Can You Be Platonic Friends if One Has Feelings?

If his feelings are a problem, suggest that you just see each other at school.
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The two of you are best of friends. You hang out, talk on the phone and text each other late into the night. As time goes on, you realize that one of you has more-than-friend feelings for the other. Whether you've got the crush or your friend does, it's likely that you're left wondering if the two of you can maintain a completely platonic friendship when one person has romantic feelings. The answer isn't always easy, and depends on a variety of factors.

1 Talk the Talk

As an adult, or at least a near-adult, it's likely that you can pick up on those subtle signals that say, "Hey, I like you!" If your romantic radar is up and you think that your just-a-friend girl wants to be your girlfriend, stop her before she begins to think that you feel the same way too. For example, if you catch her coyly smiling at you, notice that she's snuggling up to you when you're watching a movie or her BFF tells you there's a crush going on, take a look at how you view the relationship. If you are absolutely sure that you have no romantic interest in her, make a point of letting her know this -- in a kind and caring way such as, "I understand that you want to be more, but I think that we're great as just friends."

2 Brutal Honesty

When one of you likes the other, and the other one doesn't, sometimes brutal honesty is in order. This means that you can't give him false hope. Try telling him something like, " I value your friendship, but I don't like you as a boyfriend. I understand if you aren't happy about this or if you can't continue our friendship." While staying friends is certainly possible, in some situations the other person may want to end the friendship rather than continuing on with an unrequited crush.

3 Bold Boundaries

If you want to carry on with your friendship, you need to set clear boundaries, notes psychologist Clifford Lazarus in his article "How Men and Women Can Be True Friends," on the "Psychology Today" website. When one person wants to take the friendship to a romantic place and the other doesn't, boundaries can help save the relationship. For example, if your friend says she "likes" you, and you don't reciprocate, you'll need to create boundaries when it comes to what is and what isn't acceptable behavior. This may include not flirting, no physical touching or only hanging out with a group of friends. Discuss the boundaries, with both of you agreeing to follow them.

4 Putting on the Pressure

In some cases, the friend who has the attraction will put pressure on the other person to start a romantic type of relationship. If your friend is pressuring you to take things to a level that you just aren't comfortable with, you need to say a firm "no." This may go beyond one person not being interested in the other, and feel more like aggressive pressure. For example, after telling your friend that you aren't interested in getting physical, he still tries to hug or kiss you without your permission. Explain that you aren't interested and his pressure-type tactics are pushing you away. If he doesn't stop his behavior immediately, you need to end the friendship.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.