I’ve realised that after three years, I am completely in love with my best friend. We’ve been friends for almost a decade. We’re exactly the same: have the same sense of humour, the same interests. Recently, we’ve become even closer – seeing each other most days, calling or texting at least once a day. We’ll go for dinner, drinks at the pub. On weekends, we’ll go to galleries and it will always be just the two of us.
When he first told me he had started seeing someone, I didn’t think anything of it, or that it could be serious because I knew he would be quickly become disinterested in her. But things started to get more serious and I realised I saw him more than a friend when I had that sickening feeling in my stomach after he told me they were going on a trip together.
I’m worried that if I tell him how I feel that will ruin our friendship, but seeing him with someone else is eating me up inside. What should I do?
Ah mate. Ahhh mate. God, reading this makes my spine go funny, a sort of physical empathy, a feeling a little like that one you get when peering off a badly fenced roof. There are two ways to look at this. The first: It is the worst. It is a cruel trick being played by the universe, showing you perfect happiness but through a cloudy lens. It is the worst, because it’s not just potential at stake but your existing friendship, something proven and good, the place you currently live, in the warmth of dinner, drinks at the pub.
But, the second: It is a vast and wonderful thing. Not only are you “completely in love”, a phrase that will make even the hardest face smile simply to read, but with someone who is *right there*, who definitely cares about you and thinks you’re funny, knows your weird diet, your thing about hairless cats. Your lives are already intertwined, and there is the possibility that he feels the same, the possibility he is similarly keen to further entwine.
Your concern is, that maybe he’s not. That maybe he’s not, and further, that by proclaiming your love, you will ruin the already great thing you have together. So should you tell him? I don’t think you have much choice. Already, your relationship will be changing. Already, from the moment you looked at his forearms that warm Saturday afternoon and thought, “oh”. The second you woke sweaty from a dream about a boat trip, or said it out loud to yourself, or texted it to a friend, or wrote it here, to me – that you loved him, you put something into gear, sent it rolling down a hill. The thing already exists, a tension that, if not voiced, will woodworm its way into your daily interactions and compromise their safety.
So, yeah, you should tell him. But you don’t have to tell him in words, not straight away. You could start gently, a lingering of your hand on his knee. Some explorative eye contact. A goodbye hug. The non-verbal movements that open, if not doors, then windows – a sometimes welcome discomfort. If he withdraws or ignores, then you may have your answer, and you should take a minute to digest that, to unlove him. If not, then… tell him. Tell him having already played out the potential outcomes in your head. Including the one where he tries to have everything. Tries to explore a romance with you while still going out with her, something that happens through never giving an answer, instead, allowing you hope through late night conversation and dancing too close. More than a simple rejection, this is the way your current relationship could die, from a blurring of boundaries that allows him to get validation from two of you, both compromised. You should tell him. But my guess is, he already knows.