He Just Wants To Be Friends But I Still Like Him (3+ Likely Reasons)

by April Maccario

Sometimes, that love just doesn’t work out. And when you have feelings for someone who says they just want to be friends it is one of the most crushing and disappointing feelings that one could experience. 

But lady-in-love, don’t cry just yet. There’s hope, and even if there isn’t, then sometimes blessings come disguised as heartaches. 

Love And Happily Ever After Takes Two

When we are infatuated, or even in love with someone, we have to remember that it takes two to create a happy relationship. And this happens more often than we know. I remember my first real love. It was unrequited and lasted for 10 years, but he and I remain friends to this day. It is possible, and sometimes circumstances can even change sometimes if the circumstance is healthy enough. 

It’s a delicate situation and requires clear communication. Don’t ever be afraid to check-in, and remind the person that you love them, just make sure there are healthy amounts of time between the reminders of your affection. Remember the best relationships are based off of friendship first, so sometimes being friends first is a blessing in disguise.

Why Does He Only Want To Be Friends?

There are a lot of reasons why, and not all of them have to do with you

Remember when your love says that he wants to be friends and you have feelings for him, it doesn’t always mean that he doesn’t like you, or that he doesn’t want you in his life. It could be multiple reasons and not one of them could have to do with you personally. Sometimes, people are just not in the right state of mind for a relationship, and perfectly good potential partners end up in the friend zone.

A classic example is the ‘good girls only like bad boys’ cliche. These beautiful girls have perfectly good boys who would treat her right, begging for her attention while she pines for the boy who broke her heart multiple times in various ways.

There are so many instances where someone could not be ready for a relationship, the important thing to remember is reading the situation and body language of the man who is telling you he just wants to be your friend. 

1. Healing after heartache

Healing after heartache

One of the questions you have to ask yourself is if he has been hurt before. Everyone copes differently, and for a guy, heartbreak is not an easy feat to bounce back from. For the most part, men keep their hearts pretty guarded. So when they find someone who they truly thought they were in love with and they get hurt, it causes serious damage to potential future relationships.

If you have ever been hurt, then you should be able to relate to this. Sometimes it takes a while to heal from a heartbreak. And for men, this rings true even more so. They are taught that masculinity means never being vulnerable, never showing ‘emotional weakness.’ Emotional turmoil is difficult for everyone, but they are especially confusing and strenuous on the male species. 

If you are willing to be patient and be his friend, this situation could change. Sometimes friendship is the best way to establish a strong bond with a man who has been hurt. But you always have to remember that you cannot ‘fix’ his heart. That can lead to co-dependency, and you don’t want to be his therapist, you want to be his lover and friend. Healing must always be from within.

2. He doesn’t have the time to commit

Life is busy at all stages. Whether he is a single dad, headfirst into their career, live long-distance, or a full-time college student, men who genuinely care for you will not commit to a relationship until they are sure that they can present the kind of relationship that they feel you deserve. 

The trick here is to figure out if he is letting you down gently, or if he is genuinely strapped for time. When a man says that you deserve better, and he is being sincere, it means he is insecure about not being able to provide the kind of attention and intimacy you actually do deserve. 

This is one of those heartbreaking realities that this relationship, even if he does agree to be with you, will probably fail. Lack of intimacy, closeness, time, and dedication can cause relationships to die- even if you two absolutely adore each other. And in this circumstance, it is better to develop your friendship and wait for the right time for the potential of a romantic relationship. 

3. He just doesn’t feel the same

This one is going to be way more brutal than the other reasons but ladies sometimes it happens. The guy just is not into you. Kind of like how you’re not into your ‘best friend’ who is like your ‘brother’ since you guys have known each other since middle school? Yeah. Kind of like that. 

Life is funny that way, and there is sometimes no way around it. He just doesn’t want a relationship, or he doesn’t want it with you. And that’s not your fault, there’s nothing wrong with you, sometimes people just don’t click. The chemistry isn’t there for him. And you can love him as much as you want to, but this is not going to change his mind. 

I hate to hurt anyone’s feelings, but you’ve had this conversation about the guy who has done anything and everything for you with your best friend many times. And now you know how that poor little guy feels. This is not to say he doesn’t love you, he just doesn’t love you as a lover. 

4. He is just not ready for a relationship

Sometimes the explanation is just as simple as it seems. Your guy is not ready for someone to come in and change the entire dynamic of his comfort zone. Men have scientifically been proven to age at least 7 years slower than women, so chances are if he says he’s not ready - he really isn’t.

If he wants to stay friends, it means he cares about you, he just is not ready and he is still figuring out what he wants in life. And ladies, believe me, there is nothing worse than a guy who gets into a relationship with someone before he is ready. It leads to toxicity and resentment.  If he is not ready for a relationship, he just simply isn’t ready. It takes two to tango and feelings can’t be forced.

When Can Being Friends Work When Intimate Feelings Are Involved? 

Unfortunately, there are some instances when being friends with someone you are in love with, or even used to be in a relationship won’t work. Like in all things in life are unspoken ‘rules’ and it can get tricky. If you are going to be friends and not invade the inappropriate side of your friendship, then you are going to have to know how to do a few things - and if you can’t then it’s not going to work. 

1. Established physical boundaries 

Priority number one when being his friend is the ability to keep boundaries physically. Friends do not hold hands, kiss, or have sex. Those are friends with benefits or relationships. You are not his booty call. He asked you to be his friend, so a friend is what you should give him. 

The reason why this 'rule' is so important is that you are going to figure out if he just wants to use you in manipulative ways or if he genuinely wants a friendly relationship with you. A lot of guys think it’s perfectly okay to tell you he doesn’t want a relationship but ask you for physical intimacy when he is lonely. 

WRONG! You are worth more than that! He is the one who said he just wanted friendship. You are not his booty call at his convenience. You have genuine feelings for him - and he needs to respect that. If you do not establish physical boundaries you will hurt yourself mentally, morally, and emotionally. If he wants booty or physical connection with you - then he is going to need to step it up.

As sexy as he is, keep your hands to yourself, and apply that rule to him. Believe it or not - this is actually something that could potentially lead to a relationship with him. There is nothing than sexier than a woman who is secure in herself and knows how to assert herself. And if he is able to easily move on from you physically - then that says more about your relationship and it’s standing than I ever could.

2. The ability to mentally compartmentalize

If you are going to have a platonic relationship with this man in your life, then you are going to need to be able to control your thoughts and physical attraction to him while you are around him. No wondering ‘what if’ or fantasizing about what you guys could be (even if you guys do make the cutest couple of the decade). 

If you start giving in to these meandering thoughts then that is going to lead to crossed lines and blurred boundaries. And once those boundaries are crossed it could cause confusion about the scenario, and it might break your heart all over again when he says it doesn’t change anything. You have to once again, respect his decision, and try to disassociate your feelings of desire for him. 

Also following this category, don’t keep doing things for him that you normally would. You are his friend, not his girlfriend, not his mother, and certainly not someone who needs to go out of her way to do those special little things that normal friends would not do. Also again, this may result in positive affects about your relationship - he may realize what he is losing, and re-evaluate his decision

Sometimes people just don’t know what they have until they lose it. And remember again, he is the one who asked to downgrade your relationship into a friendship. You are no longer obligated to do those sweet little nothings for him. And believe me girls - guys notice when those sweet extra little things go away.

3. Mutual respect about the status of your partnership

Mutual respect about the status of your partnership

If one of you are not in agreement about the breakup or lack of commitment, and you harbor emotions of sorrow or resentment then you can bet that friendship is not going to be a success until you have some space and are able to process your grief.

And sometimes space is what it takes to save a relationship. There are so many couples where space and rekindling their friendships have kept their marriage from dissolving into divorce. Sometimes though, the pain can be too much for a ‘friends’ relationship with the man you like or love. Sometimes it hurts too much, even after some space. 

Just know that this is within your rights, a broken heart is a broken heart. You can still love them and be their friend, but until it is emotionally and mentally healthy for you, then you will need to take it slow and possibly from a distance. If you can’t handle seeing him dating someone else, if you can’t handle thinking about him without crying or hurting or getting angry - the answer is you need to heal, and not cling to him for your own good.

Sometimes, It’s Better To Just Move On With Your Life 

I am going to stress this last thing because I want women everywhere to know their worth - and the warning signs that they need to be aware of when the man is using 'friends' as a way of using you for his own benefit without having to sacrifice his own. 

If he says that he just wants to just be friends, and genuinely wants to be your actual friend then he should not ask or demand any of the following: 

  1. Sexual favors
  2. Favors that require you to go out of your way
  3. Money
  4. Physical intimacy
  5. You remain single

And if he does happen to ask you for any of these things, then he is not wanting to be your friend. And it is within your right to refuse. You do not owe him anything. And you should refuse and tell him that you will be happy to do those things, once he can step up and hit a home-run with the commitment. 

Ladies, if he truly cares about you in any way, shape, or form he will not:

  1. Get angry
  2. Guilt trip you
  3. Perform any kind of emotional manipulation to get you to cave into his demands
  4. Provide ultimatums

If he does any of these things when you refuse to treat him like your husband instead of your friend, after he requested your relationship be in the friend zone, he does not care about you. You are his plaything and it is time to move on to greener grass or deeper ponds. Do not be emotionally manipulated or used. Every human being is worth being genuinely cared about.

*Note to the men who are reading this article: This entire article applies to you and your love interest who has put you in the friend zone.

FAQs

What does it mean when he just wants to be friends?

There are a lot of reasons he could only want to be friends for now. It could be he is not emotionally ready, he may not be able to give you the relationship you deserve. In order to get a better answer from his perspective, don’t be afraid to have a straight forward conversation with him. Tell him how you feel, and ask him why he would not be interested in a relationship with you. You will find that oftentimes, it has to do with where is at in his life, and nothing to do with you.

What to do if he only wants to be friends?

Ultimately the only thing you really can do is respect his decision. Love is powerful, but it cannot be forced. Give him space if you need to establish boundaries for yourself, be his friend if you can, but always remember to hold yourself and him accountable for what happens next. And you never know, maybe a little bit of patience could pay off with a long-lasting healthy relationship based on friendship in the end.

Why does he still want to be friends after rejecting me?

It could be that he genuinely cares about you, just not in the way you care about him. Or he could be letting you down easy. You will be able to tell once you establish your boundaries and his behavior after the rejection. If he continues to treat you like a friend, or if he goes AWOL, or if he continues to treat you in a misleading way (or requests sexual favors). You have to decide what kind of friendship you’re willing to participate in, and what you can emotionally handle from him.

How can you tell if a guy likes you or just wants to be friends?

The best way to find out is just to come straight out and ask him. Communication is the biggest key to any successful relationship - platonic or not. But if you just can’t bring yourself to ask, then look for subtle signs. Does he text you first? Does he do special little things for you? Does he go out of his way for you? Or does he treat you like a ‘sister’ or ‘one of the guys?’

Do guys get feelings for their FWB?

Absolutely, emotional attachment between FWBs happens all the time. It is scientifically proven that sexual activities between two adults release hormones that create a feeling of love. So it absolutely possible. However, if you want a relationship that is made to last, I suggest you be platonic friends first. It establishes boundaries and most importantly: mutual respect. 

Ultimately,

Tell us your stories in the comments, did you eventually get together? Or did you move on to something better? And don’t forget to share this article with your friends. 

April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

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