Few things are messier than catching feelings for your best friend. While it’s possible they feel the same way about you, it’s highly unlikely, and you end up with a broken heart and a friendship that never quite feels the same.

So, as someone who likes messiness, I asked a few Nigerians to share stories about falling in love with their best friends, and the experiences ranged from surprisingly adorable to painfully tragic.

Amy, 29

My best friend and I have known each other for over 15 years. People have always teased us about dating, but I just couldn’t see it. Then one day, I looked at him and realised I was attracted to him. The next thing I knew, I fell fast and hard. I actually thought I was losing my mind. 

He had been in a relationship for years, so I didn’t want to say anything, but after like six months, I blurted it out. He seemed shocked and confused. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but he obviously mentioned his girlfriend. I told him he had to reject me outright, so the shame would snap me out of it.

I didn’t speak to him for months in an attempt to get over him, which was really hard because our lives are very interwoven. We randomly started speaking again, and there was no awkwardness. It’s been over two years since the big reveal, and while it comes up in passing from time to time, that’s about it. We’re good and back to normal.

Ehi, 27

We’ve been friends for over 10 years, and we do almost everything together. Even friends and family keep asking why we’re not dating. So, I finally decided to shoot my shot. I guess he didn’t want me to feel rejected, so he said he has issues with commitment, but I shouldn’t reject him if he ever comes back in the future for a relationship.

I cried for days because I realised how much I love him, but I had to accept my reality. It’s been hard remaining friends with him, but I have to constantly remind myself that he doesn’t feel the same, and it’s fine. I had to mute him on all my social media accounts because I can’t stand his interactions with women I know he’s sleeping with. Still, I show up whenever he needs me.

James, 26

We’ve been best friends for 5 years. He is the first person I told I was gay, and although he is straight, he was kind and supportive. I guess that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him. A part of me knew he was just being nice whenever he complimented me, hugged me tightly or joked about how any guy would be lucky to have me, but I let myself believe he might feel the same way.

I eventually told him how I felt, and even though he let me down as nicely as he could have, it still broke my heart into a million pieces. He has been trying his best to make the friendship go back to normal, but it’s just too hard for me. It hurts so much. I hope I can move past this because I miss my best friend.

Esther, 27

We were friends in secondary school, l but I left in JSS 2. We met up again at university and became very close, very fast. The tension was there, but he was a “big boy” in school, and I hated attention, so I just stayed in my lane. 

Fast forward to our second year, and I knew I had feelings for him, but I wasn’t sure if he felt the same way — he is a hard man to read. I eventually found the courage to tell him, and he was very mean about it. He said I had zoned him, so he didn’t understand what I was talking about.

I took my L and was very sad for a bit. We didn’t talk much after that. A few weeks later, he came to apologise for how he handled it. He said used to like me but had to stop when I started calling him my best friend.

We agreed that it wasn’t meant to be and decided to remain friends. It was very awkward at first because he started dating someone I knew, and I felt a little jealous, but it slowly became less awkward when I started dating someone too. We’re still friends, but it never went back to the way it was.

Chima, 23

We were seeking admission together, so we were in constant communication. That made the feelings I had held back in secondary school start bubbling back up. Even though we were now really close friends, I decided I was going to tell her how I felt. 

So, we went on a walk one day, and I asked her, “Would you date your best or very close friend?” She first laughed out loud for like five minutes straight, then she said, “Why not?” In my mind, I was hailing myself for being a sharp guy. 

A few days later, I went to her house and told her how I felt. She laughed and said she’d liked me since secondary school, but I always preferred her friends. She said it was too late for us to date because we are now too close. It hurt for a while, but we are now closer friends than ever.

Dami, 30

We were both in relationships at the time, but there had always been tension underneath our friendship. One day, we went for a party at a friend’s place, and while we were talking, he asked me, “Is this it? Is your boyfriend your last bus stop?” and I was like, “Yeah, he is. Unless you wanted to do something about it.”

Then I just word vomited how much I loved him and how this was the last time I was willing to lay it bare. He was like, “I love you a lot but not in the way you need me to”. I thought I was going to die. We ended up having sex in my friend’s bathroom and sort of moved past it. It was like breakup sex for a relationship that never was.

I’m really happy he turned me down because It would have ruined a really good friendship. It’s been three years, and while we still love each other a lot, we’re not in love with each other. 

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Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.