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I'm falling for my friend - what should I do? Add to ...

Group Therapy is a relationship advice column to which readers contribute their wisdom.

A reader writes: I’ve recently developed strong feelings for a close friend. We’ve known each other for years, and there has always been a bit of a spark, but this is the first time we’ve both been single and looking for a relationship. We’ve been hanging out and seem to be flirting more. How can I tell if she is interested in taking this further; and how do I talk to her about it without endangering the friendship?

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Keep flirting

The switch from platonic to romantic can be a high-stakes game. Your best bet is to continue to flirt shamelessly; if she is flirting back, dive in and tell her how you feel. While this is easier said than done, it sounds like you already have a sense that the feelings are mutual. You have a great deal to gain in falling in love with an old friend, choose your moment and go for it!

Patrick Byrne, Edinburgh

Be careful

I’ve been in this situation myself, we discussed things, and decided to date and see how it went. We quickly realized we’re great friends, but not so great dating-friends. Here’s the catch: The breakup can be messy, things may be said. However, if you were truly close friends, the friendship will win out.

Timothy Bevand, Thunder Bay

Talk to her

Try broaching the subject after you’ve spent some time together doing something you both enjoy. Tell her you’d like to discuss what you’re feeling about moving your friendship to the next level, but let her know that you won’t pressure her, because you understand this may feel like a huge paradigm shift. In my own case it took me three months to be ready to take the step of turning our friendship into a relationship, but he was patient and unwavering.

Jamie Larson, Orlando, Fla.

The final word

The difference between a friendship and a relationship is usually sex. How you get to the next step varies according to the comfort level of the other person. Everyone is different. My guy simply crossed his legs and wouldn’t give in to any hanky panky without a firm commitment and a walk down the aisle – well, actually in our case listening to long-winded, boring speeches in a mosque. Only after the ink was dry on the marriage contract, was I allowed to have my way with him. Some men are just stubborn that way.

However I would not recommend proposing just to get your relationship to the next level. Plus, you could scare her off because she may still believe you just like drinking coffee with her. Although I understand Patrick’s sentiment of flirting shamelessly, there’s always a chance your signals may be misinterpreted. She might think the endless eyelash batting is a result of an eye infection. Do you really want to find out she put her profile on Lavalife because all this time she thought you had a stye? You need her to be aware of your feelings, so as Timothy says, tell her that you’re attracted to her, and she’ll let you know if the feeling’s mutual.

Jamie’s experience is valuable. If you really care about this person, you’ll wait until she’s ready to move forward. But she’ll be thrilled you didn’t waste time playing footsie while sipping your cappuccino. After all, we’re long past elementary school, when we used to give notes to our BFFs to pass along to our crushes.

And yes, this process is scary because a breakup could potentially end the friendship. But every relationship starts out with a leap of faith – some greater than others.

Regina-based Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Next week’s question

A reader writes: On our first weekend at our new cottage last summer, some neighbours invited us over for a glass of wine. The next day they offered our children a boat ride. We were thrilled to have such friendly neighbours, and the kids all like each other. But then they began dropping by every weekend to “hang out” or invite us over, once staying all afternoon when we had our own friends visiting, despite me saying it wasn't a good time. I then e-mailed and explained in a friendly but firm way that we’re not “drop-in” types. They did start calling first, but often dropped by if we didn’t answer. How can we end this harassment?

Let’s hear from you

If you would like to participate, e-mail us at grouptherapy@globeandmail.com. All questions are published anonymously, but we will include your name and hometown if we use your response (it will be edited).

 
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