The transition from friendship to romance is usually a gradual one, and thus difficult to address in black-and-white terms. However, what we can say with absolute certainly is that friendships can (and constantly do) evolve naturally into successful long-term relationships.
Despite the awkwardness and introspective embarrassment that many feel when realizing that their feelings are not strictly platonic, it is imperative to realize that falling for a friend is both common and natural. Not only is it neither inherently embarrassing or something to be ashamed of, but I personally feel that a foundation of respect and care (friendship) can give a potentially new romance a significant boost in terms of long-term stability.
Would rejection destroy the friendship?
There is always a chance a friendship can crumble under the weight of an emotional discrepancy. However, it would be wrong to lay the blame squarely on the act of telling your friend that you have feelings. The simple fact that romantic feelings have arisen already means that the friendship has undergone change.
Suffocating our feelings in the hopes that they will pass is not only dishonest (with regards to our friend), but also a pathway to surefire emotional anxiety. Additionally, the destructive “what-if” mantra will forever beg the question within the halls of your mind.
Friendships can always reconcile down the road once emotions and conditions have normalized, but by stifling your feelings you might be terminally denying yourself an enduring slice of romantic peace.
What about friends with benefits?
If, instead, you aren’t looking for commitment, seeking a friends with benefits scenario might seem like an accessible and alluring (if initially awkward) scenario.
Once again I find myself compelled to state that there is nothing abnormal, or intrinsically immoral about how two consenting adults choose to live their romantic lives. However, I feel that friends with benefits can present numerous challenges later on when it comes to sustaining the platonic aspect of the friendship. Intimacy (not limited to sex) is one of the greatest emotional catalysts. And can turn a stable platonic friendship into a roller-coaster ride to uncertainty.[alert-note]While the unwritten rule in FWB scenarios is that the door towards seeking other, long-term partners remain open. The gradual onset of feelings such as jealousy can subtly begin to tear at the seams of the friendship once the opportunity does finally arise.[/alert-note]
The only way to safeguard both our feelings and the friendship itself it to make a point of constantly asking ourselves how, and if our feelings are turning towards the romantic. And to make a point of dealing with emotional “surprises” transparently and honestly.
The pros and cons
Despite my heartfelt plea against overly prizing objectivity over the subjectivity of our feelings (in most scenarios), I will nevertheless attempt to draw-up a small, concise list of pros and cons that becoming lovers from friends can amount to (and not, I assure you, without an awkward sense of irony).
- You have a firm understanding of the character and nature of the person you are falling in love with.
- Respect, empathy and care make better foundational relationship pillars than lust or infatuation.
- Transparent communication has usually already been established.
- Friendships are inherently a key ingredient to long-lasting commitment.
- Jealousy and other emotional imbalances can cause certain aspects of your existing friendship to shut down.
- Your feelings may change.
- Rejection can not only lead to a progressive or blunt deterioration of the friendship itself, but greatly influence your self-confidence and stress.
- The friend you fell in love with might not be the same person once the lines of a relationship have been drawn.
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