There’s something deeply defeatist about the prospect of turning a crush, or even a romantic relationship into a friendship. At times it can feel like you are settling for something lesser. Like not being able to afford first class, and have to downgrade to coach. I stand before you on my feeble, wobbly soap box to preach to you the beauty of turning a crush into a friend.
I’m not saying it is always easy; I am not even saying it is always the right move, but with the right blend of self reflection and honesty, the end of a crush can be the start of a beautiful friendship. Here are two examples of how this kind of friendship might go down.
“At times it can feel like you are settling for something lesser.”
Make New Friends (Out of Old Relationships)
If you are getting out of a relationship, you have to check in with yourself emotionally before you offer up the prospect of being in a friendship. Are you still in love with this person? Do they have power over you in one way or another? An unhealthy power dynamic is no good in any kind of relationship, and if you think this is happening to you, perhaps some time to yourself is in order before you get all buddy buddy with this person.
One of the most cathartic experiences I have had in my romantic/platonic experiences happened a few years ago. I was freshly dumped out of a relationship I quite enjoyed but the breakup itself was unbelievably amicable. We talked, hugged, and at the end of it all, we watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; it was great! Since the breakup went so smoothly, it did not take long for talks of friendship to get floated out there. More specifically, I was in my car when I got a text asking if I wanted to still be friends. Here’s what I did next:
“Check in with yourself emotionally before you offer up the prospect of being in a friendship.”
I closed my eyes, and searched my feelings. I could feel the sway this person had over me, and I knew that a friendship with this person would not be productive if I was just constantly hoping for something more romantic. I told her that I wanted to be her friend, but that I needed time to myself first, and I was glad I did. I unfollowed her on social media, spent a good amount of time by myself, read a book, and even wrote a song about my feeeeeelings. Then, once I had properly mourned this relationship, I was finally able to enjoy a rewarding friendship with this human.
Given time, a friendship can benefit from the your shared history as a couple. All the random knowledge you have built up of this person can be leveraged for a deep and meaningful friendship. An important aspect of friendship is bonding over shared experience, and if anything, a relationship is quite a shared experience to be had, don’t you think?
“I could feel the sway this person had over me, and I knew that a friendship with this person would not be productive.”
Enter the Friendzone (But Only if it’s Right For You)
Friendships with someone you have a crush on are a lot easier to form than that of someone you used to date, but they need equal amounts of care and self reflection. Are you hanging out with this person for the sole purpose of winning their affections? Has the word “friend zone” popped into your head with unusual frequency? Being honest with yourself in these situations is important because befriending someone just to date them sets up unhealthy expectations for BOTH of you.
By being unclear about your expectations for this relationship, you are setting the other person up to let you down. You will feel dissatisfied with your friendship and feel strung along, your friend will undoubtedly catch on to those vibes and start feeling awkward, and it will be YOUR fault. Please allow me to repeat this for emphasis: IT IS YOUR FAULT THAT YOU FEEL DISSATISFIED IN THIS FRIENDSHIP.
“Being honest with yourself in these situations is important because befriending someone just to date them sets up unhealthy expectations for BOTH of you.”
Believe me, it is possible for friendships to bloom into romantic relationships, but you have to respect that friendships and romantic relationships are both distinct and valid. Using friendship as a stepping stone to “something more” is disrespectful to the institution of friendship. You have to take your own emotional inventory and decide what kind of relationship is best suited for you, even if that means having to bring an end to the friendship.
That being said, if you have the emotional capacity to handle such a friendship, it can be very rewarding. After all, many of the reasons you can crush on someone are transferable into friendships. Being upfront about your feelings runs the risk of losing said friendship, but it can also establish a number of healthy and exciting twists to a traditional friendship. Flirty friendships, friends with benefits, or even co-hosts for your podcast about crushes cough cough, all these things are possible with proper communication and self reflection.
“Using friendship as a stepping stone to “something more” is disrespectful to the institution of friendship.”
Alright kiddos, I hope this guide has been helpful. You are now prepared to engage in this unique blend of romance and friendship. I hope all your days are filled with friendship and flirtation. Please remember to be nice and respectful to others, and feel free to let me know how your crush/friend conversions work out! Stay strong!
Nick Taniguchi is the creator of Crush Hour, a podcast about crushes, feelings, and all that romantic goop. You can tell him about your crush if you want to, I guess. For more from Nick, check him out on twitter @playgrounders.