by: E.B. Johnson
It’s always exciting when new love enters our life, but the signs can sometimes be subtle to spot. Falling for someone new is easy to do. Expressing ourselves is a challenge. From subtle glances, to a natural flow of communication — there are so many ways we tell someone that we’re really growing to care for them. Often, though, we rely on these signs alone and forget to express ourselves outright with words.
Has something shifted between you and the important person in your life? Do you find yourself talking on the phone for hours? Or going out of your way to help one another? When we fall for someone, we can’t help but to put ourselves out there and extend ourselves toward them. Noticing these signs, you have to take action or risk losing that relationship altogether. Are you ready to move into the next phase, or is this partnership not a great fit for you? Look for these signs and follow them up with action and honesty.
Falling in love is easy to do.
We humans are social creatures, and (many of us) are also creatures who crave the love and appreciation of an intimate partner. We want to feel special to someone; to feel as though we have one person with who we are safe to open up and be seen by. This connection can provide us with a lot of important perspective, and it can also offer a sense of security in an increasingly insecure place.
Falling in love is easy to do. But can you truly spot the signs of a friendship that’s morphing into more? We don’t always have the courage to tell someone outright how we feel. We give ourselves away though, with our longing to know more and our inability to tear ourselves away from a seemingly magnetic presence.
If someone in your life has fallen for you, you need to stop running from the truth. Whether you plan on building a relationship or maintaining the friendship you share, you’ve got to do some self-exploration and take some committed action. By leaving yourselves in limbo, you’ll find the foundations of your current relationship crumbling in awkwardness and tension. You both have to embrace your feelings honestly, then bring them to the surface with one another candidly.
Signs they’re starting to fall for you.
Have you started to suspect that someone close to you is beginning to fall in love (or lust)? Try as we might, it’s not always possible to hide the way we feel. If you’re wondering whether a friend in your life is falling for you, look for these subtle signs and embrace them for what they are.
Does a close friend in your life always come to you for advice? When things get tough, are you the first person they run to for comfort? This is one of the most common signs of someone who is harboring feelings for you. When we feel drawn to someone or comfortable with them, their perspective becomes valuable to us and their presence comforting. So, when challenges come our way, we have a tendency to run to them.
Needing to know more
Though it’s a hard truth to swallow for some, we don’t seek to truly know people we don’t care about. To put it simply, we don’t ask questions or seek to know more about people who aren’t important to us. If your friend or close coworker has begun asking you a lot of questions or really working hard to get to know you, then it could be a sign that they’re looking for something more.
Opening up effortlessly
Do you have someone in your life who you can always be open with? Likewise, is there someone in your close social circle who goes out of their way to open up their life to you? Maybe they introduce you to their other friend groups and even their family. They always share what they’re thinking with you and make it clear that — when it comes to their life — you’re always welcome beside them.
Going out of the way
When it comes to the hardships you face in life, who is always there for you? Are there familiar faces who always show up and show out when you need them most? Do they go out of the way to help you, or support you when you’re struggling with any facet of your life? This is a classic sign that someone is harboring feelings for you that run deep. It’s not easy to be there for someone all the time, but it’s what we do when we care for someone authentically.
Every relationship we have thrives or dies on the back of the communication it cultivates. Deep conversations are important. Being able to open up about things like our deepest dreams and desires is important. If you and a special someone in your life have this deep and effortless communication — pay attention. Are you the first person they want to share news with? Do they go out of their way to talk to you as much as they can?
So many of us undervalue the importance of natural chemistry, and overlook it in the people closest to us. This chemistry occurs when we just fit right in with someone. We might share the same similarities, but we also share differences that complement one another. This can vary across things like what we want from our careers, but it can extend all the way through to sexual compatibility as well.
Little points of contact
Take a second to think about the last time you hung out with someone who really cared for you? Did they go out of their way to touch you a lot? Even in a group setting? Did they make sure they were right by your side or always near enough to be a part of your conversation? These little points of contact can also be seen as signals. Signals that they want to know more about you, and signals that there could be more lurking just beneath the surface.
Empathy comes standard
Empathy is so important in our friendships and in our intimate relationships too. Without understanding one another and sympathizing with one another, it’s impossible to get on the same page. Is there someone in your life who is always there with a shoulder to cry on? Do they always seem to understand where you’re coming from, or work to put themselves in your shoes? Embrace this empathy and see it for what it is: the sign of someone who wants more of you in their life.
What you need to do next.
Have you spotted the signs and figured out your special-someone’s secret code? Noticing these signs is only the first part of the process. Next, you have to assess how you feel and prioritize what you want from life, your future, and any potential relationships that fill up space within that vision.
1. Address your feelings
When it comes to falling in love or building a new relationship, there are a lot of moving pieces involved. It’s not just the other person’s feelings who matter. What you want and the way you feel is important too. Though they may love you with all their being, your feelings may not inhabit that same space. Before you take action or spark an honest conversation, it’s important to first get brutally honest with yourself.
How do you feel about them? Question your feelings and don’t be afraid to dig deep. Do you feel obligated to return their feelings? Have you been harboring a spark of your own for a long time? Be brutally honest with yourself about the good and the bad. Address your feelings without flinching and embrace the truth that you’re longing to share.
Returning their feelings is great. Not returning their feelings is great too. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to questioning your own feelings. There is only truth. Give yourself enough time and space to complete this process and don’t rush the journey. It’s best, as well, to avoid involving the opinions of other people at this stage, as they could muddy the waters or cloud any honest train of questioning you might find yourself in.
2. Figure out your priorities
Our priorities are another important component to consider when it comes to addressing the feelings someone else holds for us. What are your priorities in this life? What do you want most from yourself, your career, your family, and your future? Does a relationship rate high in your priorities? Are you ready to put in the time and energy it takes to make such a partnership work? Or does your friendship bring you more value than an intimate relationship ever could?
Before you commit to your friend or the special person in your life, you need to be crystal clear on what you want. Figure out your priorities. If you’ve just started a new company, are you ready to make sacrifices for the family your potential partner is ready to build? Are you ready to compromise, settle, and work as a team…even when it means putting what you want to do on hold?
If you don’t have the time, energy or desire to be an intimate partnership — admit that to yourself. If this special person is someone who wants a family and small life in the country (but you don’t) — admit that to yourself. We can’t establish any kind of fulfilling or worthy future if we don’t even have a handle on the picture we’re painting for ourselves. Leave their life plan out of it. What is your life plan? Do they truly figure into it?
3. Have an honest conversation
Once you’ve spent some getting clarity on your feelings and what you want from a potential relationship, it’s time to open up to your friend and address the shifting emotions that are growing. Your relationship will never move anywhere if neither one of you takes the initiative to be honest. And the friendship you share will grow incredibly awkward if you ignore what’s going on.
Look for a quiet time and place when you and the other person can sit down together and get candid. Find a comfortable space when you both feel relaxed and at ease with one another and your environment. Tell them how you feel, but focus on your feelings alone (don’t make any assumptions on their feelings).
After you’ve said what you want to say, leave room for them to do the same. Make them feel safe enough to express their feelings, even if you don’t feel the same way. Reassure them and ask them questions if you feel that it’s appropriate. Don’t downplay their affection, though, or act as though it’s beneath you or being turned down for their better good. If you do share the same intentions for one another, enjoy the lightness of the moment.
4. Move slowly and mindfully
Have you sat down and had “that talk”? Did you discover that you both are harboring an intense attraction for one another? Even if you both have racing hearts and butterflies in your tummies, it’s crucial that you move forward mindfully and with a certain slow intention. Don’t bear down on one another or rush off in the sunset like it’s meant to be. Get to know one another just as if you were starting with a stranger and take it slow.
Rather than leaping headfirst into something, break down this new relationship into steps. Create regular alone time together and use this time to explore your compatibility in every facet. Initial attraction is great, but we have to turn a judgement-free eye toward reality and things like our mental, emotional, and physical chemistry.
This is also applicable if the two of you have decided that a romantic relationship isn’t a good fit. Focus on your friendship, but rebuild the comfort in one another slowly and with a very specific mindfulness. Give one another enough space to process the reality and the way it makes you feel. Slowly increase your time around one another and ensure that you ease back into any friendly joking only after you’ve both had enough time to decompress.
5. Solidify your boundaries
Although someone might fall for us, it doesn’t mean that we’re obligated to feel the same. No one has a right to our body or our affection if we don’t want to willingly give it. This is not to say we can’t remain friends, though, by setting boundaries for one another. We need boundaries to communicate our expectations, but we also need them to protect ourselves and our wellbeing. Have you decided to remain platonic friends? Set new boundaries for one another.
Our boundaries are limitations; limitations we set for ourselves and for those around us. They dictate how we will allow ourselves to be loved, and they dictate how we will approach our environment. You must solidify your boundaries in order to build any relationship worth holding on to, and you must be strong in order to do this.
If you know it’s not going to be a good fit, use your boundaries to create more physical distance between you and the other person. Don’t lead them on by pretending to entertain their affection. Make it clear that inhabit a certain place in your life, but also make it clear that there are lines that can’t be crossed. Likewise, in a new relationship it’s important to sit down with one another and explicitly lay out what behaviors you both need and expect from one another.
Putting it all together…
Has someone close to you begun exhibiting signs of a newfound crush? Are you the object of these affections, or otherwise picking up on the subtle signs that they might be falling for you? Realizing that someone loves us is one thing, but dealing with it is another. Perhaps you feel the same way about them, perhaps you don’t. Either way, you both have to get honest with one another about how you’re feeling and what you want.
First, address your own feelings and figure out whether you truly share the affection of the special person in your life. Are you really falling for them too, or do you simply feel pressured to return the love they’re building up in their minds? This truth to hand, you can then consider whether a relationship is what you really want or need at this moment in time. Falling for someone does not always mean we are ready to build a future with them. Sit down and get brutally honest with one another. Don’t shy away from the truth and the reality of your emotions and intentions. If you’ve decided to move forward as a couple, move forward mindfully and slowly. If you’ve decided that it’s just not a good fit, focus on setting boundaries that allow you both to get your friendship back on track.