So, you’ve been hanging out with your friend for a while, and you’re starting to think that there could be something more between you two. But how do you go from friends to dating? Is it even possible?
It’s a common question many people ask, and it can be a tricky situation to navigate. But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.
According to experts, here’s how to make the transition from friend to a romantic partner.
The movie “When Harry met Sally” would have us believe that men and women cannot be friends. That is, if there is any possibility of a romantic, sexual attraction, then there can be no possibility of anything less.
Of course, that would extend to any and all potential romantic relationships. Gay men cannot be friends with men of any kind. Lesbians cannot be friends with any women. As for those who identify as either bisexual or pansexual, they are completely out of luck. They can’t have any friends.
This implies that just the simple fact of being in some specific group is all that it takes to be romantically compatible.
This mindset has two distinct problems:
- First, it reduces all relationships to either lovers or friends, but never both. We have our friends that we can never love and our lovers who are not our friends.
- Second, there is nothing more to any romantic relationship other than genitals. Nothing else matters as long a person has the “correct” equipment.
This implies that if there is any possibility of a deep emotional connection, there is no possibility of any lesser or different kind of emotional connection. This denies that people are capable of either varying degrees of emotions or of controlling their emotions.
Consider and explore how much you like the relationship
In my experience, people have many likes and dislikes. Each of those likes and dislikes has varying levels or degrees. This all assumes that we are fully aware of what we like and what we don’t like, what we want and what we don’t want, and what is best for us and what isn’t.
It is true that we are attracted to our friends in some way. They wouldn’t be our friends otherwise. Have you ever thought, “I really don’t like that person. We should be friends?” I think not. In fact, it is quite the opposite, “I like this person. Maybe we can be friends.”
Of course, simply liking someone doesn’t automatically or necessarily elevate them to the level of a lover. We should consider and explore “what it is that we like exactly” and “how much do we like it?”
Just because we “can be” romantically attracted to someone doesn’t mean that we “must be” or that we “will be” romantically attracted to that person.
I would go so far as to say that, in an ideal world, all dating would begin with friendship. After all, how else can you know what you like about this person?
I recently got the oil changed at the car dealership when I had the pleasure of chatting with a woman in the waiting area. The conversation drifted into one of her recent dating experiences. She told me that she had been on a date with a man she had met on the internet. The date was pleasant but uneventful. There just wasn’t any real chemistry.
At the end of the date, as they made their way to their respective cars, the man exclaimed, “you just want to be my friend!” I thought to myself, how sad. How sad that this man did not understand the importance of friendship.
This person seems to have the false and foolish belief that friendship and romance don’t mix.
- Why would someone want to pursue a romance with a person who they don’t have as a friend?
- What is the difference between friends and lovers?
- Is every friend a potential lover?
Decide for yourselves who and what you are attached to
The simple answer is “attraction.” The problem with simple answers is that their simplicity rarely actually answers anything. Attraction is personal and subjective. It cannot be defined in a universal way.
We decide for ourselves who and what we are attached to. Relationships are mutual. It takes two. Attraction can change over time, either for the better or the worse. We constantly vacillate between greater or lesser attraction to the people around us.
As with all things in life, people have their curiosities and possibilities. A friend of yours may consider dating you, or you consider dating them. Given the opportunity or the consideration, they may want to give it a try.
After all, you won’t know until you have tried. They may have some attraction and be willing to follow that thread to see where it leads.
However, don’t confuse the possibility that a friend may consider dating you with the thought that all your friends are secretly waiting for the time when they can become your lover. Those are not at all the same things. One of these is a natural interest, while the other is either paranoia or narcissistic.
Friends with benefits:
Caution, bad decisions ahead!
There is the notion that there is a place greater than friends yet less than lovers. This rarely, if ever, is an excellent place to be. The truth is that in this situation, people want to be more than friends without the commitment of being lovers.
They want to “have their cake and eat it too.” More times than not, however, one or both people in this situation will end up getting hurt. This is a relationship like any other. Over time, one person will want more out of the relationship, or another will want less.
In either case, there will be false expectations. This kind of relationship will not be sustainable. Not only will the situation come to an end, but possibly the friendship itself.
Either commit or don’t. One foot in and one foot out makes for an unbalanced and unstable relationship. Just as you aren’t lovers, you also aren’t being friends. You are just using each other until something better comes along, and then it is “adios, amigo.”
Be a true friend
The idea of being placed in the “Friend zone” has become a bone of contention for many.
I say again relationships are mutual. There is, or should be, nothing wrong with finding out that the two of you are not on the same page. As a matter of fact, it is better to know with certainty how someone feels about you rather than agonizing over what might or might not be.
If someone doesn’t have the same level or type of attraction as you, be a true friend, accept that and move on with your life. Our attractions are personal, and they vary over time.
If you have befriended someone with the deliberate intention of being their lover, then you were never a friend at all. You weren’t honest with this person or the relationship. Is it surprising that they might not want to continue any kind of relationship with you? It shouldn’t be.
People, including friends, don’t owe you their love.
What does it mean to be a friend?
- Good friends care about one another. Real friends have respect for one another.
- By being honest and earnest friends, you should want what is best for that person. Just as they, too, should want what is best for you.
- Before pursuing love with a friend, remind yourself what it means to be a friend.
Related: 55+ Qualities of a Good Friend
So, how can we go from friends to lovers? Mutually, slowly, caringly, and respectfully, that is how.
Colleen Wenner-Foy, MA. LCMHC-S, LPC, MCAP
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor | Founder and Clinical Director, New Heights Counseling and Consulting LLC
Be honest about your intentions
It’s essential you are completely honest with yourself and your friend about what you want from this new relationship.
Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship; prioritize time to discuss and understand each other’s expectations and boundaries to prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings down the road.
Get to know each other better
If you’re both looking for a long-term relationship, it’s best to get to know one another on a deeper level before jumping into anything serious.
You want to avoid getting too emotionally attached to someone who may not be ready or interested in a committed relationship, helping you determine if they’re right for you.
And before continuing to move forward in a dating relationship, be sure you share similar values, goals, and priorities. This will help you stay grounded and focused throughout the process.
Set healthy boundaries and dating rules
Before dating, as friends, you could have fun together without having to worry about setting boundaries or making decisions that would affect your friendship. But things can become complicated once you start seeing each other more often.
Setting some ground rules early on will help you remain comfortable with your own choices while still being able to enjoy the benefits of a relationship.
Respect your partner’s privacy, and remember that you are both individuals.
Don’t be afraid to say no
If you’re not interested in a particular activity, don’t feel pressured just because your friend wants to do it. Yes, you’ve started dating; however, you should never force anyone to do something they aren’t interested in doing.
If you’re not feeling up to going out, tell them so. Don’t make excuses like “I’m tired” or “It’s raining.” Tell them why you’re not interested in going out. They’ll respect you for being honest and open.
Professional Matchmaker and Dating Coach, MatchMaker May
Friend-to-romantic partner transitions can be tricky and yet magical when they work out. It might cause a little anxiety at first, but it is all worth it.
How do you know if there is something more to your friendship? Some things to consider if you’re two friends thinking of taking your friendship to a romantic level:
Continue to be the same easy-going person they know you to be
Do they flirt with you? It can be something easy like asking them what they think of a date outfit or some jeans that you tried on. Send the other person photos might force them to look at you a certain way.
See if they reply with a compliment or something flirty. It’s a good sign if they do. If you make longer, lingering eye contact with a smile, touch each other on the arm when talking, or compliment each other more, that’s great.
Continue to be the same easy-going, funny, good-humored person they know you to be. Ladies, maybe dress up a little sexier next time you see him. Men increase physical contact with her, such as giving her a longer-than-usual hug.
Related: How to Flirt
Gauge if they are interested in something more
Are you ready for things to be complicated at first? This is unavoidable. It might be a little weird at first to try to gauge if they are interested in something more, but you have to put yourself out there.
Ladies, act like his girlfriend when you go out to dinner so he can see you in that light. Men, be protective and guide her to the table by touching the middle of her back, so she feels safe around you.
Take a moment and think if they will be a good partner
- Why do you want to date them?
- Do you really know what their life goals are?
- Do you see yourself aligning with the same key life values? (religion, wanting a family, politics, etc.)
- Do you think you can really be with someone like them?
- Are they social?
- Do you have the same hobbies?
- Do you like them as a person?
- Do you like who they represent and how they treat others?
- Do you think you can respect them?
Make sure you really like them for who they are and not for what they look like.
Don’t let anyone get in the middle of it
Do you find yourself talking about this person to everyone around you? You might be crushing on your friend if you find ways to bring up their name in every conversation with your family and friends.
It’s a sign you are thinking of them more often. It’s also okay to keep this to yourself for now, so your friends don’t get in the middle of it. You don’t need your friends teasing you or accidentally telling them your intentions.
Have meaningful communication with your friend
Are you and your friend talking more? Are you communicating more frequently now? Have you noticed the long conversation and intimate talks? If so, you are thinking of each other and having meaningful communication.
You might seek them out first whenever something great happens in your life. This means that you find them important in your life, and they are at the top of your mind.
Are you jealous when they bring up other people? If there is sudden jealousy on your end, that might be a sign that you don’t want them to be with or talk about anyone else and want them for yourself!
Find reasons to be with your friend
Do you find yourself leaning or sitting closer to them when you are together? You suddenly want to do things together, not with your group of friends.
You find reasons to be with them, just the two of you. You know that being around them makes you feel good, and you value the time together and want something more.
Ideally, relationship partners are also friends, showing each other respect and loyalty, confiding in each other, and sharing experiences. Therefore, it should work well to begin as friends and then smoothly transition to being relationship partners. Sometimes, though, it’s not so easy.
What is the goal?
If the goal is to begin as friends, transition to being partners, and then go on to marriage, you will build trust and intimacy gradually as you get to know one another.
If the goal is to move from friendship directly into being sexual partners, you might bypass some of the essential relationship-building. Once there is sexual intimacy, it’s very difficult to go back to being friends if the relationship does not work out.
Discuss how to make the transition gradual
It can feel scary to raise the topic of becoming more than friends. You may feel fearful about losing each other as friends. You can worry about being rejected and “friend-zoned.” It’s vital to value the important goal to you as greater than the fear of loss.
If you truly care for each other, talking will help you see the possibility of being in a long-term relationship or marriage partner. Share honestly about the advantages you see in moving forward. Discuss how to make the transition gradual so you avoid feeling awkward with each other.
Identify what new activities to include in your relationship and when to carry them out. What new aspects of each other do you want to explore?
Stay open to change
Your relationship will go through changes and grow if you give it time and space. If you begin with an agreement of what you value in your friendship and what you are working toward in the new situation, you have a good chance of being successful.
Lisa Van Loo
Certified Dating & Relationship Coach, LVL IT UP
Taking a friendship to the next level can be a nerve-wracking experience because it requires one to be vulnerable and a little bold to push for something more. There is a risk to the friendship should things not work out, so it’s a gamble.
Nothing is more anxiety-inducing than rejection; however, any relationship, regardless of how it starts, requires taking a risk.
I believe friendship is a great way to begin a relationship; it allows you to get to know someone with less pressure than immediately worrying about where things are going or if they will work out.
Start with making sure you’re on the same page
When you are ready to move things forward with a friend, you can do a few things. Start with making sure you’re on the same page, find out if they are looking for a relationship, and make sure you want the same things out of life.
If you are not aligned, it might not be worth risking the friendship
If you are not aligned on marriage, kids, commitment, etc., then it’s a sign you probably wouldn’t be compatible long-term, so it might not be worth risking the friendship.
If you’re aligned, ask them out on a date
If they are aligned, I suggest you ask them out on a date. Make it known that you value your friendship but would be interested in taking things further if they are open to it.
Leaving it open-ended with a “no pressure” attitude will give them the space to say no, leaving room for you to maintain your friendship with minimal damage.
The worst thing you can do is get drunk, confess all your feelings, and totally creep them out. I’ve lost a few great friends that way; it’s never the same after that!
Co-Founder and Certified Matchmaker, Select Date Society
Be flirtatious when you’re together
You can start by being subtle and slowly make it more obvious. Take notice of whether or not the flirtation is reciprocated. Don’t worry about feeling awkward at first. It may take a while to shift gears from friendship to dating.
Change how you spend time together
Do you typically Netflix and chill in sweatpants? If so, it’s time to put yourself in a more romantic light. Check out a new restaurant together or take a salsa lesson.
Choose an activity that allows you the chance to dress your best. If you want your friend to start seeing you as a romantic partner, you have to dress the part!
Communicate what you’re feeling
Have an honest conversation with your friend about how you are feeling and find out if they feel the two of you have a potential relationship.
Maybe they have never thought about dating you, but your conversation could spark interest and have them thinking about taking your friendship to the next level.
Show your friend that you see them as a potential partner
Start complimenting them more. Have conversations about the things you have in common and the common goals you are working towards. Show them that you could see the two of you building a life together.
Change the things you share
Stop talking about the other people you’ve dated or past relationships. Don’t show interest in the conversation when your friend brings updates they’ve been on with other people. Politely move the conversation in another direction.
For your friend to stop seeing you as just a buddy, you have to stop discussing dating other people with each other. Instead, engage in conversations that you would have on a date! Talk about your values, your interests, and things that put you in a positive light.
Founder, Weddings & Brides
Going from friends to dating is hard, but if you start as friends and then start dating, the chances are that your relationship will last a little longer than you may expect. Often some of the main problems with most relationships are that they immediately go head first into romantic love.
While this is great for most people, you may find that when you guys aren’t doing romantic activities, you aren’t so keen on each other’s personalities.
Spend time with your friend in a platonic way
When you spend time with someone in a platonic way, and your relationship already works, then it is likely you will have success in a romantic relationship too.
The hard part of finding a lasting relationship is finding someone who fulfills both your desire for companionship and fun and romantic notions. It’s either that someone is only a friend with whom there is romance, or you romantically like a significant other, but you aren’t compatible as actual people.
Test the water as friends first
If you seek to start any romantic relationship, it can always be good to test the water as friends first. It can be hard when you know you like someone, but if you like them, then making sure you get on in the right contexts can be helpful.
Go on a date without doing anything romantic
Going on a “date” without doing anything romantic is a good start, whether that is a trip to the zoo or even holding a conversation over dinner, it’s good to check you can do these things and have a good time without holding hands, and without the tickling anxiety of a kiss or a physical touch.
When you know the fundamentals are there, the romantic stuff comes easy and is much more enjoyable when you can relax.
Yet, you have to be prepared for this to fail potentially. Just because you can be friends with someone doesn’t mean you are a natural romantic match; as we mentioned, this goes the other way sometimes.
While being friends may be great, this pressure of romance, the awkwardness, may not manifest properly, and you may prefer being friends and getting on better without these pressures.
Always be prepared for failure
You have to always be prepared for failure to have any real success romantically or as friends, if you become friends, then attempt to be romantic, and it fails, you have to be okay to fall back on your friendship, as the failure of romance could kill the relationship itself depending on what sort of feelings are brewing.
Although this doesn’t go the other way, if you fail at being friends, you can’t fall back on romance, as if you aren’t getting on as friends, you probably won’t be a good couple either.
Moreover, having the practice and ability to see someone you have the hots for simply as a friend can be key to making both romantic and friendly relationships more often.
Have a friendly conversation to get to know them better
Put simply, if you see an attractive person and immediately try to date them, you will probably have more failures than wins. But if you treat everyone the same and try to see if you get on platonically first, you will likely end up with more romantic and platonic relationships.
People are hard to approach when all you are thinking about is whether they will date you or not, but if it’s simply a friendly conversation, you may get to know them better than you thought.
Senior Editor, Tandem
There are many ways to meet your mate. From meeting online to meeting friends-of-friends to meeting someone at the office, there is no one right way to meet who you might end up spending the rest of your life with.
What if you have a friend that you are romantically interested in? You enjoy spending time with this person, and you can see yourself being with them in the future. How do you go from friends to dating?
Ask your friends for their input
If you have friends who are also friends with the person you are interested in, they might have insight into how the other person feels. Don’t put any of your friends on the spot or otherwise make them feel uncomfortable.
But do ask them if they know anything and what they think about you and your friend dating. Your other friends might have insight that can help you know if going from friends to dating would be a good step to take.
Ask questions and have a conversation
Though you might be ready to take the next step and jump into a relationship, that does not mean that your friend is ready to do the same. You might want to talk with your friend about your feelings and the idea of dating.
Some people do not want to date friends because they might ultimately break up and lose that friend. You won’t know if your friend is one of these people unless you talk to them about it. And, anyway, don’t they say that honesty is the best policy?
Ask them out on a date
If you want to date them, you don’t have to wait for your friend to ask you out. You can take the lead and ask them to go on a date with you.
If you usually spend time together with groups of people and never go out where it’s just the two of you, make sure your plans are clear to them when you ask.
If you forget to let them know that you are asking them on a date and not just to “hang out,” they might feel awkward when they arrive and realize that no one else is coming. Avoid awkwardness by being upfront.
Ask yourself if you are acting too casual
Are you giving off vibes that the other person is “just one of the guys”? Do you say things that imply you are, and will most likely always be, just pals?
If you find your behavior too casual to let the other person know that you are interested in them, there is no time like the present to change that. There are terms we use with our friends that are merely friends. If you are using buddy-like slang, do your best to stop.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were lasting relationships. However you go from friends to, hopefully, dating, there is one thing you must do. Have patience. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, they will realize that they also want to date you.
Ask yourself about the movement of your relationship
Before you take your friendship to the next level, it’s essential to be sure that you’re both on the same page. Otherwise, things could get complicated, and you might end up ruining your friendship.
Think about why you want to take things to the next level
Do you have strong feelings for your friend? Are you both ready for a more committed relationship? If you’re unsure, it’s best to wait until you’re both on the same page.
Talk to your friend about your feelings and see how they feel about taking things to the next level. If they’re not ready or don’t feel the same way, staying friends is OK.
Talk more often and spend more time together
One effective way to create a closer knit is by talking more often and spending more time together. It may be a sign to the other party that they are becoming more than one of your friends. Your conversations will likely be longer and more meaningful.
If your friend is also OK with this conversation, this connection could be the first indication that your relationship is changing from platonic to romantic.
You and your friend may start to enjoy sharing more with each other and involving each other in your lives. When you spend time together, it will feel more like you’re on a date than just hanging out as friends.
Treat them differently than others
They will be treated similarly to other friends if you are just pals. But it will be evident that you approach them differently because they are no longer merely a buddy to you.
When you and your friend start to develop a more profound friendship, how you treat one another will change. You’ll prioritize one another and pay closer attention to each other.
When you’re with them, there will be more physical contact and constant conversation. Even if some of these adjustments could be slight, you both will be aware of them.
Begin to flirt before you move from being friends to dating
Of course, you’ll begin to flirt before you move from being friends to dating. You will make discreet eye contact and congratulate each other. You might even make light of your relationship or make fun of each other’s feelings for one another.
It takes time for friendly flirting to develop into something more serious. Once more, those around you will probably notice that you’ll hook up before you even realize it.
Content Writer, Yogic Experience
Assess your feelings thoroughly
Relationships are complex, and a romantic relationship can be detrimental to your friendship. It is thus important to assess your feelings first and understand why you wish to date a person.
What is it about them that you like? How sustainable is it being with them despite their positives and negatives? It is also important to assess if they are looking for the same kind of relationship as you.
Knowing what you are getting into will help to eliminate disappointments later.
Evaluate their words and body language
Losing a friend is one of the gravest repercussions of moving into a relationship with a friend. Before letting them know about your feelings, it is an excellent idea to try and judge if they feel similarly too.
Related: Why is Body Language Important?
Look for signs of flirting in their words and gestures
Do they lightly touch you while communicating? Do they compliment you a bit more? Do they blush or smile when you talk? Look out for verbal and physical hints to determine if it is worthwhile trying to move from friends to being a couple.
Bring your feelings up playfully and do not impose
Remember, everyone is entitled to their feelings and may not feel the same way for you. Do not impose your feelings on them; talk about them playfully instead.
Back off if you sense discomfort, and give them time to process your confession. Many times, they may not have thought the same way but probably will after you tell them. Allowing time and space is the best way to approach it.
Keep the communication direct and honest
Friendship and romance are two entirely different equations, and you need to tread with caution when moving from one to another. It is best to be candid about your feelings.
Clarify your expectations from the relationship
Clarify your expectations from the relationship and lay down some goals if possible. For instance, will it involve working towards long-term commitment, or is it just an experiment?
Be prepared for quarrels
Expectations change as the dynamics of your relationship change, and it will take some time to understand and adjust to the new rules of engagement. Friction is inevitable, and it requires patience to sail through the differences.
Going from friendship to dating can be a disaster when not taken wisely and seriously. There are some important thoughts/things to consider before getting into dating your friend.
Be sure your friendship can be taken to another level
First, be sure your friendship is the right one that can be taken to another level. If you think and strongly feel like there’s a possibility that both of you can fall in love in the process of dating, then go for it.
Be very serious about getting into dating
Second, you have to be very serious about getting into dating. There’s no turning back once you decide to pursue your friend as a potential partner. If you think twice or back down in the middle of the game, they might think that you’re only fooling around, and you’ll lose not only them but the friendship as well.
Ensure that both of you are prepared for the transition
Another is to ensure that both of you are prepared for the process of entering the transition from friendship to dating; both of you should expect that there will be complications along the way since both of you became friends first. Plus, what you do as friends may not seem fit when you begin dating.
Try your best not to destroy your friendship
And lastly, whatever the result of your pursuance of them to be your partner, try your best not to destroy your friendship. I firmly believe that friendship has never been inferior to love.
Molecular Biotechnology Student | Founder, Fitness Equipped
There’s no defined blueprint to successfully transitioning from friends to dating, but there are some things you can do to increase your chances. Below are some tips on how to make the jump from a platonic friendship to a romantic relationship.
Talk about your feelings
If you want to take your relationship to the next level, you need to start communicating more openly about your feelings. If you’re not sure how the other person feels, ask them directly — it might feel awkward at first, but it’s better than staying in limbo.
Spend time together outside of group settings
Spending time with your friend one-on-one will give you a better opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level. This can help pave the way for a deeper relationship down the road.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not — if your friend knows and like the real you, they’re more likely to want to date you too. Plus, it’ll be a lot harder for things to go sour if you’re being genuine from the get-go.
Don’t rush things
Going from friends to dating can be a tricky transition, so it’s essential to take things slow and let the relationship naturally progress. Remember, your friendship is valuable and should be preserved — don’t risk losing it for the sake of rushing into a romantic relationship.
While there’s no guarantee that these steps will turn your friendship into a relationship, they can help increase your chances. Good luck on your journey from friends to lovers!
Management Consultant | Co-founder, Diamond Sports Training
Change what you do together
Create an opportunity for romance. Put aside the Frisbee and go for a drink. My friend Emily proposed a little trip to her friend, another city, to party with friends. Upon their return, they were more than just friends. They are now a married couple.
Seize the moment and invite a date
The worst thing that can happen is leaving out someone sitting right next to you. So if you’re on the couch, watching TV, and you love to touch their hair, that means it’s time to ask them out. You can’t keep it up like this. You will make yourself sick. Stop torturing yourself. Just ask.
Stop with the names
Don’t use names like buddy, friend, pal, etc. These names belong to the friend zone and give off the wrong signals. You can use them freely, but they do not show what you feel at the moment of infatuation. They say that you are not interested. Just use their name.
Marketing Manager, MCS Rental Software
Keep the friendship alive
Changing drastically is not how things should go when you begin a relationship. Instead of eliminating the friendship, you should establish a sexual connection between the two of them.
The commitment components of a relationship might often take precedence over the fun shared by the pair. One of the nicest things about dating someone you already know is that you can appreciate them for who they are.
You should always remember the qualities that made them your buddy in the first place, no matter how long you two wind up being friends. It’s risky to start a romantic connection with a close friend.
A choice to start dating, though, may turn out to be one of the finest of your life.
Marketing Manager, Zenzero
Call each other adorable nicknames
Among friends, affectionate nicknames are typically humorous. The friendship may not be so platonic if your acquaintance starts referring to you as “sweetie,” “baby,” or “honey.” Couples frequently use pet names as an endearing way to refer to one another.
As for pals, not so much. You know you’re ready for more than just being friends when you start calling each other “babe.” One of your friends may even offer you a unique moniker that alludes to a shared joke between you two.
You have a profound bond if you call each other by names that no one else knows or understands. You might as well be dating if both of your names are associated with couples.
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