How do I tell my friend that I...adore her?
May 14, 2007 9:42 PM   Subscribe

How do I tell my friend that I...adore her?

I've been friends with this girl (I'm a guy) for the past couple of years. As of late, I've developed really strong feelings for her and just have an urge to tell her. Thing is, she lives pretty far from me and it isn't feasible for me to see her any time soon. I think she might have suspicions of me liking her and at times I've had suspicions that she likes me in return.

I know I've entered the 'friend zone' and it's a dangerous place to be but I don't want to regret this, I want to tell her, I don't want to look back in 10 years and think of what could have been. Problem is, I don't know how to go about it. I've considered writing a letter, but I don't know, I think that may be too much. Also, I don't want to make her uncomfortable - what if she doesn't feel the same way? I don't want our friendship to be destroyed or badly damaged because of it. I'd prefer to do something witty, something a little bit out there but the ball is in your court; lay it on me.

So basically how do I tell the [geographically distant] love of my life, that I love her?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Most people hate online media, but I've found that it can be pretty useful. I've received a confession through email, and another through IM.

The benefits of email is that you can think through exactly what you need to say and deliver it to her instantly, but you're not forcing her into a response as you would be through IM or through a phone call. If you're trying to avoid ruining your friendship, I would recommend something more indirect.

In your actual email, don't beat around the bush. "There's really no elegant way to say this, but I want you to know that I've really come to enjoy our interactions and the time we spend together, and I would love to make that into something more than friendship". Alter as needed for more or less corniness. Don't overwhelm her, make it simple and sincere. If you can throw in a joke or two, that'd be great. Don't go crazy, romantic-comedy-movie styled on the confession, it might scare her.

The friends zone is less dangerous than you might expect. There is the "OMG WOW CHEMISTRY!" type of relationship, and then there's the really solid friendship slowly turning into something else type of relationship, and neither is better or worse than the other.

The thing with the long distance barrier is that there can be a lot of ambiguity. If she brings it up as an obstacle, she may be trying to let you down easy. However, if she sounds up for it and brings the LDR thing up as a stumbling block, you guys need to be open about what your plans for the future are, what the chances of you eventually being in the same city are, and how much/if at all you're willing to sacrifice for this relationship. Don't go into any hasty decisions, talk it out and make sure you both want it, and wait long enough to be sure you're not living in New-Relationship-Energy Euphoria and are seeing reality clearly.
posted by Phire at 9:54 PM on May 14, 2007

Go visit her, and tell her then.
posted by delmoi at 9:57 PM on May 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

'm going to give you the cynical answer. I was in your position (except for the distance) a couple months ago and things did not. end. well. I'll share with you somethings that *I* learned from it all.

A couple rhetorical questions for you to ask yourself: Why do you want to tell her? Is it because you think you may have a chance at a relationship? Or is it to relieve your stress? Is it possible that the "signs" you've seen are self-manifested? How long have you been friends without her seeing you as a potential mate?

Everyone is different and everyone has a different set of friends, but just a general word of warning: the friend zone is almost impossible to get out of. once you are there, you are there. and a lot of the signs you think you're seeing from here are just how she would treat a friend (i.e. touching on the shoulder, resting her head on your shoulder, playfully jabbing at you, etc).

anyway, just some scattered thoughts. You'll probably get equal number people telling you that they found the love of their life through friendships and others saying theyve gotten their heart broken. All I can say is expect the worst and be delightfully surprised if it goes well.

whatever happens, make sure YOU end up happy. Good luck, buddy! if you want more details or whatevs, emails in the profile.
posted by menace303 at 10:02 PM on May 14, 2007

I was in your shoes once. I sat on my hands for the better part of a year. Nobody knew. I thought the situation raw. Finally, on an impulse, but with great consternation, I confessed. This was over dinner in a public setting. Why? To leave her an escape route from the ensuing awkwardness.

She assumed a pitiful grin, offered a hug, and invited me to a concert that night.

Nothing changed. Nothing. That's the best you can hope for. If you expect a relationship, you're mistaken. Let that find you later, if ever.
posted by nilihm at 10:05 PM on May 14, 2007

You seem to be trying to balance too many things; anything that effectively tells the love of your life that you love her will probably also risk being "too much" or making her "uncomfortable."

I was in a similar situation almost two years ago and I mustered the courage to tell the woman (over the phone), "I want you to be with me." I would have usually opted for a little irony, but I decided to play it straight and honest. It worked, though our mutual attraction might have been clearer to both of us than it is in your situation. Thus, you might want to keep your confession of love a little lighter (without sacrificing honesty, of course).

Good luck.
posted by viewofdelft at 10:13 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Do it, but in person.

I was in the same situation. When I finally got the courage to act on it, I went to visit and she was seeing someone else, and I chickened out. Years later, I found out that the feelings were mutual at the time but we had both moved on since then and were in long term relationships. I still wonder what would have happened.
posted by chundo at 10:34 PM on May 14, 2007

I will assume the time-honored AskMe role of saying...go visit her, and bring some alcohol. I know it sounds terrible, but I've known people who've gone the sincere and sober route, and I know people who've gone the drunken "oops - did that just happen?" route. The latter is about 300% more effective in my experience. It's sometimes hard to know if there's any chance of a non-friend relationship before you try it out and see how it feels.
posted by walla at 10:46 PM on May 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

In the mid 1990s I was in this same exact situation, in the friend zone and living a long distance away from someone I was fond of. Five years later we married and we now have a happy 3-year old.

What I recommend is lure her to your area by making an "easy entryway" for room/board/career/university opportunities. Your town has to seem like a better dig then where she is. Now I didn't lure my future wife to where I was or anything like that, but it just kinda worked out that way; I happened to be in the right spot for where she wanted to move on with her studies. We started dating after about a year of her living in my town.

I think it's flat-out impossible to get out of the friend zone while living in two different cities. I think nilihm's experience bears this out. If she won't move to where you are, you'll have to move there just to set the stage, and it's still a long shot. In my instance, I made a move early on while in the friend zone, and it backfired because we were at different areas in life and it was really unrealistic to start a long-distance romance. Definitely don't do it unless you visit and sparks are obvious.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:57 PM on May 14, 2007

I was in the same situation earlier this year. I realized I was "very fond" of my old roommate, and thought he felt the same. We used to live in the same country, I left a year and a half earlier and came back to the states.

I went back for a visit a few months ago, and saw him several times during my short trip but chickened out of telling him. Due to his work schedule there was no chance for the alcohol induced word slippage I was hoping for.

I ended telling him via text message while I was tipsy a few weeks ago. We had our normal "hi how are you, etc" conversation, talked about things going on and then I let him know that I was going to tell him last time I saw him that I was "very fond" of him. Not my first choice of communicating my feelings, but I got immediate feedback.

If you want a somewhat immediate reaction you could do it over the phone. I considered doing it via email, but the idea of waiting until he read it and replied made me want to break out in hives. If you can wait it out and feel more comfortable expressing how you feel in an email, then go for it.

Basically, do what makes you feel comfortable and be prepared that due to the fact that you both are far away that it might not be as simple as most, girl and boy like each other situations.

Good luck :)
posted by wilde at 11:49 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seeing this question, my heart skipped a beat. I'm a girl, my friend is a fantastic guy that I've cherished for a few years now and we live a couple thousand miles apart. Oh how I wish you were him, but I don't think he reads MeFi...

If you sense some chemistry in your relationship, you are probably right. In my case, I think the feeling is mutual--if we were living in the same town, I have no doubt that we'd have given it a shot.

But you know what? I'm not sure if I want to hear him utter the words. Not now. I definitely don't want to see them in an email. I could certainly do an LTR if it started out in person, but I don't want a pen pal romance. Until I know that our daily lives will eventually intersect in person, I really don't want to start anything.

So what should you do? Keep doing what you do, not as a "friend" but with a twinkle in your eye, and love her without defining the relationship. Find quiet ways to overcome the barriers one by one and to make it easy for her to come to you. (Or find ways for both of you to move out somewhere mutually beneficial.) Once you have a real picture of what kind of relationship you want to pursue, then tell her in person with a grand, yet simple gesture. Fly out. Take her to dinner. Be confident and straightforward, and save the jokes for when she's said yes. :)
posted by QueSeraSera at 11:52 PM on May 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Don't do it in person. You need to leave her an out. Trekking hundreds of miles to put her on the spot will be way too constraining. At the same time you do need to make it clear that you're not just being friendly. Yes, it's a balancing act, most things are. Perhaps call her, chat her up, and then ask her if you can visit her and spend some time with her (make it somewhat clear it's one-on-one time).
posted by nixerman at 12:14 AM on May 15, 2007

Oh yes, don't surprise her with a visit! You of course want to call her up and plan the trip with her. And only then do you "confess", and only if it feels right. It is a tough balance.
posted by QueSeraSera at 12:23 AM on May 15, 2007

The stock answer to this question is "get drunk and screw". Works. And lets you get over the whole I'm-so-sad-she-doesn't-want-me stuff to see if you would actually want a relationship with her.
posted by reklaw at 3:17 AM on May 15, 2007

I've never agreed that the media is the message. I actually think it's what you say, how you say it. Confessions of love are awkward. How about starting with a declaration of interest by telling her how fabulous you thing she is, and how you'd love to get to know her as a girlfriend. See if there is a response back. I nice buy not over the top hand written letter, a cleverly but not sappily written text, or a good phone call can all work.

The problem with declarations is you are starting at the end point of a relationship and not giving the other person a very relaxed position in which to catch up. People are different as lovers than they are as friends. Give her and yourself time to adjust to this shift.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:20 AM on May 15, 2007

Oh, please stop with the one-part-alcohol-one-part-oops-i-kissed-you. So spineless. There are better ways to start a healthy, wonderful relationship. Like gesamtkunstwerk's answer. Great idea.
posted by orangemiles at 6:56 AM on May 15, 2007

Just tell her! But whatever you do, don't start with "I love you." That's too much too soon, and, if you reflect a little, probably not quite true yet.

Consider starting up slowly, by making little comments to her on the phone, like "wow, I really like talking to you"; or "you know, talking to you had become the highlight of my day, how weird is that?" Your tone of voice can do a whole lot to convey your feelings. Her responses might also give you a clue about how she's feeling.

I'd advise against going in person -- too much tension, too much drama.
posted by footnote at 7:08 AM on May 15, 2007

Words from a former boss of mine:

"It's not fucking Dawson's Creek."

At the root of the whole thing, you want to ask her if she's thought about the relationship turning more formal. So ask her. It doesn't need to be more than that.

Let the conversation go where it goes from there, but don't be so scared of asking a simple question that you end up hiding behind the drama and pulling out some high risk, epic soliloquy that may be cute or may be disturbing.

The nice thing about keeping it real is that you could still win her over even if she says she really does just want to be friends. (!!!)

But you won't really know how/if you want/need to woo her until you know what she thinks. So, ditch the fatalistic melodrama and find out where she stands!

I've seen these things bounce every which way in all types of different situations both personally and indirectly (I've always found it easier to make female friends than males), and so I leave you with this final reminder: regardless of what you do, you'll be fine.
posted by pokermonk at 8:50 AM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:10 AM on May 15, 2007

Meh. Studies have indicated that roughly 63% of all heterosexual women can tell at least 78% of the time when their guy friend is making schmoopy eyes at them. And in today's free and unfettered environment, women make the first move whenever it so pleases them. So I would guess that A) she already knows how you feel, and B) she's hoping that you don't rock the friendship with a sweeping declaration of intent.

The other mathematical calculation here is: you have 100% of a relationship that is 83% satisfactory on a friends level. And you're shooting for an escalated rate of satisfaction, which you might get, but you might also completely torque the relationship if she doesn't want what you want and gets weirded out. In which case you would have 0%, my math skills are not strong. The point is, it all depends on your appetite for risk and sacrifice, and it's very possible you should stand with what you've got now.

And also act coy and make her come to YOU. As we learned from The Tao of Steve, we pursue that which retreats from us. Also, you need to be without desire. Tricky, but women really dig that.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 9:14 AM on May 15, 2007

You can't have it both ways. You can make your feelings known, and maybe get the romantic relationship you want, but if you do that you risk losing (or at least changing) your current happy friendship. Or you can keep, unchanged, your friendship, but probably never move to a romantic relationship. You say that you don't want to make her uncomfortable, but if you want to become a couple, you are going to need to take the risk of making her, you, and maybe everyone around you uncomfortable -- in short, to risk rejection and the loss of that friendship.

The good thing is that people have been grappling with this for thousands of years, and there are a wide array of socially-acceptable mechanisms for bridging this potentially uncomfortable situation. Having a friend or relative act as an intermediary, using alcohol to smooth a complicated interaction, and using indirect communications (such as poetry, song, or IM'ing) are all familiar techniques that you will encounter in the writings of the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare, and the bible. These techniques worked well enough then, and work well enough now. But no matter how well-trod the route, there is still a significant chance that she will say "no" and your friendship will be affected. I'd argue that being willing to take that chance is part of being an adult -- if you aren't man (or woman) enough to put your feelings out there and take a minor risk, you maybe aren't ready for all the other risks that come with a real-life relationship. But you also need to be honest with yourself in assessing whether or not there is really a spark of interest in your interactions, or just wishful thinking on your part.
posted by Forktine at 9:33 AM on May 15, 2007

Tell her in person. The whole, "give her an out" sounds good, but you want a genuine reaction, one way or the other. If she has an easy way out, you have a way of rationalizing her reaction WAY too much, and drawing the wrong conclusions.

Plan a visit. Give her time to get used to the idea that you are coming. Don't plan it to be a romantic rendezvous, just let her know that you want to see her. Talk on the phone a lot before you go. Plan to stay somewhere else, not with her (if that was an option).

Whatever you do, if you want a REAL relationship with her, don't use a VIRTUAL media to tell her. People are different online. The assume a persona. They revel in anonymity. There is no real risk in an online confession, which is why it should not be taken seriously.

Go. Tell. Her. In. Person!
posted by misha at 9:50 AM on May 15, 2007

I had a many-year friend and housemate who suddenly asked me out. I was seriously weirded out by it, and even though I tried to let him down easy, the friendship was never really the same after that.

But then again, my current boyfriend was a close friend of mine for 5 years before we got together. The difference was that, in the latter case, there was a mutual desire to make the friendship into a closer relationship. IMHO, if you don't strongly suspect that she already has that sort of interest in you, it's not likely to happen. A conversation starting with something like "you know, you're a great friend, I really care about you" might help to determine whether or not the interest is there.
posted by vorfeed at 12:24 PM on May 15, 2007

I think Pokermonk has it down pat: don't confess, make moopy eyes, and expect her to exclaim that she loves you too and melt into your arms. Ask, casually, "have you thought about the chemistry between the two of us? Maybe we'd be good together. What do you think?" and see what she says. If she feels it, then she feels it and you get what you want - if she *doesn't* feel it, then you haven't hideously embarassed both of you, and risked your friendship, by a declaration of unrequited love.

And yes, I have been the girl in this scenario. Had the guy paid attention he might have realized that what we had was a good friendship that avoided all of the points about our personalities that were wholly incompatible. He confessed his love, I let him down easy, our friendship slowly soured, he eventually decided I was a "frigid bitch" because I didn't love him back. Bad news all around. We aren't friends any longer - and is anyone surprised? Had he given me the out, saying he was curious about our possibilities rather than "I'm in love with you," things would have been distinctly less painful.

Having said that, dear god, good luck!!!! Friends-to-lovers is the most amazing experience, if it works out.
posted by AthenaPolias at 5:23 PM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

« Older side business + 9to5 for the man = difficult...   |   Are common-law spouses treated the same as real... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.