Falling in love with your best friend

In that gloriously unforgettable episode of Friends, Monica Gellar (Courteney Cox Arquette) gets down on one knee before Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) and says "I never thought I’d be so lucky to fall in love with my best….my best….my best friend". Of course, they go on to get married, buy a house, have a child (albeit through a surrogate mother) and generally live 'happily ever after'.

Love. That four letter word that brings so much happiness, so much heartache..but is still so worthwhile. Friendship. That wonderful bonding, that incomparable rush of emotion that cuts across age, race, gender, religion and region. But what happens if you combine the two? Falling in love is complicated enough, so what happens if the object of your affection is your ‘best’ friend?

Friendship blossoming into love is actually a rather common phenomenon. No wonder, considering that friendship is usually built on the platforms of mutual affection, unconditional support, or common interests, backgrounds or circumstances, similar to those that love is built on. Moreover, friends support each other through thick and thin, the good times and the bad and the ups and downs that make up life. Very similar therefore, to the qualities that make up a good mate.

In this context, all it takes is a small spark, to ignite the gentle glow of friendship to the full on flame of passion.

There are many advantages in falling for your best bud. For one, you zip past the 'downside' of dating: Remember the sweaty palms and awkward silences of your first date? Or the constant pressure to present your ‘best’ side? When you're in a romantic relationship with your best friend, you get to relax and just enjoy each other’s company. What’s more, you need not shield those skeletons in your closet 'cause chances are, your friend knows about all of them and loves and accepts you anyway.

However such a situation has a serious downside as well. For example, what if your friend does not share your feelings? What if he/she is so disgusted at your amorous affections that he/she can never look at you the same way again? Or what if things simply don’t work out? These are some serious pitfalls to what might otherwise seem an idyllic scenario. The key question amidst all of this uncertainty is: Is declaring your love to your best friend worth risking the friendship? Tough question but one that definitely needs to be confronted before you take any course of action.

Going forward, the main question is how to broach such a sensitive topic. Will the direct approach of being completely blunt about your feelings be the best approach? Or will the subtle, gradual approach of carefully dropping hints over a certain span of time, be better? Naturally, in matters of the heart there can be no hard and fast rules or foolproof formulae. What’s more, the most important thing while in such a delicate situation is to exercise caution and employ all the sensitivity possible to ensure that things go according to plan.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when dealing with such a dilemma:

1. Assess the situation with a clear head

Although this line of approach may seem pretty much next to impossible when you look at your situation, objectively assessing the situation can make all the difference. Clearly think and list down (preferably in writing) what exactly you feel and expect from the situation. Proceeding without thinking things through can mean making some avoidable mistakes that you might regret later.

2. Prepare yourself for anything

Telling your best friend that you have feelings for him/her means putting your friendship on the line. Perhaps, your friend may return your feelings and the two of you can embark on a romantic relationship. But what if your friend rejects you and wants to continue being strictly friends? You need to be ready to accept whatever the outcome.

3. Test the waters

Observe your friend carefully, (though covertly). Is he/she emotionally available to you? Is he/she interested in someone else or simply ‘off’ love? You will have to judge to the best of your knowledge whether or not your friend is ready to take your friendship to the next level.

4. Time your move

In life, everything is about timing. When you make your move is as crucial as how you make it. Don’t spring your feelings to your friend during a rough work week or a family emergency. Instead, ensure that the object of your affection is in a receptive frame of mind before you proceed further.

5. Make your move

Use your imagination. A wise man once said "Love is all about the grand gestures". Thing big. Think personal. Express your feelings in a manner that encapsulates your feelings in all their spendour. Go that extra mile - it's sure to be worth it in the end.

6. Face the consequences

Accept both victory and defeat with grace. If your friend responds positively - take things slow and savor each moment of your time together. If he/she turns you down, preserve the friendship. Just because you two can’t have romantic love together, doesn’t mean you have to throw away the friendship.

Ultimately, remember whatever the outcome of your ‘coming clean’, come what may, you will always have precious memories of your time together to cherish forever!