Our Expert Panel

Patti Novak, a matchmaker and dating coach, authored "Get Over Yourself: How to Get Real, Get Serious, and Get Ready to Find True Love." She also answers dating questions on the "Ask Patti" section of her Web site, PattiNovak.com.

Neil Strauss, the famed pick-up artist, is a six-time New York Times best-selling author, perhaps best known for his book, "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists."

David Wygant is a dating coach who has authored "Always Talk to Strangers," and he also writes free advice in his dating blog on DavidWygant.com.

How to Ask Out a Female Friend

She may have started out just like one of the boys. But one day, a switch flipped in you and you realized she'd make a great girlfriend. Maybe you've let it grow without saying anything, and now you've built her up in your mind as the only girl for you. Those who have been through it know that crushing on a friend is emotionally excruciating.

No doubt, being turned down by a friend is more painful than being turned down by a girl you've just met at a bar. To make matters worse, you risk jeopardizing the friendship that might mean a great deal to you. Despite the added pressure, experts say you need to man up and say something.

However, be prepared for disappointment. Strauss says that when you like a female friend, chances are she's not only figured it out, but ruled you out. His advice to maximize your chances is to disappear for awhile and don't contact her often. After some time has passed, come back with a new style and confident attitude. "Look great, feel great," he says. This helps her see you and think about you in a new context.

But, unlike the average pick-up artist, expert David Wygant eschews anything that smells of "technique" and advises taking a simple, honest approach. Call her and ask to have coffee with you. Tell her "we've been friends for a long time now, but I'm interested in you." He says you just need to "be a man" and tell her, and that "other advice is all manipulation."

Although they have different approaches, one thing Strauss and Wygant agree on is the need to do something about the crush. And the sooner, the better, says Wygant: The longer you wait, the more time you're wasting by dwelling on her while being blind to other girls who might be interested in you. Strauss agrees, saying you shouldn't "pretend to have a friendship" when you are interested in something more. "It's not fair to her or yourself," he says.