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He Just Wants To Be Friends: How To Cope When He Likes You But Not Like That

by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

Picture it: you’ve had a wonderful date, maybe even more, you’re excited to see where this relationship is going… and then he tells you he doesn’t want a relationship but wants to be friends. The stuff of nightmares, right? But it doesn’t have to be, despite what popular culture may tell you. Friendship isn’t a consolation prize, and it’s totally possible to have a wonderful, fulfilling and totally platonic relationship with someone you used to date. In this article, we’ll talk about how to deal with it when a guy just wants to be friends after dating.

What to do when he just wants to be friends

It can be really disappointing when he says he wants to be friends, especially if you thought there was real chemistry. No matter what, though, it’s important to deal with it in a healthy way if you want to have any chance of a good relationship moving forward.

Don’t take it personally

Sometimes it really is him, not you. Understand that his wanting to be friends isn’t a slight on you personally – he may not be in the right headspace for a relationship right now, or the chemistry just may not be there.

Accept the decision

Pushing isn’t going to turn a no into a yes – in fact, odds are that it will torpedo any chances there may have been of the relationship turning romantic again. No matter how hard it is, you must take him at his word. Focus on the ‘friends’ part of ‘he likes me, but he wants to be friends’, not the ‘he likes me’ part.

Move on

As the cliché says, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Even if dating again isn’t an option, you can always choose to focus your attention on the most important person in your life – yourself.

Keep the friendship

There was a reason you wanted to date him – presumably, those good qualities also apply if you’re just friends. Make the effort to stay connected, even when it’s hard, and you might just wind up with a beautiful friendship.

He just wants to be friends: Is it a good idea?

The internet is divided on whether it’s a good idea to stay friends with someone you’ve been dating, and for good reason. Every relationship is different, and sometimes, despite how much you want to stay friends, it’s just not a good idea. Obviously, if your date gave you bad vibes or the relationship was toxic, you should run far away. But even good men can be hard to be just friends with, which is why it’s really important to think it through before making any kind of decision.  

You should try and stay friends if…

  • You’re a part of each others’ social or professional orbits and need to stay on good terms with each other.
  • You can spend time with each other without it feeling tense, painful, or intimate in inappropriate ways.
  • Being friends adds value to your lives. In the words of the inimitable Marie Kondo, does this friendship spark joy?

You should not try and stay friends if…

  • You still have feelings for them and you’re having trouble moving on. That’s not fair to either of you.
  • His behavior is throwing up red or even yellow flags. Always pay attention to your gut feelings in a situation.
  • Being friends with him just doesn’t feel good. Life is too short to do that to yourself.

Tips to make the friendship work when he says he wants to be friends

Alright, you’ve decided you want to make this friendship thing work. There are several things to take into consideration – how much time and energy you want to invest in the friendship, what level of friendliness you’re comfortable with, what level of information you’re okay with sharing – and here are a few tips to make the process easier.

Give it time

Even if you two only went on one date, sometimes you still need time before you can be friends. Don’t push yourself into anything you aren’t ready for – if he truly wants to be friends, he’ll respect that it needs to happen on your timeline, not his.

Make sure you’re over him

The key to dealing when he just wants to be friends? Getting over all those more-than-friendly feelings. Check in with yourself regularly – is there still a spark? Are you still eager for more than friendship? Keep an eye out for mixed signals on his part, too – he might be one of those guys who doesn’t quite mean it when he says he just wants to be friends.

Keep busy

Whether it’s with work, your friends, a new hobby… the best way to keep those pesky lingering romantic feelings from bothering you is to be too busy to have them. As a bonus, you might just wind up impressing your boss, strengthening your other relationships, or discovering something new about yourself!

Respect your own comfort levels

There are many different kinds of friendships – some where you talk every day, others where you can go weeks without seeing each other and it doesn’t matter – and you need to decide which one is right for you. Some people are fine with platonic affection, others prefer to keep their distance physically when it’s just friends. Only you know what works for you.

Make sure your friendship is different than when you were dating

A lot of people make the mistake of doing the same things in their friendship as they do in their dating phase. Especially at the beginning, this is a huge mistake – you don’t want to be sending mixed signals to your poor heart, which is what will happen if you act the same way as you did before. In situations like this, it can be helpful to decide what your boundaries are in advance and stick firmly to them.

While wanting to keep the friendship is a laudable goal, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. It doesn’t matter if he wants to be friends if that’s not where your heart is. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t feel any guilt about severing the relationship – just be sure to be upfront about it rather than ghosting him.

A lack of romance doesn’t have to mean a lack of a happy ending

While it might be nice if it did, not every relationship – or even every date – is going to end in forever. Being disappointed when that happens is only human – but you shouldn’t let it blind you to the possibility you have for a wonderful friendship instead. It can definitely take work, but building up a friendship from the shards of a romantic interest in someone can be very rewarding – so don’t lose hope when he just wants to be friends. Besides, just because he doesn’t get what a catch you are doesn’t mean other men won’t – and you’ll find plenty of them on eharmony, the trusted dating site for serious relationships. Sign up and be on your way to lasting love today.

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