As someone who's dealt with the grim aftermath of getting caught between two friends who ended up in a relationship and a subsequent breakup — dating within your friend circle isn't always the best idea. After all, if and when the relationship goes south, the potential for things to get messy is, unfortunately, very real. Ultimately, figuring out how to get over someone in your friend group might be way harder than either of you had thought.
Although the majority of people don't become platonic friends with someone in the hopes that it will turn into something more, sometimes one thing leads to another and it just sort of happens. Before you know it, you're plotting with your new bae about the best way to come clean to your crew about the 'ship. It goes without saying that true love is totally worth taking a risk on, but if you're going to go down this road, it's important to know how to deal should things go off the deep end. I spoke with NYC relationship expert Susan Winter to get her advice on dating and potentially breaking up with someone in your friend circle.
"Dating someone from your friend group is both easy and tricky at the same time," Winter tells Elite Daily. "It's easy because you both share similar interests and friends. Yet, it's tricky because if things go south you're sure to be seeing this person in the future."
And let's face it, after a breakup, hanging out with your friends (and potentially your ex) as if nothing ever happened is likely to present some challenges. From my experience, the saddest part about being caught between the breakup of two friends is that no matter how much either party insists there's no need to choose sides, being equally supportive can start to feel almost impossible.
"Everyone else in your friend group will be required to choose sides after a breakup. Meaning; Whose fault was it? With whom do I sympathize?" explains Winter. Of course, it's important to acknowledge that not every romantic relationship between friends is followed by a dramatic split. If the breakup was amicable, Winter recommends not overthinking things. "Sometimes this works out better than you'd imagine," says Winter. "Considering you were friends first, much of that foundation still exists after a breakup. Romance was added to the top layer of your friendship. Stripping away the romance simply brings you back to your original friendship design."
However, Winter also notes that some breakups simply don't allow for you to continue socializing with your ex. Therefore, actively avoiding them — even if that means passing on social events you would normally attend — may be a totally viable option. "The need for avoidance depends upon the severity of the breakup, and the conditions under which the breakup occurred," explains Winter. "If there was infidelity or emotional abuse, you'd be best served by adjusting your schedule to avoid seeing your ex."
At the end of the day, I'm sure we've all seen situations where friends who began dating ended up making things work. So if you and a friend have developed some romantic feels, it's totally understandable that shutting down the potential for romance could also feel like the wrong move. If the thought of not giving things a try is more than you can stand, then Winter recommends hashing out the worst-case scenario before you get physical.
"Having an in-depth conversation with each other before you become sexual is the surest way to avoid an uncomfortable aftermath," says Winter. Even though talking about the potential that you might break up may seem like the least romantic thing ever, it could save you and your friends a lot more suffering down the line.
"Negotiate, in advance, on a mutually agreeable protocol in the event of a breakup," says Winter. "How do you handle yourselves? How do you handle your friends? Discuss which person you'd choose as your BFF and support buddy. If you can design a civil format for polite behavior in a 'worse case scenario,' you've just avoided a future crisis."
Before embarking on a relationship, each situation comes with its own unique set of circumstances to be considered. Dating within your friend circle is no different. Take it from me, it's so much better to have a few awkward conversations in the beginning than to watch the relationships between your group of friends crumble.
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