Ever find yourself complaining to an opposite sex friend how hard it is to find a great partner?
Of course, you’re not interested in them. You’re just friends. And while you may both may plan on keeping things strictly platonic, you could still be hindering each other from finding a match.
We asked Ashley Howe, couple and family therapist at Balance Integrated Healthcare in Toronto, how to tell if your cross-sex best friend is filling in the place of a romantic partner.
Howe suggests that you start by asking yourself what need this friend fills in your life. If there’s nothing special about their personality that draws you towards them, and you feel like it could be anyone standing in their place, then yes they may be just filling in space and time if you’re feeling bored or lonely, explains Howe.
You also have to ask yourself if this person is, in fact, hindering you from meeting someone else. “Are you not meeting someone new because you’d rather spend time with them than by yourself or with someone else?” If so, Howe says it may be a sign that you’re more into them than you think. However, if the friend is filling up the one specific hole in your life reserved for romantic or intimate partners, it can be a problem.
There are a few signs that can reveal you and your platonic friend may be a bit more than just that. “If you find yourself getting dressed up, or not telling them you had a date, it’s telling you there’s something more to this relationship that is different from any other friend,” explains Howe. “It’s a sign that you’re thinking of them in a different way.”
If you feel like they may be impacting your romantic life, or you want to see if they want to take things to the next level, Howe recommends being honest about your feelings. “If you’re wondering, then you need to talk to them, or else you’re not having a genuine relationship,” she says. Never start by accusing them of wasting your time or harbouring secret feelings for you. “Take ownership for what you’re wondering about and your feelings. If you’re going to have this conversation, commit to it and make sure you let them know how much you value them.” She recommends starting by saying that you’re not sure if there could be something more between you both, and then asking them if they feel the same.
However, at the end of the day, anyone who is ‘just a friend’ shouldn’t be hindering you from meeting a romantic partner. “There’s no finite capacity for love. There should be no reason why love for one friend is getting in the way of filling in that intimacy hole.”
However, if you’re having a good time exploring a new friendship with a member of the opposite sex, don’t discount it as unworthy of your time because they’re not going to end up as your romantic partner. “What is there to question if it works for you?” says Howe.
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