How to Tell Someone You Have Feelings for Them

<p>Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images</p>

Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

Medically reviewed by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Maybe you have a friend in the neighborhood or at work and you now have romantic feelings for them. You may even be ready to tell that person about your newfound feelings, but how do you have this conversation when there are so many factors to consider?

It’s normal to get close to a friend or co-worker. Maybe one day it unexpectedly hits you: you’re thinking of this person more than you would (or should) if they were just a regular friend. Or maybe you realize that gradually over time you’ve developed romantic feelings for this special someone.

Before you tell someone how you feel, it's worth getting to the root of your true feelings, consider the relationship you currently have, and prepare yourself for whatever reaction they might have to this information.

You can definitely have this conversation without it being awkward or a death sentence for your relationship, but it's a sensitive topic nonetheless.

Figure Out Your Real Feelings

Sometimes we’re confused about our closeness to someone. Do we care for them as a really good friend? Or in another way? To better assess what you feel, take some time to reflect on these possibilities.

Is it infatuation? If your feelings came on quickly, you think this person is perfect and you’re operating in a daze, you could well be infatuated with this person. Consider whether you’re seeing this person in a true light. Do you think a healthy relationship is possible with them?

Is it physical and sexual chemistry? Maybe as you spent more time together, you became more attracted to this person. Think about if you desire a short—term hot fling, long-term love, or something else.

Is it lust? That overwhelming feeling of desire might indicate you have feelings of lust. If you’re driven by sexual attraction and the physical, surface relationship, you’re not driven by emotional, deep feeling or a need for partnership.

Is it love? Love includes a deep caring attachment. It’s a close, intimate bond between two people. It is characterized by shared vulnerability, passion, tenderness and devotion to the other’s well-being.

Once you determine your true feelings, you can better understand what kind of relationship you want.

Related: What Is Romantic Love?

Consider the Type of Relationship You Have Now

Think about the type of relationship you’re currently in with this person. Before telling someone you have feelings for them, you might take into account the repercussions, depending on whether you’re both close friends, co-workers, exes or casual dating partners.

Close Friends

As close friends, you already have two fundamental pillars of a solid romantic relationship: trust and enjoyment of time together. More good news: when friendship is at the heart of a relationship, it bodes well for romance.

In fact, friendship is a key component of successful romantic relationships. One study examined non-married couples who cherished the friendship aspect of their relationship. Results showed that these friendship-based relationships were linked to high levels of sexual gratification and commitment.

But should this special someone not share your feelings, keep in mind that after admitting your desire to expand the friendship, the friendship could be affected. This is an outcome that requires some mental and emotional preparation.


Investigate the dos and don’ts of dating within your company as some organizations forbid all romantic relationships. Then adhere to work protocols. Be sure to think about the consequences of disclosing that you have a crush on somebody you work with. What if they feel the same way? What if they don’t?

Will your admission make working together uncomfortable and add to work stress? Also, don’t overlook what might happen to your livelihood in the case of a possible breakup. This will help you determine if a romantic relationship is worth pursuing.


Relationships often end for a good reason. Assuming that the reason was circumstantial or based on bad timing, maybe you want to rekindle a relationship. If you’re both single and you want to tell your ex that you still have feelings for them, be sure to consider whether you’re returning to an unhealthy dynamic. Are you romanticizing the positives? Are you forgetting upsetting memories?

Casual Dating Partners

Maybe you’re dating and happily hooking up. Are you choosing this kind of relationship or are you settling for it? How will wanting something else affect this relationship?

What to Say to Someone You Have Feelings For

Once you determine what you’re feeling and what kind of involvement you’d like with this person, assuming they are not already in a relationship, you should say something. According to Dr. Amy E. Keller, PsyD and marriage and family therapist, “Don't avoid telling someone that you have feelings for them because avoidance begets avoidance. Everyone gets one vote. Even if you think a relationship is unlikely, don't take away the other person's vote.”

Practice a few scripts until you’re comfortable reciting one of them. Be honest, genuine and straightforward. You might say something like, “We’ve been friends (or co-workers or exes) for a while. But I realized that I’ve developed more than platonic feelings for you. It’s OK if you don’t feel the same way, but I really wanted to let you know.”

Give that person time. Tell them they don't need to respond in the moment. Keller says “they may not have identified their feelings for you as you were already in the friend box.”  Let them respond in the way they’re most comfortable, too. She says, “By all means, welcome their text, email, snail mail, phone call, Facetime, or real face time.”

With conditional love, you tell someone you love them and you expect them to answer back the same thing or you’ll be hurt or insulted. Keller reminds us that “in unconditional love, you let people say what they want and be who they are.”

“Remember to remind this special person that you’re open to continuing the relationship and resume as before if their feelings aren’t reciprocated. And please try to mean that. It’s important to always give someone a ladder so they can get down from the tree gracefully,” says Keller.

How to Cope If They Don’t Feel the Same Way

If they desire the same kind of romantic relationship you really want, that is ideal. But rejection is also possible.

Research that looked at common responses to rejection in healthy young to middle-aged adults underscores that romantic rejection can be a stressful life event in adults and can lead to sadness, appetite loss and depression.

To lessen debilitating reactions to this kind of rejection, reframe the situation positively. In healthy relationships you both want the same things and in this particular case, you’re both on different pages. You told someone you had feelings for them. Even if the feeling wasn’t reciprocated, congratulate yourself on being brave and true to yourself.

Choose from a variety of healthy ways to manage the sting of rejection including:

Read Next: Unrequited Love—What to Do When Love Is One-Sided