It happens all the time! One minute you’re just friends, goofing around, and the next minute it’s like you’re seeing him or her for the first time. (For me it was always: “Those eyes! How have I never noticed those eyes before?!”)
I’m a huge fan of having good friends of the opposite gender. I think it adds a lot of perspective on life and helps us learn more about ourselves. But these friendships do come with this difficulty:
It’s really easy to start to like each other, and the feelings can come out of nowhere!
You’ve probably heard people say, “Guys and girls can’t be just friends. It’s impossible.” I disagree, but I also understand why some people say that.
At some point, almost every guy-girl friendship will lead to at least one of them wondering if they like each other as more than friends.
Then there’s this awkward tightrope walk of “Well, what do I do now? I feel like I really, really like this person, but it could totally ruin our friendship if we try this and it goes south. So what do I do?!”
The answer is different for each person, but here are some questions that I hope may help you figure out what to do.
Question #1: Do I truly like this person or am I just putting myself into situations that feel romantic?
Here’s the thing: A person can develop feelings for almost anyone.
I’m serious. You could be totally uninterested in a person at first, but if you put yourself in enough romantic situations with that person, or start thinking/wondering about them in a romantic way, you can easily develop feelings for them.
If you’re out on a walk, just the two of you at sunset, and snowflakes softly start falling, and you stick out your tongues and dance in the first snow of winter…chances are, you’re probably going to feel some sort of emotional connection creeping up on you. (After all, that’s what happens in the movies! So obviously, this must be love!)
Let alone that people also say to marry your best friend. Which adds even more pressure to the mix.
So, if we can end up liking virtually anyone, then we must deduce that just because we like a person doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for us, or that it will lead to a lasting relationship. (Brilliant deduction, Watson!)
That’s why I encourage you to first ask yourself: “Why do I like this person? Is it because I really like him/her as a person or because I’m in romantic situations?” Or maybe everyone is just telling you ALL THE TIME how cute your babies would be and how perfect you two are together…and you’re unconsciously being persuaded.
Question #2: How long have I liked this person?
Feelings come and feelings go. If you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced this phenomenon at least a hundred times. And for me, there was never just one guy I liked. There were usually three boys I was crushing on at the same time!
The amazing thing is how intense these feelings can be when they do come! And then when they disappear, they’re just gone. Absolutely nothing left. Which is surprising, compared to how overwhelming they used to be!
If you’ve just recently started liking your best friend, give it a little time. Wait and see if you keep feeling interested or if this is just a passing phase. If the feelings persist over the next few weeks or months, then move on to the next question.
Question #3: What do my friends and parents think of this person?
Ask your friends and parents if they think it would be wise for you to pursue a relationship with your friend.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be tempted to hold back any negatives and only present this person in their best possible light. But that won’t help at all in the long run. Instead, share it all—both the things you like and the things you don’t like—with a few people you trust, to see if they think it’s a smart choice for you to date this person.
On the same note, take some time to pray about this. There have been many times when I didn’t feel right about getting into a relationship, and afterward I found out God protected me from a whole lot of trouble by keeping me out of that relationship! (And not just regular trouble. Think Taylor Swift’s kind of “trouble”!)
On the other hand, with my now-husband, James, I prayed about it and felt so strongly that this was a relationship God wanted to bless.
That said, when it comes to relationships, I always, always seek advice from other people as well, because it’s so easy to confuse my emotions with God’s will.
To read more about signs of healthy versus unhealthy dating relationships, click here!
Question #4: What are the benefits of moving this friendship to a relationship? Are those benefits worth the risk?
Everyone gets nervous about the risk. It’s only normal. Once you date someone, it has the potential to change your friendship forever.
If your relationship doesn’t work out, you could feel like you’ve lost your best friend, at least for a little while as you give each other some distance to heal and re-figure out your relationship. Or, if your relationship does work out, you could keep your best friend for life!
Are you at a stage in life where it makes sense to take this risk (age, time available, geography, etc.)? What is your motivation for wanting to move from a friendship to a relationship at this point? If some of these factors don’t line up, it may make sense to wait.
That said, there’s no perfect time to start a relationship—just some times that are wiser than others. So if you think you’re in a good situation and have a good motivation for wanting to be more than friends, then keep reading….
If you decide you want to let your friend know that you like him or her:
Try to do so in a no-pressure situation. Be honest and straightforward about how you feel, but don’t put any pressure on your friend. Give the other person time to think about it, and let them know that even if they don’t want to pursue a deeper relationship, you still want to stay friends.
If you decide to stay “just friends”:
This is where it’s important to guard your heart and mind.
Where you let your mind go, your emotions will follow. If you start imagining this person as your significant other, your heart is going to head in that direction. If you start doing all sorts of romantic, date-like things together, your heart will begin to feel as though it’s “falling in love.”
If you’ve decided you really, truly want to be just friends, guard your mind and heart. Also, guard your friend’s heart and mind by genuinely treating them like a friend instead of sending mixed signals.
At the end of the day, this decision can be like choosing your coffee at Starbucks. If you’re anything like me, making a decision is the hardest part of any situation. Even ordering my coffee at Starbucks can become a stressful dilemma, full of second-guessing myself and wondering what the best choice is.
My husband likes to say that at the end of the day, if you’re in high school and you’re trying to decide whether or not to let your best friend know you like him or her, it’s kind of like choosing your coffee at Starbucks.
Do you want a latte or mocha?
It’s important, but not earth-shatteringly important. I know it feels like a huge and overwhelming decision, but really—you could go either way and still be okay. And there’s still time to make a different decision later.
I hope this was helpful!
What are some other things that have helped you figure out whether or not you wanted to date your best friend? Comment below!
[This post was originally featured on Tiffany’s blog.]
Tiffany Dawn speaks across the United States on the topics of body image, eating disorders and healthy relationships. She’s written two books for teen girls: The Insatiable Quest for Beauty and Boycrazy: And how I ended up single and (mostly) sane. When she’s not escaping winter through cross-country tours, she lives in upstate New York with her husband, James. Her not-so-secret dream is to one day be recruited as a spy, but in the meantime she makes do with Starbucks, road trips and shopping. You can learn more at tiffanydawn.net.