How to cope when you’ve got an unrequited crush on a friend

Having a crush on a friend who doesn’t feel the same way about you is rough. You know they like you enough to want you in their lives — they just don’t like you that way.

You want to stay friends with your crush because you care about them. And you don’t want to make things awkward, especially if they know how you feel. If you can’t be with the person you like — for whatever reason — there are ways to deal other than watching Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me” video on repeat while cursing the day you met the objection of your affection. (Or you can; you do you!) Here are a few ways to cope when you’ve got a crush on a friend.

Create some boundaries

Do you tell your friend/crush everything and vice versa? That kind of intimacy is valuable in a friendship, but if you have a thing for the person, it might just cause more pain. If you told your friend you have feelings for them and the feeling isn’t mutual, it can hurt deeply that the person who knows you the best doesn’t want to be with you in that way. Those feelings can sneak in and damage your self-esteem, especially if your crush is sending mixed signals about how they feel, intentionally or not. To help protect your heart, create some boundaries. This will look different for each of us, but a few ways to do this could include not talking about each of your loves lives, not being alone with them and not spending all of your free time together. Hang out with your other friends, too, and focus on the positive, rather than thinking about your unrequited feelings.

And if your crush is a good friend and isn’t leading you on, remember their friendship is valuable to you and that telling you they don’t want to be with you was probably hard for them. You don’t want to put your friend in an even more difficult position by constantly showing how broken up you are about them. Getting some space can help you save your sanity and your friendship.

Don’t overanalyze

Speaking of mixed signals, does it seem like your crush likes you back sometimes, even if they told you they didn’t? Chances are the person you like gave you some kind of indication they could feel the same way at some point, otherwise you may not have held out hope for so long. Rather than analyze everything your crush has ever said or done to make you think they like you as more than just a friend, take them at their word. If your crush told you they see you as a pal and not a love interest, that’s what you need to pay attention to. Remember, if this person is intentionally playing games with you, they are being selfish. And you deserve someone who can be direct about how they feel.

Focus on you

Just because someone doesn’t want to be in a romantic relationship with you, doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. It just means you aren’t what they are looking for or they don’t see you in that way. But other people will feel differently. Remember, your worth is not dependent on anyone else. You are awesome, and that’s why people love you, including your friends and family. Your crush isn’t the only person in your life who matters. Rather than pining over them and making yourself miserable, take your mind off of the situation by doing things you love to do or by finding a new hobby. Channeling all that negative energy into something positive might be just the thing you need right now.

Get perspective

Have you ever had to tell someone you don’t have romantic feelings for them when they had those feelings for you? It’s a hard thing to do. Even if you haven’t, chances are someone has had a crush on you and you didn’t feel the same way. Sure, it could have been because you didn’t like them as a person, but I bet there are other people in your life who you think are great (like many of your friends), but — for whatever reason — you wouldn’t consider dating them. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them! Try to remember the same logic applies to you. Be kind to yourself, like you would be to someone else.

It’s hard when we have feelings for someone who doesn’t feel the same way about us. Just remember this happens to almost everybody at some point and that it’s actually a good thing. Knowing that a romantic relationship isn’t going to happen may help you take the steps you need to move on, and once you do, you’ll open yourself up to the possibility of meeting someone who will like you back. Remembering what you are going through now will make you appreciate the real deal once you finally fall for someone who feels the same way about you.

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