6 signs a platonic friend is secretly in love with you, according to psychology

When I was growing up, the film 13 Going on 30, always seemed to have me in chokehold.

In it, the ever-so-charming Jennifer Garner plays Jenna, who zaps from being a teen to a full-blown adult overnight!

But what really got me, aside from all the fun 80s fashion and songs, is when she realizes she’s drifted from Matty, who used to be her BFF as an awkward teen.

It’s like this classic story of missed opportunities and second chances. Jenna’s quest to reconnect with Matty isn’t just about patching things up—it’s also about digging into those deeper feelings she’s had for him since, well, forever!

And come on, Mark Ruffalo as Matty? That guy is a dreamboat. Talk about a post-puberty glow-up.

It’s the kind of movie that makes you believe in the power of old pals and the chance for love to conquer all.

Plus, it turns out the tale of friends to lovers isn’t so rare. A 2021 study in Social Psychological and Personality Science discovered that two-thirds of romantic relationships begin platonically.

Drawing from an analysis of seven samples, including college students and adults from various backgrounds, researchers found that a significant majority reported experiencing friendship as the precursor to romance.

Among university students, this method was not only common… it was preferred. Wild, huh?

So, if you’re looking for a sign a friend of yours might have the feels for you—perhaps so you can see it blossom, or shut it right down before it can grow—read on for more.

1) You often have late night chats together

It’s well past midnight, and you’ve sunken right into one of those heart-to-heart talks with your BFF. 

You know, the kind that starts with a simple “you up? x” and turns into a dive into the meaning of life.

You’re swapping horror stories, sharing memes, and baring your souls when most people are fast, fast asleep.

Well, know this: late night chats aren’t just about killing time. They’re the ideal environment for something deeper—and there’s a high chance your friend knows that.

The previous study found that “late night conversations” were often a common pathway for friends turning into lovers.

Think about it: this pal is sacrificing sleep just to chat with you. They enjoy your company, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s usually more beneath the surface.

So, next time you’re up late chatting with your friend, pay close, careful attention.

Those conversations might be the sign of something more than friendship. Maybe they’re the start of a romance waiting to pounce. Be ready!

2) They appear hyper in your presence

Notice your friend turning into a big ol’ ball of energy whenever you’re in their company?

Maybe they look as if they haven’t slept in three days. They’re properly slumped over their laptop in the library.

But as soon as they notice you walk in, it almost looks as if they’ve had a full facial and a shot of adrenaline.

I mean, what could be more flattering than that? You’ve just turned around their entire morning. Day, even.

Well, research on the neurological processes of love found that if an individual has “increased energy” levels when they’re in your presence, they might secretly love you!

Love tends to turn us into living, breathing power stations, so when your friend starts sparking up (I mean metaphorically, of course) every time you’re around, it’s a pretty clear signal that they’ve caught the lovebug.

Sure, some folks are just super high on life, but when their excitement levels skyrocket the moment you show up, it’s time to consider that there might be a little more to it.

3) They idealize you—you can do no wrong

Ever feel like every story you tell is Pulitzer worthy? Every outfit you wear deserves a spot at the Met Gala?

And is it that one special friend who’s making all this high praise apparent?

A research review in the journal Frontiers of Psychology lists the “idealization of the other in the relationship” as an indicator that someone is in love.

When a pal idealizes you, it’s like they’re seeing you through rose-tinted specs. They overlook all your flaws and hype-up your virtues.

Yep, it’s tell-tale crush behavior!

So, the next time your mate looks at you as if you’re the new wonder of the world, don’t look past it.

4) They can’t help but study you

Why would someone suddenly become an expert in the topic of you? It’s because they’re falling for you, silly! 

And I don’t mean just a little crush, but full-blown, head-over-heels kind of affection.

They want to know everything about you. They’re not just casually interested, no… they’re diving deep. Properly deep.

They know when you lost your first tooth. They knew that your first celebrity crush was Jon Bon Jovi. They know the name of your elderly dog—the list goes on.

The same Frontiers of Psychology review posited another sign of love: “study” you and try to “determine” your feelings for them (that is, if there are any).

So if these friends want to understand your cheeky flaws, your weird patterns, and your dreams, all because they want to be a part of your world—it’s a clear indication that their feelings run deeper than friendship.

Trust me: there’s always a huge difference between friendly curiosity and lovestruck fascination.

I find that a good litmus test is that friendly curiosity will always feel a little more casual, whereas lovey-dovey stuff is the details only close family members might know.

5) They love to to do simple acts of kindness for you

This friend, they’re always around—and often, with a kind gesture in tow.

One morning they’re fetching your iced oat latte, the next they’re helping with house chores like washing the dog or mowing the lawn.

But what if this isn’t just about helping out a pal in need? What if it’s a secret love signal?

The Frontiers of Psychology research review suggests that “service to the other” is another indicator that a person is romantically set on you.

In other words, love has a pretty funny way of turning everyday gestures into grand romantic gestures.

For real, they’re not just being nice—they’re putting in considerable time, effort, and likely, money, to make sure you’re that little bit happier in daily life.

6) They make a move on you

Okay, so let me get this straight. 

This pal is positively hyper around you, they go out of their way to make your life better, oh, and they seem to know everything about you.

So, what’s the little thing that naturally comes next?

You guessed it. They make their move, of course!

The 2021 study noted at the top of the piece in Social Psychological and Personality Science included “making a move” as a classic part of the platonic friend to lover highway.

This might take the form of them moving in for a kiss, holding your hand, or potentially even asking you out to that new restaurant you’ve been super keen to try but were saving for a special occasion.

Remember, when they finally make their move, it can be thrilling, terrifying, weird, or surprising—-or even a mixture of all these things!

Maybe you’re excited to know how they finally feel. Maybe you’re also worried about what happens next. 

Maybe, just maybe, you want to stay friends.

Either way, just make sure to have a good old fashioned chat and tell them how you feel.

So, there you have it: all the subtle signs that your friend might be falling for you. Hard.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

10 rare signs you’re highly respected by other people (even if they don’t say anything)

7 things mentally strong people do at the start of every day