Is Dating Your Best Friend A Good Idea?

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated February 25, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Throughout your life, you may meet many people with unique personalities. Over time, people can go from strangers to acquaintances, from acquaintances to friends, and, in some cases, friends to best friends. A “best friend” can be associated with different ideas for each person. However, often, this relationship is close, caring, and beneficial.  

Given this level of closeness, many people develop romantic feelings for a best friend. However, romantically or sexually caring for someone you have previously had a platonic relationship with can be challenging, and you may wonder if dating your best friend is a healthy choice or if you should move on.

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Weigh pros and cons of taking your friendship to the next level

Questions to ask while weighing your decisions 

The decision to date your best friend is yours. However, while weighing your decisions, you might ask yourself the following questions to consider how your dynamic might evolve. 

Do you have common goals for your relationship? 

If you’ve known your best friend for a while, you might know more about them than others. You may have discussed your career or educational goals, hopes for a future family, mental health challenges, political orientations, and other personal topics.

After discussing these topics, you may better understand what your best friend is looking for in life than the information you might know about someone you just met. While knowing your friend might be helpful, consider whether your goals, values, and hopes align with their vision for the future. Managing different life goals may be possible. However, if your relationship turns romantic, it could require more communication and compromise. 

Are you prepared for your friendship to change?

Progressing from friendship to romance may change the nature of your relationship. You may establish new ground rules for communication and physical intimacy, and it could initially feel strange to start seeing your friend in a new light. While you might already know your friend on a profound level, a romantic relationship often involves getting to know someone in new and exciting ways.

As you “repeat” the process of getting to know your best friend in a romantic light, certain aspects of your prior friendship may shift or disappear over time. Often, dating someone comes with vulnerability and openness, which may make your connection less casual than before. However, if you’re dating your best friend, you may initiate this deeper relationship knowing that your friend already likes and accepts you as a person.

Are you trying to date them out of convenience? 

It may feel like your best friend is always around, ready to take a spontaneous trip, dive into a deep talk, or hang out at a moment’s notice. The convenience factor might be a driving force for some people to pursue a romance. However, ask yourself whether these feelings are based on love, attraction, convenience, or a desire not to be alone.  

In the moment, it may feel easy and natural to spend your free time with your best friend. However, misaligned values, goals, or interests could become inconvenient in the future. Healthy relationships may feel “easy,” but they’re not always convenient. Even if you begin as best friends, starting a serious relationship with another person can require work. If your best friend has feelings for you and you don’t feel the same, starting a relationship out of convenience or primarily physical attraction might cause conflict in your friendship and your relationship. 

Are you ready to talk about your expectations?

You may have certain expectations of your best friend that help the relationship run smoothly. Maybe you commit to a weekly “coffee chat,” check in over the phone every Sunday, or show up for each other when you’re sick. 

Some of these expectations may be more casual or unspoken in a friendship. In a romantic relationship, you may find value in stating your expectations more intentionally and addressing other topics like family issues, mental health challenges, and physical intimacy. 

In many relationships, establishing realistic and healthy expectations can be crucial. As you contemplate romance with your best friend, ask yourself if you are prepared to discuss the expectations for this relationship and potentially invest more time and energy into a romantic connection. A healthy, trusting relationship takes at least two people, with expectations that are fair and agreed upon by both parties. 

Are you prepared for less desirable outcomes? 

You may be excited to change your relationship with your best friend, expecting your romantic relationship to be the same as your friendship. You could create an ideal story in your head about how it will go and how long you will be together. Although these best-case scenarios might occur, it can also be beneficial to consider what you don’t want to happen. 

Your best friend may not be interested in pursuing a romantic relationship, or you may try to date only to find that you’re incompatible. These and other outcomes are possible. However, try not to let them deter you from being open and vulnerable. 

Go slow, carefully consider your feelings, and express them to your friend while allowing them to set boundaries. If your friend rejects you, accept their answer. Continuing to talk about your feelings for someone when they’re not interested may constitute harassment and disrespect of boundaries. Some people experience rejection sensitivity in relationships, which can be painful and confusing. If you’re experiencing this symptom, consider contacting a licensed therapist for guidance.

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Potential benefits of dating your best friend 

Expressing romantic interest in your best friend may feel nerve-wracking. However, if feelings are mutual, the benefits of dating your best friend may include the following. 

An established connection

As you and this individual are already best friends, you may know each other on a profound level already. You may deeply understand each other’s needs, sense of humor, and life goals. You could also discuss specific interests and hobbies that deepen your relationship. As you start your romantic relationship, you might notice that these bits of knowledge help you show love to your friend in new ways. 

A feeling of comfort

The first few dates with someone can be exciting, but the process of dating can also be nerve-wracking, overwhelming, and scary. If you date your best friend, you might skip past awkwardness while dating, as you may already know and trust your friend. However, if you’re nervous about dating your friend, this benefit might not apply to you. 

Common values, beliefs, and goals

Often, people choose friends that common beliefs, values, and aspirations with their own. In addition, a best friend may challenge your assumptions and gently encourage you to consider alternate perspectives. In this partnership, you may learn and grow with your romantic partner. Additionally, as a best friend, you might have already done some growing together. 

A common social network

Your best friend may already know your friends, acquaintances, and loved ones. There may be no need to introduce them to your parents, as they might already have spent time with you at home. A common social network can be beneficial if your family and friends are supportive of your new romantic relationship.

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Weigh pros and cons of taking your friendship to the next level

How to receive support in making a decision 

If you’re on the fence about beginning a romance with your BFF, a licensed therapist may help you consider these risks, benefits, and questions to help you make the healthiest decision for you. Some people prefer in-person therapy to work through these concerns. Still, a growing number of people are using online therapy to invest in their mental health while balancing work, family, and other obligations.

Digital platforms like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples can make it easy to connect with a licensed therapist. Within 48 hours of finishing a brief questionnaire, you can be matched with a licensed mental health professional based on your mental health history and future goals. 

Based on current research, online therapy can be as effective as face-to-face therapy for various mental health concerns. One 2021 study found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, couples therapists experienced a positive shift from traditional to online therapy, based on survey responses from 58 therapists. Most therapists were able to treat couples as effectively over teletherapy as in-person therapy. Additionally, many therapists found that online therapy was more comfortable and convenient for couples, as they could seek mental health care from the comfort of their homes.

Takeaway

Many people care about their best friends. However, when your affection turns romantic, it can be challenging to make a decision on the future of your relationship. With reflection and mutual interest, there may be potential for a new connection.  

If you’re wondering how to date your best friend, the decision is up to you. However, a therapist can guide you through these questions, validate your emotions, and help you make a healthy choice. Ask yourself the above questions, take your time, and consider contemplating the risks and benefits of this decision before taking the next step.

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