Last month I gathered the courage to admit to my best friend that I had romantic feelings for him. He handled my admission with the utmost sensitivity and respect, as I knew he would, but said that he didn’t feel the same way. He told me that I was the best friend he had ever had, and that while he hoped we would always be close, he would understand if I needed to put a little space between us for a while. I assured him that I (and our friendship) would be fine. Since that day, our friendship has gone on just as it always has, with no weirdness or tension. But I’m realizing that I’m not fine (shocker, I know). While I’m good at hiding it, I still feel those romantic feelings towards him. Now, I know better than to hope that he’ll change his mind and realize that I’m the one. I know that I just need to get over these feelings and that spending so much time with him isn’t helping. But at the same time, he is my best friend and I can’t (and don’t want to) imagine my life without him in it. Do you think it is possible to get over these feelings while still remaining so close? My heart aches at the thought of losing his friendship. — In Love With My Best Friend
Yes, it’s absolutely possible to get over romantic feelings you have with someone and still remain close. That’s the good news; the bad news is it can take some time. Anyone who’s remained close friends with an ex can tell you that those feelings don’t change overnight. You have to put emotional and physical distance between you and him. You’ve got to have experiences that don’t include him — I don’t even mean romantic experiences — just life experiences. But there isn’t a formula for this. There isn’t some set number of experiences you need to have or a certain amount of days or weeks you have to go without seeing or talking to him. Getting over someone is different for everyone. You have to let your emotional compass be your guide.
Tell your friend you need some space and time to process your feelings. If he’s as respectful and sensitive as you say he is, he’ll understand. And then take your time; do your own thing. Nurture other friendships you have, explore some new hobbies, travel if you can. Your heart will let you know when you’re ready to have him back in your life again. And one day, when you do find someone who has the same romantic feelings for you that you have for him this whole thing will be just a distant, hopefully funny, memory.
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.