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Caught the Feels? How to be Friends After You’ve had Feelings

It can be absolutely TERRIBLE to catch feelings for a friend. Yes, in an ideal world, all of our crushes would like us back, it would always be the right place and the right time and no one would ever get hurt. I’m sure you guys have noticed though, this is not an ideal world, and it sometimes involves awkward situations like catching feelings for friends.

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Maybe they don’t like you back or maybe you’ve just had a breakup and want to know how to get back to that friendship stage. Fret not, we have some answers for you here! DISCLAIMER: We are NOT psych professionals and make no guarantees, but we’ve been round the block *a few* times, so have some nuggets of wisdom for you.

Distance

The age-old advice with catching feels for someone you reeeaally didn’t want to catch feelings for is usually distance. Great, yeah, sometimes distance can work. But let’s be honest, if you’re very much in the feels for someone, it’s pretty likely that you’re not really in a position to be putting distance between you. Maybe you’re close through work or maybe you’re literally close, like housemates. Either way, no one wants to cut off someone they really like.

If you don’t know them that well and your job literally doesn’t depend on it, distance is probably a great answer to your problem, before things get too deep. If you know them well enough that this is too hard, it’s a good idea to branch out and make sure you have some other people to talk to and be around whilst this process take its course. Not too much distance, per se, but still making sure they’re not the only person around you at this time, which can be kind of all-consuming and could even lead to more intense feelings.

If you’ve just called things off romantically and want to go back to being friends from there, this one’s pretty important. Right now, you’re in the limbo of not romantic but not anything else either. It’s a good idea to take some time away, focus on yourself for a little bit and then, when feelings have subsided, decide if and how you want to work on the friendship from there.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how you would feel if you saw them with someone else. If it puts you in front of a rom-com with a box of tissues and a magnum, you might not be ready. Yes, this is a dramatic example, but you know what we mean. 

Airing it out

This is a brave move. Hear us out. Sometimes, just hearing yourself say you like someone to their face can be the most relieving thing ever. And it’s well-known that secrets make things worse, even feelings.

Keeping those emotions bottled up just lets them fester and this is the best way to move the friendship on after the crush.

Just be blunt – ‘I’ve had feelings for you recently, I just wanted to let you know’, something like that – and you’ll feel the weight off your shoulders already and, probably, those feelings will start to go away.

Probably choose your timing though, work is probably not the place and neither is a late night snap. Somewhere in the middle. Them knowing about it probably seems awful but if you’re friends, it’ll probably only be a couple days of awkwardness before you start to notice the jokes cracking out.

We always think it’s going to gross people out and scare them away if they know we think of them in that way but, really, there’s not many people like that out there and if the friendship is strong, we think you’ll be fine! As we say, this is a brave choice. 

Dating

So, sometimes, we want to have a crush and point that towards people we don’t actually like in that way, like when the dating pool isn’t that big and you realise ‘oh, my friend is cute, maybe…”. No. Stop that thought right there.

Before you grow those feelings for your friend, see if you actually want to date them or if you just want to date. Sometimes jumping in the dating pool helps combat those feelings before they arise, or even after telling your friend you might have the feels for them. It should be super easy to go back to your norm after this.

Your friend will see you dating other people and know you’re not thinking about them in that way, you… won’t be thinking about them in that way, and now you have a fun crush that isn’t risking your friendship! So whether they knew or didn’t know, it should be a much smoother transition back to how it was before the feels took over. 

If you do want to date and don’t know where to look, have a read of our 14 Best Free Lesbian and Dating Apps & Sites in the UK.

Speaking of not knowing…

If you caught the feels for a friend and they never knew, obviously, you avoid the whole dilemma of how they’re viewing the friendship and if they want to run a thousand miles (probably wouldn’t happen, dw) but you sort of sacrifice that feeling of closure.

Sure, the actual friendship itself is safe from that perspective, but you’re now keeping a lil’ secret and know they don’t know, which may mean you don’t have the satisfaction of closure that you get from a typical rejection/acceptance crush.

This has to be your call, really. You know them the best and it’s all on your own terms, just bear this in mind when you’re thinking about whether to tell them or not. 

If you struggle to understand people and their feelings and maybe you don’t know what subtle signals you are putting out there, Read People Like a Book could be a good read for you.

You might have to make the first move

So let’s say you have told them. Boom. Done. Weight off your shoulders, they’re making a face, maybe you’re both laughing about it now, maybe not. Either way, it’s over, yay. However, you’ve just dropped a huge piece of information on your friend, and they might not know how to act right now.

It’s entirely possible that they might be worrying about whether they sent you signals, whether you want space, ‘is this meme too on the nose to send right now?’, those sorts of things. You’re probably going to have to be the one to let them know they’re not sending signals, that these memes are okay, what your boundaries are, etc. It’s natural that you’re both going to worry about it, but it might be a good idea, whilst you’re dropping the truth bomb on them, to set some boundaries and just let them know what your expectations are, be it space or whatever.

Also, ask them! They might just be playing on your terms but you’re both friends dealing with the awkwardness together, you can totally talk about what you both are feeling and how you want to go about it. Harness that confidence. You can do this. 

The Queer / not Queer issue

Don’t know if they’re queer? Yeah, we’ve been there, don’t worry. Example: If you (female, bi) have a crush on a friend (female, straight), this can be the quickest, easiest rejection ever. No chance of it happening? Great. Can’t even think about it. Friendship restored.

If you (f, bi) have a crush on a friend (f, sexuality unknown), this is the worst. The WORST. You have no choice but to either ask them straight (or not… ;P), or just tell them. Either way, there’s a possibility or there’s not. If you know you like them and they like you in this wlw situation, that’s great and you can use one of these pickup lines. This goes for a scenario when know there’s a chance, too.

Sometimes possibility can be worse, actually, pretty much most of the time, because you know something could happen, but might not. This is probably a good time to tell them you like them. Just rip that plaster right off and get rejected and let’s get back to it.

Work through those feelings healthily. If you’re in that situation, refer back to ‘Airing it out’ for what to do next. Alternatively, you can push those feelings right down and never tell them, just let it fester (but you may need to invest in a good cry-pillow).

In our experience, being rejected, no matter who by it’s really awful. When you’re friends with someone though and you just want things back to normal, unfortunately, it’s probably the best thing to do.

Hey! If they take it badly and act mean and gross with you, they probably weren’t someone you wanted around anyway. Once they know, it’s just another problem you’ve resolved in your friendship, you’re stronger than ever and you can both head to dinner for a little treat. 

Final thoughts

It’s awkward now, but it’ll get easier. Everything heals with time, even all-consuming, one-sided, heart-wrenching crushes, we promise. Your friends are probably more accepting and chill than that nervous energy will let you believe and if they’re a bit freaked out, they might need a little time but they’ll probably come around. If they don’t, it probably wasn’t meant to be, it’s healing to clear out the negativity <3

Please let us know any embarrassing crush stories you want to share, and, of course, good luck!

All our love, Team Nonchalant x

Last Updated on 19th December 2023 by Nonchalant Magazine

Jo Carter
Jo Carter

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