Am I In Love With My Best Friend? Unpacking the Feelings

am i in love

Navigating the line between friendship and romantic love can be perplexing, especially when the person in question is your best friend. The bond you share with them is unique and deep, so it's natural to wonder if what you're feeling is more than just friendship.

The Telltale Signs

  • You're Jealous: If you find yourself feeling uneasy or jealous when they date someone or even spend time with other friends, it's a sign there might be deeper emotions at play.

Example: Jake was always the laid-back type, but when his best friend Sarah started dating Tom, he found himself irrationally irritated and envious.

  • You Prioritize Them Over Others: Whether it's choosing to spend time with them over others or constantly thinking about their opinions and feelings first, this shift in priorities can be an indicator.

Example: Mia realized she'd often cancel plans with other friends just to have a movie night with Jason, her best friend.

  • Physical Affection Increases: A sudden urge to be close, hugging more than usual, or feeling butterflies when you touch can be indicative of burgeoning romantic feelings.
  • Their Happiness is Your Happiness: While this is true for most friends, if their joy or sadness profoundly affects your emotional state, it's worth introspecting.

Example: When Ryan got his dream job, Emily felt an elation that was almost surreal, as if her own dreams had come true.

  • Daydreaming about Them: If they've started to dominate your thoughts, especially scenarios of a romantic nature, it's a clear red flag.

Research Insights: Am I In Love With My Best Friend?

Understanding our emotions towards someone we've been close to for a while can be a confusing journey. Interestingly, research has shed light on this topic, providing some objective measures to an otherwise subjective feeling.

  • Emotional Intensity: According to Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who has extensively studied love and attraction, the brain releases a mix of chemicals when one is in love. This concoction includes dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. When comparing friendships to romantic relationships, there's a noticeable difference in the levels of these chemicals, leading to an increased heart rate, feelings of euphoria, and obsessive thoughts about the person of interest. If your thoughts about your best friend mirror these patterns, it might be a sign of deeper feelings.
  • Jealousy Factor: A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that jealousy can be a strong indicator of underlying romantic feelings. Participants who felt uneasy or bothered about their best friend's new romantic interests were more likely to have unspoken feelings for that friend.
  • Prolonged Eye Contact: The power of eye contact in eliciting romantic feelings was explored in a study by psychologist Joan Kellerman and her colleagues. They found that pairs who held eye contact for an extended period reported heightened feelings of affection and passion. If you find yourself locked in more prolonged gazes with your best friend, it could indicate a deeper connection.
  • Physical Touch: Researchers from Aalto University and Turku PET Centre in Finland found that touching, especially in areas like the hands and face, releases oxytocin, often called the "love hormone." This neurotransmitter promotes bonding and trust. If you find a shift in your physical dynamics with your best friend, such as an increased desire to hug, hold hands, or even a fluttering feeling with a casual touch, it may be more than just friendship.
  • Shared Experiences: A 2013 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that shared experiences foster a deeper emotional connection. If you've been through thick and thin with your best friend, those shared experiences can elevate your bond. Combined with other feelings, this might blur the lines between friendship and romance.
  • Mimicry: According to a study in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, people tend to mimic the behaviors, speech patterns, and even mannerisms of those they're attracted to subconsciously. If you've noticed an increasing similarity in the way both of you act or talk, it might be your brain signaling a deeper attachment.

Drawing insights from research is essential, but remember that each individual's emotional journey is unique. These studies offer a lens to understand and analyze feelings but always prioritize your intuition and lived experiences.

[Read: Why Do You Love Someone?]

What To Do Next?

understand your feelings

  • Self-reflection: Understand your feelings. Are they fleeting, or do they have depth? Sometimes, confusing intense friendship with romance is natural.
  • Talk to a Trusted Person: Share your feelings with someone you trust. They might offer an objective view.

Example: Kara was confused about her feelings for her best friend, Liam. Speaking to her sister gave her clarity and a fresh perspective.

  • Communication is Key: If you're sure about your feelings, consider talking to your best friend. It's essential to be honest about your emotions.
  • Prepare for Outcomes: Remember, every action has a consequence. They might reciprocate your feelings, or they might not. It's crucial to be prepared for all outcomes to safeguard the friendship.

In Conclusion

Feelings, especially those tied to relationships, are intricate, multi-layered, and often overwhelming. Realizing you might be in love with your best friend can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. Many of us cherish the deep bond we share with our best friends, and the mere thought of jeopardizing that can be daunting. But it's also essential to recognize that these feelings, if genuine, have the potential to bloom into something even more beautiful.

Remember, every individual's journey is different. Some of us might discover that what we thought was romantic love was just a phase or an extension of our intense friendship. Others might find a lifelong partner in their best friend, something that many people only dream of. While emotions and relationships aren't always black and white, there's immense value in self-awareness and introspection. It's crucial to understand the root of your feelings. Are they momentary, sparked perhaps by loneliness or a phase of life? Or do they indicate a deeper, more enduring sentiment?

Should you decide to express your feelings, proceed with sensitivity and care. After all, friendships, especially those that have withstood the test of time, are precious. But also remember that hiding or suppressing genuine emotions can lead to regrets. The landscape of love and friendship is vast, complex, and often unpredictable. No matter where you find yourself on this spectrum, treat your feelings with the respect they deserve and prioritize your well-being and that of your cherished friend. Embrace the journey, with its twists and turns, and always lead with your heart, paired with a healthy dose of rational thought. Life is too short for what-ifs, and sometimes, taking a leap, even if filled with uncertainties, can lead to the most profound moments of happiness and self-discovery.


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