Ask Stavroula: I’m in Love with My Best Friend

Dear Stavroula,

I’m nineteen years old and for three years I’ve been hanging out with a girl who’s a little younger. We’re best friends, she knows everything about me and I about her. When I met her I hadn’t thought about going out with her, because she had a relationship with a friend of mine that did not work out. But I’ve been thinking about her for a long time – I want to see her every day. I haven’t told her how I feel because I have no experience with relationships and I was afraid she might think I was taking advantage of her friendship and would lose her as a friend. Now things got more complicated because she started going out with somebody and is obsessed with him. She constantly talks to me about him and even though I tell her that the guy is not good, that he flirts with other girls, she still chases after him, waiting for him to send her a message and when he ignores her, she cries on my shoulder. I can’t stand this situation. Does it make sense now to tell her that I love her?

S.

Dear S.,

Friendships between people of different sexes are not easy and it is not uncommon for one or in the best case scenario for both to fall in love. And it is natural, (and it has nothing to do with taking advantage of the friendship) given that we open our souls to our best friend, sharing with him our deepest thoughts, our anxieties, our joys. We spend hours together discussing and analyzing the moments of our lives, laughing with the same jokes, crying on his shoulder, knowing full well that he is “there” every time we need someone of our own. Our best friend is the friend we feel closest to, what we call a soul mate. That is why it is not always easy to exclude any romantic feelings and keep the relationship completely in the friend zone. This is the case for you. You suddenly realized that you had fallen in love with your best friend, but you did not dare confess your feelings for fear of losing the friendship.

Usually in these cases we choose what we think will hurt us the least. In your case, the fear of rejection made you keep your feelings secret. Someone else might try to draw out her own feelings by showing interest in another woman. Another person might prefer to speak clearly about what he or she is feeling and thus give the other person the opportunity to explore his or her own feelings about the other person. The possibilities in this case are:

First, a beautiful love affair could begin between two people who know each other well, who respect each other, who have already chosen to be together. When a friendship develops into a mutual love affair it is very likely to succeed and last, because in this case the partner is someone you know well and you choose him for what he is and not for what you expect or imagine to be.

Second, there is the possibility that your friend may not have romantic feelings for you. But when you know it, you have the option of moving on with your life, looking for another partner, rather than hoping without any proof that she might feel the same way about you and just not show it.

In addition, you can choose to distance yourself for a while (long or short) so that you can manage your own emotions and not suffer from being too close all the time, without leaving the other person wondering what is happening to you and why you’re behaving strangely. Because no matter what we do when we know a person well, we realize even small changes in his behavior. And then, if you have the strength of soul you can continue the friendly relationship, perhaps on a new basis.

I don’t know if this is the right time to talk to your friend about your romantic feelings. This is something that only you can decide. You know when you will be ready and when the time is right.

What I see, from what you write to me, is that the relationship your friend is starting now is not very likely to succeed. Love is not obsessing over someone who leaves us waiting by a cellphone. It is a feeling that gives us joy, that frees us from the pain in our soul, that helps us to become our best self.