Everything To Consider Before Attempting To Date Within Your Friend Group

Relationship expert Dr. Darcy Sterling, a therapist and the former dating and relationship trends expert at Tinder, probably said it best when she told Brides, "Transitioning from a best friendship to a romantic relationship is a minefield." Yeah. It sure is. But it happens more than you might think. A 2021 study actually found that as many as 66% of people have been platonic friends with someone before embarking on a romance with them, proving going from friends to much more is actually pretty common.


But just because it happens fairly often, that doesn't mean it's easy. Particularly if the person you have a crush on is a part of your bigger friend group, meaning your potential romance could be about to change things in a major way for more than just the two of you. There's so much to lose, yet so much to gain, which can make it nearly impossible to know the best way to go about trying to turn a platonic friendship into something more. 

So, what's the best way of going about embarking on a romance inside your friend group? Well, there are a few things to consider before you dive in for love.

Make sure you genuinely like each other before making a move

This may sound like an obvious one, but it's actually one of the most important. Unlike approaching a stranger in a bar and trying your luck asking them out, you've got a lot to lose here when expressing your interest. If your feelings aren't reciprocated, you could risk making things pretty awkward not just for you and the person you're interested in, but potentially for your whole friend group. After all, this is unlikely to be someone you're never going to see again if they reject your advances. Speaking to TZR, Dr. Sue Varma, a board-certified psychiatrist and couples and sex therapist, shared a few signs you should look out for that may potentially suggest they want to be more than friends with you. Among them? Making an effort to spend time alone with you, seeming flirty with you, encouraging a lot of physical contact, and them wanting to meet your family. Equally, one of the big benefits of having mutual friends is that you could also ask them to subtly do a little sleuthing to find out their feelings for you, too.


But not only should you be at least somewhat sure they like you, probably even more importantly, you also need to be 100% sure you like them. If it's something you're not totally certain about, there's the potential to cause a lot of disruption to your friendship group — and a whole lot of heartache.

Be honest about what would happen if you broke up

Though no one should be going into a relationship thinking there's a chance you could break up, it's important when you embark on a romance with a friend that you take it into consideration. Though it may sound pessimistic, you both need to decide if you could genuinely still stay friends if things don't work out. It's really important to be honest with yourselves here, because if your friendship is more important than what could potentially blossom from a romance, then starting dating is a no-go.


This is also a conversation you may want to have with your friends. Would you expect them to take sides if things turned sour? Would you be okay with them still spending time with both of you if you couldn't be in the same room anymore? As author and relationship expert Alexis Nicole White told Elite Daily, it's only natural for people to choose sides in a breakup, so you probably need to expect it to happen either way — which could have a detrimental effect on your group.

However, if you really, really like this person and are convinced you'd be a great match, you owe it to yourself to go for it and not let the fear of a split stop you. "If you're both truly interested, there's more to lose if you don't try than if you do," Dr. Theresa DiDonato, associate professor of Psychology at Loyola University, told Cosmopolitan.


Are you really comfortable starting out beyond the first date?

For a lot of people, the start of a romance is so exciting because you're so intrigued about the person and enjoying getting to know all about them, but that's not really the case if you're embarking on a relationship with someone you've known platonically for a while. Of course, how much you already know will depend on how long you've been friends and how close you are, but you need to think about if you're okay with starting out on what could potentially feel like the 10th (or beyond!) date. As Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, told Bustle, you should be prepared to not get those tingly butterflies like you might have done on first dates before, because that newness and intrigue just isn't there.


Knowing someone for a long time usually also means you know all about their past dating history, which may or may not sit well with you both. While lying is never acceptable in a relationship, couples who didn't know each other before getting romantic can soften the blow a little when it comes to divulging things about their past relationships. But there's little chance of that happening when you were actually there to witness it all. Work out if you're okay knowing about their past — and vice versa — it's better for you to be with someone with whom you can have a clean slate.

Be prepared for some romantic awkwardness as you go from friends to more

Though, of course, you'll be starting out knowing a lot more about your friend than a person you just met on a dating app, there's still the opportunity for things to be awkward when you go from friends to more. Potentially more so than meeting someone for the first time. That's because, although you've known each other for a while, you've (probably) never been intimate before and it may feel a little odd to go from being platonic to suddenly romantic. Be ready for your dynamics to change dramatically and for you both to feel a bit fish out of water.


"People bring different sexual expectations to their relationships, so whether you're expecting magic the first time or you see your sexual relationship as something that can grow and change, that's going to influence how satisfied you are not just sexually but in the relationship," Dr. DiDonato explained to Cosmopolitan. "Two individuals who are willing to work on that factor might have an easier time transitioning into a relationship," they added.

Dr. DiDonato also pointed out that there's little way of getting around the fact that your relationship will change, and things may get harder than they were when you were just friends. "It's not just friends who have a sexual relationship — it's a romantic partnership. We depend on and our romantic partners depend on us way more than we do as friends," they pointed out.


Talk to your friend group about what a romance would mean for them

It's important to remember when you're considering romancing someone in your friend group that it's not just going to be the two of you who will be affected by your relationship. Two friends getting together is sure to change the dynamic for everyone, so you'll want to consider other people's feelings before you dive right in. Of course, you need to make sure you're doing what's best for you both, but if one or more of your friends have serious concerns about you two embarking on a romance, one of the best things you can do as a friend is hear them out and address their hesitations.


If you do end up embarking on a romance, you'll also want to have a discussion about how comfortable your friends feel with you showing it off. If your group is a little more hesitant about you two getting together, as a friend, you'll probably want to be respectful and lay off the PDA around them until they're a little more comfortable. Alexis Nicole White also recommended to Elite Daily that you maybe don't divulge all about the romantic side of things with your mutual friends in the way you might if your friend group was only yours. "I would keep the details of your relationship as private as possible to maintain the integrity of all bonds," she shared.

Think about the consequences of rejection

If you read the signs wrong (hey, we've all been there!) or just want to take the leap regardless of really knowing if they like you back, you need to think about what could happen if it doesn't go your way. If your friend rejects your offer of becoming more than that, you need to decide beforehand if you think you can still comfortably be around this person as a friend. Of course, there will be a period of awkwardness following any kind of romantic rejection, but you need to be honest with yourself about if you think you'd be able to genuinely move past it and remain friends or if you're willing to risk losing your friendship over it.


No matter what, though, if the other person's answer is a no, you need to respect their decision. Regardless of their reasons behind pumping the brakes on your romantic dreams. "Give them as much time and space as they need to respond. And if they have no interest in pursuing romance, be gracious and respectful of their 'no,' and don't hold it against them," integrative sexologist and host of the "Get Sex-Smart Podcast," Dr. Valeria Chuba, told TZR. Some things just aren't meant to be.

Analyze your friendship before considering a relationship

One thing you'll want to think long and hard about before embarking on a possible romance is the kind of friendship you have with this person. "I would consider the quality of your friendship before transitioning to a relationship. Do you feel safe and secure in that friendship, or is it an exciting, emotional ride?" Dr. Theresa DiDonato told Cosmopolitan.


Analyzing your friendship will also give you a better idea of what your friend may be looking for in their romantic life and if you'll be a good fit as a couple. After all, we have friends in our lives for different reasons, and a great friend doesn't always equal a great partner. There are exceptions to every rule, but if this is a friend who you mainly see at the club or night out, they may not be ready for something serious.

Equally, as relationship expert James Thomas told Happiful, taking a step back before taking a step forward will help you see any red flags you might have noticed on a date but may have overlooked in a friend. "When you first start speaking to someone, it can be easier to spot red flags early on. With your friend, it might be harder to see their flaws and you'll let things slip that you normally wouldn't," he shared. "As you've known this person for a while, you won't be filtering them as you would your new first date."


Know you could be eliminating a whole group of people from giving out relationship advice

Having a friendship group, of course, has a number of big benefits — including giving you a whole host of people with different life experiences and views that you can turn to for relationship advice. However, if you start dating someone in your group who's just as close with the other friends as you are, it may no longer be appropriate to confide in them about your romance.


Let's be honest, sometimes it's really helpful to be able to playfully vent about your partner or ask for advice about how to handle something they may have said or done in a safe space. But, if you start dating within your friendship group, your fellow friends will have a much more biased opinion about your romance — and there's even the chance that what you say could be misconstrued and fed back to your partner. If you're someone who really relies on their nearest and dearest for advice in the romance department, consider seriously the fact that you may no longer have that option and if it's still worth forging ahead.

Make sure you're in the best place to get into a relationship

Before potentially causing some upheaval for your whole relationship group, you want to make sure you're actually in a good place to start dating before you actually embark on anything. "People think a relationship will be a cure for personal loneliness, but the cure for loneliness is creating a community around us of friendship and support," counseling directory member and counselor, Rebecca Mitchell, explained to Happiful.


By making sure you're happy with how things are in your life, including being secure socially, you'll not only know that you're ready for a romance, but you'll also be able to better differentiate your feelings for your friends. If you're genuinely happy and secure, you'll know that your apparent romantic feelings for your friend are valid and they're not just a misconstrued emotion because they've been there for you in a time of need. "Coming from a place of being in community and having good friends is a strong, healthy place to start dating," Mitchell added.

This goes for the person you're looking to romance too. Use your knowledge as a friend to work out if they're looking for the same thing you are and if they have the same long-term plans as you. Not only will this help you to see if you're truly compatible, but it will greatly reduce the risk of you hearing a no when you confess your feelings.