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I think I’ve developed feelings for one of my best friends. If I don’t tell him, I suppose I’ll never know what could be. But if I tell him and he doesn’t reciprocate my feelings, I fear things might be super awkward between us. Do I tell him or should I just keep it to myself?
Sincerely, Fitful Friend
Quite frankly, open communication shouldn’t be predicated on what outcome you foresee. You should always try to be open about how you’re feeling, especially with friends. If he really is one of your best friends, not talking to him about your feelings will still cause awkwardness because you’re not being open with him. He’s bound to pick up on that if he’s truly a good friend. He may already suspect your feelings.
Of course, the information you’ve given me isn’t comprehensive, so there may be some reason to stall this conversation. You seem pretty sure your feelings are romantic, but I would recommend taking some time to consider your next step. I assume, because you’re asking me this question, that you want a next step after your hypothetical confession. Do you want a relationship with him? If that’s not what you want, what is? What do you hope to gain by telling him how you feel? Remember: Emotional bonds don’t have to be romantic to be valid and fulfilling.
On “never knowing what could be”: I hate to burst your bubble, but we never know what could be at any given time, regardless of whether we tell people how we feel. We never know what could have happened if we went to a different college or if we decided to drink two cups of coffee instead of three. If you constantly evaluate every decision, you’ll run into problems (namely, the inability to act at all). Hopefully this is a comforting thought rather than a terrifying one. I’m not suggesting that you act on impulse, but that it’s okay not to know what might have happened if [insert possible action]. You can’t foresee the outcome of a given act; you can only guess.
If he doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, then it will hurt. That’s just a fact. However, you can’t keep this to yourself, and you shouldn’t try to suppress your feelings. The longer your emotions bounce around in the echo chamber of your head, unexpressed, the more intense and overwhelming they’ll become. It’s better, almost always, to get them out into the open. Sure, it will be painful if he doesn’t reciprocate, but if he’s really your friend then he’ll understand. Your interactions will be weird for a while, but they’ll return to normal. And there’s always the possibility of a positive outcome.
P.S. If you end up needing recommendations for an angsty Spotify playlist, hit me up.