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Friendship After feelings: Can you still be friends with someone you’ve had feelings for?

Jul 28, 2022

Friendship After feelings: Can you still be friends with someone you’ve had feelings for?
  • Table of Contents

  • Staying friends with someone after developing real romantic feelings for them can be hard. However, many people have successfully remained friends after unrequited love confessions. Although it’s common for two people not to be able to get past potential awkwardness, it can still be possible for some. 

    At the end of the day, everyone’s situation is different. Maybe you were already close friends before, maybe an originally-romantic relationship fizzled out, or maybe you’ve always been flirty, but they started seeing someone else. Whatever your situation may be, the most important thing is to do what’s best for you and your emotional boundaries

    One thing we know for sure is that you deserve to have someone who reciprocates your love back to you! If you can acknowledge that fact and move on, then it’s possible you can remain friends. However, you may also find that’s not what truly serves you.

    Keep reading for tips on how to remain friends after feelings, as well as how to know when it’s time to move on.


    Communication

    The key to staying friends with someone after nonreciprocal and/or reciprocal feelings is communication.

    Keep in mind that if someone truly cares about you as a friend, they will be more than willing to talk to you about important things. True friends are there for each other and want to see each other thrive and be happy.

    One topic that should be communicated in this situation is boundaries. You might both have boundaries you need to put in place to maintain a healthy friendship. For example, you may need to have the boundary of not sending mixed signals, such as them continuing any flirty behavior. You might also have topics you want off-limits as friends, such as each other’s dating lives. On the flip side, maybe it’s important for you both to be able to talk about those subjects without any awkwardness. Whatever it is you need, it’s important to make it clear.

    Good communication includes talking about concerns or questions you might have, having closure, and making sure you both are on the same page. If someone doesn’t reciprocate wanting to give you the communication you need, it might not be the true friendship they’re looking for. Rather, they may be looking for acquaintanceship, which can be to simply relieve guilt or remove accountability from themselves. 

    Someone’s response to initiating communication can be telling. Try not to kid yourself if they’re showing their true colors or characteristics you don’t want in a friend.


    Getting over feelings

    Moving on from your romantic feelings might be necessary to remain friends. Staying friends with someone you have a crush on or even love can be hard. When romantic feelings aren’t reciprocated, it can feel like your feelings are getting hurt again and again. If that’s the case, it might be a sign to move on completely. 

    Although if you think you could move past those feelings and be friends, here are some tips for getting over your person first:

    • Take some time apart. To move on from romantic feelings, you likely need to take some time away from this person. Have some alone time and allow yourself to feel everything.
    • Talk with your person. Depending on your situation, talking through things with your person to get closure can be helpful to move on. This could come before or after taking time apart.
    • Journal your feelings. Writing out all your feelings can help you process them as well. Write them out, and then try to let go.
    • Vent to friends. Having a support system of friends to talk to is always helpful.
    • Make a list of their qualities. Write out all the qualities you like and don’t like about them. You might find there are more cons than you originally thought. 
    • Give yourself time. It’s important to allow yourself time to process things. The amount of time to process a rejection or breakup is different for everyone, so don’t pressure yourself.
    • See other people. If you’re ready, seeing other people can definitely help you move on. It depends on your situation, such as how long you were together or if you were even together, but only do so if you’re truly ready.
    • Do things you love. Throw yourself back into things you love to do. This will take your mind off the situation and make you feel happy at the same time.
    • Look to the future. Get hopeful about the future– someone just left space for something even better to come into your life.

    Ultimately, remember you can’t always control your feelings, and that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t quite move on. However, it’s hard to remain friends with someone when you have romantic feelings for them. Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling and what you need.


    Acknowledge your needs

    In addition to respecting boundaries, you need to acknowledge your own needs. It’s important to know what you want from a friendship.

    What does true friendship mean to you? Maybe it means being able to spend a lot of time together, share things with each other, and be there for each other. If they’re not looking for the same things, maybe it’s more acquaintanceship that they’re looking for. In that case, ask yourself if that’s really what you want.

    It’s important to respect yourself and your needs. It can be hard, but it’s necessary to acknowledge your needs so you can assess if the situation is serving you.

    Knowing when to move on

    In a situation that can be tricky and possibly cause more hurt feelings, it’s important to stay aware of how you’re feeling. Check in with yourself and be honest about how you feel. If the situation is causing you more grief than happiness, it might be time to move on altogether. Additionally, if your person is crossing your boundaries or continuing to lead you on, consider if they are really a ‘friend’. 

    Moving on from someone you care about is hard, but staying in upsetting situations is more harmful in the long run. You deserve to find someone who chooses you too! You also deserve true friends who care about you enough to communicate and want to see you thrive. 


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    Katie is a writer and creative person based in Seattle who is passionate about the arts, environmental justice, and all things vintage fashion. She celebrates queerness as a natural yet radical state of being, and she strives to make the world a more inclusive place for all. You can find her taking meditative strolls in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest channeling her inner Bella Swan, or just on IG @ktmarieeee.

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