Each week, PhilSTAR L!fe addresses a reader's concern about relationships, career, and anything they want to talk about through its advice column: Asking for a Friend.
Dear L!fe friend,
My guy best friend and I have been best friends for more than 10 years now. We’ve been friends since high school and our friendship continues to grow. He played a very important role, too, in helping me deal with my grief of losing both my parents. For the past two years, I’ve started to have feelings for him. My guy friend has lived abroad for the past year and a half and got back home a few months ago. I was both nervous and excited for him to come back home.
We kept calling each other even when he was working abroad, and I encouraged him to take the job he was offered there. We’ve been catching up face-to-face since he got back but it’s getting hard for me to look at him because of how I feel about him. My gut is telling me to tell him the truth just to get it off my chest so I can move on (I am bad at keeping secrets from my friends). I’ve been thinking about telling him since November last year, but I am just really scared to lose my friendship with him. Strangely, we don’t really talk about our individual dating lives. I haven’t opened up to him before about any of my past relationships. Not sure why?
Anyway, I also have a good relationship with his family, so I’m scared to lose them as well. However, this has been eating me up and I’m worried that if I continue to keep this from him, it might cause me to unintentionally distance myself from the friendship.
Should I tell him and risk our friendship?
—Woman with a Dilemma
Dear Woman with a Dilemma,
There are always risks for honesty. But there are also risks for keeping your feelings for your best friend to yourself. Both circumstances nib on the mind. They peck on your wits until they become a heavy load to carry.
Excuse the macabre depiction here—would you regret it on your deathbed if you had the chance to tell your best friend about your feelings for him but you were cowed by fear?
You asked the daredevil in me. Yes, if I were you, I would tell my best friend that I love him. But first, manage your expectations. Unrequited love is a sack of pain. Unless it’s agape, which is higher than unconditional love, that you feel for him, only then you won’t get hurt.
It’s like winning the lotto if he reciprocates. Charge it to experience if he does not. Remember that wounds are wisdom, too. You know that.
Let me share with you my personal experience. I fell in love with CC, my best friend of four years and in four months, we parted ways. We were so close that we were there for each other in every high and low of our lives. CC could come to the house unannounced. Ditto with me in their compound. Both our families are close.
But the minute I admitted to my best friend my feelings, things changed. We continued to be friends up until we could play our part but my admission brought out the worst in him. CC did not know how to handle it. We both became toxic. We sat down. Amicably, we agreed for a breakup. Ahh, nothing is more painful than two best friends breaking up. No third party. Only honesty. (One day, when there are no more amorous feelings involved, I hope and pray we find the way to become friends again.)
A friend named JJ is head-over-heels in love with MM, his best friend since they were in grade school. Both are in their early twenties. JJ’s dilemma is he is not a gambler he can’t tell MM his feelings for her. It’s eating him up now—to the point that he has become an overthinker, to the point that he’s losing sleep, therefore he misses attending online school many times. I want to bang his wit on the wall. Young man, grow up, I told him. JJ fears rejection. Rejection really stings. Love, if it does not hurt, is not love. That’s the consequence. Hurray to the brave ones!
But I know of a success story. Lulu, a power lady in her mid-forties, gathered enough strength to tell Julius, her best friend of 15 years, that she had feelings for him. “Would you fall in love with me if I told you I had feelings for you?” Julius just embraced her. She melted on his shoulder. They laughed and cried. “Would you share your life with me even if I could not give you a child anymore because, hello, I’m past 40?” They now have an adopted child. Fairy tale. But it’s true.
So, Woman with a Dilemma, I say, go for it. Manage your expectations, though. Don’t be like CC and me. Work on your friendship if your BFF of 10 years does not reciprocate. Tell him while he is still in the Philippines. Seize the proximity. Be brave. If you can send us this letter, which is replete with bravery, you can also exhibit the same amount of courage. Losing friendship with his family if you become honest with your love for him? Where did that come from? Women who think only men can make the first move are cowards. Egalitarianism is not in the dictionary not be practiced. Go, girl! Pursue joy.
If you spin the wheel, either you land on the jackpot or the deadly stinger. Either way, you win. Follow your happiness. That’s freedom. Freedom is its own price.
Your L!fe friend,