Think back to how you met your last boyfriend — your friends set you up, you hit it off at a party, or maybe he sat next to you in your lecture class. But maybe your real dream guy has been right under your nose all along. Your male best friend is someone you feel comfortable around, someone who knows the real you. But is the transition from just friends to “in a relationship,” worth the risk? What if you have a messy break-up and then lose your best friend? Or maybe you’re too comfortable for romance.
The transition from best friends to boyfriend and girlfriend worked on shows like Friends and How I Met Your Mother, but real life is a bit trickier than a sitcom. We talked to David Coleman, author of Date Smart, Making Relationships Matter!and 101 Great Dates, and some collegiettes who have dealt with this issue firsthand.
Is There Really a Spark?
It’s easy to mistake being compatible with someone platonically for being compatible with that person romantically, especially when they’re your cute guy friend. After all, a lot of the traits you look for in a best friend are the same as those you look for in a significant other. How do you know if you actually have romantic feelings for your closest guy friend, or if you just enjoy his company? In other words: do you like him, or do you like like him?
Coleman suggests asking yourself the following three questions to try and figure out if there is indeed a spark: Am I physically attracted to him? Would I be jealous if he dated someone else? Do I want to date someone else?
“If the answers are yes, yes, no, then you have feelings for them,” says Coleman. “You aren’t physically attracted to your friends. Your friends can’t make you jealous. There’s an ulterior motive there.”
Erin* a sophomore at Boston University, developed what she thought were intense romantic feelings for her best male friend, but eventually realized she just liked his friendship. “I wanted to like him more than I actually liked him,” says Erin. “It would have been perfect because we’re so compatible, but when I tried to imagine us actually being a couple — kissing, holding hands, going on dates — I couldn’t see it.” It’s easy to want your cute guy friend who makes you laugh harder than anyone to turn into your boyfriend, but remember: a cute guy does not a boyfriend make. Don’t trick yourself into thinking there’s something more than just platonic compatibility.
One of Coleman’s main techniques for finding out if your feelings are more than friendly is seeing if you get jealous when your best friend dates another girl. This is exactly how Claire, a senior at Parsons, realized she had feelings for her current boyfriend.
“I had known him forever and had been really close with him since middle school,” says Claire. “It wasn’t until our senior year homecoming that I realized I had stronger feelings for him and it was only because I saw him dancing with someone else. It was like, ‘Okay. Friends aren’t supposed to feel that way.’ And I had to rethink how I saw him.”