The Experts Share Their Top Tips for Taking Your Relationship From Friends to More

Many of us will search for the “one” or the one we are meant to share our lives with. Some people might find that all those years spent looking for a partner can lead to the realization that the one was there all along. Although it doesn’t happen every time, or usually, it’s possible for two friends to fall in and out of love. Nikki Goldstein (Ph.D.), relationship expert and author, says that relationships aren’t linear and can change. Just because two friends were platonic at one time doesn’t mean they will become more in love. “We all change, and we all change how we view people and what we want.” Timing is also important.

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Dr. Nikki advises that it is important to be open-minded and not to limit the possibilities and relationships you have. It may surprise you to discover that someone you thought of as only a friend could be a great romantic match. If you haven’t, you need to take a moment and really think about what you want in a romantic relationship. Do these qualities exist in your friend? You can’t expect to make someone your friend once you begin dating. You can’t change little things, like how he or her dresses, but they won’t be a major part of your personality. Make sure you love the way they handle situations and treat you well in all circumstances. If it hasn’t happened naturally, then you will need to change the way you view them. Dr. Nikki says, “Maybe you have friends you want to take things to the next level with but have never seen them as more than a friend.” For a time, perhaps even for a day, you can go about your daily activities with them, but only for experiment purposes, consider them a romantic partner. Pay attention to how it feels for your body. Is it natural and easy?

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You should also get to know what your partner is looking for in romance. If this is something you have not discussed, it’s a good idea to ask your partner about the “must haves” of a relationship. What have they learned about themselves from their past relationships that could help them in a future relationship? Do they want to find love in this stage of their lives? asks relationship coach Matt Morgan. It’s important to show genuine curiosity when you’re exploring their romantic terrain. Instead of being a pushy, ask open-ended questions.

Next comes the difficult part: telling your friend what you feel. Michele Moore, a licensed professional counselor and certified coach and relationship expert at Marriage Mojo says this requires honesty, humility and possibly some nerve-wracking moments while you consider whether your “friend” might share the same desire. She suggests meeting up at a coffee shop, in a park or anywhere else you can have a long, uninterrupted conversation. Start by saying something like “I value our friendship and don’t want to make it uncomfortable, but I also want you to be open and tell me that I have feelings for you, that go beyond that.” “I’m curious if you feel like this or are happy with the current situation,” she said. Give them time to think about what you have said. If they need to wait to respond, they can take as much time as they want. Morgan warns that even if your friend feels the same spark as you and takes only a second to feel the same for you, it could feel like you dropped the bomb on them. No matter where your friend is on the spectrum, allow them to feel for themselves. He encourages them to take the time that they need. “Don’t expect a quick answer. Ask them to think about it, and maybe even discuss it later.

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Morgan recommends asking your friend out on a date if they have not yet rejected you. Morgan suggests that you choose a date that feels like a good friend and yet is romantic. You can switch things up by hugging, holding hands, and kissing her before the date ends. He warns you that if you don’t do this, it could send mixed signals about your intentions to date. However, nothing has changed. Take note of how you feel after you kiss. Do you feel chemistry? Magic? Or, nothing at all?

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If you and your partner agree that you want to take your relationship to the next level of intimacy, great! But don’t rush to do it. Moore advises that while it might be tempting to jump at the chance, some couples find that going from friendship to being more intimate with each other is awkward and uncomfortable. It is better to start slowly, and then work your way up to a romantic marriage.

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