Having feelings for someone is pretty anxiety-inducing at any time, but having a crush on a friend is especially terrible. Now you have to navigate how to deal with your annoying feelings while still keeping the health and safety of your friendship in mind. It’s enough to drive anyone a little crazy.
While we can’t necessarily help you deal with your situation, we can show you you’re not alone. Keep scrolling for the eight stages of having a secret crush on a friend.
Obviously the first stage of having a crush on a pal is that strange prickling in your stomach that lets you know you’re feeling something deeper than friendship. Everything could have been fine between the two of you, and then one day they flash you a particularly nice smile and bam! the feelings start to hit. You begin imagining what it would be like to date them, wondering if they feel the same thing and over-analyzing every interaction on the hunt for some kind of confirmation that your new feelings aren’t one-sided.
Since your pal is far from the most convenient person to crush on, the denial stage hits pretty fast in friend crushes. You tell yourself that there’s no way you could really have feelings for them. After all, you know way too much about them, including all their habits and quirks that make them totally not crush material. You’re probably just confusing the fact that you care about them for romantic feelings. You’ve just really bonded lately and it’s confusing your emotions. That must be where those weird butterflies in your stomach are coming from… right?
The denial stage might last for two days or it might last for two months, but eventually it’ll give way to the next phase—acceptance. At a certain point, you won’t be able to deny your feelings for your friend any longer. Those butterflies will totally take over, and you’ll have to admit that your feelings have gone a little deeper than friendship.
After you acknowledge that you do, in fact, have feelings for your friend, the annoyance stage starts. It’s not that you’re really annoyed by anything in particular, it’s just the whole process of having a crush on a friend is completely irritating. You’re totally aware that it’s not your friend’s fault that you’re crushing on them, but you start to get frustrated with them nonetheless. Why do they have to be so cute, why are they so thoughtful, why do the two of you get along so well—these and more irrational thoughts will run through your head as you try to figure out your next move in dealing with your secret crush.
As the annoyance stage starts to end, you’ll make a brief stop in the confidentiality stage. In this phase, you’ll have decided that the best way to deal with your crush is to just not acknowledge your feelings. You commit yourself to keeping your emotions a secret and refusing to confide in any member of your crew. You rationalize that your crush will totally ruin your friendship, so it’s better to just keep it to yourself and save everyone from all the potential drama.
Okay, so you really wanted to keep your crush a secret, but it was starting to eat away at you. Your feelings didn’t seem to be going away, and it’s just so hard trying to deal with things on your own, which catapults you right into the disclosure stage. In this stage, you suddenly can’t keep your secret any longer, and you word vomit all your feelings onto one of your closet pals. Seriously, you tell them everything. It feels good to get it off your chest, but you’re also a little nervous about where things might go now that your secret is out.
It might have felt good to get your secret off your chest, but it also pushes you into the next (and hardest) stage of your crush—awareness. Once one person knows about your feelings, everyone knows. Just like you couldn’t keep a secret, neither can anyone else, meaning your crush will eventually become aware of how you feel about them. It’s the most difficult stage to get through, but it’s also a sign that coping with your feelings is almost at an end.
Whether things turn out well with your crush or not, the awareness stage always filters into the peace stage. Once your crush finds out how you feel, you have no choice but to deal with it. You might start dating, or your friendship might be irrevocably altered, but either way you won’t be filled with the anxiety and dread that always accompanies your attempts to keep your crush a secret. The peace stage always comes, so you can relax in the knowledge that liking your crush is not going to be the end of the world.
Not sure if you’ve developed feelings for a pal or not? Click HERE for eight signs you’ve totally started crushing on a friend.