Sunday, March 23, 2008

Turning Friendships into Relationships

My best relationships have all started from friendships. Somehow, these were always the sweetest, most intense of all.

And yet, what's worse than having a crush on a friend? It's torture. Every time they lean over to talk, you imagine kissing them. Every time they touch your arm, you shiver. Every time you go out to dinner you think "Could this be a date? Could I make it a date? Could I give them a hint without giving away that I'm so obsessed I sat up all night listening to 'I Can't Make You Love Me' and crying?"

When you have a crush on a friend, you want to know right now, this second, exactly what your status is. You just get so impatient. You want to declare your interest and force the relationship into a box, any box. (Choose one: 1. We will start dating. 2. We will not start dating. 3. We will not start dating and I have now forever wrecked the friendship.) Somehow you believe that if only you knew what your status was it would all be ok. But that's not true.

Case Study #1:

I had a crush on Jason from moment one. First sight. One of those really intense crushes that leave you nervous, stammering, and trying to figure out how it is you were an interesting person not just 15 minutes ago before he entered the room while now you are the stupidest clod on the face of the earth. But six months later, after we'd become friends, it was better. I was confident enough to not be nervous around him. In fact, when he finally made a move it was because I had stopped acting like a skittish school girl. The relationship lasted two years -- about 23 and a half months longer than it would have if I'd still been in Anxious Crush Mode.

Moral: Sometimes waiting is exactly what you need to make a relationship work.

Case Study #2:

I didn't notice TJ the first night we met. My friend Stephanie referred to him afterwards as The Boring Boy and I didn't know who she was talking about. Boring and forgettable -- not a good combination. We hung out in the same crowd for about two years, over which time I discovered he was neither. In fact, he was capable of making me laugh more than anyone I'd ever known. By the time we started dating we were already best friends; it was the most secure I'd ever felt.

Moral: Sometimes waiting is exactly what you need to make a relationship work.

Case Study #3:

I re-met Michael at a New Year's Eve party. We'd gone to high school together and had lost touch. When we went on a date, I decided I wasn't interested and kept him at a distance -- I didn't want to be the evil chick who hooked up with him once and dumped him instantly. But he grew on me. We finally kissed (the day he took me sledding with his niece and nephew -- how cute is that?) and then he turned the tables on me. He refused to sleep with me for months (months!) until I wanted him so much the relationship finally became balanced. We're still together.

Moral: Sometimes waiting is exactly what you need to make a relationship work.

Of Course It's No Guarantee

I must issue an important disclaimer at this point. There's a big difference between falling for a friend and "settling for friendship." If you ask out someone you've just met and they give you that "I just want to be friends line" then your best bet is usually going to be to walk away. If you go in swinging, there's no reason to settle for anything less -- it's murder on your esteem and usually doesn't work anyway. But if you're already friends, and you feel yourself growing into something more, then take it slowly.

Of course, waiting doesn't guarantee you'll turn that friend into a lover. You could wait forever and they may never realize what a jewel you are. But the alternative -- rushing it, pushing for resolution, demanding they love you, dammit -- is the surest way to knock the entire friendship off course. Flirt if you want; even declare your interest. But then back off. Relax.

Your best shot at turning a friendship into something more is always going to be patience.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Becky...just what I was looking for. Short, sweet, funny. Great job!