Question: What if you start dating someone, all is well, and you're having a good time together ... But then, one day, you realize that you're not sure you want to be romantic with them? What are the weird signs that you're better as friends? Or what if you aren't dating someone, but you're thinking about it and wondering whether it would be a good idea or if you should just stay friends / pursue a new friendship with them? What should you do?
Good news: I asked some experts these exact questions. Apparently, this is a pretty common phenomenon, and they had some great advice for anyone who finds themselves in such a situation. It's a common teeter-totter. Should we do this? Should we just stay friends? As everyone knows, once you take that romantic step with someone, you may never go back — and this is all the more important in cases when you've been friends forever. If the relationship doesn't work out, your friendship could be affected. So here are what the experts say are signs you're actually better as pals with someone, beyond the whole "I can't imagine being intimate with them" thing.
But first, check out the latest episode of Bustle's Sex and Relationships podcast, I Want It That Way:
1. You Don't See Eye To Eye On Values
We can differ with BFFs on major principles, but that's harder when you're dating someone. Of course, it's still totally doable; it just presents more obstacles. "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."
There's a big reason for this: "Their values can easily become your values." If you have someone in your life who presses all of your buttons on important subjects, you might not want to get involved, even if you find yourself attracted to them. As Rogers puts it, "If you love being around someone but don't necessarily see eye to eye on things that are pretty important to you, it's best to stay friends."
2. You Feel Guilty For Not Being Into Them
"If you’re dating someone who’s not your type or is incompatible, you’d normally recognize that fact and move on without hesitation," New-York-based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "After all, why waste your time with someone who’s not going to be right for you?" That said, the guilt thing might come from you harboring true feelings for the person you're dating — feelings of friendship. "If you start feeling guilty about not being into them, it’s probably because you like them as a friend, and not as a lover," she says. Guilt is a telltale factor, and it "tells a part of the story," Masini says. "Get to the [bottom of the] rest of it by figuring out why you feel [guilt]."
4. You're Comfier Hanging Out Than On Dates
"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." If you've been friends for a long time, you might not want to give that comfort up — and risk losing it permanently. "We have a bond with friends, and when we can have that friendship inside our relationship, it is magical. I know, as I have that," he adds. "However, if the relationship starts to strangle the friendship, then both situations might not be able to survive."
5. There's No Effort On Their Part
When the other person isn't really making the same effort as you, then perhaps you should just aim for friendship (at most), zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. "Even if they are afraid or shy, you need someone who will get out of their comfort zone for you to make it work," she says. If you really like them, try a friendship. Or just let things go altogether and find someone who will make an effort for you.
6. You Can't Imagine A Road Trip With Them
The best, strangest way to tell that you'd be better as friends with someone: "You know that you never would want to be stuck in a car cross-country with them, because you would annoy each other too much," Stefanie Safran, Chicago's "Introductionista" and founder of Stef and the City, tells Bustle. Well, that is one way to tell! Though I'd argue that a true friend should be just as great of a road trip partner as a lover, it is true that some more fair-weather friends might be perfect for an afternoon brunch, but not great for a weeklong trip crammed in the car. That said, I'm all for true friendship, so if you can't picture road-tripping with someone, you might do best if you aren't friends or lovers with this particular character.
7. You're Not Daydreaming About Them
Cecil Carter, CEO of the dating app Lov, tells Bustle,"If you don’t find yourself thinking about them, yet you enjoy their company," then you should probably stick to friendship. Like Safran, Carter points out the importance of visualization and imagination. If you aren't sitting around daydreaming about someone, you're likely not going to have a solid romance. Being in love is all about fantasy, especially at the beginning.
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