- Before you decide, reflect on why you feel the need to be your friend’s savior in her romantic life.
- Spend time getting to know yourself and others. Set boundaries in your friendship to prevent resentment.
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One of my best friends, who I’ve known for 8 years, says she only loves me as a brother.
I’ve seen her in multiple dysfunctional relationships with other guys. And yet, I’m deeply attracted her. I see her as a victim of her own stupid choices, and she treats me like her rescuer.
Currently, she wants to move in together and be roommates to get space from a guy she’s been dating. She clarified that our potential living situation would be on a friendship level only, no sex.
I think it would be unfair and unwise to live with my friend, knowing she’s going to have sex with other people and that she doesn’t want me in the same manner. She told me she doesn’t see me as I see her, but also said that could change after we get settled. It’s a big risk I’m not ready to take, but my heart tells me to try.
Would it be a foolish move to shack up with a girl in an unrequited relationship just to satisfy her needs? Am I just setting myself up for a major emotional fall?
I can tell you care deeply about your best friend and the connection you have, and that’s admirable.
At the same time, you shouldn’t be a martyr for her. You may already know this deep down, considering you said the move would be a “big risk” for you.
It can be difficult to move on from unrequited feelings you have for a person you didn’t get to date, since our minds tend to focus on what could have been, New York City-based therapist Bukky Kolawole previously told me.
When it comes to relationships, whether platonic or romantic, it’s important to see that person for who they are now, not who they say they could become. Your friend said a physical relationship is off-limits, so focus on that rather than her words about your potential future relationship.
It can be nice to dream of the relationship you want with her, but expecting it will eventually happen without proof could prolong the emotional pain you say you want to avoid.
Instead, reflect on how your friendship makes you feel and how it impacts your life. Then, decide if you should take steps to reshape your dynamic so the friendship works better for you.
Understand why you’ve taken on the role of ‘rescuer’
Think about why you’ve taken on the role of your friend’s rescuer. According to therapist Jeffrey Summer, some people stay in unfulfilling relationships because they feel they don’t deserve happiness.
If it’s possible your actions stem from a need to feel useful or loved by your friend, remember that a true friend will see your value beyond what you can do for them, according to therapist Perpetua Neo.
Once you understand the motivations behind your actions, think about how you want to feel in a relationship and the type of partner you want. Comparing your friend’s qualities to the ones you’d want in a romantic partner could help you move forward, since friends don’t always make for the best long-term lovers, according to Kelly Scott, a therapist at Tribeca Therapy in New York City.
“It’s possible for relationships to transition from platonic to romantic, but that requires open communication, flexibility, and confidence,” Scott said. “It also requires both parties to tolerate possible disappointment without becoming resentful or withdrawing.”
If you don’t think that’s possible with your best friend, it might be best to improve your friendship instead of holding out hope for romance. This way, you can focus on meeting people who fit your values and are ready to date you.
Set boundaries to protect your emotional health
You should consider taking time away from your friend, then setting boundaries about how you show up for her.
Time away doesn’t have to be forever, but a physical break could help you gain clarity about what you need your friendship to look like moving forward. Boundaries aren’t punishments, but ways to protect our own mental health, and show loved what we need to feel safe in a relationship with them, according to Jimanekia Eborn, a sex educator and trauma specialist of 13 years.
You could tell your friend that you cherish your friendship, but you need some time to sort out complicated feelings and will let her know when you’re ready to spend time together again. You may realize that you can no longer help her like you did in the past. If certain types of support make you feel bad about yourself, make an agreement with yourself to stop those, and tell your friend your plan.
For example, you could say something like, “Whenever you call me to pick you up after a fight with your partner, I feel cornered and unimportant. In the future, if I pick up and this is the scenario, I will politely end the call. I want to be a supportive friend while also taking care of my mental health.”
Focusing on what you can control, like hanging up the phone, can decrease anxiety you may have over the nature of your friendship, according to therapist Amy Morin.
As Insider’s resident sex and relationships reporter, Julia Naftulin is here to answer all of your questions about dating, love, and doing it — no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.
Have a question? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.