ready to cope with the possibility that they don’t feel the same way. If you cannot bear the thought of rejection, it probably isn’t the right time to tell your friend about your crush.

Even if they are your BFF and you know them well, you can’t predict their response. Bear in mind there’s a chance they will want to end your friendship if they don’t return your feelings. Make sure you are willing to take that risk.

3. Choose a private place to share your feelings

Do not have a conversation about your feelings where other people can overhear you. If it feels like someone else is listening, you and your friend might feel awkward.

Pick a private or semi-private place to have the conversation. For example, you could talk in the park while you’re taking a walk or sitting on a bench, or during a visit to the beach.

4. Think carefully before telling them over text

You may have heard that you should always have important conversations face to face rather than via text, but it’s not always a bad idea. It depends on your situation, personality, and how you and your friend usually communicate.

Here are the advantages of revealing a crush via text:

  • Sharing your feelings via text can feel safer than doing it in person. You don’t have to watch your friend’s reaction, and you don’t have to read their response until you’re ready.
  • Some friends are used to having in-depth conversations over text, so if this is normal for you and your friend, it may make sense to tell them about your crush during a text conversation.
  • If your friend doesn’t return your feelings, they may find it less awkward to tell you via text rather than face to face.

However, there are several disadvantages to telling your crush you like them over text:

  • You won’t get to see your friend’s initial reaction. You won’t be able to see their body language or facial expression, which can tell you a lot about how they feel.
  • You’ll have to rely on words alone to get your message across, and it’s not always easy to strike the right tone over text.
  • You may have to wait a long time for their response, and this waiting period may cause you a lot of anxiety.

Every situation is different, so take the time to weigh up the pros and cons.

5. Pick your moment carefully

Think about the right time for the conversation, not just the place. If you pick an inconvenient moment, you may come across as insensitive.

For example, if your friend is tired or stressed, it’s probably best to wait. Your friend may have questions, and the conversation could take a while. Allow enough time for an in-depth talk.

Do not start a conversation about your feelings if your friend is dealing with a major setback or is under a lot of pressure, for example, at school or work. You may come across as self-centered and inconsiderate if you start talking about your crush instead of supporting your friend in their time of need.

6. Emphasize how much you value their friendship

When you share your feelings, tell your friend that your friendship is important to you. This makes it clear that you see them as a true friend and haven’t been spending time with them just because you hope they will become your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Here are some things you can say to underline how much you value them as a friend:

  • “I just want you to know that if you don’t feel the same way, I still really want us to be friends.”
  • “Our friendship means a lot to me. Whether you feel the same way towards me or not, I’d like us to stay friends.”

7. Prepare some phrases you can use with your friend

You don’t need to have a word-for-word script for an in-person conversation, but it can help to think of how you’d like to open the conversation and spell out exactly how you feel. In general, it’s best to be direct and to the point; if you start babbling, you may appear nervous, which could make your friend nervous too.

To open the conversation, you could say:

  • “I’ve got something important I’d like to say.”
  • “Hey, there’s something I’d like to tell you.”

To tell your friend how you feel, you could say:

  • “I’ve had a crush on you for a while now.”
  • “Recently, I’ve realized that I have romantic feelings for you.”

You can then follow up with a specific question, such as:

  • “I was wondering whether you’d like to go on a date sometime?”
  • “I was wondering whether you could see us as more than friends?”

By asking your friend a question, you will probably make it easier for them to respond. If you simply tell them you love them, they might be at a loss for how to answer, especially if they are surprised by what you’ve said.

8. Do not use dramatic language

To tell your friend you like them without scaring them off, avoid dramatic language.

For example, here are some melodramatic phrases to avoid when telling a friend that you like them in a romantic way:

  • “I think we’re soulmates.”
  • “You’re not just my best friend. I’m completely in love with you.”
  • “I think we’d be so good together. Would you give us a chance?”

These sort of phrases can make you come across as too intense and may make your friend feel pressured to say they feel the same way about you.

9. Ask your friend on a date

Instead of having a conversation about your feelings, you could simply ask your friend whether they’d like to go on a date with you; you don’t necessarily have to spell out exactly how you feel.

For this to work, it’s best to use the word “date” because it’s normal for platonic friends to spend time together one on one. Make your intentions clear.

For example, instead of saying, “Would you like to go and see a movie with me?” you could say, “I’d like to go to the movies with you, not just as friends, but on a date. Would you be interested?”

10. Give your friend time to process what you’ve said

Your friend may already know that you have romantic feelings towards them, but it may come as a complete surprise if you are good at hiding your emotions. Make it clear that you don’t expect them to respond straight away.

For example, you could say, “This might be a shock, and I’m not expecting you to say anything right now. I just wanted you to know how I feel.”

Or if you ask them on a date and they look unsure, you could say, “Of course, you might want to think about it, and I respect that. Let me know if you’re interested. If not, I still hope we can hang out as friends.”

If your friend makes it clear that they don’t return your feelings, you may need to give them some space. This may be a few days or a few weeks, depending on their response. Taking some time apart from each other can take the pressure off your friend and also gives you a chance to process the rejection. Follow their lead when it comes to hanging out; stay in touch, but let them decide when to meet next.

The most important thing to remember is that your friendship may not be the same again. However, rejection can be very beneficial because it can give you a sense of closure and frees you to pursue other romantic relationships.

11. Avoid sending messages via a third party

If you ask someone to act as a messenger, there’s a possibility that they won’t use quite the right words or communicate what you feel. It’s best to be direct and start the conversation yourself.

However, you could ask one of your friends for support or a confidence boost. For example, you could say, “I’m about to tell [friend’s name] that I have a crush on them. To be honest, I’m feeling really anxious! Remind me that it’s going to be OK?”

How to deal with your friend’s response

It’s difficult to know how your friend will react when they learn about your feelings. It can help to prepare what you’ll do and say, whether they reciprocate your crush or not.

1. Thank your friend for their honesty

If your friend tells you that they don’t return your feelings, show that you appreciate their honesty.

You could say, “Thank you for being straightforward with me” or “Thanks for being honest. I know these conversations aren’t easy.”

2. Do not retract your words

If your friend doesn’t feel the same way or they turn down your offer of a date, it can be tempting to backpedal and pretend that you were just joking. But if they know you well, your friend won’t be fooled, and it could make the situation more awkward.

For example, don’t say “Ha ha, well I was only joking anyway” or “I didn’t really mean it, I was just messing around.”

3. Allow the relationship to grow steadily

If your friend reciprocates your feelings, it’s natural to feel happy and look forward to having them as your boyfriend or girlfriend. But at this stage, you can’t know whether you and your friend are romantically compatible. Try not to project too far into the future. Set up a date and see how the relationship unfolds.

4. Be prepared to move on

If your feelings aren’t reciprocated, it’s likely that your friendship might never be the same again. It’s also likely your friendship might end. This is a big reason many people are afraid to tell their friend they like them. However, not showing or telling your friend how you feel can also trap you in a relationship that would never grow past friendship. A rejection can free you to eventually open up your heart to someone who feels the same about you.

Subtle ways to let your friend know you like them

If you’re not ready to have a direct conversation about your feelings, you can still drop hints that you see someone as more than a friend. Here’s how to signal that you have a crush on them without saying it directly.

1. Flirt with your friend

Flirting involves showing romantic or sexual interest in a playful, light-hearted way.

Here are a few ways you could flirt with your friend:

  • Touch your friend more often: People usually touch other people they like. Hugging your friend, ruffling their hair, or touching them lightly on the arm or back can signal your interest.
  • Tease your friend in a light-hearted way: Affectionate teasing can be a form of flirting. Remember that teasing and banter should be fun, not mean-spirited. Our guide on how to banter contains lots of advice and examples.
  • Make more eye contact: Eye contact is normal between friends, but lingering eye contact can be a sign of romantic interest and a desire to form a deeper connection. Try looking for a second or two longer than usual.
  • Avoid flirting with other people in front of your friend: Make it clear to your friend that you see them differently from everyone else in your social group. But don’t overdo it, or your friend may feel uncomfortable.

2. Give your friend compliments

Show that you notice your friend’s appearance and think that they are physically attractive. Make your compliments more personal than the compliments you’d give platonic friends. For example, instead of saying, “I like your shirt,” you could say, “Your shirt really brings out the color of your eyes.”

3. Make a special effort to show that you care

Close platonic friends care about each other, and thoughtful gestures are a normal part of friendship. But going out of your way to make your friend’s day brighter can be a subtle way of showing that you care about them as more than a friend.

For example, you could put together a playlist of songs you think they’d like, track down a copy of an out-of-print book they want to read, or take them cupcakes decorated with their favorite color frosting when they’re having a tough day.

How to tell whether your friend likes you back

Unless you ask them outright or invite them on a date, you can’t know for sure whether your friend might want to date you. However, there are some signs that they might see you as more than a platonic friend.

1. They flirt back when you flirt with them

If your friend returns your flirtatious behavior, such as lingering eye contact and playful teasing, this can be a good sign. They might sit or stand closer to you than is necessary, touch your arm when they talk to you, or take every possible opportunity to hug you.

Bear in mind that some people like to flirt and banter with their friends, even if the relationship is strictly platonic. It can help to ask yourself, “Do they act this way around everyone, or are they just like this with me?” If they treat you differently, this can be a good sign that they see you as a potential romantic partner.

2. They initiate conversations and invite you out

Taking the initiative and asking you to hang out is a normal part of friendship, so it doesn’t automatically mean that they want to date you. But if they make a special effort to spend time with you, especially if it’s one on one, it could be a sign that they want to get to know you on a deeper level.

3. They don’t tell you about other people they like

If your friend has a crush on you, they probably won’t want you to think that they are interested in anyone else.

You may have heard that a good way to find out whether your friend has romantic feelings for you is to tell them you have a crush on someone else and watch their reaction. The logic behind this “test” is that if your friend appears jealous or annoyed, they might have romantic feelings for you.

But most people don’t behave like this. In general, if a friend talks enthusiastically about their crush, they are not thinking of you as a potential romantic partner. If they do use these kinds of “test,” you might want to reconsider pursuing a relationship with them because this behavior can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

4. Other people think your friend likes you

If your mutual friends insist that your friend has a crush on you, they may have picked up on signs that you’ve missed. They might say things like “Oh, [friend’s name] is definitely into you” or “You and [friend’s name] would make such a cute couple!”

We have two articles you might find helpful if you still aren’t sure if your friend likes you:

Situations where you shouldn’t tell your friend that you like them

Every situation and friendship is unique, so there aren’t a set of rules that apply to everyone who wants to tell a friend that they like them romantically. But in general, there are a few scenarios in which it’s best not to reveal your feelings.

1. You are in a relationship

It is disrespectful to your partner to tell someone else that you like them. If you aren’t happy in your current relationship, it’s normally best to finish it before telling your friend about your feelings. Your friend may also be uncomfortable if you reveal your feelings while you’re dating someone else.

2. They are in a relationship

If your friend is in a relationship, it’s usually preferable to keep your feelings to yourself. If you tell your friend about your crush, they may get the impression that you want their relationship to fail, which could make them feel upset or unsupported. Respect your friend’s decision when it comes to who they want to date.

If you are struggling to behave normally around your friend because you have a crush on them, you may be tempted to tell them how you feel, even if they aren’t single.

But this can easily backfire. Your friend may feel that out of respect for their partner, they shouldn’t continue a friendship with someone who has a crush on them. It may be best to spend more time with other friends and wait for your feelings to fade.

You should also realize that your friend might tell their partner how you feel, which could lead to a rift or an awkward situation if you all share a social circle.

3. Your friend has just broken up with their partner

If your friend has recently broken up with someone, you might want to tell them that you like them romantically. However, it’s usually better to wait until your friend has come to terms with the breakup before telling them how you feel. If you let them know about your crush while they are getting over their previous relationship, you’ll probably come across as insensitive.

4. Your friend has told you they want to stay single

When someone tells you that they aren’t looking to date anyone, take them at their word. If you tell them how you feel, your friend might feel as though you aren’t respecting their decision.

5. Your friend wouldn’t make a good partner for you

It’s easy to assume that two people who get on well as friends would also make good partners, but this isn’t always true. If you reflect on what it would be like to actually date your friend, you may have second thoughts about revealing your crush.

For example, here are some ways you might not be compatible:

  • Their religious, political, or spiritual beliefs are completely different to your own.
  • You have very different attitudes to marriage, children, and how men and women should behave in relationships.
  • Your communication styles are different; for example, they might like lots of contact throughout the day, whereas you prefer occasional texts and calls.

If the two of you aren’t likely to be a good match, telling your friend how you feel might have no payoff.

Common questions

Is it bad to tell a friend you like them?

It depends on the situation. In general, if your friend is single, you are sure of your feelings, and you are willing to risk the friendship, it’s not bad to tell them. If your friend is not available for a relationship or you can’t face the possibility of rejection, it’s best not to tell them.

How do you tell someone you like them without ruining the friendship?

There is always a chance that telling someone that you like them romantically will end your friendship. On the other hand, they might return your feelings. It isn’t possible to know for certain how your friend will respond. You need to decide whether you’re willing to take the risk.

How can you ask someone if they like you without being obvious?

It’s difficult to ask without making your intentions obvious. But you can look for signs that your crush likes you. For example, if they go out of their way to spend time with you one-on-one and make more physical contact with you than they do with other friends, they may return your feelings.

How can you secretly tell someone you like them?

If you don’t want to reveal your feelings directly, try subtly hinting by flirting, giving them personal compliments, and touching them more often than you would touch a platonic friend. But in most cases, they won’t know for sure how you feel unless you tell them directly.

How do I stop having a crush on my friend?

Spending less time with your friend can help you get over a crush. It can also help to focus on your hobbies, interests, and friendships with other people. Remember that some crushes don’t last longer than a few weeks or months. Try to be patient and remind yourself that your feelings may fade out.

Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages SocialSelf’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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