I Want Him to See Me as More Than a Friend

Dear Elana, 

I've known this friend for 13 years. He's two years older than me, and I know him because he's a family friend. We were always close, but I think (pretty sure) that I'm falling for him. How do I get him to see me as a potential partner? 

- Wanting And Needing To Make Our Romance Engage


Before you make a move, you need to decide if it's worth risking your friendship – and creating awkwardness for your families. If you think there's potential for lasting love, then it's worth exploring. But just like dating a coworker or a neighbor, if you break up, you have to be prepared to keep seeing each other. 

Next, you need to clarify your feelings. You say that you are “pretty sure” that you are falling for him. Do you find yourself smiling when you think about him, or hear his name? When you see him, do you feel like you have butterflies in your stomach, or like your heart is bursting out of your chest? If you answered yes, then congratulations, you are officially smitten. 

If you decide to move forward after weighing the pros and cons, you need a plan to help him see you as a potential match. Show him that you’re not a goofy kid, but instead an alluring young woman. If he's used to seeing you in ratty t-shirts, try wearing something that shows your sense of style. Engage him in topics that matter to him, and demonstrate your shared interests. Adjust your posture when you're talking to him, and see if he mirrors your body language. 

Invite him to spend time with you outside of family holidays. After a Thanksgiving feast, ask him if he would like to join you outside for fresh air. If you find yourself laughing with him at inside jokes, tell him that you feel comfortable with him, and that you enjoy hanging out with him.

As your connection grows stronger, you can mention that you are interested in various activities like seeing an independent film or hiking in a local park. If he jumps at the chance to join you, there's a good chance that he sees you as more than a friend. But if he politely ignores your hints, take the cue to safeguard the friendship and set your sights elsewhere.

Is it InstaLove?

Dear Elana, 

I'm falling in love with my online guy friend. We met through Instagram and have become good friends but we've never met in person. I want to have a future with him, but I don't know how to approach things as I have no idea about his feelings and I don't want to ruin the friendship between us.

- I Never Stop Thinking About Crush

Dear INSTA Crush, 

It sounds like you're falling for this guy's emoji game, but you want some face time. 

I'm wondering where you are in the trajectory of your Instagram relationship. It seems like you have progressed through the early stages of Instaflirting: following each other, liking and commenting on each other's photographs, and moving from public communication to private messaging. 

The next step is to move the conversation off of Instagram and into more personal modes of communication: email, phone, or video chat. Once you establish mutual trust and interest, you can plan a date IRL (In Real Life) – so that one day you can post photos of the two of you together, sipping hot chocolate in front of a blazing fire. 

You can figure out if he likes you as more than a friend by watching his reactions to your posts. Reciprocity is key. If you like one of his workout pics at the gym, he should like one of your fitness selfies. You can also scope out your competition. Has he recently followed or liked other girls' pictures? Did he like all of their #instagood posts, but ignore your birthday post? If so, sorry, but he's not that into you. 

If it seems like all signs are pointing to InstaLove, try to communicate with him honesty and directly. Remember, it's easy to hide behind a computer screen, but if you want your connection to grow, you need to show him your real feelings (#nofilter).  

Help! I'm In Love With My (unavailable) Best Friend

Question: I have this problem and I need your help. I'm in love with my best guy friend. I have known him for over a year, and we're so close we tell each other everything, but he has a girlfriend. We work together in an office where we often work late, and sometimes he sleeps at my place. Lately he has tried to make out with me,  but I refuse. I know he likes me as a friend, but maybe he feels the same way about me? What can I do? How can I know if he has feelings for me?

Answer: I get it. You're falling in love with your best friend. You spend every day together at work sharing intimate thoughts and feelings, and the secrecy is intoxicating. It's exhilarating, and you can't stop wondering if it's meant to be. 

It probably hurts when you see him with his girlfriend, or when he is unavailable because he is with her. You’re confused because you don’t know if you should bare your heart and tell him how you feel, or respect his relationship and back away.

Here's the thing: if he's already comfortable cozying up to you at night, your feelings for him are hardly an unsolved mystery. The truth is, he could end his relationship and pursue you, but he isn’t budging. He seems content cheating on his girlfriend, and leading you on in the meantime.

Next, think about how your actions could hurt his girlfriend. How would she feel if she found out that you are allowing her boyfriend to spend the night at your house? 

I have to believe that you are reaching out to me because deep down you know that you deserve better. You deserve a man who will make you a priority and will move mountains to be with you. You are worthy of requited love.  

In psychological terms, you are operating from a scarcity mentality: you are willing to pursue a man who is taken because you believe that eligible men are in limited supply. In reality, there is no shortage of single men. There are plenty of smart, funny, dashing men, but you are oblivious to them because of your infatuation with your unavailable guy friend.

This beau of yours is getting his emotional needs met without offering you anything tangible. My advice? Expect more. Research shows that when you expect more from a relationship, you get more. Embrace an abundance mentality. Open your eyes, get dressed up, go to an art gallery, chat up a stranger, cheer at a baseball game, and when you catch the eye of a handsome gent, make sure to raise your standards for character before getting attached. 

Despite all my warnings, if you can’t imagine moving on without an answer – proceed with caution. 

Tell him that it hurts to be just friends because your feelings for him are deep. Listen carefully to his response and accept his answer. If he says that he shares your passion, tell him that he needs to end his relationship before he can be with you. You can celebrate, but don’t be surprised if you find him sneaking around with another woman behind your back. If he chooses to stay with his girlfriend, then you will likely need to stop socializing with him until you can tolerate being in his life without being intimately involved. In that case, focus your attention on meeting someone new, someone honest, loyal, and unattached. 

I'm falling in love with my guy friend

Q: I’m falling in love with my guy friend. We always spend time together and talk about personal things, but I don’t know if he sees me as anything more than a friend. What can I do to find out if there’s a future for us? I don’t want to ruin our friendship. Please help.
- Hoping for More

A: You’ve fallen for your guy friend and you want to know how to proceed. You know he’s crazy about you – at least as a friend – and you’re aching to find out if there’s potential for romance. Here are three ways to find out if the feelings are mutual without risking your pride or your friendship.

1. Help him see you as a woman

At the moment you’re his gal pal, and that’s not who you want to be. You want to be seductive, alluring, and incredibly sexy. In short, you want him to want you. Since the two of you did not have instant chemistry, you will need to put effort into developing and nurturing this attraction. This will be a process, and it will require patience.

Are you ready?

To begin, you want to look beautiful and smell wonderful every time you see him. If you usually hang out with him in sweatpants, this is your chance to show him your feminine side. Try to look as put together as you would for a first date: think a fitted dress, perfume and light make-up. The trick is to transition into your new look without making him think that you’re trying to impress him. If he compliments you, simply smile, thank him, and move on.

Another way you can help your guy friend see you as an eligible, single woman is by telling him about the other guys who are interested in you. Men are naturally jealous creatures. They want the cave woman that the other cave men have their eyes on. You can increase your perceived value and sex appeal by letting him know that you are highly sought after. The next time a man hits on you, mention it to your guy friend. He’ll get the picture that you’re hot stuff, and that if he doesn’t snatch you up another guy will.

2. Flirt with him

Flirting is the best way to gauge his interest. To see if he’s open to the possibility of romance, find ways to touch him in conversation. The trick is to make the physical interactions quick and casual. We’re not talking about long, meaningful embraces. (That will come later.) Right now, it’s all about your hand brushing against his, or a quick hug to say hello. He shouldn’t be able to tell if you’re flirting with him or just being friendly.

If he moves closer to you or flirts back, that’s definitely a good sign that he is attracted to you. If he looks alarmed or pulls away, it means that he’s not ready (and may never be ready) for anything beyond friendship.

Here’s how to test the waters:

  • The next time he changes his appearance (new haircut, new clothing item), compliment him and see how to responds.
  • Give him a quick hug the next time you see him. Does he pull away immediately or hold on? Does he light up when he sees you?
  • Touch his arm when you’re talking about something funny and watch for his response. Does he ever find reasons to touch you in conversation?
  • Give him your full attention when he talks – no texting or changing the subject. Watch his body language for cues. Is he holding eye contact with you or is he distracted and checking his phone? If his pupils are dilated and he seems engaged with, there’s a chance he’s interested.
  • Ask for his help solving a problem or fixing something. Most people love giving advice and working on projects. If he agrees to help, it will give you a chance to spend more time together.

3. Don’t do anything that could turn him off

Chances are, if you’ve been close friends for a while, he’s seen you in your grungy tee-shirts, smelled your breath after eating garlic pizza, and heard you whine about your exes. All that stops now. As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t do it on a hot first date, don’t do it around your guy. If you’re serious about catching his interest, you have to start treating him like a man, and not like a buddy.

After you are involved in a stable, long term relationship, you can reintegrate your grungy tee-shirts into your wardrobe. But right now, you’re a woman on a mission. Your goal is to show him that you are a better candidate than all of the other women he could be dating.

Once he is able to see you as more than a friend, he’ll start to wonder what it would be like to kiss you. Then, the ball’s in your court. He will pursue you, and the really beautiful part is that he’ll think the pursuit was his idea.

Of course, if you don’t want to go to the effort of reading his signals and building attraction, you could just tell him how you feel. This is a riskier approach, but it can work. A friend of mine told her guy friend that she loved him and that she thought they would be perfect together. He brushed her off and said he didn’t think they were a good match. She was devastated, but kept her cool, and they stayed close friends. After two years of dating other people, he came to her and told her that she had been right from the beginning. They started dating, and very soon after, he proposed to her. They are now one of the happiest married couples you will ever meet. Of course, if she had played the game differently and worked to catch his attention, they might have started dating two years sooner.

Whatever approach you use, you will soon know how your guy friend feels about you. If he reciprocates your feelings, you will find yourself at the start of an incredibly meaningful and exciting relationship. What could be better than dating your best friend? But if you don’t get the answer you hoped for, accept his response and hold your head high. Don’t say anything that you might regret later. Take some time for yourself. Go out with your girl friends. Meet a new man and fall in love. You can return to the friendship when you’re ready.