Column: The 11 torturous stages of falling for your friend

It may seem weird at first, but eventually, it’s not as bad as you may have thought.

Love is hard. Falling for someone can be somewhat traumatic for people like me. What’s even scarier than falling for someone is falling for one of your best friends. You’re stuck between not wanting to ruin your friendship but wanting to see if it could actually lead to something great. The “head-over-heels can’t live without each other” part can be extremely worth it, but getting there is not as easy.

Stage 1: Becoming friends. He’s a cool guy. He makes you laugh, he’s smart, and he’s cute. Guys and girls can just be friends, right?

Stage 2: Hanging out a lot. You start to see him more and more. You always have fun together and have great conversations. Hanging out in group settings is very common for you guys. You’re glad you have a good friend who’s there for you.

Stage 3: Your other friends start asking about him. “So, what’s going on with the two of you?” You’re completely caught off guard and confused. You wonder if he’s been talking about you to his guy friends, or if this friendship was more than you originally thought.

Stage 4: Acting weird around him. You don’t want people thinking you guys are anything more than friends. You keep your distance and stop talking to him as much when you guys are together. It’s clear that he’s confused, but you’re much happier now that your friends aren’t nagging you about it.

Stage 5: Clearing the air. “We’re just friends, right?” Even though he may have gotten the hint that you weren’t interested just by the way you’ve been acting, you’re still bothered and want him to know that you really, really just want to be friends.

Stage 6: Considering it. Now that people have stopped talking about your friendship, you wonder what it actually would be like if you dated. You start imagining a perfect relationship. You dream about him at night. You’re thinking, “Hmm, this could work.”

Stage 7: Changing your mind. “Why did I ever think this would ever work?” You’re afraid of ruining your friendship with him, and start looking for reasons not to date him. Stupid reasons, like “he wears too much cologne” or “he burps sometimes.”

Stage 8: He tells you he likes you. Despite your firm conversation about how you’re just friends, he tells you that he’s caught feelings. You’re left confused with a ton of anxiety. You keep considering both ends and just wish you could stop.

Stage 9: Your friends influence you. “ADMIT IT. You definitely like him,” your friends say. The more you think about it, you decide it’s worth the risk.

Stage 10: You hook up. Oops. Your first instinct is to regret it because he’s your best guy friend and that’s just weird. But the more you think about it, the happier you are. Hooking up wasn’t a mistake for you.

Stage 11: The feelings are officially caught. You have a moment. It’s random, and you don’t expect it. But you have a moment where it just makes sense for you. You like him. And as much as you don’t want to say it out loud, it feels good when you do.

Overall, it may seem scary at first. And yes, there is the big risk that you guys won’t work out in the end, and your friendship may be lost. But the emotional rollercoaster ride is worth it in the end.

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