How To Tell Someone You Like Them Without Ruining The Friendship

Developing a crush on a friend can be the start of a wonderful relationship, but it can also put you in a tricky position. If you don’t tell your friend how you feel, you have to hide your emotions, which can jeopardize the friendship. And if you do tell them, you risk being rejected, which can make things super awkward. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to reduce the chance of ruining the friendship if you do decide to tell them how you feel.

  1. Pay attention to signs that they like you too. The best way to avoid awkwardness is for your friend to feel the same way as you do. While you have no control over how a person feels, you can try to gauge whether they like you back before confessing your feelings. If you’re sure they don’t like you back, it might be worth keeping your feelings to yourself and trying to move on. Pay attention to how they act around you, looking for signs of a secret crush. If they often stare into your eyes, act nervous around you, or enquire into your love life, it may mean they like you back. You’re less likely to end up ruining the friendship if you look for context clues.
  2. Make sure they’re free to date. Before you tell a friend you like them, make sure they’re actually single and interested in dating. No good can come from your confession if your friend can’t be with you, regardless of their feelings. For example, if they’ve just started seeing someone else, it’s not a good time to tell them that you like them. Or, if you know they’re really stressed with work, it might not be the best time to bring up the prospect of dating. Ruining the friendship can happen inadvertently if you’re not choosing your timings wisely.
  3. Pick the right time and place. When you do decide that you want to confess your feelings without ruining the friendship, think carefully about the time and place you tell them how you feel. First, decide whether you want to tell them in person or via text. In-person conversations can be more meaningful, while telling them via text is less daunting and gives them more time to respond. Choose a time when you’ll both have privacy, and not when you’ll be distracted by other things, like work. If you want to tell them in person, pick a quiet place where other people won’t bother you.
  4. Consider that rejection is possible. Even if you pay attention to the signs, you can never fully predict how someone will respond because you don’t know how they really feel. So while it’s important to remain positive, don’t set yourself up for disappointment by believing there’s no way they’ll reject you. Your friend might not feel the same way, but that’s okay. The more prepared you are for that possible response, the less shocking it will be. Plus, just because they might not reciprocate your feelings doesn’t mean you’ll end up ruining the friendship. If you can both move on, things can proceed as normal.
  5. Don’t catastrophize it. Remember that even if you get rejected by your friend, it’s not the end of the world (via Well Being Trust). Everyone gets rejected sooner or later, and no matter what happens, you’ll be able to move on. Rather than building up the idea of telling your friend how you feel in your mind, tell yourself that it’s no big deal. If they like you back, great. If not, at least you got your feelings off your chest. Now that you know they don’t like you back, you can begin to look elsewhere for love. Plus, the chances of ruining the friendship are pretty slim if you play your cards right.
  6. Don’t tell other people how you feel without telling the person you like. This is vital if you want to avoid ruining the friendship (or making it extremely awkward). The more people you tell about your crush on your friend, the more likely that your friend will find out. And if they find out from someone else who isn’t you, it’s a lot more likely that things will be awkward between you. If you have to vent about your feelings, try to only tell people who will keep the information to themselves, avoiding mutual friends you have with your crush.
  7. Show them how you feel. Actions often speak louder than words and don’t require you to put yourself out there as much. So if you’re scared of ruining the friendship by admitting your true feelings, show your friend how you feel instead of telling them (via Glamour). For example, you might like to buy them a gift simply because you were thinking of them. Or, you can portray your feelings with your body language—try standing close to them and making eye contact when talking to them, or laughing at all their jokes.
  8. Start by asking them on a date. Sometimes, it’s easier to ask a friend out on a date rather than confess that you like them. Casually ask if they want to grab some dinner, just the two of you. You don’t have to specify that the catch-up will be as more than friends, but at the same time, don’t lure them there under false pretenses. If you’re not going to call it a date, then don’t spring a romantic candle-lit dinner on them. Instead, organize a casual catch-up, and see how things naturally progress.
  9. Rehearse what you’re going to say. If you do decide to tell your friend you like them as more than a friend, it can help to rehearse what you say beforehand. You don’t have to completely stick to the script. But by having a general idea of what you’re going to say, you’re less likely to say something inappropriate due to nerves. Certain comments can really make things awkward and ruin the friendship, so have a basic idea of what you do and don’t want to say.
  10. Keep it short and casual. It’s best not to completely pour out your heart to your friend when admitting your feelings. The grander the gesture and the more dramatic your confession, the more awkward it will be if they reject you. Rather than saying, “I’m secretly so in love with you and think you’re my soulmate,” try to opt for something more casual. You could try, “Lately, I’ve been wondering whether you and I could work as more than friends.” Or, “I really appreciate you as a friend but lately, I’ve been starting to like you in a romantic way too.”
  11. Don’t pressure them to respond straight away. Whatever you decide to say to your friend, you can make it less awkward by assuring them that there’s no pressure to respond straight away or reciprocate your feelings. Finish with something like, “Obviously, I respect how you feel and am happy to still be friends if you don’t want to be anything more.” This reduces the chance of ruining the friendship, because your friend knows they can still be your friend even if they don’t feel the same about you. You’ll be way less likely to end up ruining the friendship if you give them some breathing room after sharing your feelings.
Vanessa Locampo is an Aussie writer who’s equally obsessed with YA fiction and pasta. Her time is divided between writing all the things, reading all the things, listening to Queen, and bopping her cat on the nose. She has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and has written for sites including and Discovering Montana, and currently works as an editor at Glam. You can keep up with her on Instagram @vanessaellewrites.