I’m proof that yes, it’s possible to get out of the friend-zone. My husband and I started out as friends — best friends who had to spend years convincing other people that we were only friends. But then, well, after that friendship blossomed (and when both of us were out of relationships), there was a weird switch that happened in our brains. What if we tried to take things to the next level? Here’s what happened during that very tough, very nerve-wracking transition from friendship into something more — and why it’s worth a shot:
Initially, we kept it a secret from our friend group.
Since we were best friends, we obviously came from a very common friend group. I’m talking about people we’ve known for years, who helped us battle the rumors of a romantic connection whenever someone out of the loop questioned it. There’s a fear of dating someone you already have an amazing connection with because if that relationship doesn’t easily transfer into romance, it can negatively affect the group. He and I wanted to make sure this was real before we made it “a thing” that involved others.
We had to navigate the difference between hangouts and dates.
The activity was the same, but the rules had changed. Of course, I always paid my own way for movies prior, but now? I had no clue what to expect. Both of us kept it pretty casual in the beginning, solely because it was a little strange. It’s not that we didn’t want to view each other romantically — we’d just avoided that progression for years prior.
We thanked the heavens that the tough parts were already behind us.
We knew everything about each other based on the friendship. While there were no cute “getting to know you” activities, it was actually kind of a relief to skip over that step entirely. It was already proven that we were compatible and liked each other’s company. Really, there were no secrets.
Both of us needed to tell our parents that yes, this was actually happening.
You know parents. Right at the beginning stages of dating, I had to deal with my dad asking me why nothing romantic ever happened between me and my guy BFF. He’d met him a few times, saw chemistry, and didn’t understand why we didn’t take a shot at love sooner. I obviously spilled the beans and he was overjoyed. It’s amazing how parents can sense things before you can sometimes.
Pretty soon, we moved in together.
And it was no big deal since we were roommates before and knew that we could live together harmoniously. (Also, my lease was up.) When you have that level of comfort with someone, the big scary milestone steps don’t seem all that terrifying. In fact, I couldn’t wait to live with him again. Heck, we already spent all of our free time together, so it just made sense.
I had to eat crow.
After denying that you’re together for so long, it’s kind of tough to suddenly say, “Actually, now we are!” People might judge, or even wonder if it’s “settling” to date someone who you’ve denied dating multiple times in the past. In fact, I’m pretty sure people assumed we were hooking up the entire time. But regardless of what they assumed, we definitely played everything by the book. If you’re in this boat, just prepare for people to raise a few eyebrows.
We continued to grow together.
The best thing about dating (and eventually marrying) your best friend is that the two of you will grow together. For me, I had already shared all of my dreams for the future with him. He knew that we shared the same values, so we avoided the scary, possibly-dealbreaking “talks” about the big stuff that usually happen later on in a relationship. We already knew our futures aligned based on casual conversation.
A proposal happened sooner than I expected.
Personally, I never dreamed of my wedding day, nor had a set “timeline” I wanted to follow. The proposal happened a few years after dating and it took me by surprise. The best thing? I had no doubt that he was “The One.” In fact, this guy had seen me through my best and worst and stuck with me the whole way, and vice versa. His worst habits were totally things I could live with.
Our wedding was more about celebrating with the people we loved instead of the actual wedding.
When you marry your best friend, you put less effort into the tiny details. The type of napkin fold you choose is meaningless next to the big picture. He and I had co-hosted plenty of parties before our big day, so we knew how to properly celebrate such a huge event with family and friends. I was focused entirely on the marriage aspect, and nothing else — and I think that’s the healthiest thing to do.
I realized that relationships didn’t have to be so difficult.
When you date your best friend, things are just… easy. Sure, you still have your fights and disagreements, but your interactions become so natural that it’s more of a fun process than anything else. You’ve already skipped way ahead of the part where you try to impress the other person, and you already know that he enjoys your company. There aren’t any games to be played.
But, in order for the relationship to truly thrive, I had to be ready.
You can’t casually date your best friend — it’s impossible. When you take that step, you need to be in it for the long run. Yes, you gamble the friendship you’ve held dear all of these years, but it’s a risk that’s definitely worth taking. When you start seeing him as your long term partner instead of your buddy, incredible attraction grows.
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