Love has a unique tendency to grow over time, so it’s not uncommon to develop romantic feelings for a friend you’ve known for years.
In strong friendships, the proximity, shared hobbies, and mixed signals — like flirtatious jokes, physical affection, or pet names — are opportunities for intimacy and ‘something more’ to flourish.
For many people, a romantic partnership that blooms out of an existing, genuine bond is the best kind of love to have.
So what happens if you want something more from a guy, but he says he only wants to be friends?
There aren’t many options if he doesn’t see you that way; you can either communicate your feelings or do your best to quietly move on.
Should You Pursue Him? 7 Signs You’re Wasting Your Time
No matter what, you’re absolutely convinced that you and your friend would make a great couple.
After all, the friendship is easy, fun, and open. You’re both really comfortable with each other and everyone says you should be together.
However, you’re not sure if he actually feels the same way and you want to check your expectations — or risk looking desperate.
Here are a few signs that you should rethink pursuing your guy friend:
1. You initiate the interactions
Whether it’s planning get-togethers, liking his photos, or sending the first text, you feel like if you stopped trying then the two of you would not talk as much.
Maybe the reason why you’re always the first to move is because you’re the only one who wants something to happen.
2. Nothing you do works
You feel like you’ve already exhausted all your ideas trying to get him to ask you out.
It doesn’t matter how much you compliment him, flirt with him, or ask him to hang out with you. He simply doesn’t see you that way.
3. It’s been a long time already
Maybe you’ve been trying to pursue him for so long already and nothing has happened. You get the sense that if ever you were going to couple up, it would have occurred long ago.
4. Other friends have warned you away
When common friends who are aware of your situation have already told you to forget about it, it’s best to heed their advice.
They can see what’s going on more clearly than you, because you’re blinded by your feelings. So while you have your heart-goggles on, they know that all his gestures are strictly platonic.
5. He’s always too busy for you
Although most people are busy, they probably text or call you back in a timely manner.
With this guy, however, it feels like he doesn’t get back to you until a few days later and he’s always late to show up when you’re supposed to meet.
A person who likes you back would respect your time, even if they’re busy.
6. Your gut is warning you against it
Never doubt your gut feelings.
When someone isn’t interested in you, your gut will tell you so. If you feel confused because there are mixed signals and you can’t tell for sure if they like you or not, then listen to your gut.
Someone who is interested in you would make it very clear, and your intuition would definitely pick up on it.
7. He says he isn’t interested in a relationship
There are a lot of things that men say to women so they don’t get their hopes up, such as “not looking for a relationship right now”, “not ready to date anyone”, or “thinking of you as a sister”.
And it could be true that it’s not a good time for him to get into a relationship; maybe he’s busy with work or he’s not yet over an ex.
Still, if he says something like that, it’s best to take the hint and bow out with grace.
If the guy you’re interested in displays a lot of these signs, then it’s highly likely he doesn’t feel the same way about you.
It may be good to step back and re-evaluate the friendship or rethink your decision to pursue him entirely. Below, we’ll discuss what you could do if you’re sure he just wishes to remain friends.
What To Do If He Wants To Be ‘Just Friends’
1. Communicate what you want
Telling your friend that you have a crush on him is really a judgment call on your part.
It largely depends on how close you are and what kind of character he has.
If you’re close friends, you may want to wait for the crush to pass for the sake of your friendship.
However, if you’re okay with risking the friendship because you feel like you should be honest about your feelings, then go for it.
Although being forward with your feelings may catch him off guard at first, he’ll most likely handle your confession with a certain amount of grace and compassion — especially if the feelings aren’t reciprocated.
On the bright side, there’s a chance that the crush is mutual, and telling them how you feel can potentially begin the relationship.
Ideally, you should communicate face-to-face and be as candid as possible.
No matter what he has to say, pay close attention because he might have something helpful to say, even if it’s not exactly what you wanted to hear.
2. Accept the rejection with grace
Some people don’t really know how to deal with romantic rejection. They end up getting depressed, clinging to negative coping mechanisms or doing potentially harmful things like stalking.
In case you confessed to a guy who can’t reciprocate your feelings, you should do your best to process the rejection in a healthy way.
One good thing to do is to admit your feelings to yourself out loud; acknowledging and accepting how sad it is that the person you like doesn’t like you back are critical first steps if you want to heal.
Ignoring negative feelings will also prevent you from working through them productively — causing more heartache in the long run.
It’s also good to remind yourself that the person you like doesn’t ‘owe’ you reciprocation for your romantic feelings.
Their rejection doesn’t mean they’re stupid or blind to what a great catch you are; more often, they just don’t feel the same way and it’s as simple as that.
Initially, the reality that they don’t see you as a potential romantic partner may sting but if you’re truly his friend, you would want him to be happy with a person he truly wants to be with.
More importantly, if you are a friend to yourself, you should also want to be with someone who is just as excited at the idea of being with you as you are excited to be with them.
Grieve your feelings for a season, but try to get out of your own head or risk sabotaging your friendship.
Avoiding them completely might make it look like something is wrong or you’re embarrassed, but there isn’t anything wrong or embarrassing about admitting your feelings.
If you’re up to it, you can just treat him as you normally would.
However, if you’re really close then you can ask him for some space to soothe the sting.
Establishing some distance is a healthy response they’ll understand.
3. Don’t make yourself available for him 24/7
Let’s face it: any single person would be lying if they said they didn’t enjoy getting attention from someone of the opposite sex.
And maybe, your interest in this man really prompted you to shower him a lot of time and attention.
But now that he just wants to be friends, then you should stop dropping everything in your life to play girlfriend for him.
Because you’re no longer posturing yourself as a potential romantic partner, you can establish a new pattern and redefine your friendship with him.
You can change up the status quo of your platonic relationship by:
- Limiting the amount of time you spend together
- Sharing less of yourself, your personal life, and your intimate thoughts
- Asking for more favors, instead of doing things for him
- Spending more time with other friends
- Broadening your social network
You have your own life, so it’s time to live it out on your own terms. Try to step out of your comfort zone and explore — you may even find someone new.
4. Understand where he’s coming from
It can be difficult to move on from a romantic interest until you see things from their point-of-view. He may have had fears or insecurities at the idea of dating you.
When men reject a woman, they often have at least one of these three reasons motivating them: fear of commitment, fear of ruining the friendship, and fear of being ‘unworthy’:
Fear of commitment: Are you a victim of confusing mixed signals? Does this guy flirt with you a lot but insists on staying friends?
If so, then there’s a good chance he is a commitment-phobe. Men who are afraid to commit crave intimacy, which is why they treat you as more than a friend.
However, they might have had a bad experience with romance that left them afraid to settle in a relationship.
They may date around but the relationships never seem to progress or he ends up ghosting his dates.
As a friend, it may be good to talk to him about why he has this fear but don’t expect his mindset to change easily.
Fear of ruining the friendship: It can be awkward, messy, and difficult to turn a friendship into a functional, fulfilling romantic relationship.
In fact, being able to pull it off successfully is a rare feat that only a lucky few are able to do because trying to know each other on a more intimate level doesn’t always work.
If you’ve known each other for a long time and you want something more, the guy might have been afraid of losing your friendship to even consider romance.
Fear of being ‘unworthy’: “You deserve better” is a line you may all too frequently hear from men, but don’t be too quick to dismiss it as an excuse.
He may genuinely want to work on something or resolve issues before he can get ready for a new relationship.
A good man would be afraid of disappointing you if he knows he might not be able to give you the time and attention you deserve.
It’s possible that friendship really is the only thing he can embark on right now.
5. Find the right timing
Timing is a central, but underrated, aspect of a successful romantic relationship. It’s likely that he may actually want more than friendship, but just not at this time.
He could be undergoing a busy period at work, going through a serious breakup, or readying himself before settling down.
So rather than letting you go, he’d prefer to stay friends because you came at the wrong time.
Ask yourself: “Is he worth waiting for?”
If you think he is worth the wait and he isn’t just leading you on, give him 3 – 6 months with periodic check-ins to see where he stands.
During those 6 months, you can evaluate whether or not the relationship is worth pursuing.
After all, it would be awful if you invest your time and energy in a man who will never reciprocate your feelings.
Don’t close off your heart while you wait either; you should try to date around in case you find an amazing person out there who is actually interested in you right now.
6. Imagine what a relationship with him would actually look like
The guy you like could be a cool friend to have, but you don’t really know if he’d be the same as a boyfriend.
Having a crush on someone usually involves a great deal of idealization, especially if you don’t really know the person that well.
You might be distracting yourself with all his positive traits and ignoring the less-than-great ones.
After all, you need time to reveal your key values.
It’s good to take a truthful look at who he is and what the relationship would be like before moving forward.
One tactic to try is to take what you know about the person and imagine what it would be like to date him.
Maybe you already saw him as someone else’s boyfriend and he seemed emotionally unavailable.
This kind of exercise may help you gain an insight into the realities of the situation and help you move on from him.
7. Cultivate your own strengths and gifts
In a perception-obsessed world, it’s easy to fall into thinking that you’re incomplete or “not good enough” without romantic love.
And it must suck to see people start a relationship left and right and all over social media, while you’re struggling to get a guy to like you back.
However, it’s totally possible to live a content and happy life without a partner.
You don’t have to give up on love completely; instead, you should work on becoming your best self until you find the right person.
Spend time on activities you enjoy and ask yourself what made you happy before he came along.
What brought you alive? Doing these things won’t necessarily eliminate your feelings but it can boost your self-love, mood, confidence, and overall well-being.
Reconnecting with your original purpose can remind you of who you were before you met this guy and stop you from obsessing over what it would be like to be more than friends.
And if you don’t know what you want or what your purpose is, it’s totally normal. Perhaps you can even take this time to figure it out.
8. Refresh your perspective
There are a thousand different ways a crush can develop.
Sometimes, spending time with someone and sharing your vulnerabilities can easily deepen feelings of closeness or attraction.
You can also develop a crush on someone if you notice their positive qualities like kindness, intelligence, or a great sense of humor.
However, none of these reasons mean you absolutely have to date that person; you can easily nurture a good understanding and appreciate someone’s good traits as friends.
A change in perspective can help you reevaluate your sense of the relationship.
It’s easiest to refresh your mindset in nature; take a walk in the park or go outside at night to look at the stars.
And while you’re doing so, you may want to reflect on the reasons why you want to date this person.
9. Limit ‘outside’ voices
When you fall for a friend, you might be tempted to call every friend you have to get their perspective on the situation.
While the impulse is understandable, you should call one or two friends at most, rather than everyone you know.
Having feelings for a friend is already complicated on its own, so you should avoid muddling the problem with other opinions.
Typically, we’re trying to find someone who will agree with our ideas when we look for someone to confide in.
We want to hear their advice on what to do as well.
This could backfire because you’ll hear what important people in your life have to say about you and your friendship with a guy.
You also won’t have much control over how word spreads around, especially as your friends may end up taking sides if you get rejected.
10. Work hard to maintain the friendship
Maintaining a friendship when romance isn’t possible is a great way to stay close to someone you care about.
Of course, this requires the right attitude. If you go into building a friendship with a mindset that it’s the second-best thing to dating, then the relationship is doomed to fail.
Doing this means you’re placing romantic expectations on the friendship, in hopes that he will eventually like you back — which can only hurt you both in the end.
You have to view friendship for its own merits, rather than a less appealing alternative.
Friendship is as essential to life as love, even if it can be tricky to redefine after being romantically rejected.
Although it takes work, you can still rebuild the connection, especially if you’ve been caring for one another for years.
11. Share your love with others
One of the best things about loving someone is realizing you have a lot of love to share.
When you’re in love, nothing seems too impossible — you can exert time, energy, and effort just to make someone happy.
Your life doesn’t have to be meaningless and empty just because one guy doesn’t want to date you; spending time pursuing creative, courageous ways of giving back to others can help you grow and flourish more than you would expect.
Instead of giving all your love to one person, why not sign up for volunteer work, bond with friends and family, or find meaningful ways to give back to your community?
There are so many people in the world who need the love you have to offer, so maybe you should try to find them.
Do What’s Best For You
Unrequited love is a situation that is often frustrating and hopeless. Unless you decide to change your experience, however, things will remain the same — and you definitely don’t deserve that.
You have to accept that he may never love you in that way, even if he cares about you.
And if the only way to move forward with your life is to lose him completely, then you have to do what’s best for you.
Waiting for someone who isn’t ready to love the way you should be loved only gets in the way of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Inevitably, caring so much about how another person feels and thinks about you will take its toll.
Be kind to yourself and create a space where you can grow, learn, and bloom in your own time.
Romantic love will come eventually, so focus on building up your emotional strength for now.
Choosing the best for yourself will make you healthier, happier, and more attractive to everyone.
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