Dating a Friend: A Cautionary Tale

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There comes a time in your college career when you will become jaded. You’ve done the random hookups, the dance floor makeouts and maybe even the one night stands. But you’ll probably reach a point when you get tired of that. The walk of shame, piecing together who you kissed the night before, etc –  it might all become too much for you. So what will you do? You’ll look to your friends.

Many college students believe that dating a friend is going the safe route. You think that out of all the guys or girls who could potentially hurt you, your friend is the least likely to. It’s a security blanket – the security of not being disappointed by the opposite sex yet again.

And sometimes you’re right. Sometimes you’ll find that guy or girl in your friend group who has been crushing on you all along and the both of you will start a very healthy, long relationship. If you’re that person, I’m happy for you. But speaking from experience, that usually isn’t the case.

Dating a friend can be a treacherous path and once that line is crossed you can never uncross it. I’m not talking about a random drunken hookup with your friend. That happens and you can laugh about it the next day and be done with it. I’m talking about actually dating a friend, complete with nice dinners, cuddling on the couch and bringing him or her to your bedroom. Once you’ve done those things you establish feelings for that person they don’t just go away, even if the relationship isn’t strong enough to make it.

I’ll admit that I’m kind of a serial friend dater, so I know how this deal goes. At first dating a friend is great because you don’t have to change anything about yourself. The both of you are in the same group of friends and your friends will most likely be overjoyed that you’ve tied the college knot by deciding to be in a relationship. There’s that level of new-ness where you’re comfortable because you know the person, but now you’re relationship is treading on more exciting ground. Basically, the beginning is where you want to be.

It’s the middle and the end that you need to worry about. No doubt about it, the two of you will fight. That’s normal and expected in any relationship. But when he doesn’t call when he’s supposed to or she ‘s hanging out with her guy friends too much there’s inevitably going to be tension and the friend group is going to take sides.

This only intensifies if the two of you break up. When my college sweetheart and I called it quits I literally lost half my friends. And I’m not the only one. Our breakup wasn’t even particularly nasty, but his friends never spoke to my friends again either. Let’s just say our Friday nights weren’t looking so good.

But in reality, the friends are not what you need to worry about. You need to worry about you. We were all able to attach to a new friend group and our social lives were saved, but things were never the same with the guy I dated. Our relationship fundamentally changed. Like any relationship, there was always lingering feelings or thoughts of what could have been.

 To sum everything up, I’m not saying don’t ever date someone in your friend group. Some of the best relationships I know started in the friend zone. And your boyfriend or girlfriend should be someone you would be comfortable being friends with. However, make sure that you’re OK with that fact that once you decide to change that relationship to something more serious, it’s rare that you can ever go back to being just friends. If there are doubts in the beginning, pay attention to them and really weigh what you’ll be giving up and what you’ll be gaining.   

Senior > English and Communications > Boston College

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