From BFF to Bae – Turning the Friend Zone into a Touchdown

The reason I asked you here is – I have something to say to you. I didn’t realize it until last night, but the truth is, I realize that I don’t just ‘like‘ you. I actually ‘like-you, like-you‘.

Arnold’s confession to Lila in the park on Hey Arnold, echoed through my mind as I came to the realization that I didn’t just ‘like‘ my childhood best friend – I actually ‘liked-him, liked-him‘.

If you’ve found yourself in a similarly awkward situation, don’t fret. Here’s a roadmap for navigating the path from best friend to boyfriend.

-Assess the Situation-

Before making any decisions, you’ll need to pin-point exactly when you started having feelings for your bff.

Did he do something special that tugged at your heart-strings? Did he support you when you were going through a tough time? Did your feelings simply blossom over the years?

Understanding what it was that made you fall, will help you figure out how to move forward.

In my case, I realized that romantic feelings for my bff came to fruition after sophomore year of college. Before then, I’d always known that he was perfect boyfriend material, I just didn’t see him in ‘that way‘. But when he came home from college that year, he was taller, slimmer, and a lot cuter than before. I eventually became attracted to him, and not just his personality. So, what’s a girl to do now?

-Develop a Plan of Action-

Once you know what has triggered your temporary insanity, it’s time to develop a plan. As with all plans, there’s offense and defense.

If you or your best friend are already in relationships with other people, then you should be playing defense. Your job here is to wait for an opening. Don’t ruin your friend’s relationship, or yours, by revealing your feelings right away. Let your other relationships take their natural course. If you think that you may be losing interest in your current flame, take time to re-evaluate your situation – it may be time for you to move on from them.

Meanwhile, continue to support your friend without being disrespectful to them or their partner, and without over-stepping your boundaries. Karma is real, and you don’t want to start off a new relationship with one of the most important people in your life, plagued by bad juju.

If you’ve only recently discovered your romantic feelings, then you should also be playing defense. Don’t rush to spill the beans if it’s too soon. This is an important decision, and it could potentially go great, or not-so-great. So, make sure that your feelings are real, and not just fleeting. This may mean waiting days, weeks, even months if necessary, until you’re sure. It took me a year of failed dates and denial until I could definitively admit to myself that I had real feelings for my best friend, and that I wanted to explore them.

When your mind is made up and each of you are emotionally available, it’s time to switch to offense.

-Implement the Offensive Plan-

The plan for offense is simple – figure out what to say, and when to say it.

This is a delicate situation; it’ll be stressful, you’ll be anxious, and there will be pressure. To alleviate some of the tension, express yourself in the simplest way possible, and in a comfortable environment.

Remember that above all, this is your friend, and you’ll want to maintain your friendship regardless of what happens. Planning a grand gesture that could potentially backfire, may damage the chances of your friendship returning to where it was before. So be cool, be confident, wait until you have their full attention, and let them know how you feel.

Here’s how I approached this situation: Senior year of college during fall break, I met up with my bff for dinner – nothing out of the ordinary. We talked and had a great time, and on the way home, I told him that I ‘liked-him, liked-him‘. Nervously, I awaited his response.

-Take a Deep Breath, Then Exhale-

Once you’ve revealed your deepest, darkest secret – relax. Regardless of what happens, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t pressure him for an answer right away. This is news to him, and he may need time to process it.

If he doesn’t feel the same way you do, at least you got it off your chest. You took a risk and put yourself out there. You’ll feel like a weight was lifted, and things will still work out the way that they’re meant to.

If he does feel the same way, then prepare for some changes.

-Embrace the Change-

After the initial shock of my reveal, my best friend admitted that he liked me too, and we decided to give dating a shot.

Despite being good friends, it was a big adjustment. You learn a new side of someone when you start dating them, regardless of how well you knew them before.

Like any other couple, you’ll argue and disagree. The good thing is, you’ll have a solid friendship to fall back on as you overcome these common challenges.

If you weren’t previously affectionate, you’ll have to gradually let your relationship become more intimate. It may take some time, but remember that you two have natural chemistry from being friends. Let your romantic relationship evolve organically; don’t force anything, just go with the flow.

Things will change, but sometimes, change is good.

Six years ago, I took a risk with dating my best friend, and things changed. Six years later, we’re happily married and having a blast together.

Don’t be afraid to take a chance on love. If you’re willing to take a risk, you may find a touchdown waiting for you beyond the friend zone.

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