You never meant to fall for him, but he’s so hot. Plus, you guys are constantly trading witty banter, and he gives you these looks like he’s Kanye and you’re Kim… but he’s your best friend’s boyfriend.
What was that? Oh, just the screeeech! of some massive mental brakes.
Being attracted to your best friend’s boyfriend is definitely in the Top 10 Trickiest Life Situations list. That’s why we’ve talked to the experts to determine exactly how you should proceed — because handling this the wrong way could make your friendship disappear faster than Britney Spears’s hair circa 2007.
How could this happen?
It’s actually pretty understandable why you might become attracted to your best friend’s other half. After all, you and your friend get along really well, and she and her boyfriend get along really well, so by the transitive property of romance, you and the boyfriend probably get along really well, too.
“If you and your best friend are very similar, you might have very similar tastes,” says Dr. Patrick Wanis, a human behavior and relationship expert. “You’re probably best friends because you have a lot in common, you have similar temperaments — and you could have similar taste in men.”
Plus, your best friend’s boyfriend is always around, so you have ample time to notice his sexy smile or awesome sense of humor. Dr. Wanis explains that the more time we spend with someone, the greater the chance of us falling for him or her. “Attraction occurs by bonding, and bonding occurs from doing things together and being together,” he says.
So being attracted to your best friend’s BF doesn’t make you evil — or even a bad friend. But there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to handle the situation.
Assess the sticky situation
How you react all depends on two things. First, how important is your relationship with your best friend? If you care deeply about her (which you probably do, hence the best friendship), then it’s in your best interests to move on.
“I would suggest not acting on your feelings,” says Kim Olver, a licensed clinical professional counselor and author of Secrets of Happy Couples. “We can develop [romantic] feelings for many people in our lives, but friendships with our female friends usually last a really long time.”
The second thing to consider is how your best friend’s boyfriend has been acting. In other words, has he been innocently treating you like a good friend, or has he been flirting with you and acting like you’re more than just platonic?
If the attraction is one-sided
If it seems that the feelings are going one way — from you to him — the next steps are relatively simple: The experts say you’re going to have to perform a one-sided breakup. No one but you will know you’re ending your “relationship” with this guy, for obvious reasons.
This requires some finesse — usually, when trying to move on, you sing lots of T Swift songs, delete him on Facebook and practice the “out of sight, out of mind” approach. While Taylor will always have your back (and your broken heart), it would probably confuse your best friend and her BF if you refused to see him and/or blocked him on all social media channels.
“It was really difficult to move on from my best friend’s BF,” says collegiette Anna*. “My friend was, of course, always talking about him and always wanted him around.”
So you’ll have to get creative. Try telling your best friend you want to give them more “couple time” and you’d rather hang out with her solo. Vent your feelings to your mom, write in a journal or compose a letter you’ll never send. We’d advise not telling any of your other friends the situation, because this is one secret you can’t afford to let spread.
If the attraction is mutual
But what if he’s giving you reason to think he shares your interest?
“That’s a really complex situation, because you have two people that are attracted to each other, but you’re both betraying your best friend,” Dr. Wanis says.
You may be tempted to tell him that you’re into him and see where things go. However, there are only a couple possible consequences, and none of them are ideal.
If he breaks up with your best friend, you’ve just betrayed her for a guy. On the other hand, if he doesn’t break up with your best friend but says he likes you too, now there are two people being led on. And if he tells you his flirting didn’t mean a thing, you’ll have jeopardized your relationship with your friend for nothing.
You might see what we’re getting at. Even if you think he’s sending little mental hearts your way, pursuing him is even worse idea than making a sequel to The Hangover (which, let’s be honest, was a really, really bad idea).
“I actually went after my bestie’s guy, and it ended terribly,” says collegiette Kirsten*. “He told her what I had said, she got super pissed, and now neither of them talk to me.”
If you need more help convincing yourself to back off, look at it this way: Do you really want to be with the type of guy who falls for his girlfriend’s best friend? That’s Etch-A-Sketch sketchy. You can do better!
“I always say, ‘Trust the person that you’re dealing with,” Olver says. “When I say trust, I’m not using the usual, stereotypical meaning. Trust this person to be who they’re showing him or herself to be. If he’s flirting with you while he’s in a relationship, he’ll probably do the same to you, because that’s who he’s showing himself to be.”
The next choice, however, isn’t so black and white.
Telling your best friend — or not
If he’s giving you butterflies through no fault of his own (i.e., just being a nice guy), the experts say letting your best friend in on your one-sided crush is probably a bad idea.
“I’m all about being honest, but sometimes you need to be selectively honest,” Dr. Wanis says.
However, there’s definitely a case for telling your best friend that her boyfriend may be unfaithful. After all, she deserves to know that kind of information, regardless with what she may do with it. But before you decide to spill the beans, gauge how inappropriate her SO has been. If he’s just flirting, you may be better off avoiding his company and not saying anything to your best friend.
“The only reason I’d suggest saying something is if she asks why you’re not hanging out with them anymore,” Dr. Wanis says. “If she says, ‘Why aren’t you hanging out with John? Every time I bring him along you won’t come. Don’t you like him?’ Then you respond, ‘I do like John, but I think you guys should spend time together on your own.’”
What if things have gone further — like you’ve openly discussed your mutual attraction or kissed? In that case, Dr. Wanis advises telling your friend ASAP.
“If it comes out later and you didn’t say anything, the friendship will be ruined,” he says. “Tell her, ‘It will never happen again, and I want you to know because I care about you and I treasure our friendship.’”
There’s a good chance your best friend will be pretty pissed. But if she’s a keeper — and we’re guessing she is — being honest with her is more important than avoiding her anger.
Olver also recommends trying to view the experience as a learning process.
“Instead of focusing on the loss of a potential relationship, focus on what it has shown you about life, relationships and yourself,” she says. “Ask, ‘What am I looking for in a relationship? What are some traits and characteristics from this person that I like?’”
The knowledge will make finding your next relationship (hopefully with a single person) that much easier.
Getting over your best friend’s boyfriend will be hard, especially since you won’t be able to tell her about it. But try to remember that your friendship should take priority over a guy, especially if the feelings only go one way. Plus, we know two guys who are definitely available: Ben and Jerry.
We’ve all heard that three’s a crowd. Unfortunately, there isn’t a super-happy ending when you’re attracted to your best friend’s boyfriend. Your best bet is stay out of his way and try to move on. If you need to tell your best friend that’s something’s gone down, then put on your big-girl stilettos and do it. Whatever your circumstances, good luck, and may the next guy you fall for be single!
*Names have been changed.