What To Do When Dating a Friend Goes Awry

Updated April 11, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Sometimes, dating a friend can feel like a great idea: you already have a connection, you enjoy spending time together, and you already know a lot about each other’s likes and dislikes. Friendship can be a very strong foundation for a romantic relationship, so when it works out, a friendship-turned-romance can be very positive and healthy. But, on the flipside, when it doesn’t work out, it can be very painful—you may risk not only losing a romantic partner but also losing a close friendship. So, what can you do if this happens? Here, we’ll explore some of the potential benefits and risks of dating a friend, and offer a few tips for what you can do if it goes awry.

It can be tough when dating a friend goes awry

When friends get together: Potential benefits and risks

It is not entirely uncommon for some friends to develop romantic feelings for one another. Many friendships are built on a sense of connection and camaraderie, and so this can be a solid starting point for further intimacy to grow from. 

Friends may also get together because, in some cases, it can feel like a natural progression within the relationship. Two friends might feel enormous amounts of chemistry, which led to them being friends in the first place. Over time, physical and emotional attraction may develop due to chemistry and continued closeness, which can naturally lend itself to romantic feelings. Some friends may feel afraid to act on these feelings for fear of losing the friendship, but others may decide to take the leap and pursue a romantic relationship. 

Friends might also get together out of convenience. If two people are lonely but have someone they love and trust, they might experience a thought akin to, "Why not?" Even if this isn't the most romantic start to a relationship, serious relationships can develop from these types of partnerships, as well.

The potential benefits of a friendship-turned-romance

Friendships that move over into romantic territory can make for very strong, healthy relationships in some cases. One study found that most married couples actually consider their partner their best friend, so people who turn to their best friend for a romantic connection may have a great start. 

Your friend likely already knows a lot about your strengths, experiences, and flaws and loves you for who you are. That can be a powerful, beautiful basis for a long-term relationship. In many relationships that start as entirely romantic endeavors, it can take a while to learn these things about each other, and you may find, upon learning them, that the two of you are not actually a good match. Going into a romantic relationship already knowing a lot about your partner's setbacks, history, and any flaws may help support a genuine, authentic connection to develop. 

You are also likely to have already established a decent basis of trust in your friend. Because trust is often an essential part of any romantic relationship, diving into a romance with your friend can make creating and sustaining trust easier than being with someone who was previously a stranger. If a long-term relationship is your hope, and trust is an important part of developing a stable, long-term relationship, turning to your friend for a romantic pursuit could be a natural, logical means of finding romance.

Getty/MoMo Productions

The potential risks of a friendship-turned-romance

On the flipside, transforming a friendship into a romantic relationship can come with a variety of possible risks. For one thing, the stakes also tend to be far higher in a friendship-turned-romance. If the relationship doesn’t work out and doesn’t end on good terms, you may not only be losing a romantic partner, you could also be losing a friend. 

In addition, if you and this friend are part of a larger group of friends, there is also a risk of damaging or losing that friend group. If the relationship goes south, it may not be possible for you two to remain friends and spend time together; this may cause divides in your friend group and may impact other friendships you both have. 

And if physical intimacy is important to you, there is also a risk that it could lead to altered dynamics in your friendship if you don’t connect well in that way. A good friendship does not necessarily indicate the presence of sexual compatibility, and it will likely be far more painful and awkward to leave behind a relationship that was based on friendship in the absence of sexual compatibility than it would be to let go of a fledgling relationship that is discovered to be lacking in sexual chemistry.

What to do if things go awry

Sometimes, a friendship-turned-romance can develop into a strong, healthy relationship, but there are also factors that can make dating your best friend difficult. If things go south, whether it is due to sexual incompatibility, the two of you wanting different things, a lack of physical chemistry, or simple disinterest in risking your friendship, there are steps you can take to move forward. Often, one of the best first steps to take is working to repair your friendship.

Repairing a friendship can take time and might require you to give one another plenty of distance and space before you try to repair things. Giving each other distance might only last a few days, but it could last months before the two of you can see one another and be around one another with any semblance of comfort or normalcy.

When you both feel ready, you can start rebuilding your relationship slowly and carefully. Try not to force your friendship to take on the same level of comfort it used to have, or to force it to follow the same patterns of hanging out, texting, or calling that it used to have. Your friendship is being rebuilt, and placing expectations on it prematurely can have negative results. It may help to treat your friendship delicately and carefully, and perhaps even like it is a fresh friendship altogether.

You may also want to talk to your friend and find out whether or not they feel the friendship is worth salvaging. Although you might feel an intense sense of loss if you and your friend do not reconcile, your friend might be less inclined to work toward reconciliation and might want to part ways altogether following your breakup. While this can be a very painful risk in dating a friend, it is a possible outcome. If you communicate your desire to rebuild your friendship and your friend-turned-romantic-ex declines, you will have to respect that decision and try to move on from both your romance and your friendship.

It can be tough when dating a friend goes awry

Help navigating a friendship gone awry

Although there are numerous perks to dating someone you consider a close friend, there are also some risks, and if the relationship doesn’t work out, you may find yourself trying to navigate the aftermath. In either case, patience and compassion for yourself and your friend are paramount.

Speaking with a therapist can also help. A qualified mental health professional can help you examine your relationship, identify any unhealthy patterns the two of you may have had, and help you navigate the road toward healing. In fact, research has found online therapy to be effective for improving self-esteem for individuals after experiencing a breakup

If you have recently experienced a breakup and the loss of a friendship at once, you may feel sad and low energy at times, and the thought of seeking help in person may feel a little daunting. With online therapy, you can meet with your therapist wherever you have internet, including the comfort of home. 


Dating a friend can be wonderful and rewarding if things go well, but it can also carry some risks. If the relationship doesn’t work out, you may risk losing your friendship as well as your romantic partner. If this is something you’re experiencing, you can consider some of the tips detailed above, and for further support, online therapy can help. 

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