Relationships are complicated enough, but when we date a long-time friend, those complications can be even more difficult to navigate.
These relationships can be some of the most formative, emotional and meaningful ones in our lives, but they can also be one of the most delicate.
The friend-to-relationship learning curve can be an important one, but no matter how things end, the experience can provide an enlightening perspective on how we strike up a balance between being lovers and friends.
Here are just a few lessons we learn in the process of falling into and even out of love with a friend.
#1. Absence of romantic love doesn’t mean that platonic love should go away.
Any couple who started out as friends knows the value of the depth, enjoyment and sentimentality of a friendly relationship with a S.O.
It’s easy to get swept up in the romance and leave real bonding experiences behind. While loving gestures certainly have their place in a relationship, time spent playing can be just as important.
Embrace the closeness you feel towards your S.O. in more ways than one by finding common interests, activities, or friends.
It’s healthy to share experiences beyond those which are intense and physical. Putting friendliness on the wayside for the sake of romance is a mistake that can damage any couple, but is especially true in a situation where you’re used to a lot of meaningful interaction.
#2. Knowing your S.O.’s “down-time” personality is important.
The beautiful thing about romantic love that develops from friendship is that it means you know who that person is when they aren’t at their best. You’ve seen each other at your worst, and probably have insights into their vulnerabilities.
This also means that you likely have a better window into what this person’s life is like when they’re relaxing, wasting time, or feeling down.
This may seem like sweating the small stuff, but mundane moments make up large parts of our day, and it’s important to know that the two of you can still enjoy each other’s company.
Appreciating little moments and working through bad days is something that you’ve probably already done as friends, and holding onto that can be important to assure your S.O. that you will continue to care about them in this way.
#3. A long history can either make or break a relationship.
By the time my friend and I decided to start dating, we knew everything about each other…and I mean everything.
Embarrassing childhood stories, lost loves and bizarre compulsive habits were just the tip of the iceberg, because as friends, we had laid all of our cards out on the table.
So what does that mean for a romantic couple?
This can be one of the best or worst qualities of a relationship, and it depends entirely upon how a person chooses to handle the information they have.
If this history becomes a way to better help and understand your S.O., it can make the relationship stronger.
But if you and your S.O. use this information to tease, blackmail, or emotionally manipulate one another, things can get ugly fast.
How personal information is respected and understood is always important in a relationship, and when you’re dating a friend, it’s more important to be aware that an extensive past can be what either strengthens or destroys the relationship.
#4. Relationships evolve – and that’s okay.
The longer we know a person, the more unlikely it may seem that they’ll come to change right before our eyes, but this isn’t the case. People grow, change, and develop new needs.
Sometimes, these evolutions work in tandem with another person’s, but often this changing foundation can cause relationships to erode right under our feet.
It can be hard to watch these changes happen but just as necessary to realize that this is all important to the process of personal growth.
Whether a relationship with a friend falls apart or comes together because of these changes, it’s important to acknowledge that these little evolutions may lead us in a better direction.
Whether falling into or out of love with a close friend, it’s important to remember why they played such an important role in your life, and just as important not to take that role for granted.
What matters most is that the process of changing a relationship with someone you’ve known for so long shouldn’t change the level of respect and concern you have for their well-being.
This person has been here for the long haul, so be sure to show them that this and they matter.
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