Healthy Relationships 101: 5 Things to Consider Before You Start Dating a Friend
Romantic relationships borne from friendships can be exciting. You’re already close with this person, with countless conversations, memories, and inside jokes behind you. They know your quirks, and you know theirs. You may have even met each other’s family and other friends, which takes a lot of the stress out of announcing a new relationship.
But transitioning from a platonic relationship to a romantic one isn’t always seamless. Believe it or not, there’s a lot to consider before you make the (mutual, and explicit) decision to date a friend. Here are the big ones.
Make Sure You’re On The Same Page
Does your friend feel the same way about you as you feel about them? Unless you’ve discussed this in clear terms before, it can be difficult to determine whether your friend likes likes you or if they’re simply acting the way a good friend should. Of course, if your feelings are strong, you should probably communicate with them regardless of whether you think your friend likes you back—honesty is crucial to any healthy friendship, and holding back a feeling like this could make you feel awkward or even resentful.
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Check That You’re Both Ready For a New Relationship
Are both of you in a healthy place to date? Liking someone isn’t sufficient cause to enter into a romantic relationship with them. If one of you just got out of a bad relationship, plans on moving out-of-state for a job soon, or is otherwise unable to approach the relationship in a healthy way, it may be best to remain friends or wait for a better time. A good, old-fashioned heart-to-heart can help you both determine whether you’re in a good place to start a new relationship.
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Navigate the Shift Together
How will your relationship change? It can be awkward to make the transition from friends to partners, especially when it comes to physical affection. How does the other person feel about things like PDA? Will you consider the relationship to be exclusive right away, or will you test the waters before going all-in? Will you hang out more frequently? Less? If you’re going to do this, you’ll want to do it right; having a chat with your friend-turned-datemate could help to alleviate some of the difficulty that comes with navigating new relationship territory.
Success in a Friendship Doesn’t Equal Success in a Romantic Relationship
“You guys are so adorable together,” your mutual friends tease. “You should date!” While you and your best bud may get along super well and look cute side by side, you aren’t necessarily guaranteed smooth sailing in a romantic relationship. Romantic relationships involve a lot of things that friendships don’t: mutual decision-making, consideration of each other’s “love languages,” physical intimacy, commitment, communication, and often exclusivity, to name a few. And if you two aren’t compatible in those ways, the romance might not be as cozy as the friendship.
Crushes On Close Friends Can Be Blinding
Crushes often cause you to look at people through rose-colored glasses, even if you don’t realize it. This can be all the more powerful when a potential relationship is just within reach, like in the case of a crush within a friendship. You might gloss over the harsh ways in which your crush “talks smack” about their friends when those friends aren’t around. (Psst: If a friend frequently bad-mouths someone else behind their back, that friend will probably do the same to you.) Maybe the ways you look at the world are very different, but your hobbies and favorite TV shows are the same, so you tend to focus on the latter. Whatever it may be, try to be honest with yourself: Are you two truly potential partners, or are you just infatuated with your commonalities and friendly banter?
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That Pesky “What if?”
As much as it hurts to think about, it’s imperative that you consider what might happen if the relationship doesn’t work out. It’s hard to be friends with an ex—doing so can be stressful and even damaging to the healing process post-relationship—so the end of your romance might mean the end of your friendship, too. We aren’t fortune tellers, so it’s impossible to know whether the relationship will last, and uncertainty about the long-term shouldn’t hold you back from pursuing a new love. But if you’re already on the fence about whether the relationship would work, it may be better to remain friends.
Close Friendships Can Be Just As Deep And Fulfilling As Romantic Relationships
The phrase “more than friends” is a farce. A romantic relationship is not always a rung up on the ladder of human relationships; rather, you should work on building friendships and romantic relationships that are equally compassionate, fun, and fulfilling. Friends have plenty to offer: love, support, late-night conversations, hilarious group chats. . . need we say more? There’s nothing wrong with staying friends with someone you’re close with. You can cherish them all the same.
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Of course, it’s healthy to get in touch with your own emotions prior to jumping into a new romance with a friend. Before you confess your feelings, make sure to ask yourself: is this the real deal, or is it just puppy love?