So, it happened. You caught feelings for your BFF. When a relationship starts out platonic and blossoms into something more, it can be tricky to know how to navigate the shift. But let’s say you’ve done it — you’ve expressed your feelings, you both have a crush, and you decide to take the leap into romantic territory. Yay! When you start dating your best friend, it’s exciting and scary at the same time. You know this person well, and they’re already your go-to pal, but now you also get to make out with them on the reg. What a time to be alive.
As thrilling as it is, though, dating your bestie doesn’t always come as naturally as you might expect. After all, it’s a big change from your former status as “just friends.” When you become romantically involved, your relationship is going to be different than it was before. And it requires some intentional thought as to how you’re going to make things work. “Everything will change,” explains Jennifer B. Rhodes, PsyD. “Expecting it will help you cultivate the flexibility you will need to move through the transition.” It’s important to stay open to change so you can work through it together as a couple.
If you’ve just started dating your best friend, keep the following things in mind to help your relationship thrive.
1. YOU BOTH NEED TO BE ON THE SAME PAGE.
This is important in any new relationship, but especially with BFFs, you risk hurt feelings if one of you wants something more serious than the other does. “Questions such as, ‘Are you monogamous?’ or, ‘Are you entering the murky water of FWB?’ will need to be answered,” says dating coach Julie Spira. “If one wants to have a casual relationship or FWB, and the other is falling in love, it will backfire. Make sure you’re on the same page, and it will help with the bumps on the road.”
2. DEVELOPING A ROUTINE WILL HELP YOU ADJUST.
When you transition from friends into romantic partners, your schedules will need to adapt to meet this shift. Don’t expect that you’ll be spending the same amount of time together as you did when you were friends — it might be more or less, depending on what feels right for both of you. “Do you have a standing date night such as Saturday night, or are you spending the entire weekend together?” Spira wonders. “Once you get in a groove, your relationship will grow like any other.” The sooner you can figure out how often you want to see each other, the easier time you will have settling into the relationship.
3. YOU MIGHT BE TEMPTED TO MOVE TOO QUICKLY.
Unlike dating someone you just met, you already know this person extremely well. It’s a huge plus because you know how to have fun together, but it can also make it feel like your romantic relationship is farther along than it really is. Don’t risk getting too serious too quickly. “Just like every relationship, you need to go through the phases,” Spira explains. “To go from being BFFs to moving in overnight isn’t a good idea.” Remember that even though you have history together, this dating partnership is new for both of you. The more careful you can be about taking your time, the less likely you are to get too deep into something you can’t sustain.
4. YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WILL BE CURIOUS.
The people in your life know you two as friends, so they’ll need time to adjust to you being a couple. You might not need to introduce your SO to your friends and family (if they already know him or her), but you will need to introduce them as your partner. Be intentional about this. “Let’s not forget about your extended group of friends who will now be seeing you as a couple instead of two close friends,” Spira notes. She says that telling your squad might be scary, but it’s important to do it whenever you feel comfortable.
You can tell them together or separately, whatever feels more natural — but try to emphasize how excited you are for this next step. It doesn’t mean you’ll lose your friendships with them, just that things will be a little different from now on. Your friends should be excited to see you happy, and it’ll help you feel like a more established couple if you get your love out into the open when you’re ready.
5. YOUR COMMUNICATION TACTICS MAY NEED TO SHIFT.
Don’t expect that you’ll be able to communicate the same way you have in the past. Even if you’re accustomed to talking about vulnerable things, the subjects you discuss will change a bit. “The more you can communicate about your needs and desires, the easier it is for your partner to be their best and vice-versa,” Spira says. With BFFs, you don’t need to have conversations about defining the relationship, physical boundaries, or sexual preferences. As partners, these will all become important topics to discuss. Don’t shy away from the tough stuff because you’re nervous about how the conversation will go — instead, consider open communication essential to deepening your bond.
6. STAYING OPEN TO CHANGE IS YOUR KEY TO SUCCESS.
As much as you loved your friendship, you’re starting a new chapter now. And this is going to bring about change — there’s no doubt about it. But if you go in knowing this, you’ll be open to rolling with the transitions as they come. “Don’t take each other for granted,” Spira emphasizes. You’ve been in each other’s lives for a long time, but don’t let that make you complacent! “Allow the relationship to grow in a natural way, and decide together if you’re working towards a future together,” Spira suggests. Just like any other relationship, you’ll grow together in stages, so embrace the process and keep an open mind.
When it’s pursued with intention, dating your best friend can be pure magic. “Having a romantic partner who is your best friend is like winning the love lottery,” Spira says. “Enjoy and savor every moment.” It’s so exciting to take your relationship to the next level, even if it’s not always easy. Remember why you got along so well in the first place, and use that as a foundation to help your romantic life blossom into something even greater.
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