Having a best friend is great. Whether you see each other on a regular basis or not, it’s always good to know that there’s someone in the world with whom you can share your deepest feelings and who knows how to get you to have a good belly laugh when really you need it. Best friends often share a strong emotional connection and enjoy spending time with one another. But what happens when that friendship blossoms into feelings of attraction or even love?

In many close friendships, there is an element of platonic chemistry, which essentially means you and your bestie have a close connection and are comfortable enjoying one another’s company, without any physical or emotional awkwardness present. Think of a time you and your best friend looked at one another and laughed hysterically for no reason, or the time you were mad at each other for weeks and then randomly started speaking again, without any residual feelings of anger present. This kind of intimacy can often be a fantastic stepping stone for an amazing romance.

A few years ago, when I was an undergraduate student at university, I found myself falling for one of my classmates who had become a good friend. We were complete opposites; I was an ‘A’ student and a romantic and spent most of my time reading, while he was an extrovert, with more charisma and charm than Robert Pattinson in Twilight. We were a mismatch as friends, but somehow, we just clicked and would spend hours together. He found a way to make me feel special and before I knew it, I had fallen head-over-heals in love with him.

As we spent more and more time together, I started to realise that the feelings I had for him may have been mutual. After months of friendship, he invited me over to his place because he wanted to cook for me. I initially refused to visit him because I am a naturally conservative person and didn’t want to be left alone with him. But after he told me he was preparing a halaal dish especially for me, I decided to take him up on his offer. When I stepped into his home, I saw curry and ready-made made roti, along with other delicious treats he had bought at Pick ‘n Pay. He made a very sweet gesture and took the opportunity to declare his love for me, using beautiful Arabic words that he butchered as he clumsily stroked my hand. It was a very special date that blossomed into a beautiful relationship that was complemented by our friendship.

It’s important to note, however, that not all stories end like ours did and there are many things to consider before you start dating a close friend.

Here are some pros and cons of dating your bestie:

 Pro: There will likely be no awkward phase

While the beginning of most relationships is fun and exciting, this stage can also be pretty awkward, with the two people involved getting to know one another and learning about what the other person likes and dislikes. But with you and your bestie, there will likely be no angst-ridden awkward stage as you’re likely to know one another very well already! My partner and I were never really shy around one another and just enjoyed spending time together in more intimate, romantic settings, which was great for me, because I had no real experience with dating and had a lot of anxiety about relationships.

Con: There is no real ‘honeymoon phase’

Although knowing your partner well can be great, the sense of familiarity can put the relationship in a rut before it even has a chance to begin. There will be sparks, but they’re likely to happen more gradually than they would if you were dating someone you just met. When I started dating my partner after being in love with him for months, I have to admit that many of our ‘firsts’ felt like an anti-climax. I waited so long to be with him, but it took a while for me to settle into the new roles we were playing in each other’s lives.

Pro: Trust is already cemented

When you start dating someone, there will likely be a stage where the two of you start setting boundaries about the types of relationships you’ll be having with other people. It can be awkward to have the ‘are we exclusive?’ talk with a new bae, but if you were friends with your partner for some time, you’ll likely be more comfortable with telling them exactly what you want out of the relationship and about the type of commitment you’d like to see from them.

Con: New best friend?

Since you’ll no longer be friends, you may struggle to be open with each other about things that bug you. For example, when my partner and I were friends, he wouldn’t think twice about complaining to me about the various women he was flirting with, but after we started dating, he couldn’t very well complain to me about how much I was annoying him. Instead, he confided in a mutual friend we shared, who would then relay the information to me about where my man’s head was at. After we’d been together for a while, we got much better at communicating in a respectful manner without any assistance from third parties, but our first few months together were marred by misunderstandings and broken-telephone communication.

Pro: They know how to handle you at your worst

You’ve cried on his/her shoulders and they’ve seen you with red-rimmed eyes and a snot-stained face. They’re seen you without any make-up on and dark rings around your eyes. You’ve even seen them in the rags they wear when cleaning the house. My point is, your partner has already seen you at your absolute worst and they still love you, so there’s no reason to walk on eggshells around them. I’m not saying you should scratch your butt or clip your toenails in front of them, but just be comfortable in your own skin and allow yourself to love openly.

Con: Too much comfort in the comfort zone

It’s nice to be comfortable with the person you’re dating, but when the two of you end up doing all of the same activities you were doing as friends, things could become boring really fast. Add some spontaneity to your relationship. Romance doesn’t need to be expensive! Write them love letters or have a romantic picnic at the beach with their favourite treats. You’d hate to lose your new bae because of a lack of effort in your gestures of love to them.

Pro: You have mutual friends

When dating your best friend, you are likely to hang out in the same social circles. This means you won’t have to go through the awkward stage of meeting your partner’s friends and trying to win their approval. It’s really important to have boundaries with your mutual friends though, as divulging too many details about your relationship could make things awkward for your squad, who may be torn when it comes to taking sides when you and your partner bicker.

Con: You could risk losing your best friend

Like most things in life, love is a gamble and if things go South with your relationship, all the romantic intimacy the two of you shared could make it painfully difficult for you to go back to just being friends. The dynamics of the friendship circle could also change dramatically if you and your bae break up, so be considerate about those around you who could be hurt by the relationship or its demise.

As the poet Laura Hendricks once said, “love is friendship set on fire” and therefore a courtship between you and your bestie could be a match made in Heaven. However, if you two were to find that you lacked romantic compatibility, you might never be able to regain the carefree friendship you once had. Dating a close friend can be a wild adventure or it could possibly lead you to one of the biggest heartbreaks of your young life. Only you can decide if you want to take that risk, so choose well!

 

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If you are stuck in an unhealthy relationship, read these tips on how to get out here

Tell us: Have you ever had feelings for a friend? How did you deal with it?