The intersection of romance and friendship is a tricky one to navigate. Is it possible for straight or bisexual men and women to be friends? Should you be BFFs with your spouse or not? Everyone seems to have their own stance — even scientists have weighed in. But one of the most agreed-upon tough situations in this area is when a friend confesses their feelings for you, and you… uh… don’t feel the same way. It’s awkward, painful, and — at times — potentially even friendship-altering. To get some ideas on how to avoid ruining a meaningful friendship, we spoke with Christie Tcharkhoutian, an LA-based matchmaker for Three Day Rule. Here are her expert tips on how to best handle your bestie crushing on you.

Friends laugh together in a car

1. Be transparent and truthful. Although it’s often flattering to have a friend express interest in you romantically, it is critical for the preservation of your friendship that you be up-front about your lack of similar feelings — and be mindful that your behavior following this conversation reflects this lack of feelings. Tcharkhoutian explains it is possible that you “played some role in co-creating the situation if there is any misunderstanding of how you feel,” so be cognizant of this fact, and move forward accordingly.

2. Decrease communication. As technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous, it’s not out of the ordinary to be having conversations with someone on Snapchat, Facebook, and iMessage — all at once. Constant communication such as this denies your friend the time and space necessary for healing. “It’s very difficult, even impossible, to move on when there is no change in the nature of your communication,” Tcharkhoutian says. Although you’re not necessarily leading this person on by simply speaking to them, you may be unknowingly giving them false expectations or hope.

3. Limit one-on-one time. There’s a reason why no one’s vying for a group-date invite on The Bachelor. “No one falls in love on a group date,” Tcharkhoutian says. If you continue constantly spending time alone with this person, they will have an even more difficult time letting go of their romantic feelings. This may initially feel like a huge shift in your friendship if they’re your go-to coffee date or plus-one. However, by giving them this space, you’re bettering your chance of a friendship with them in the future, so you can be that person for each other again.

4. Consider reconsidering. When they’re a gender you’re attracted to, there’s no need to entirely discount a friend as a romantic partner simply because they’ve always been “just” a friend. Tcharkhoutian jokes that just about any romantic comedy out there will tell you that friendships are a great foundation for relationships. And this translates to real life. “You are friends with someone because you enjoy being around them and they bring out the best version of you,” reminds Tcharkhoutian, which is what you should look for in an S.O. as well. Ask yourself why you don’t have feelings for this person; if you’re struggling to answer, is it possible you could see them differently? If they’re a good friend to you, perhaps they’d be a good partner too.

Ever had a friend fall for you? Tweet us your story @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)