You’re in love with a friend, and your inkling is that the feelings are mutual. What do you do now? Is it possible for a friendship-turned-romantic relationship to work out? Today, we’ll answer those questions and talk about how to find support in the process if you need it.
How Many Romantic Relationships Start As Friendships?
First, those in this position often wonder if it’s possible to transition from friends to romantic partners. Not only is the answer a resounding “yes,” but it’s actually more common than not. In fact, studies say that about two thirds of romantic relationships start as friendships. When you think about it, it makes sense. If you’re friends first, you already know the person, their temperament, what makes them tick, and maybe, even how they’ve acted in romantic partnerships in the past.
How To Transition From A Friendship To A Relationship
Say that you’ve been flirting with your friend quite a bit, and there seems to be chemistry. If it’s been on your mind for a while, it’s likely time to confront the topic, whether that’s internally or externally. With it in mind that these steps don’t guarantee that your relationship will turn into something more, here are some steps to take:
Think about it.
Of course, if you’re reading this, you’ve already thought about the potential of your friendships turning into a relationship to some extent. However, it’s time to consider it from a realistic perspective if you haven’t already. You want to make sure that your feelings are authentic rather than being attributed to loneliness on either end. Be honest with yourself about the root of your feelings and anything else that’s related.
Have the initial conversation.
If you’ve determined that your feelings are authentic, you might decide that it’s time to bring it up with your friend. Your approach to this may differ depending on whether you’ve been flirting or if your feelings have predominantly existed inside of you. If you’ve been flirting, you can open the conversation by mentioning that, and if you haven’t, you can broach the topic by saying something like, “I want to be honest with you by letting you know that I have started to develop romantic feelings for you over the past few months. I value our friendship, and that’s my first priority either way. I am open to holding whatever feelings you have.”
If you’ve concluded that you feel the same way about each other, it’s time to discuss your compatibility just as you would with any other potential partner. Does one of you want kids, where the other is against it? Does one of you plan to move, where the other is set to stay in the same area no matter what? Think about your deal breakers beforehand, and make sure to discuss anything else that’s appropriate and ethical to bring up that could impact the partnership. If you don’t, it could be the elephant in the room that ends up hurting your bond.
Talk about what you’ll do if the partnership ends.
Your friendship matters to you. One of the hardest parts about starting a romantic partnership with a friend is the fear that it won’t work out. If that’s the case, it doesn’t mean that the friendship has to end, but it could impact the way your friendship functions. Talking about what to do if this happens can ease your fears.
Move at a natural pace.
Many find that the transition from friends to partners is actually pretty seamless, but that’s not always the case. Understandably, it can be nerve-wracking, too. Let things progress naturally, and remember that you don’t need to rush into things or put pressure on the connection. You might ask the person out on your first date and see how it goes. Enjoy your new relationship!
What if things don’t go as expected? If it turns out that the feelings aren’t mutual, or if you start a relationship and quickly decide that it’s best to remain friends only, give yourself the space and time to process your emotions. Alternatively, if things go well, it’s important to acknowledge that no couple is immune to problems, even couples who start as friends. If you’re going through a tough time, whether it’s a relationship that isn’t working out, a natural bump in the road in your partnership that you want to work through, or feelings that are not mutual, a therapist or counselor can help.
Find A Therapist
Therapy is a safe space to talk about anything that’s on your mind in a confidential, non-judgmental setting. To find a therapist, you can search the web, ask your doctor for a referral, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform with licensed providers like BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers both individual and couples therapy, and online therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person services are without insurance. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to have healthy relationships and thrive. Don’t hesitate to take the first step and reach out or sign up today.