I have a communication problem with my friend I am in love with (he already knows about that and also knows I am poly, but doesn’t feel romantic or sexual attraction to me). I have the need to make physical contact with him and I guess he would be fine with that as he does it with other friends of him, too, but I am too afraid to simply act it out or ask him whether it’s okay to touch or hug him. Any advice how I can start a conversation about it, or should I really “force” one?

Often, we work ourselves up about conversations like this, but in the end, there’s no major strategy than just taking a deep breath and starting it.

Next time you’re around this friend, ask if he wants to take a walk with you. Head out somewhere quiet, then just say it. In my experience, people are usually pretty relieved when you just put something out in the open and give them a gentle permission to talk about it. Opening a conversation isn’t the same as “forcing” it - if he got uncomfortable and said he didn’t want to talk, and you kept pushing, that would be force - but a gentle invitation to clear the air is not force.

Say something like “You know I’m attracted to you, and we’ve talked about it - I just wanted to check in with you about physical contact. I know you hug and sit close with your friends, but I don’t want to make you feel pressured or uncomfortable, so I wanted to ask how you felt about me giving you hugs and otherwise being cuddly.”

I would add a note of caution, though, about your use of language. Being touched by this friend isn’t a “need” - it’s something you want very much, but not exactly a need. You may be identifying a “need” to feel loved, to be close to someone, to be attended to, to feel physical contact - but those are more abstract. Physical touch from this specific person is something you can live without.

Be careful when identifying your needs not to be so specific that you’re essentially saying that another person must behave a certain way or else they’re actively hurting you. “I need to feel listened to and respected” is very different than “I need you to always pause your video game when I start talking.”