Should You Ever End a Friendship Over Your Romantic Feelings for Someone? We Asked an Expert
When you develop feelings for a friend, your relationship can get a lot more complicated.
Should you admit your feelings, or keep them to yourself? And if you do confess your love and they don't feel the same way, can things ever be the same? We wanted some clarity on the subject, so we reached out to psychologist Funke Baffour-Awuah, better known as Dr. Funke. She's the author of Me, Myself and I: Friendship and Relationships, and she gave us some expert advice on dealing with the situation from all angles.
Sweety High: When you develop feelings for a friend, when is it best to share those feelings, and when should you keep them to yourself?
Funke Baffour-Awuah: This always depends on the individual situation. When you have a crush, it's really important to understand your feelings. A crush is essentially strong, intense feelings for someone, and it usually lasts for about three to four months. If you suddenly have these feelings for a friend, my advice is to give yourself some space for those three or four months.
After that time, psychologists say it's no longer just a crush. At that point, it's either become an obsession, or it's the case that you really want to be in a relationship with this person. From there, you have a choice to make. You can decide to brush those feelings under the carpet, but that causes confusion. No matter what, the friendship is going to change. Once you've identified your feelings, you can't make them go away. You cannot pretend it's not there, because your actions will show that the relationship is different. It's about being honest. The other person might feel the same about you, or they might not, so you have to agree on how to move forward from that. A relationship only results if there's agreement from both sides.
SH: How can we maintain a friendship if those feelings aren't reciprocated?
FBA: The key is honesty. When you try to avoid your feelings, they can transform into different negative behaviors you might not be aware of. Your words and your actions are what count when it comes to your interaction with others.
Put some boundaries in place, because the friendship has moved to a different level when you want to remain friends but you know you have feelings for someone and the other person doesn't feel the same way. You must realize that you have to let that go and not keep harboring the idea that you thought they'd like you, but they don't.
You have to assess your agenda. When you became friends with this person, was your intention actually friendship? If that's the case, you must own that and take responsibility for your feelings, and make a decision about how you'll navigate it moving forward.
SH: When might it make sense to end a friendship because you have feelings for someone?
FBA: You may want to end a friendship when it stops representing what it did at the beginning. Again, you want to assess your agenda for getting into this friendship. If from the beginning, your intention was that they'd be your boyfriend or girlfriend, and that wasn't the plan for the other person, you have to be honest with yourself about whether you can view this person as just a friend. If you can't, you may have to make a decision to end the friendship.
The key is to know what type of friends you two are and what you're looking for in a friend. What does friendship mean to you, and what does a relationship mean to you? It's important that you take responsibility for your actions, and that you don't place that obligation. If you're tempted to end a friendship because someone didn't like you, chances are that you weren't friends for the right reasons to begin with. In friendships, there should be an agreed goal, and that's particularly true if you want to develop your friendships into romantic relationships. After all, friendships are a type of relationship. Put boundaries in place so you both know what you're in for from the start.
Dealing with some tricky feelings? Click HERE for our favorite songs that capture the feeling of unrequited love.