7 Things No One Tells You About Dating A Friend
It's no secret that successful relationships need to involve a level of friendship. Because loving someone and liking them, to paraphrase Leslie Knope, is essential in a relationship, some theories even suggest that the best relationships are the ones that start out as friendships. If you have the friendship part down, then you're halfway there. But, of course, that doesn't mean every friendship should evolve into a relationship.
"Your relationship will change if you decide to date," Stef Safran of Stef and the City tells Bustle. "If this person is someone you really feel has potential, the risk can be worth it! If you are only luke-warm about this person, you should think about if you are sure you want to take this to a romantic level."
The biggest problem with dating a friend is losing that friend if the relationship part doesn't pan-out. "You not only can you lose a love, but you can lose your friend and your social circle," Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Bustle. "You may feel like you have your guard up until you know for sure that it’ll work out."
But should you be thinking that dating your friend is a good idea, here are seven things to consider, according to experts.
1. You May Not Get To Have The Honeymoon Phase
"Although you may experience some novelty — this is the first time we are doing this as a couple — you’ve known each other a while," Chlipala says. "You may not get those butterflies or they may not last as long."
Not that you necessarily need a honeymoon phase, but they are nice to have. There's something really enchanting about that phase, as science has proven, that literally makes you feel high.
2. Things Could Be Awkward At First
Actually, Chlipala says you should expect things to be awkward at first. "You and/or your friend might not have an easy transition from buddies to lovers," she says. "Take your time and use humor."
3. Your Friendships With Your Mutual Friends Will Change
Not only will you relationship change with your friend-turned-partner but, according to Safran, your friendships with your mutual friends can change too. "Things can change when you're a couple," Safran says. Suddenly the dynamic of the group and how people interact is thrown out of whack.
4. You'll Have To Talk About Expectations
"What you expected of each other as a friend may be different than as a partner and lover," Chlipala says. "Have conversations around what you need, whether it’s emotional needs or the kind of relationship that you’re looking for."
Although it's important to keep your expectations realistic, it's only natural that your expectations would change when you go from being friends to partners. You're playing in a completely different field, so the rules of the game have to change.
5. Understand That You Might Not Be A Match Romantically
While it might make sense, in theory, great friends don't necessarily make for great romantic partners. If things were that easy, friends would be coupling up all the time.
"Just because you share the same hobbies doesn’t mean your relationship will work," Chlipala says. "Talk about your dealbreakers and areas of incompatibility, and how you two will manage your differences."
6. You Could Lose Your Relationship Confidant
It's important to take time to think about what you can lose when you make the jump from friends to partners. While the possibility of losing your friend may seem like the most obvious risk, you should also consider that what you used to be able to talk to your friend about, you may not be able to talk to your partner about now that they're not just your friend. If they were your sounding board for your relationships, you'll have to find a new sounding board.
"You may find yourself talking about certain things to new friends rather than your new boyfriend/girlfriend," Safran says. "If you used to go to them for relationship advice, you may have to change direction and find someone else to have these discussions."
7. You Can Be More Direct In Your Approach
"When you start dating a stranger, you may not feel as comfortable speaking up for your needs or what bothers you because you don’t know each other well enough yet," Chlipala says. "With dating a friend, however, you’ve already established a solid friendship and the positive feelings can help buffer against negativity. It’s also easier to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Just remember to be gentle when you bring things up."
Can people go from being just friends to dating and actually having a successful relationship? Of course. But there are pros and cons, and things to consider. The last thing you want to do is lose your friend.