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 agonizing 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, but 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 from 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