Sometimes, the line between friendship and romance is a little blurry. You spend a lot of time together, you care about each other — but is it actually a good idea to date a friend? On the one hand, you could ruin the friendship, but on the other hand, you already have a strong foundation for something more. And sometimes, that’s a great thing.
“Dating a good friend is often a good idea,” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. “Relationships based in friendship already have a solid base.” That being said, it’s always going to be a risk, so if you’re thinking about dating a friend, then it’s important to be sure that you’re ready for the consequences.
It’s important to remember that the criteria for friendship doesn’t always line up to the criteria you have for someone you want to be in a relationship with. “The best way to tell if you are better off as friends is [asking yourself] how much you respect their values,” life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. “We can be friends with a lot of people with varying values, but it’s totally different when you start dating them.”
Still, if they seem to tick all of the boxes and the chemistry is there, then it may be something to consider. Here’s what love experts say you should know before you date a good friend.
1. It Can Be Awkward AF At First
The first time you go on a “date” or even have sex with someone you’ve been friends with for a long time, it can feel a little awkward. It may take some time, but if you can’t seem to get used to having a romantic dynamic you should pay attention to that.
“I think that if you are more comfortable just hanging out with a person than when you are on a date, the friendship card might be too strong to ignore,” Rob Alex, who created Sexy Challenges and Mission Date Night with his wife, tells Bustle. “If you feel different when you are on an official date with this person, it is time to step back and figure out if your friendship with them is more valuable than a possible romantic relationship.”
2. You’ll Want To Be Clear, Every Step Of The Way
To try to minimize any hurt feelings — or lost friendships — you want to be really honest about what’s going on and how you’re feeling, every step of the way. “The most important thing to consider is making sure that everyone is on the same page,” Hartstein says. “You can’t know how the romantic relationship will actually end up, but if one of you wants a very casual fling and the other is looking for a serious relationship, it’s already a recipe for disaster! Hopefully, since you are already good friends, you can have a frank and open conversation about expectations.” And then be sure to keep that conversation going.
3. It Could Go Wrong
And that also means being aware that your friendship might not ever go quite back to how it was before. “Before you date a friend, you must be willing to be OK with things not going back to how they were if the relationship does not work out, and letting go of the attachment you had with them as a friend,” Joanna Townsend, a life coach and a Washington D.C.-based psychotherapist for Blush Online Life Coaching, tells Bustle. So before you start dating this person, be sure you’re willing to take that risk.
4. Relationship Chemistry Isn’t The Same As Friendship Chemistry
No matter how much you click as friends, don’t expect that to necessarily translate into dating. “Before you date a good friend, it’s important that you ask yourself if you’re mistaking your compatibility as friends with your potential compatibility as partners,” Townsend says. “[J]ust because you share interests, have known each other for quite sometime, and know their vulnerabilities and personal struggles, does not necessarily make for a sustainable post-friendship romance.” So if you suddenly realize you don’t line up in your values, dealbreakers, or just attitudes toward dating, it may be time to retreat.
5. You Need To Be Honest With Yourself About What Isn’t Working
One of the tough truths about dating a friend is that you may want to convinceyourself it’s going well — even when it’s not. “While dating a good friend can certainly work out quite well, the biggest struggle is usually falsely feeling a sense of safety, comfort, and security with this friend and deeming that as relationship potential,” Townsend says. Be prepared to be honest with yourself about how the relationship is going, not how you want it to be going. If it turns out not to be a good fit, you’ll probably be in a better position if you cut your losses sooner rather than later.
Dating a friend can be a great experience — and often, that friendship is the perfect foundation for a healthy relationship. But sometimes it can feel awkward and you can realize that your friendship chemistry just isn’t the same as romantic chemistry. So before you date a friend, be aware of the risks — and make sure that you keep the communication flowing, so you can have the best shot at keeping the friendship alive.
Originally posted on Bustle