What to Do If You Think You're Falling in Love With a Friend

iVisage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Although social psychologist Grace Cornish, in an April 2010 "Psychology Today" article, states that relationships built on friendships are likely to succeed, there are few things more embarrassing than declaring your undying love to your friend only to find out he is anything but interested. If you think you’re falling in love, take some time to check out the situation before doing anything hasty.

Check Your Perceptions

Romantic love consists of three ingredients: attraction, closeness and commitment. Attraction is the chemistry -- the part of love that makes you feel flushed, out of breath and jittery around the person you love. Closeness is the trust, caring and acceptance that develops between two people who share their private thoughts and feelings. Commitment is the glue that binds you together through dark times, arguments and difficulties. All three must be present for real romantic love to occur. Chances are closeness and commitment already exist in your friendship. Take an honest look at your feelings. Assess whether you really feel an attraction to your friend or whether are you mistaking the closeness and commitment of friendship for real love. Proceed only once you are sure about how you feel.

Scope Out the Situation

Friendships sometimes develop into something more without either person being aware that it happened. Maybe you have silly names for each other, your hugs linger a little longer than before, or your friends are constantly teasing you two about becoming a couple. Perhaps you text every night before bed or call each other first thing in the morning. If you are feeling the romantic tug, your friend might be as well. Take an objective look at the situation to make sure you aren’t falling victim to wishful thinking. If it genuinely feels right, ask your friend what he is thinking. He might make the first move.

If you have romantic feelings but your friend does not, you might be in a somewhat unbalanced relationship. Back off and become less available. Cultivate other friends and spend time away from the friend you desire. Bring balance back to the relationship by asking for favors, which actually breeds attraction, notes psychologist Jeremy Nicholson in his December 2011 article for "Psychology Today." For example, you might ask your friend to help you rearrange your furniture or tutor you in math. Reward the attentive behaviors you desire with genuine thanks or a small but personal gift. When your friend is inattentive, ignore him and do things with other people.

Broach the Subject of Dating

When you feel that your relationship is balanced and comfortable, it is time to broach the possibility of dating. According to Nicholson, there is no right way to do this. Some people go right for a kiss. Some prefer a direct conversation, while others take a roundabout method of dropping hints. Go with the approach that fits you and your particular friendship. If your friendship is solid, the conversation might be awkward, but the relationship should survive. Avoid doing anything unnatural or out of character, trust your friendship, and take a risk. The rewards could be well worth the momentary discomfort.