It’s a classic tale that plays out in rom-coms and, often enough, in real life: Two people are friends, their feelings deepen, there’s some will-they-or-won’t-they tension, and they end up together. If you’ve ever crushed on a friend, here’s some guidance on turning things romantic—but understand that every relationship is unique and, of course, your mileage may vary.
Why people date their friends
The cool thing about making the transition from friendship to dating is that you already know the other person shares your interests, sense of humor, and other important personality traits that allow you to get along. Plus, you know they like you, so you’re probably more comfortable with being yourself than you are on a first date with someone from an app.
“More than likely in friendship, at some point or another, both of the individuals probably have some level of attraction to the other, but maybe not at the same time,” said Angela N. Holton, a relationship expert and the founder of the Conscious Love and Dating Method, who added she has personal experience here as well as professional.
How to tell if your friend has a crush on you
To figure out if you’re both on the same page, look for some clues. Laurel House, a relationship coach who works with eharmony, said this is what to watch out for if you want to pick up on reciprocal romantic interest:
- They don’t ask to “hang out,” but ask to “take you out” or want to “go out.”
- They start dressing a little snazzier around you.
- They pick nicer restaurants or places to hang out with you.
- They ask more questions, listen more intently, and seem generally more aware of what you’re up to.
- They flirt and banter with you, notch up sarcasm and jokes, or comment on your looks.
- They act more sensitive or prone to hurt feelings if you don’t talk to them, forget to include them, or don’t respond to their signals.
- They make you a priority.
- They remember more of the little things you’ve mentioned or done.
How to move a friendship into romance
If it seems like the other person is aligned with you, you can choose to make your move by openly expressing how you feel. But Holton pointed out that if you’re afraid of “crossing the line” and sabotaging the friendship, the other person probably also feels the same way too, so some caution is advised. If you decide to go for it, though: Be straightforward, share how you’ve been feeling, and ask if they’ve felt the same way. Most importantly, though, make it clear that your existing friendship is enough if they don’t feel the same way. (And if they don’t feel the feel the same way, get ready to survive some awkwardness for a while until it passes. Do your best to stay an awesome friend despite your hurt feelings.)
If the initial conversation or any subsequent dates don’t pan out the way you hoped, you might need to take some time away from the other person to heal, but you can—and should—stay friends. But either way, the conversations involved don’t need to be as heavy as you might think. As House explained, “When it comes to relationships that begin as friendships, there is likely already established communication, trust, and understanding. Maybe not to the depth that a relationship instigates, but the basis is already established.”
You should feel confident that you can talk without ruining your friendship beyond repair. In many cases, that’s why you’re friends in the first place: You have a solid foundation and understand one another. An awkward attempt at dating isn’t going to negate what you value about each other. And, depending on the potential, not attempting it at all might be a shame.
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