As a neuroscientist, I am fascinated by infatuation; it's such a strong, mysterious phenomenon, yet is entirely scientifically-explainable.
"I Can't Date Them, but at Least I Can Be Their Friend!"
Unfortunately, many of us go through the experience of falling into infatuation with someone that we cannot date. In this situation, you must move on and accept that you will never be with this 'special' person, however magical and wonderful your connection with them is.
Many of us make the mistake of thinking that a close friendship with our crush is the 'next best thing'. We do all that we can to get as close as possible to them, because the thought of them leaving our life is agonizing, even if we know that a friendship isn't truly what we want.
It is incredibly painful to develop strong feelings for someone, yet be unable to express it to them physically and emotionally. Here are some reasons why befriending someone that you are intensely infatuated with is a terrible idea that will only lead to anger, jealousy, embarrassment, and misery.
1. You'll Act Like You're Dating Them
Every time you meet this individual, your heart will flutter and you'll be sure to be looking your best. You'll prioritize them over all your other friends, doing all that you can to spend one-on-one time with them.
This is because you desire more than friendship with this person, and kidding yourself that they're your platonic friend will not put an end to this. Your brain has formed romantically-driven pathways which are only growing stronger every time you see them.
You do not see this man or woman as a friend, and won't be able to do so unless you step back and distance yourself. Infatuation has a shelf-life, naturally fading after a few months; however, if you're regularly having philosophical conversations and coffee dates with this person, you will only fall harder in love.
2. You'll Often Feel Embarrassed, Depressed and Angry
When striving to stay as close as possible to someone that you love, you may be forgetting one fundamental thing: a friendship with this person will make you feel resentful and low. It may provide you with some sugary highs, but these will be followed by harrowingly depressive moods and pain as you return to reality and remember that they only view you platonically.
The embarrassment and feelings of low self-esteem will be unrelenting. You'll spend a lot of your time hyper-focusing on your own body language and speech patterns, desperately trying to stay within the illusory 'friendship' boundaries that you are trying to maintain. Everyone struggles and eventually gives away their true feelings, as energy doesn't lie.
It's also imperative to remember that the anger will be soul-destroying. Even if you attempt to repress it, you will feel a lot of underlying contempt towards this person for dating other people.
Unrequited love will cause you to experience emotional turmoil, almost as if you were grieving a family member. Is it really a true friendship if you are desperate to be with this person romantically and are constantly unhappy, jealous and disillusioned?
3. Your Real, Platonic Friends Will Seem Boring To You
In short, befriending someone that you are romantically interested in will warp the way that you define a 'friend'. Normal friendship obviously doesn't involve any romantic highs or undertones, so your connections with your existing friends will seem extremely dull in comparison to what you have with this person.
As I explained above, you will act and feel like you are dating them, going through all the same highs and lows as someone in a new relationship (due to dopamine and serotonin).
Your platonic friends will not bring you the same ecstasy, understandably. It is dangerous to blur the lines between friendship and romance for this reason; you will become bored of your friends, and will be even more likely to only want to spend time with this person.
4. The 'Friendship' Will Always Be Unbalanced, And You'll Want More
Unfortunately, this person that you adore does not feel the same way about you. They probably enjoy spending time with you, and the connection is genuine in that sense, but they will never make as much time for you as you will for them.
Aware of the disparity between their feelings and yours, you will constantly try and morph yourself into a subservient version of this person (which, by the way, will only make you appear oddly clingy).
It is agonising to adore someone and want to show them the most intense forms of love and affection. However, a harsh truth about us humans is that we detest intensity when it is unrequited on our part. Imagine one of your platonic friends suddenly becoming possessive and intense in their emotions. You may pity them, bit it would become irritating after a period of time and even creepy.
The friendship will obviously always be balanced since they are not in love with you too. In fact, nothing about this connection is a friendship. You'll always linger when they smile at you, or hug you, and you'll always want the conversation to become a little more intimate and philosophical. They, on the other hand, will slowly grow sick of you as all they will see is a lovesick, unhappy, clingy puppy.
5. The Obvious: You Will Never Be A True Friend To Your Crush
While you should be compassionate to yourself when faced with an emotionally-demanding situation like this, you must also consider the other person in the equation. By choosing to befriend/remain friends with someone you have deep feelings for, you are selfishly dragging them into a rather artificial, unhealthy connection.
They are deserving of close friends who wholly support them and their lifestyle, and you, unfortunately, do not qualify for this position. You will never truly be there for them when they need relationship advice, or a hug because they've failed a test, since you will be unable to hide the extent of your jealousy and desire. We should not be strongly attracted to our friends.
You will also be a suboptimal friend in many other ways, all stemming from the issue that you are infatuated with them. You are hanging onto this 'friendship' to be a bit opportunistic, and may find yourself acting manipulatively to try and stop them pursuing anyone else. Regardless of your intentions, you aren't actually interested in connecting with them platonically and would hate to see them happily in a relationship. This is because a platonic friendship doesn't entail physical attraction or romantic feelings.
Step back from the situation and ask yourself this question: why are you insisting on remaining their 'friend' when it is only hurting you and impinging on their freedom/ability to live their own life?
The only way out of this conundrum is to detach yourself from this person, even if it kills you to do so, and to start living for yourself. You'll regain your sense of self, develop your skills and will eventually find a partner who can love you back.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Lucy
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on June 30, 2020:
Hey there! Thank you for taking the time to share your story - I really appreciate it when people do, as I know how much it comforts others during times of emotional torture.
I completely understand that you struggle to leave the limerence behind because you feel that there IS an authentic spiritual connection there. This may not be an entire falsehood - perhaps you two are people with similar brains. However, you still should not be limerent over her, nor would you be if you did not carry around beliefs in your subconscious mind that are actively manifesting limerence.
Plus. the overpowering desperation and desire that come along with the intuition that you two are like-minded soulmates just another symptom of limerence. Remember, we can consider that we may be very similar to some of our friends and family members without wanting to be emotionally engulfed by them. The 'pull' that you feel towards her upon thinking these thoughts reflects that you are limerent.
In other words, when you treat the root cause and shatter the limerence, all of these feelings and 'revelations' dissolve away. Don't worry about the magical ideation, the crying, or the longing that imagining having met in your 20s drowns you in - what you need to do is treat the ROOT psychological causes of limerence.
Check out all of my articles on limerence over at www.NeuroSparkle.com
I understand how nuanced, agonising and frustrating limerence is - it goes far beyond 'unrequited infatuation' and feels so spiritual, so significant and so all-encompassing. Teaching you all to free yourself from its allure is an immense passion of mine.
Blabla on June 29, 2020:
Have been in love with a coworker who had a girlfriend back then.. But once we stopped being coworkers and she moved away to another country (thanks, pandemic) & broke up with her ex, I expressed my feelings. She acknowledged that she thought about me this way, too but stopped herself cause she was not single. However, she showed no intention of coming back to the country i'm in and met a new partner already. That left me feeling like shit, especially cause we kept being in touch almost every day since she moved away! And she'd get flirty sometimes, but nothing serious.
What's especially confusing is that there is chemistry & a soul connection (forgive my cheesiness) & she admitted that, too. :\ Even saying how fun it'd be IF we met in our 20s. If I was rejected in a straghtforward way, I think i'd have easier time moving on - which is Not to minimize the pain from very straight-forward rejections! But somehow, I feel like yes, something is there but not enough, i am not enough.. and that's so painful. When I stop contact, she reaches out & i feel as if it's rude not to reply. No, I want to reply, actually but I know that's not in my best self-interest. Not sure how to get out of this. Will power & just cut it altogether?..
...just spilling it out here. Sending love and support to all who's struggling with this kind of pain.
Marie on June 28, 2020:
What if the friend does have feelings for me but we can't be friends for other reasons?
Shredded1 on June 05, 2020:
Many thanks indeed for your reply Lucy!
Thank you so much for referring NeuroSparkle website too! Read many articles and I must say that I have got many insights and maybe some answers too. I happened to come across this site while trying to figure out what is wrong with me. I had never heard the word Limerence, before you mentioned it, and then went on to read your articles on it. So I guess it is Limerence that I Aam going through. However, one question that comes to my mind is ... What if she is also in Limerence!? I am asking this because after reading your articles and going back to my thoughts on her and us, I would like to think she is also in the same boat. May I know what would you like to say about this please? TIA!
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on June 05, 2020:
You still need to rewire your brain away from the allure of this illusory connection, regardless of whether or not she is in a happy marriage. I have lots of articles on the subject and you can check out my website NeuroSparkle (linked in my bio). :)
Shredded1 on June 04, 2020:
Spot On article and I read some of the comments too.. My question is... what if the girl is NOT in a happy marriage? yes. she is married and has a toddler for whom she does not want to come out of her marriage... at least for now.
Joey g on April 14, 2020:
Everything u have described is exactly what im going thru it really hit home.On one occasion id like to say everything u wrote is wrong but id be lying to myself because everything to exact detail is correct with a tear in my eye i thankyou for the truth although i wish it where not so i have to accept it
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on February 24, 2020:
Well said. You can now put this behind you and get to know other interesting people (who you aren't already friends with!)
Judd on February 24, 2020:
I just had to tell a friend i couldn't be her friend anymore as i fancying her for the last few months, she had a partner too so it's for the best.
Gonna be honest i feel better already and like a load has been taken off my shoulder, i'ts not healthy lying to yourself and not admitting how you feel. It was starting to become unbearable every time i saw her because i wanted to be her partner and not really her friend.
It really isn't worth trying to be a friend in this situation, she was upset but hopefully she will understand, you have to think about your own well being in this scenario.
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on December 30, 2019:
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and contribute, Azar. You've raised some extremely important questions that I'm sure will help some readers.
Azar on December 29, 2019:
Hello. Leaving a quick comment here. For people who just read one article before deciding what to do ( been there). When the unrequired love strikes it's a very HARD battle to fight. You must be strong and MATURE. Examine what your true feelings are first and never DENY them! Because if you want a friendship with that person you must ask yourself a few questions like those : Do I want her to be happy? Do I want her to be happy with me? Can I be happy for her if she is in a long term happy relantionship? Do I get sexually attracted to her or is her personality that stuns me? . And all question that comes to mind help. Once you figured out what your true intentions are, you can make a path to move forward with what you want or not want to do next. ( also please google more article about unrequired love, you may find other more helpful).- If you are an unlucky highschool boy/girl reading this then PLEASE be very careful with what you decide...(after you decide , you may want professional help or talk to someone who is actual friend with someone they have unrequired feelings for and are HAPPY about it. DO NOT do the steps yourself . If you don't you may SAVE years of your life by going theright way for you more quicker.) , examine first the person you are having unrequired feeling to and decide first if she is a INTERESTING person or a REGULAR one and you just have a more "heavy" crush. ( The words interesting and regular are "small" but I can't use any better at this hour. ) hope you get the idea.
mixed emotions???????? on December 10, 2019:
I just wanna say ...i have a great/close friend,we laugh together and tell each other things about ourselves and life.Whenever i'm mad at them they always seem to get me to forgive them and when i'm down or sad they always manage to put a smile on my face again and again.I feel this connection to them,i can get lost looking into their eyes,i have these moments when my heart just melts and tingle.I think...wait i know i'm in love with them i think about them 24/7.I love them so much it hurts inside,i remember i cryed over them and they said "why are you crying " i said "why do you wanna know ?" they said "because i care" i said "why?" "because i want to improve" they said
i 'm always sad knowing they will never think the same but my friends say "you never know" i've tryed cutting them off as in not being their friend but with them as you know is imposible i really adore them and i don't know what to do pls if you read this give me some good advice
and an answer and what i should do.
Klr on November 04, 2019:
This article is great but I disagree a little... I have been in this situation for 12yrs. During that time we have both dates other people and have 2 engagements and a failed marriage between us. We had a blow up many years ago when it originally came out that I had liked him as he claimed he would have chosen me over the person he was with (but had just broken up with) at the time. I went off at him because how could he not know and he went off at me because how could I not say something... we patched it up after both moving back to our home town. Slowly over the past couple of years our friendship has moved back to we’re it was before that... in every way though... we hang out between 1-3x a week, organise events together with friends, fo our just the two of us and then go back to each other’s houses and have those deep philosophical convos mentioned above. We snuggle in bed together but have never slept together. We sleep naked together.....
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on August 21, 2019:
Thank you for bringing that to my attention - polyamory had slipped my mind. Perhaps I should have mentioned the fact that some people thrive in non-exclusive relationships.
However, I doubt that polyamorous folk require online assistance in the face of infatuations etc. as much as monogamous people, based on what you have stated.
This article also pertains to unrequited love, and the reasons why it is harmful to enter a pseudo-'friendship' (i.e. a platonic connection) with someone that you love. Perhaps it does apply to poly people in this sense, although I understand that certain points would have to be tweaked to fully extrapolate from it.
Adam on August 20, 2019:
The article is inaccurate, It is quite possible to love someone and be happy for them to love others and support those relationships. It is called Polyamory.
Geoffrey on July 19, 2019:
This article really highlighted, that I am not I infact going crazy, or weak, or that there is something wrong with me. The brain science of being in love is clearly pointed out in this article, and I feel liberated, as if I have been diagnosed at last. Now I can work on the cure. What relief to know.....that what is happening.although awful......is a normal cognitive and emotional response. ...to unrequited love.
ImDone on May 03, 2019:
This article was just what I needed. What sucks is I asked my friend point blank, and she confirmed what I was feeling. Only months later, she said she never had any idea. Meanwhile, she would say things like "I Love You." That's been tempered with ...You are my best friend. You are my "ride or die." She's a great person and I have great memories, but I finally took control. I wish her well. Maybe it will return to the right boundaries, but I have to be in charge of my life and not dreaming for something that will never come.
Petra Gurney on March 18, 2019:
i need answers to this love dilemma. i have unfortunately i have fallen in love with one of my close friend. but there is a big problem she is married in an unhappy marriage. i know that she has feelings to wards me and have written in a letter just sent recently that willing to be a friend to a person deeply love and not pursue any romance with them. and then wrote that the woman wish to share my life must be single. worried in case she does not want to be my friend anymore. i cannot even bring myself to tell her directly that i have romantic feelings for her in case she feels under pressure to choose between her unhappy marriage or me which i am not willing to take her away from her husband.
Daniel on February 07, 2019:
Thank you so much for this, it's exactly what I needed to hear. I'm in this situation at the moment, not only am I miserable but you've helped me see I'm not being a very good friend either. I really need some distance from my friend, I know it will be hard but in the end it's the right thing to do.
Lauren on September 15, 2018:
Yes I've been in that situation for a really long time only I didn't notice I was in love with him until after I ended the friendship with him I feel better since I ended the friendship it was rather a permanent decision I made I'm not sorry that I won't be around for his wedding because I don't want to be I've got a good boyfriend myself so I'm focusing on him and I couldn't when I was friends with Dominic he wasn't even a good friend so it's no big loss for me for him it really must have been a big loss his relationship will probably fail because his friends will all figure out what I did that he was toxic
dashingscorpio from Chicago on September 12, 2017:
Life in the "friend zone" is pure torture for those who find themselves in that predicament. Essentially what causes this is a lack of courage to face rejection.
Deep down they're hoping for a "When Harry Met Sally" movie moment where the (friend) realizes all they've ever wanted is right beside them. It's easier for an ex lover to become a best friend than it is for a best friend to become a lover. That's reality!
In other instances they're hoping there will be a "moment of weakness" when the person is distressed enough to turn to them for physical and emotional comfort one night.
Choosing to hang out with someone you have a crush on while listening to them talk about dates and lovers or being a shoulder for them to cry on is an act of insanity.
As someone once said: "Suffering is optional."
Go after what you really want and if you're rejected move on.
In a world with over (7 Billion people) rejection means: Next!