You know I always say “marry your friend”. I am a strong believer in marrying someone with whom you share a strong, genuine friendship because I think friendship should be the foundation of a marriage. After all when the butterflies disappear (I hear they do even though they might come back. Lol), you need something more concrete to fall back on and that thing is friendship.
Ok, but from a number of conversations I’ve had, I realize that falling in love with your friend is not always as easy as it sounds for a number of reasons. When it’s a friend you made later in life, it might be relatively “easy” (for the purposes of this discussion) perhaps because you aren’t so familiar – yet. But when it’s a friendship from say high school or even childhood – someone who really knows you “all the way home”, many people stay away from taking such friendships to the next level because they are afraid they won’t be able to get past the high level of familiarity they have developed over the years. But as many of you know, love can sneak up on you when you least expect it. So what do you do when you find yourself falling in love with an old (really old) friend?
Now, bear in mind that this is the person you used to talk to about all your boyfriends/girlfriends. Maybe at times you even tried to match make him/her with someone. You used to call him/her your buddy/homie/padi/”my guy” and now you realize you actually care about this person like that and the feelings are mutual.
I think the biggest fear in this kind of situation is making sure you don’t mess things up because many people feel like if they do, they will lose not just the “romantic” relationship but even scarier, the friendship.
Well, here are some of my thoughts on how to make a smooth shift from really good friends to lovers:
- Be deliberate about romantic gestures because while being friends is a great foundation, you also need to make your “new” relationship special from a romantic stand point. This is so that it doesn’t get boring and you slip back to just being friends cos when that happens, you miss out on the opportunity to really take it to the next level. It is very easy to “not see the need” for romantic gestures, after all, this is your personal person and they should understand that you’re not the romantic type, right? WRONG! (the men are usually guilty of this) Don’t fall into that trap. This is when you need to go the extra mile. It will help the transition along very nicely.
- Make appropriate PDA a must. If this person was your really good friend, for some people, making the switch to lover in terms of PDA could be hard especially for the guys who are not natural “PDAers”. If it doesn’t come naturally to you to, say, hold your girlfriend’s hand, when that girlfriend is your former best friend, it might be even harder so you have to make a very conscious effort.
- Do nice things for each other. This might seem like a no-brainer but truth is when you were just friends, you probably let each other get off easy when the other person didn’t buy a birthday present, for example. But now that they are your lover, you won’t and shouldn’t get off so easily. Again, it’s about being deliberate and going out of your way to make them feel extra special as you tread new waters in your relationship and make that shift from friends to lovers. After all, you care about him/her now more than ever, so make the extra effort. “Nice” could be any little thing that would make him/her smile. Be thoughtful too. Some people understand this really well and others…must learn!
- Don’t take each other for granted. “Familiarity breeds contempt” (or as we say in Nigeria there is a tendency to “see them finish”*) and while we love our friends, sometimes we can take them for granted and might not be as sensitive to their emotions and needs. But once you switch from friends to lovers, you can’t afford to do that anymore (not that it was good to take your friend for grant before but you get the point). Because you’re trying to move past the potential awkwardness of now being lovers, you have to make sure the other person doesn’t feel like you are taking them for granted in any way or at any time.
- Spend even more quality time. It could have been one of two things – you were good phone/chat/Skype/email buddies or you spent time together (when neither of you had a boyfriend or girlfriend. Lol). Either way, now that you have taken things up a notch, it would probably be great if you spent more quality time together as you get to know each other from a different angle. Don’t brush off the need for spending quality time because you think your former friendship will sustain things. Things have changed so take advantage of as many opportunities you have to spend quality time together – at least at the initial stages of the transition from friends to lovers.
- Don’t make fun of him/her when they are expressing affection/emotion. I feel the need to say this. If the other person is expressing their feelings, don’t ever be tempted to switch back to buddy-mode and make fun of them or make light of the moment. They would probably not appreciate it. Also when the person does something REALLY nice for you, perhaps something they never did on the friendship level, don’t make fun or light of it. Show genuine appreciation. That will only encourage them to do more. Otherwise, thoughts of doubt could arise in their mind and you don’t want that.
Have you ever had to make the switch from friend to lover? What was your experience like? What made it hard
*See them finish is when someone knows you so well they basically have no regard for you.