ost depictions of dating in the entertainment industry offer two ends of the spectrum: the couple either starts as enemies or best friends. The latter is what tends to make the most sense to me, and is the focus of this blog, but either way, these depictions leave out important details and in turn leaves us wondering about our very real-world romantic scenarios. Sure, a happily ever after may be portrayed in shows and movies, but what is a realistic take on dating a best friend? Here are a list of pros and cons to think about when considering that special someone.
Cons of Dating Your Best Friend
1. The transition stage
Transitioning a platonic relationship into a romantic one can be more difficult than expected. While having a preset foundation can be an incredibly good and helpful thing, it can also invite some awkward or confusing moments as new behaviors get implemented and the relationship travels into new territory. It is also important to remember that not all relationships are the same, nor can they be expected to operate in the same way if and when a dynamic gets changed. In other words, some people are simply better as friends rather than dating partners. While the mindset of “there’s only one way to find out” may feel tempting for this situation, you should really think it through before making any irreversible decisions.
2. Friend group shift
While this con may not be applicable to everyone, it is still something worth thinking about. It is common for best friends to be attached to the same friend group, and/or have a number of mutual friends. If that is the case for you, it may be beneficial to contemplate how those dynamics may be altered alongside your relationship status.
In ideal circumstances, your mutual friends would all be super excited and supportive of your new relationship and nothing would need to change, but alas that is not always promised to us. Some of your friends may be thrown off and unsure of how to proceed with the new dynamic, or feel the need to interact differently with the two of you together. Not to mention the possible tensions or falling outs that could follow if things would happen to go south. I want to be clear that I am not saying that this aspect should dictate your decision, even if a shift is likely, but I think you should determine that you are comfortable with that prior to making that transition.
3. The potential of losing a significant other AND a best friend
The unfortunate reality of dating your best friend is that it runs a high risk; the relationship could end, just like any other, and therefore leads to the potential to lose not only your significant other, but also your best friend. Talk about the worst two-for-one you could get! While not all breakups are nasty, and the two of you could remain friends, the expectation of a perfect bounce-back should not be assumed. To avoid this risk, I would say if you can’t imagine yourself marrying them (or whatever your end goal may be), don’t make the move to date them.
4. Dating out of convenience?
Best friend or not, it is so very important to know why you want to date this person. It should be more than just wanting someone to attach a label to, or someone to fulfill your physical touch desires. For example, if you think you want to date your best friend, Elijah, you should be thinking “I want to date Elijah,” not, “I want a boyfriend.” It should also be more than picking the person you like the most at the time, but who also doesn’t necessarily meet your standards in a partner; another name for this is “settling” and it is never worth doing. Bottom line, if your motives point to convenience or selfish desire– don’t do it!
Pros of Dating Your Best Friend
1. Foundations are built
You and your best friend are best friends for a reason, so you clearly know how to interact with each other well. As opposed to starting from scratch with someone, the two of you have already put time and effort into your friendship and laid a foundation. This is nothing to take for granted, as such groundwork can invite a natural comfortability, authenticity, and trust into your dating relationship, which could normally take months or even years for some to achieve. There is at least some removal of the pressures and uncertainties that tend to come with new romances, and you can both know that you already accept each other as you are.
2. You are more deeply invested in each other
It is far too common for relationships to get started on the sole basis of sex and physical attraction. While these are significant aspects of a relationship and they should play a role when it comes to dating someone, they should not be the drivers of it. The fact of the matter is, no matter how hot that guy or gal is, beauty fades and physical attraction cannot be the glue of a lasting relationship.
By dating your best friend, you can know that your connection goes beyond just physicality. You should be invested in each other as individuals and enjoy your time spent together, even if it is absent of sex. With perpetuated investment comes deeper love, respect, and consideration for each other, which strengthens both your friendship and romance.
3. Love is important… but so is LIKE!
They say love is blind, and that can certainly be true, but like tends to have 20/20 vision. I think everyone can agree that love is a stronger emotion and deeper affection than like, but both are crucial in a relationship. It is also not always a simple linear timeline from liking to loving someone as it may seem.
While sometimes loving someone can come easily or even impulsively, it can also be a choice that must be intentionally made. Liking operates a bit differently in that it’s even harder to choose to like someone when, frankly, you don’t. And the reality is that liking will not always come easy as time goes by. However, don’t forget, this is on the pros list! It is established that you and your best friend already like each other and have things in common– other than just wanting to date– which is so important. By having those foundations set and the ability to ground yourselves, this problem poses much less of a threat. Never underestimate the necessity and power of balance and relatability within a relationship.
4. You know things about each other– likely including your pasts
Let’s be honest, all of us have a past. Whether that be previous relationships, family drama, mental health issues, et cetera, the list of potential baggage can go on and on. It can be difficult and intimidating to share these kinds of details in a relationship, especially with a brand new person.
While it can’t necessarily be a given for everyone, it is very likely that your best friend would already know these intimate details of your life. With this bridge already crossed, you are in a more free position to progress your relationship without the little voice in your head worrying about what they may think or how they may react to your past. Having no barriers to tear down will bring the two of you closer, faster.
Other things to consider
The factor of family is absolutely case by case and rarely ever a simple subject. In regard to dating your best friend, family ties could play out as a pro or a con depending on your pre-existing relationship with them (assuming there is one). If for some reason you’ve never met your best friend’s family, I would say ignore it as a pro or con and just do your best to make a good impression.
If you have an established undesirable relationship with the family, those can be tough circumstances to work with and you should weigh that in with your cons (and plan for some reconciliation). If you have an established positive relationship with the family, however, you’d likely be “in like Flynn,” and could weigh that with your pros.
2. Duration of friendship
A question I have for everyone reading this is how long has your best friend been your best friend? And follow-up question, how long have you considered dating them? There is no intention of invalidating a friendship, dating relationship, or any feelings involved by me posing these questions (potentially quite the opposite actually). I do want to point out, though, that it is natural to feel a little extra excited and passionate about a person you connect with in the beginning stages of meeting them and hanging out.
If you have only been best friends for a few months, I would suggest using caution and exercising patience, as it could be possible that your feelings are still heightened from the freshness of the relationship. The other side to consider is if you have been best friends for a while longer, there is more certainty and sturdiness behind your friendship. With this being the case, you can continue your employment of patience, as there is still no urgency to make any moves. If it feels appropriate, you can go for it and feel more secure doing so.
Relationships of any kind can be complicated and there are so many different paths available to take. Maybe your love story will resemble a Chandler and Monica plotline (for my Friends friends), or maybe you haven’t even met the person you’ll end up with yet. Either way, whether that person was your best friend at the start of your relationship or not, my hope for you is that you can call them your best friend by the end.