This article originally appeared on VICE UK
There are few things more unsettling—and recognizable—than the realization you've started to catch feelings for your best friend. It doesn't matter if it's your best mate in school, your "work husband," or that someone you've known since before you could walk: crossing the line from being close friends to getting into each other's pants can be a disaster.
The silver lining is, of course, the possibility they might feel the same way. The caveat? Getting rejected and realizing the best friend you would've turned to is the one person you can't talk to about this.
I spoke to three people about their experiences of falling in love with their mates, from the cases where romantic love destroyed the original friendship to ones where they're probably going to stay together forever.
Anisha Laing, 20: "I found out he'd cheated on me at Reading Festival"
We met in year nine, and I remember he told me one of his favorite bands was Taking Back Sunday—I had never listened to them, but I lied and said they were my favorite band too. We got really close over that, but he ended up going out with two of my good friends and we were just really good friends for a couple of years.
Eventually, he and I kissed at a party. I was really confused as to what we should do after that, because I didn't want to lose him or my mate, who he was dating. To make matters worse, everyone at school found out and thought I was a really horrible person.
We eventually decided we shouldn't be friends anymore and didn't talk for a couple of months. Then we gave it a try, spending nearly a year together. We were each other's firsts for a lot of things, but it things started to go to shit because we both had a lot of problems, and because we were 17 we didn't know how to deal with them.
We always said that no matter what happened, we'd stay friends, but you can't go from waking up next to someone, feeling like they're everything you want in the world, to not being able to touch them ever again. It doesn't matter if they're your best friend or not. When we broke up, I couldn't even look at him at parties. And then I found out he'd cheated on me at Reading Festival. We had resolved a lot of our issues before he went and I was really happy with everything, and then when he got back, he brutally dumped me in the street.
If I was to do it again, obviously I would do certain things differently, but there are some things you can't help when you're 17.
Brittany Stewart, 24: "I went outside and saw her making out with a girl"
I met a woman at work—let's call her Sophie—who was cool, attractive, and interesting to be around. I gradually started to have more feelings for her. On the one hand, there was quite a lot of chemistry, but at the same time, I didn't know how to make a move and wasn't really sure that was the right thing to do.
I cared a lot about the friendship, but still entertained the idea of a relationship. We'd have sleepovers all the time and share each other's clothes and all that sort of couple-y stuff, but at the same time, I had no idea how she felt. And then, because I was trying to do my own thing and follow my ambitions and stuff, it all became too much so I started to ignore her because I didn't want to go through it, and she knew how I felt. I 'd spent a lot of time chasing girls in the past, and I made the conscious decision not to do it that time with her—although I kind of did in the end, really.
It reached a critical point when I was training for a charity boxing match and she came to watch it, which was really cool. After the fight, we went to our mutual friends' house party. I didn't know at the time, but she wanted to go because her friend was trying to set her up with the girl hosting it. We got there and she disappeared, off flirting with this girl. I was exhausted after the fight, so I went to drown my sorrows.
Not long after, I went outside and saw her making out with the girl, which got me really angry, so I left the party without saying anything. A couple of weeks later, at a house party at mine, she ended up fooling around with one of my oldest friends in my bed. So yeah, I realized then it wasn't on the cards and I was quite frustrated.
This all happened about a year, and we're still good friends. I didn't want that to change. Although I fell in love with her for a while, I guess it just wasn't really meant to be.
Alex Watson, 41: "Although he was straight, he wasn't horrible about it"
I met a guy when I was in my first year and he was in his second, and we got on really well. It wasn't really a physical attraction I felt for him at first. He was very unlike me but we were both Northern, and had a bit of a rapport because of that. He also tended to get sexual in a way that was a bit of a bad idea, but straight men do that, don't they?
Falling in love with him killed our relationship, but only because I made the mistake of telling him, and he rejected me. I was full of hormones, and there was nowhere else for my affections to go but him. Even though he was straight, he wasn't horrible about it, and looking back, it was positive in the sense that it was useful to learn not to do that again. If you're gay and you're only spending your time in the company of straight friends, it's kind of an occupational hazard.
We fell out nearly 20 years ago and haven't spoken since. I wrote at least one crazy letter to him a few years back, and I think that scared him off for life. That's the bad thing about falling in love with your best friends; you go a bit nuts. Now I'm older, I know the only thing you can do in a situation like that is remove yourself. If you develop friendships that can't go any further, you have to be rational. You have to get out of it entirely, including the friendship.
Eric Spano, 25: "The idea of being 'just friends' felt like settling"
My cousin introduced us at a school dance, and before long we became best friends in secondary school. I sort of always had feelings for her but sucked them up, because she just wanted to be friends and I still wanted to be in her life. It was a bit obvious so we just didn't address it for years on end.
It was fine until four and a half years ago when we went on a road trip to New York from Montreal and it was a disaster. There was just so much tension because she didn't want to be with me. We were trying to be friends, so we got into a huge fight and actually didn't talk for five years. It was really disheartening, because we'd been friends for a really long time.
At that point I was very narrow-minded. The idea of being friends felt like settling. Throughout the years, none of my other relationships really felt like "the one." I was always using her as a baseline for what a relationship should be, and I never really found anybody that made me feel as happy as she did. But then, very recently, after not speaking for four and a half years, I got a message from her on Instagram.
I remember driving home from hanging out with her one night and I stayed up until around 3 AM. I called one of my good friends and told him that I'd started speaking to Vanessa again and that I was going to end up being with her, and that I wouldn't stop until it happened. And she wanted it to happen too. Within a few weeks of us hanging out, she broke up with her boyfriend at the time.
We've been together for four months now, and it's awesome. It's not without its struggles and difficulties, but it's easier to deal with when you're doing it with your best friend. You already know this person accepts you for being yourself, because no one really knows you better and you're not molding yourself into the way someone wants you to be. It's been better than either of us expected, so we kind of feel stupid for not getting together earlier and not speaking—but at the same time, our collection of experiences brought us to where we are.
Some names have been changed to protect people's anonymity.
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