Riding the line between platonic and romantic
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
For many people, being caught in the purgatory between a friendship and a romantic relationship is its own unique brand of hell. Despite our feelings, we force ourselves to remain silent, fearing the rejection that could also mean the loss of the friendship itself, and therefore all access to the person that we care so deeply for. So we carry on, remaining in that odd, in-between space that no one really wants to be in, but everyone has felt.
As someone who has been both the confessor and the confessed to, I can tell you that it’s important that you don’t get stuck in that mindset. Yes, it can be daunting, especially if you’re an introvert, or someone who doesn’t form close emotional bonds lightly—but remaining in that constant state of paranoia about whether or not they’ll find out, or whether or not they might fall away from your life because of your feelings, just makes everything worse.
In my experience I have dated three people that were formerly close friends: One who I am currently dating—and have been for almost three years—and two others that I, unfortunately, no longer speak to. Yes, the loss of the friendship is a very real consequence that you need to come to terms with before you take any steps towards turning your platonic relationship into a romantic one. The first step is to determine if you value that person more as a friend than a romantic interest. Determining this is easier said than done, because many people will lie to themselves, saying they’re content just being near the object of their affections—and don’t get it twisted, this is a lie. Think about when they start dating someone else; would you be able to act as a friend would, or would your jealousy get the better of you? If you believe it would, then it might be time to come clean about your feelings, because even if they reject you, and you’re forced to give up the friendship, at least you’re saving yourself some heartache down the road.
The next thing you need to accept is the possibility that their attitude towards you, or the relationship itself, might change. When you first make that big leap towards exiting the in-between, emotions run high, and for some people they’ll feel unstable in the new relationship, and potentially lash out in strange ways. This can result in anything from them being overly-affectionate in an effort to reinforce your new romantic involvement, to them becoming overly-critical of your actions, especially towards others. This is a two-way street, though, and the sudden shift might also cause you to do this to them. The best way to avoid this is communication—ease their fears and your own by talking it out. Yes, it may be a new relationship, but when you decide to start dating a friend, you still have all the emotional baggage of that previous relationship. Whatever pent up emotions you or they have/had will still make themselves known.
Lastly, my only real advice is to be honest to both yourself and them. It may sound cliché, but you need to see yourself as worthy. Putting a friend you have romantic feelings for on a pedestal and fearing their rejection or judgment is emotionally draining and hard on you mentally. Dragging that out by continuing to remain quiet about your feelings is nothing more than self-inflicted torture. In the end, do I miss the friends I’ve lost? Yes. But would I sacrifice those friendships again for my own well-being? Absolutely. That may sound selfish, but in the end you need to prioritize your own happiness, because until you do find that special person, no one else will.