Relationships

What If We’re Not Just Friends?

Bestie, I’m afraid to ask you this…

Two female friends laughing, wondering "Are we more than just friends"?
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By Kaitlyn Wylde and Bustle Editors
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

You text each other all the time. You’re always down to watch the same show. One minute you're dishing with your BFF about spin class and your love of frozen yogurt, the next minute you're wondering if your pal is about to lean across the couch and kiss you. Are these signs you’re more than friends, or just signs that you’re the best of buds? It can be hard to tell the difference between romantic relationships and platonic relationships, and often times, each kind of relationship is sprinkled with a bit of the other.

"The strongest relationships usually start as friendships, so the lines can get a bit blurred at times," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. But if you’re starting to ask if you’re just friends or something more, it’s time to start planning that “What are we?” convo.

There can be lots of signals that your friend has a crush on you, or that you have a crush on them, or that you are both super hung up on each other and it's only a matter of time before you start making out. The friend zone can be a confusing limbo if you’re physically attracted to the person — or a place you want you want to stay if you’re good with being just friends.

What’s more, some of the best romantic relationships are rooted in friendship, which can put pressure on analyzing even the most selfless friendships. No matter what the circumstances, whether you're the one with the secret crush, you suspect your friend likes you, or it's a mix of the two, make sure that you respect your friend's space and their feelings.

To help give you a sense of whether to broach the topic — and how to make sure you're doing it carefully, for both of your sakes — here are some reliable flags to tell if your friendship is becoming something more.

1. You Daydream About Them

If you're sitting around daydreaming about your friend in class or at work, they might mean more to you than you realize. "Romantic fantasies when you are apart [are a huge giveaway],” clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., tells Bustle. Basically, if you can't stop thinking about them — particularly when you're apart from them, or doing something that has nothing to do with them at all — it can indicate you've got it bad for them.

2. You Get Jealous

When you have "jealous feelings" about a friend, you may be crushing, relationship coach Cindi Sansone-Braff, tells Bustle. These feelings can often strike especially hard when you find out your friend is in a relationship, or if they get into something new as your friendship unfolds. Here's how the scenario goes: "You thought he or she was just your friend, and you loved talking with this person and hanging out with him or her, but then you find out they in a relationship, and all of a sudden, you start feeling jealous," Sansone-Braff says.

"When you feel jealous of the other person's time away, other interests, or even love interests, that is the time to reflect on what this person means to you," Carlyle Jansen, author of Sex Yourself: The Woman’s Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms, tells Bustle, adding that if “you secretly find yourself wishing that they would break up,” it could mean that you want to step in.

Though you might not realize you’re doing it, this jealousy might cause you to negatively impact their relationship. "You start sabotaging their relationship in subtle and not subtle ways," Jansen tells Bustle. This can manifest itself in ways you may not even realize, like planting ideas of their partner's motives based on your own feelings about them, or as blatant as occupying their time so they don't have as much to spend with their partner, creating a rift. Whether this is unintentional or not behavior, it's best to recognize it for what it is.

"At this point, you need to come forward and admit your true feelings for this person, even if it means losing the friendship, or you need to back off from this person altogether," Sansone-Braff tells Bustle. Being open and discussing your jealous feelings with your friend can strengthen your bond, too.

Another indication that you might have deeper feelings for a friend is if you don’t want that person to spend time with you and your significant other. “This may bring up feelings of disloyalty or shine a light on your conflicted feelings, therefore you seek to avoid it,” psychotherapist Terri Cole L.C.S.W., tells Bustle. If you notice an internal resistance to getting everyone together, you should take some time to consider why that is.

3. They Look At You Funny

"This can be a fine line, but often you can tell in the way that they look at you," sex educator and author of Losing It: The Semi-Scandalous Story of an Ex-Virgin Danielle Sepulveres tells Bustle. "Strong eye contact that results in a vibe that feels almost palpable, even if you're not reciprocating," can mean that your BFF wants to become a BF or GF. "They go out of their way for you more than necessary and there's a thoughtfulness that almost feels surprising," she says. "They listen and remember things that you have said that even you yourself have forgotten." After all, this is someone who is already loyal, who will already support and love you through good times and bad. If there's a certain glint in their eye, this may mean they're into you. Pay attention.

4. You Can't Wait To See Them

If you're dying to see your friend at all hours of the day it could be a sign you want something more. "The biggest sign for me was when me and my now-wife were dating, I couldn't wait to see her," relationship guru Rob Alex, PhD, tells Bustle. "I have had lots of great friends, but there is a magic in the air when that friendship moves to something stronger." Though you might not be sure at first about whether you’re more than friends, when you know, you know. "You will start making up excuses to go see that special friend, you start remembering tiny details of when you are together, and when you look at each other there is more of a deep soul connection that just a passing glance," Alex says. If you feel something that magnetizing, it may be a nudge from the universe that it's a topic you want to explore.

5. You Want To Make Out “For Fun”

You can recognize that your friend is attractive without being attracted to them, but if you’re turned on by them, it’s a pretty clear indicator you interested in being physical. "When you want to make out with and sleep with a friend, that’s no longer a friend,” relationship expert April Masini tells Bustle. That line is crossed not when you act on your feelings, but when you simply feel them. "The minute you’ve got sexual feelings towards a friend is the minute they’re more than just that."

6. You Want To Be More Intimate

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When it gets to this point, you’ve gone beyond just asking “Are we more than friends?” You’ll want to check in with yourself on how to proceed. "Here's where you have to figure out if this person could turn out to be a friend with benefits, or if this could turn into a real relationship," Sansone-Braff tells Bustle. Or, of course, there's the third option — your friend might want to just be a friend, in which case a heavy dose of acceptance needs to come into play.

"Being honest about your feelings is necessary in all relationships, but in this instance, truth telling is paramount, or you can find yourselves giving each other a lot of mixed messages that could ruin your friendship and your chances for a real relationship in the future," she says. Again, coming clean may be the best solution in terms of knowing whether or not the feeling is mutual — but if you know there's no chance of romance, you have to respect the other person's feelings and space, and know better than to bring it up if it's only going to put undue pressure on the friendship.

7. You Have Butterflies

If you get that feeling when you're around them, it’s a dead giveaway. Feeling different physically is a key indicator of more-than-friend-feelings. "Your heart beats faster when you see them, know you are going to see them, or hear from them," Durvasula says. That said, butterflies can also indicate anxiety and conflicting feelings, so the presence of this sensation can lead to further reflection.

8. You Think & Feel About Them Differently

Somewhere along the line, the way you think and feel about this person changed. "You enjoy being around them in a way that is different from how you are with your other friends," psychologist Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., tells Bustle. "You see qualities in them others don't, and when something happens, good or bad, you automatically want to tell that person about it." They're the first one you want to talk to in the morning and the last you want to speak with at night. "They are the first one that comes to mind that you want to share with," Martinez says.

9. The Way You Touch Changes

Maybe you don't mean to do so, but do you find your hand brushing your friend's arm … a lot?Though you haven't made an actual move, if you're analyzing the way you physically interact with your pal, something is afoot. "Your physical habits, even if not sexual, are changing," relationship coach Chris Armstrong says. "You have moved from quick hugs to kisses on the cheek, hugging for longer periods of time to flirtatious touching," he says.

So if you're touching a lot, take note. "Walking in the mall or down a street," van Hochman says, “[if] your movements always seem to bring you into just barely noticeable contact with one another, [it's] a proof-positive sign of 'more than friends.'" O-o-o-o-h!

Not only that, but if it feels natural, get ready. When this type of more intimate touching happens between friends and is "prevalent, natural and reciprocated," your friend likely feels the same, Armstrong says.

10. It's Never Enough

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Maybe you used to have a routine friend dinner once or twice a week, but nowadays waiting for Tuesday nights feels like torture. If that's the case, take a look at yourself, Sansone-Braff says. "You used to be happy talking to this person once or twice a week, but now you find that he or she is your go-to person and you want to talk everyday."

11. You're Texting Up A Storm

"You are texting more frequently, and at all hours of the night," Armstrong says. Maybe you used to check in with your pal every few days, but now you're sending "good morning" and "night-night" texts. Even when you’re not actively texting, they’re sending you Instagram memes or DMing you TikToks they think you’ll like. This signals that they’re thinking about you, or you’re thinking about them, even when you’re not “together.”

"Who we think about is who we connect with when we are alone," Armstrong says. If they're reciprocating, there's a good chance that something you two are both wondering “are we more than friends?”

12. Your Friendship Changes In Subtle Ways

"The two of you wind up talking a lot and ignoring anyone else around," psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, PhD, L.M.F.T., tells Bustle. "You start touching each other in a new way: He puts his hand on your shoulder, you touch his arm." Or maybe you're interacting in other ways — they check in with you to see if you're going to run errands or out to lunch, Tessina says, and can they come with you? Regardless of whether this pal has expressly divulged their feelings for you, there's a strong possibility that you two are more than friends already.

13. You Talk About Them, Like, All The Time

In addition to the fact that you daydream about them, you don't cringe at the thought of being intimate, and you prefer to be with them than to be alone when you're in a bad mood. But the biggest sign you're sweating your bestie is that you are a total motormouth about them when they are not around. If you're constantly finding ways to work them into conversations with other friends, life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle, the romance bug has bitten.

14. They Call You Something Sweet

"A great sign to watch for is how the person refers to you," Samantha Daniels, professional matchmaker, tells Bustle. "If he or she calls you their girlfriend [or boyfriend] straight out, then it’s obvious. However, if they use a pet name that has a romantic significance, like 'my baby,' 'baby,' 'my sweetheart,' 'my babe,' — that is a good indicator," she says. That said, if you're being introduced to your maybe-new-partner's friends as something nebulous, it might be time for a heart-to-heart. "If the pet name is 'my buddy,' 'my bestie,' 'my number 1,' — that is more of a sign that you are still in the friend zone," Daniels says.

15. You Feel Like You’re Not Getting Enough From Them

Friendships necessarily come with fewer expectations and responsibilities than romantic partnerships. But if you find that you’re holding your friend to the standard that you’d hold a partner, that could be evidence you want them to be more. According to relationship expert Harville Hendrix, PhD, “the appearance of some repetitive frustrations,” might mean that you’re not sure what you want from this person.

“What distinguishes romance from friendship is that friends tend to be mutually supportive with few expectations and if they want something, they talk about it with minimum conflict. Romantic partners tend to expect something, and when they do not get it, they eventually become critical and move into the power struggle,” Hendrix says.

How To Ask Someone If You’re More Than Friends

"Having open communication is important when it comes to dating status," relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala, L.M.F.T., tells Bustle. "If you don’t know if you’re dating someone, you’re not." So if you've been pals for a while, and you made out the other night, and now you're wondering if you're more than friends, assume nothing and speak up. "Someone who is interested in dating will make his or her intentions very clear and follow through consistently with actions," she says. "Friends, or even friends with benefits, can also flirt and go out to dinner every so often."

And If This Person Says You’re Just Friends...

If they feel the same way about you, awesome. If not, think about next steps. "You can still choose to be friends, if you can handle it, or you might choose to separate before you get your heart ripped out when this person falls in love with someone else, and you have to bear witness to this," Sansone-Braff says.

Before you get super bummed about the fact that you're in love with your best friend, remember this: "I actually feel that many relationships that are platonic and have some longevity and depth could be a deeper romantic relationship," psychotherapist Michele Paiva, PhD, tells Bustle. "My feelings are that vulnerability, passion and respect are the trifecta of romance, so if those are in place, it is possible that the relationship could easily move from friend-zone to lovers."

Experts:

Ramani Durvasula, PhD, Author and Psychologist

Cindi Sansone-Braff, Relationship Coach

Carlyle Jansen, Sex therapist

Chris Armstrong, Relationship Coach

Danielle Sepulveres, Author and Sex Educator

Rob Alex, PhD, Author and Sex & Relationships Expert

Harville Hendrix, PhD, Relationship Expert

Terri Cole L.C.S.W., Psychotherapist

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