- Get curious about why you’re questioning whether your feelings are valid.
- Focus on exploring your own emotions around the situation rather than worrying about how others may react.
- Be honest with your partner and best friend about your feelings. If they care for you, they will listen.
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I live with my boyfriend of 3.5 years and my female best friend of 22 years, along with my 7-year-old son.
My friend and I have only ever had heterosexual relationships, but I think I have feelings for her as more than a friend.
But I’m scared about exploring these feelings. How do I move forward without negatively affecting my son, who knows her as his aunt?
I’m also scared of losing her as a friend. How can I tell if these feelings are real, or brought on by my anxiety over the current state of the world?
Do I just want a safe space, which is her, or is it something deeper than that?
It’s normal to feel scared when you’re being vulnerable. I’m proud of you for being honest about your emotions and the state of your closest relationships.
Though it may feel logical to put your son first here, you shouldn’t ruminate over how your relationship with your best friend will affect him, New York City therapist Rachel Wright told me.
“Kids know what you tell them, and if Aunt Jane becomes a parental figure, which it sounds like she already is, he probably won’t even notice a difference,” Wright said of your situation.
Instead of worrying about your son, take time to tend to your own emotions about the situation.
You said you fear admitting your budding feelings for your friend could negatively impact your relationship.
When you catch yourself entering that spiral, consider how much your relationship has been able to withstand up until this point.
“Living together already put a strain on your relationship, so the fact that you’ve lived together for so long already and have a close relationship, I’m wondering what would shift if you add in romance and sex,” said Wright.
She suggested exploring why you’re questioning your feelings and writing them off as anxiety. Do you feel shame? Do you fear the unknown? Journaling or talking it out with a therapist could help you validate your emotions rather than push them away.
Be honest with your friend about how you feel. Wright said inviting her for an outing that’s just the two of you could be a great place to start.
To do that, ask your friend to hang out one-on-one and let her know you want to discuss your relationship so she isn’t blindsided. Then, tell her you’ve noticed your feelings for her have intensified, and you’re curious about them but also scared about how exploring those feelings could impact your friendship.
You should also take time to be honest with your boyfriend. You don’t have to have all of the answers right away, but letting him know what you’ve been experiencing and how you want it to pan out will set your relationship up for solid communication.
Of course, there’s a chance your friend and boyfriend won’t have stellar reactions to your realization. To prepare for negative reactions, Wright suggested stating what you don’t want to happen after sharing this part of yourself with each of them.
For example, you could tell your boyfriend that you don’t want this self-discovery to change your relationship, and that your hope is to integrate your friend into your romantic life. Be explicit in whatever your hopes are for sharing this information, said Wright, because that’s all you can control.
“We can’t control other people’s behaviors or how they’ll respond to our own thoughts, feelings, and experiences,” she told me. “We can listen and be curious and understand.”
What makes your situation so nerve-wracking is just that: You’re unable to control how your loved ones will react. But if these feelings are gnawing at you, speaking up will serve you more than staying silent.
People change, and it’s possible your changing feelings won’t align with what your boyfriend and friend want. You’ll never know until you ask, though.
Being vulnerable is hard, but wondering about what could have been if you were honest will likely be harder.
Have a question? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.