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I have a crush on my friend, but since we’ve been friends for so long, I don’t know how to say that my feelings have changed. I don’t want to ruin the friendship, so what should I do?
The “Ask Joy” above is a shortened version of many similar questions I have received. Men and women all at one point or another seem to find themselves with a friend who was always “just a friend”—who now suddenly looks a little different.
Maybe it’s just the lighting.
Maybe she took notice of something you always wanted to be appreciated for and your heart softened a little.
Maybe he did something that made you realize he would be a good parent someday.
Maybe he grew out a beard and you realized you have a very shallow weakness.
The two most recent questions I have gotten on this topic have been from women, so I will answer from that point of view. I did answer a similar question from a guy about being stuck in the “friend zone.”
The interesting thing that I hear from many women is that they want to be pursued. They want to be chosen. If you are a woman, and that’s not you, or you’re a man who wants to be pursued, don’t get your panties in a bunch. You can do whatever you want. I’m addressing the women who DO want a man to want them enough to make the first move.
And that’s many of you—and me.
Some women might get confused when they read posts like my “Who Pursues” series and somehow interpret it as my saying, “Sit back and don’t say anything.”
That’s not what I said.
I actually think there is a place for more women TO say something to the guy friends in their lives. To set better boundaries and to honestly think through the feelings and behavior patterns that they’re developing in their singleness.
OK, Joy, so…
1. How do I do that?
2. And depending on how “that” turns out, then what do I do?
Well, for starters, I did a series on guys and girls being friends, and I proposed a series of questions to ask yourself if you have feelings for your friend. Stating you have feelings for your friend should not be done on a whim, the day before you start your period, or after you’ve listened to a song by Ray LaMontagne.
Next thing you know, the Macarena comes on your shuffle and, not only are you embarrassed, but you realize you’ve just lost that loving feeling.
Sometimes as women we operate too quickly when our emotions feel so strong. In your desire to know what your friend-who-you-now-maybe-want-to-kiss thinks and feels about you in return, you might have a DTR* simply to release the pressure of not knowing anymore, but you haven’t thought about the next steps that would follow. And many women feel the urgency to have a DTR because the friend they like either isn’t interested and legitimately sees them as a friend, or he’s waiting for lightening to strike and, in the words of one woman, “he said he was attracted to me but didn’t want to date because he was waiting for God to make it perfectly clear.”
And then he proceeded being her “BFF.”
So here are a couple of ideas for you ladies of things you could do if you realize the friendship is in a weird-flirtatious-we-aren’t-just-friends-but-I-don’t-know-what-we-are state.
1. Back off from initiating anything with him, and when he notices, just let him know your feelings: that you feel like he was treating you like a girlfriend but wasn’t clear about his feelings, so you wanted to let him have his space so he could get some clarity and let you know how he feels about you.
(Side note: He may not notice and he may not say anything. It might be painful, but it might be a clear sign of how he feels about you.)
2. You could say up front, “Look, we have known each other for ______ years,” and then share with him all the things you respect and admire about him. Then be honest about how your feelings have changed and why you think it would be worth giving dating a shot, but then also say something like, “But I kind of feel like we are in this ambiguous friend zone and I want to be with someone who wants to date me. You don’t have to say anything right now, but I realized that because my feelings have changed, it probably isn’t wise for me to keep playing the role of friend. At this stage, it seems like we are just snacking, and I’m at a point in my life where I am ready to have a real meal.”
Be prepared. This is not a game.
Don’t back off to manipulate; back off because you genuinely have come to a crossroads and you know it’s the wisest thing for your heart. Pray about any scenario that you decide to move forward on and, as always, talk with wise people who know you. These suggestions are not the word of God, but simply my ideas for backing off from the friendship (if that’s the only role he’s playing) while still sharing your heart honestly.
From my heart,
As I gave these suggestions, I felt a bit uneasy and wondered if I had given the best advice for their scenarios. What if I told them the wrong thing and they did what I said? (This is why Scripture warns “teachers” to be careful.) Sometimes I literally want to sit down and moderate the conversations I know many of you are going to have after we e-mail because I feel so responsible.
OK, so I have control issues.
In the midst of my e-mailer’s remorse, I picked up Timothy Keller’s book “The Meaning of Marriage” and read this passage. I couldn’t believe the timing and I absolutely loved Kathy Keller’s strength, grace, respect for Tim, and respect for herself!
Listen, don’t try to follow my words exactly. Don’t copy Kathy Keller. The point of this is that I want to make sure women don’t think that being pursued means letting a guy have you play pretend-girlfriend while you secretly pine away. There’s still a way to let a man initiate and pursue even after being clear about where you stand and what you desire. Don’t manipulate as you initiate, and be honest about what you will do if the outcome is not what you imagined when Mr. LaMontagne was singing.
From my heart again,
*defining the relationship or door toast richard.
What affect does it have on you to secretly maintain unspoken feelings for a friend?
What prevents you from telling telling them about your feelings?
How can you prepare yourself for a potential outcome that doesn’t match your hopes?
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.