When He Just Wants to Be Friends

You like him. His dimple when he smiles, the way he tells a joke, how he says “hey” when he walks past your locker. And your stomach fills with butterflies when he asks you for help on that math problem or when he texts to ask if you’ll be at the football game. I know how it feels; I’ve been there, too.

You tell yourself to remain calm, to play it cool. He’s just a friend, you remind yourself. But when you’re with the girls, you can’t help but gush about the way he acted annoyed when he saw his assigned seat was next to yours in that English class—and then proceeded to laugh with you while writing notes on your paper throughout the entire lecture. Maybe he really does like me, you think.

You try to keep yourself grounded in reality, but it’s just too late. Your heart is fluttering in the clouds, and it skips a beat each time you see your phone light up with a text from him.

You maintain that mental list of reasons that just might mean he has feelings for you:

  • He stood next to you in the student section at the football game on Friday.
  • He favorites your tweets and comments on your Instagram posts.
  • He sent you that text to remind you about the early meeting in the morning (because you totally overslept last week).
  • He’s the only one who calls you by that nickname he made up in calculus a few weeks ago.

All those little signs add up, right? There’s no way he doesn’t like me back . . . right?

But one day you have the conversation that shatters your hopes into a million pieces.

He thinks of you as a friend. That’s all he wants to be. Just friends. Because he’s always had feelings for someone else, and he just doesn’t picture himself in a relationship with you. He says he thinks you’re great, but a great friend, that’s all.

And you’re crushed.

Your heart plummeted from cloud nine and splashed into the deep, cold waters of heartbreak in five seconds flat, and you can barely catch your breath. You’re hurt, disoriented, and so embarrassed. You were convinced something more was there.

Didn’t the signs add up? What am I doing wrong?

Through tears, you re-read the strings of his text messages, partially to search for any clues to diagnose what went wrong, but also to grasp for the comfort of hope and infatuation you once felt.

Why does he like her and not me? Why am I not enough for him?

The thought of him laughing with her instead of you makes you feel sick to your stomach, a little jealous, but most of all, completely inadequate.

You thought that finally, just maybe, a cute, funny, sweet, smart guy actually had noticed you and liked you back. Instead, you watched that fluttering hope slip through your fingers; now it feels like “unlikeable” has been stamped upon your heart.

Your Life Raft on the River of Heartbreak

Single girl, you’re not alone. Can I offer an understanding hug? Because I’ve been there.

Jesus knows the painful aches that are wrenching every square inch of your heart right now.

Yet even better than a hug, Jesus knows the painful aches that are wrenching every square inch of your heart right now (Ps. 56:8; Heb. 2:17–18). He’s your Life Raft in heartbreak. He’s the Answer to the lies that are hurdling at you—the enemy would love for you to swallow these lies as you wallow in despair.

The lie that you’re rejected, unloved, and worthless.

When the object of your affection tells you he isn’t interested, it’s natural to be hurt by rejection; it can feel like the rug was pulled out from under your feet.

You wanted your identity to be his girlfriend. The reality that you won’t be his feels like a punch in the gut. But do you know who you’ll always belong to? As a child of God, your identity is forever in Christ (Gal. 2:20). If your world has come crashing down because you won’t belong to a guy, it could be that you’ve placed your hope in a person, instead of your Savior—where all your hope truly belongs.

You’re valuable and loved in God’s eyes; when your roots grow deep into that truth, your heart can process human rejection with a gospel perspective.

You’re a sinner saved by grace through Christ, our Father who loves you with an everlasting and steadfast love (Ps. 103:17). Rejected and unloved? Never. Because God is exactly who He says He is: the faithful lover of our souls (Ps. 42:8; Hos. 2:19; Prov. 8:17).

Is There Something Wrong with Me?

Another lie you might be entertaining? That something’s wrong with you. That you’re not pretty enough, funny enough, spontaneous enough, witty enough, likeable enough. Whatever it is, you don’t feel like you’ll ever be enough.

Don’t carry your broken heart around waiting for another guy to come along to fix it.

Did you know that when God created you, a purposeful and wonderful creation (Ps. 139:13–14), He didn’t forget to add anything? He doesn’t accidentally leave out personality traits or physical attributes. We’ve each been given strengths and weaknesses, and it’s our calling to trust the Creator with our design, especially with the areas in which we feel inadequate.

Maybe your personality doesn’t seem as lively, bubbly, and spunky as hers. Could it be that God knows your future man will appreciate and admire your personality exactly as it is? And could it be that God wants you to drop your insecurities at His feet, discovering His sufficiency in deeper ways?

Will I Ever Heal?

Most of all, when you’re wading through heartbreak, the subtlest of lies becomes the most convincing: that God can’t heal your hurt or be trusted with future relationships.

If you adopt those notions, you’ll find yourself running to the world to grasp at any kind of comfort. You might even find yourself lowering your standards to date the next guy who walks onto the scene.

Don’t carry your broken heart around waiting for another guy to come along to fix it. He won’t have the power to repair what’s been broken.

It’s God who can heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds (Ps. 147:3). It’s our tenderhearted Father who wants to draw close to you, to satisfy your soul with His goodness, to bring you real rest through His peace (Ps. 107).

If anything can can rescue you from sinking in the rough waters of heartbreak, it’s our Savior’s grace. Trust Him. Place all your hope in Him. Over and over again.

You liked him. You really liked him.

If anything can can rescue you from sinking in the rough waters of heartbreak, it’s our Savior’s grace.

But it’s going to be okay. Not because you’ll eventually meet someone who falls in love with you (though God can surely make that happen), but because God is good. Even in your heartbreak, He’s so good.

You’re forever loved, single girl. Cling to your Life Raft.

PS: As you wrestle through heartbreak, one of the best ways you can grab on to hope is to dive into God’s Word. Here are some passages to read and memorize:

Here are some more blog posts to help you cling to truth when your heart aches:

I’d also encourage you to talk to an older, wiser woman with whom you can share what’s going on in your world and your heart. You may not realize how much you need to hear some godly counsel while sipping a chai latte. I’m here to read and respond to your comments, but I think you may need to sit across from a smiling face and someone who can offer a real hug.

About Author

Samantha Nieves

Samantha is a journalist who loves grammar, lazy lake days, iced green tea, and writing about her Savior. She loved her small-town life in northern Indiana, but she’s learning to embrace new adventures in the South Carolina Upstate with her husband. Samantha serves as the social media manager on the Revive Our Hearts team.

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

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  • Magdiel De Salas

    Dear Sam,
    Thank you so much for your encouragement and wise counsel.
    This is just so accurate and personal. Sometimes I think that I am the only one who struggles with that.
    You are a blessing and a role model.
    Keep doing this for the Lord.

    • Samantha Loucks Nieves

      Hi, Magdiel!
      So thankful for your sweet comment. Thank you for speaking encouragement into my heart!
      I’m learning over and over again that we’re so not alone in our struggles. (The enemy wants us to think we are!) I love how the Lord can bring us together in community to point each other to Him. I walked through some very real heartache during high school, and I just thank God that He’s using that past pain to relate to other girls. He’s so good!
      Keep running to Jesus!
      Samantha

  • Deena Maga

    Thank you, Samantha!!!!. Thank you, thank you. Could not have been said in a much time like this I am learning to enjoy my single Years, and having expectations about guys could be crazy. But at least I know how to prepare my heart for when the answer is no. So thank you, for this confirming and refreshing answer from the Lord.

    • Samantha Loucks Nieves

      Deena,
      Praise the Lord! I’m just thanking Him for the way He’s taking the heartache in my past to speak hope and comfort into others’ lives. God is so good!
      Keep seeking Him through your singleness. Those aren’t years to wish away! 🙂 Serve Him with your whole heart!
      Samantha

  • ChristianGirl

    Thank you Samantha! I’ve been there, really liking a guy friend…and he likes someone else…really likes someone else. You feel like she’s perfect when he brings her up, like you’re not good enough and you wonder what she has that you don’t. You begin to wonder what makes her so desirable and what doesn’t make you so desirable like her. Then he tells you they decided to be friends and he tells you about another girl. But this time, you’re not so hurt because your feelings for him faded to the friendly kind and you know you’re loved. My friendship with him was too important to want to take to a dating level then and still is. God protected me and He’s protecting any girl who’s crush doesn’t return her feelings. He’s protecting her from a relationship that may not be right and so He can give her better.

  • Ash

    I’m not crying out loud, but this really hits deep. Thanks so much…I needed this. Right now. Please pray for me. Thank you so so so so very much!

    • Samantha Loucks Nieves

      Hey, Ash. Grateful to hear that God brought this to you when you needed to hear it.
      God, reach into Ash’s heart and comfort her, bring her peace, and strengthen her trust in you. Help her to see how good and powerful and loving You are.

      The Lord your God is in your midst,
      a mighty one who will save;
      he will rejoice over you with gladness;
      he will quiet you by his love;
      he will exult over you with loud singing.
      Zephaniah 3:17

      You make known to me the path of life;
      in your presence there is fullness of joy;
      at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
      Psalm 16:11

      Don’t stop running into your Savior’s arms!
      Samantha

  • Anonymous

    This is great and I love it! To jump off of this topic to a sort of related one, what about when you have ZERO friends (guys or girls) and no church family? Not everyone has “someone who can offer a real hug.” The only two people in my life are my mom and my brother (who are amazingly fantasy). The only place I go on a regular basis (not by choice, the money just isn’t there for other stuff) is Walmart.

    Basically, what’s a twenty year old supposed to do without friends OR a love life? Help? Prayers please?

  • Anne

    Oh my goodness this was so encouraging! The very exact scenario you described just happened to me. Thank you so much Samantha! <3

    • Samantha Loucks Nieves

      Anne,
      I’m sorry to hear that. I walked through this very situation during high school; so grateful God can use our heartaches to speak encouragement into others’ lives.
      Keep running after Jesus! In Him is true comfort, peace, and joy.
      Samantha

  • Katie Sauder

    Thanks for your words Samantha. They were very healing. Thanks for the reminder that God does love me and that I need to find my identity in Him.

    • Samantha Loucks Nieves

      Katie, thank you for your comment!
      He loves you with an everlasting love!
      Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:1
      Keep seeking Him!

  • Kk

    So I have a question, how do you be friends with a guy without either one of you developing feelings for each other? Is it possible to be just really good friends?

    • Samantha Loucks Nieves

      Good question! I’m not exactly an expert in this area, but I’ll share what I’ve learned through experience . . .
      I think it depends on you and the guy. Is there a potential for deeper feelings to develop? Do you like him, but he just sees you as a friend? Does he like you, and you just see him as a friend? You might both say you’re “just friends,” but feelings could be hiding under the surface—and that’s where things can get sticky or painful.
      I can think of a handful of genuine friendships I had with guys in my youth group. We enjoyed hanging out in groups, and we had a blast together! And no complicated feelings got in the way. But I think the key was that we spent time together in groups, and we also had an understanding that we enjoyed our friendships and weren’t interested in something more.
      I can also think of a friendship, also in my youth group, that I genuinely enjoyed without any “romantic” feelings. He was a great—and hilarious!—guy. I just had lots of fun being around him. But I found out that he had feelings for me . . . and was interpreting my friendship as hopes for something more. I kept trying to ignore it, because I didn’t want to lose his friendship, but I honestly wasn’t interested in a relationship with him. It’s always best to be honest and express your intentions, because feelings can end up getting really hurt. (I was inadvertently leading him on, and I think I was hurting him way more than I realized.)
      But most of all, my mind goes to the relationships I had that simply started as friendships and developed into something more. When you start spending a lot of one-on-one time with a guy, it seems to natural to develop feelings for each other. It usually begins as hanging out and creating inside jokes, etc., but feelings just seem to get tangled up.
      So, I would say that your question just requires a lot of wisdom and a lot of honesty with yourself and the guy.
      You might be telling yourself that you’re just innocently spending time with him as a friend . . . but deep down are you hoping for something more to develop?
      Or, do you see him only as a friend, with no hopes for something more, but you know he has feelings for you? And you maintain that close relationship because you like the attention and the care?
      Are you spending too much one-on-one time with a guy?
      Are you sharing too much personal information about yourself? Things that should be reserved for your one-day husband?
      I DO think it is possible to be friends with a guy without feelings developing! But I think that friendship is best left in group settings and navigated with maturity and wisdom.
      Most of all, seek to honor God in your friendships. Search your heart honestly, and seek to honor the guys in your life with respect!
      Hope this was helpful to you! 🙂
      Samantha

    • In the Waiting

      If I may give my input.

      I have had a lot of guy friendships in the past. And now most of my friends are women (finally), but I still have my guy friendships. Some at surface level, some deep and close friendships. My best guy friend, as well as the majority of the others, there is no developed feelings.

      I only have feelings for one guy friend, and we are not that close. He’s actually distanced himself (not from me in particular, pretty much from all his friends). And I’m not totally sure, but I was pretty sure he had feelings for me at some time too (as did some other close people who pointed put the same cues I caught on to). We would have possibly (still could if he comes back around?) made a nice match. 🙂 That aside, lol.

      I guard my heart like Alcatraz (look it up if you don’t know Alcatraz), but I still let plenty of people in, as well as out when neccesary. If the guy is not Christian, and if he is not helping me grow in God’s kingdom, he’s not so much as worth any feeling or emotion of mone that stretches beyond friendship.

      I love my guys, but with a friend-like or family-like love, and less so than I do those female friends of mine, because guys have a habit of translating overly friendly as “maybe she likes me”. So I try here and there and if I see they are safe foe a closer friendship, I know I can be friendlier. But still never as much as with my gals. Because gals just become sisters, with no fear of “what if she thinks I ‘more than like her?'” (at least in nearly most all cases, I’ve yet to experience such a case).

      But what I mean is, it can, and does happen: friendship-only friendships between a guy and a girl. But you have to guard your heart, and be direct and clear about the intentions of that friendship, if ever a question or a hint arise. You don’t have to be on edge or stress about it, but be straightforward.

      When a guy I just meet is being super nice (and it seems possibly flirty), I right out ask him if he is doing so to be friendly, or of he is flirting (it catches them of guard, but stick to it). And in either case, I make sure my intention is clear. You avoid a lot of empty frienships that way, and the guys who aren’t flirting, or do but respect your intentions and still genuinely want a frienship, they’ll stick around for the right reasons (in most cases of the few I have experienced, they usually just forget about me though).

      I only had one guy be disrespectful of my intentions because he was determined to be with me after knowing me for 10 minutes the day before. I said I don’t go to strangers houses and he flipped out because I consisdered him a stranger. So yeah, directness saves you a lot of unnecessary drama.

      Above all else. Pray. Ask God to guard your heart and to protect it from attacks and temptations. To give you wisdom, discernment, and boldness to handle those situations, and to do so with His superior guidance, the right/best way.

      Hope that helps. 🙂

  • Lily

    This blog post was a much needed reminder of where I have been in the exact predicament. Unrequited love, something I am so familiar with. I am learning that only God can ever fully love me; all else fails in comparison. I’m so excited for other things to unfold in my life like finishing school, one day having a career, owning my own home, traveling around the world, and all this excites me way more than ever being in a relationship with a guy! I just hope my family understands that God may not be calling me to be a wife, as this 20 year old is getting older, I am becoming more fully prepared to commit to the single life as I am getting too used to being single and I don’t think I will ever have enough room in my life for having a relationship. I just want Jesus to come soon.

  • Maggie Fipps

    Really needed this post! My personality is to be confident and not afraid to talk to guys, so when they “flirt” with me, I start entertaining all these false hopes! Thanks for this!!!

  • In the Waiting

    I just want to thank you ladies who write all these. And for your prayers for us. I started reading around 2011, give or take. In 6 months or so, I’ll be 25. When I started reading these, your words reflected what God was teaching me so well. And those prayers, I desperately, desperately needed! I read this one agreeing with so much, realizing how much I’ve mutured since then, and how much of an influence and blessing this blog was and has been (and still is).

    I still have my struggles having been without a boyfriend or so much as a date for my entire life up to this point, but those struggles are now short lived. Only a few short seconds of, “when and who God?” Where 11 years ago, I could feel that way for over a month.

    It’s a tricky path, but I’m holding out. I live in a city with a low population of dedicated Christian men, most everyone here, men and women, are vain and selfish (I’m not trying to be derogatory, but that is the culture). But I feel, and am, complete in God. And I can thank you all, in part, for letting God use you, and your experiences and wisdoms, to encourage women like me and so many others. And for helping me get to the point I’m at.