Dating a friend you’ve known for years can go one of two ways. Best case scenario, you end up like Monica & Chandler and live happily ever after. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t work out, you struggle to get your friendship back, and you’re left wondering why you ever thought it was a good idea to date.
But wait, there’s one more possibility. You realize you’ve got feelings for your friend, but you’re too scared to say anything or risk your friendship, and you spend the rest of your life wondering, “what if….” Trust me, you don’t want to be there, living a life of woulda coulda shoulda. So I’m all for dating a friend, but there are some things to consider before taking that step.
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Did you know that studies show we find people more attractive once we get to know them? So falling for a friend is natural. Psychology professor Jessica Cameron has done a lot of research on friends who become a couple and suspects that couples who start as friends tend to have happier, stronger relationships. Why? Because romantic relationships are more fulfilling when there’s a friendship. She’s in the middle of researching whether this is true. Plus, in a 2021 survey, two-thirds of respondents said their current partner started as a friend.
So, if you are thinking about dating a friend, you’ve got research in your corner.
7 Things to think about before dating a friend
1. Remember that good friends don’t necessarily make good romantic partners
Just because you’re best friends with a guy and everyone tells you how cute of a couple you’d make doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have a smooth transition to a romantic relationship. Friendly relationships and romantic relationships are different and require different things from people. In a romantic relationship, you’ve got to communicate effectively, make decisions together, compromise, navigate physical intimacy, understand each other’s love languages, and be committed. You may find you’re not compatible in these ways.
2. Are you seeing him clearly?
When we’re attracted to someone and have a crush on them, it’s common to view that person through rose-tinted glasses. You might only see positive things and be blindsided by his flaws and the polar differences between you.
Sure, you might love the same TV shows and be equally addicted to pizza, but maybe you have different values and lifestyle choices. And because you’re crushing, you focus on the former while ignoring the latter. But you’ve got to be honest with yourself if you’re considering dating a friend. Do you think you’re compatible in a romantic way? Can you see yourself building a life together?
3. Check in and see if you’re on the same page
Before dating a friend, get real about how likely it is that he feels the same way. Have you seen any signs that he would like to be more than friends? For example, does he flirt with you, compliment you, or avoid talking about girls he’s seeing with you? Also, pay attention to his body language. Strong eye contact, mirroring your body, leaning in during the conversation, and finding excuses to break the physical touch barrier are all indications he might like you more than a friend.
You’ll probably know if he has caught feelings because human beings are not great at hiding how we feel!
4. Manage your expectations
The great thing about dating a friend is you can avoid the game-playing and potential awkwardness of meeting a total stranger and having to build a connection from nothing. You’ve got a solid foundation to build on, and you probably know a lot about each other already. You feel safe with him and can have deeper conversations that you probably wouldn’t have with a stranger.
But while dating someone you already know can help you skip past the traditional dating phase and echo the warm, fuzzy feelings of a new relationship, there are bound to be other questions on your mind. For example, will the relationship work? And if it doesn’t, will our friendship survive?
5. Are you both ready to be in a relationship?
You’d be surprised how many people overlook this, but it’s essential to consider it before dating a friend.
First of all, are you both single? Because if other people are involved, you’ve got to consider their feelings – don’t be a homewrecker! Second, did one of you just come out of a relationship or a bad breakup? It takes a while to heal and be in a place where you’re ready to date again, even if you were the one who initiated the breakup. He might only be interested in something casual right now. Are you both going to be in the same place for the foreseeable future, or does one of you have plans to move states or countries for work?
These are all important things to consider because they affect whether you’re ready to be in a relationship. If one or both of you isn’t, then there’s no point even thinking about dating.
6. How will you navigate the transition from friends to dating?
Before dating a friend, you’ve got to consider how you’ll transition from friends to romantic partners. For example, how do you both feel about PDA (public displays of affection)? Will you become exclusive immediately or give yourselves time to adjust before putting a label on it? Will you spend more time together than you already do, or less?
Although the foundation of friendship is a great place to start, moving to partners can be awkward when you know each other so well and already hang out regularly. Take some time to discuss the above, and it can squash some of the difficulty.
7. What will happen if you start dating your friend and it doesn’t work out?
Nobody starts a new relationship thinking it’s not going to work out. Heck, if we all did that, nobody would ever start one! But it’s important to consider, particularly when you’re already friends. Some women are great at being friends with their exes, but generally, I don’t recommend it because this hinders you from fully moving on after a breakup. So if your relationship does end, it might be the end of your friendship, at least while you grieve and try to heal. That doesn’t mean things can’t or won’t go back to how they were, but it is important to consider.
If you do find you break up and struggle to get back to friends, hanging out together with mutual friends can make it easier by creating a sense of normality.
4 Reasons why dating a friend is a great idea
1. Friendship is one of the three components of the lasting love formula
In our Love Accelerator program, we teach the lasting love formula:
Attraction + Compatibility + Friendship = Lasting Love
As you can see, friendship is one of the three key components for a connection and love that lasts. That’s why starting as friends first is a great foundation to build on, especially if you’ve caught feelings.
If you want to learn more about the lasting love formula, along with a ton of other strategies and lessons to help you get out there and attract the man and relationship you desire, you can apply to join our program today.
2. You already enjoy each other’s company
One of the best parts of dating a friend is that you already spend time together because you enjoy each other’s company. There’s no superficial reason or ulterior motives such as looks, money, or status.
A 2015 study found that couples who were friends before they started dating differed more in levels of physical attractiveness than couples who started as strangers. Researchers suggested that those who had a friendship were more attracted to their partner’s personality rather than looks or that they became more physically attracted over time because of their personality.
This is a great place to be because it doesn’t matter how good-looking someone is; physical attraction always fades over time, so you’d better like the person sitting opposite you at the dinner table; otherwise, things will go south quickly!
3. You know him well
Another reason I’m all for dating a friend is that you already know a great deal about each other’s likes, dislikes, values, quirks, and flaws. There’s already a level of trust, comfort, and familiarity, and this can make that initial dating phase even more enjoyable than it is with a stranger.
You’re not trying to figure out if there’s a major incompatibility, if he wants marriage and kids as much as you do, or if he’s trying to sleep with you. You also don’t have to look beneath the roses and champagne to see what this guy is like when he’s not trying to impress you – you already know. This means you can talk more openly and honestly than if you had just met, and it will put you both in a more relaxed vibe where you can focus on having fun.
4. There’s a foundation of care & warmth to build on
The final reason dating a friend is a great idea is because you already care a lot about each other; otherwise, you wouldn’t be friends. There won’t be any game-playing, ghosting, or pulling away when things get serious because you love and respect each other and your friendship way too much to do that.
Naturally, you will have concerns running through your mind like, will it work, and if it doesn’t, will our friendship survive? But because you’re friends, you can discuss all of these scary questions together without it feeling heavy or awkward.
Dating a friend comes with its risks, just like any relationship does. But if you’ve caught feelings, and you think you’d make a great couple, then you owe it to each other to give it a try. No one wants to live a life wondering, what if… Plus, if you are as good friends as you think you are, trust that if things don’t work out romantically, you’ll eventually be able to salvage a friendship.
Have you ever dated a friend in the past? Is there a friend in your life who you would consider dating? What are your biggest concerns about transitioning from friends to more? I’d love to hear your experiences on this subject, so drop me a comment below!