Dating Within the Friend Group

I am at that stage in my life where my education is completed for the time being, I am settled in a job, and have most of the friends that I am going to have for the rest of my life.  I don’t want to meet a guy in a bar so where does that leave me to find someone to help me change my Facebook status from single to “in a relationship”?  There is the world of online dating, which I will share my experiences with you at another time, you can meet someone by chance, or there is dating within the friend group and dating friends of friends.  Over the past year the latter has been my method and I must admit I have mixed reviews.Dating friends of friends is a tricky situation.  On one hand it is great because you have common people and experiences to chat about and it takes away some of the nerves and fear.  On the other hand, if things end badly you may still have to see him/her or your friends will have to choose who they want at their events and outings.  Dating may be no one’s business but yours and your significant other’s; however, when dating within the friend group it becomes their business too.  Friends can’t help but get mixed up in the drama and often are torn because they hear both sides and want to support both friends.  I dated two different guys who are friends with the same friend of mine and as much as I tried to not to involve him, it was inevitable.

When you date someone close with your best friend you cannot help but go to your bestie with details or for advice because that is what we as friends do.  Yet when they know your other half and are likely talking to him/her too things get complicated and uncomfortable fast.  Your friend will listen and try to be supportive but it’s a tough call when your friend does not like two of you dating and thinks you are incompatible or when he/she has to hear all about the pain you are in from his her friend.  It is especailly rough when the person caught in the middle is close with both members of the relationship.  When you and your boyfriend/girlfriend fight or breakup, your friends are left in tough situation and have to deal with a change of events entirely beyond their control.  They want both friends at their parties or to go to bars but if the couple is not on amicable terms then friends must make a choice and someone gets hurt even worse.  In these situations you not only have to worry about getting dumped by the person you are dating, you may get dumped by your friend too.  So, when entering a sexual and/or romantic relationship with a friend of a friend, you must ask yourself if the potential rewards are worth the possible risks.

While in an ideal world we should be able to date whomever we want without it affecting those around us and our friends should be able to remain neutral, in the real world is just not so.  Friendships are relationships and such entanglements come with emotions.  We care about our friends and don’t want to see them hurt so when two of our friends date each other it is hard to not be torn or caught in the middle and feel upset and frustrated.  I can’t help but think to bring up the Jersey Shore again.  Ron and Sam live with their friends so when they are fighting, screaming, or having an all out brawl, their closest friends not only witness the chaos but become drawn into it as well.  It is difficult on the house mates because they are friends with both Ron and Sam.  They love them as individudals but as a couple they are a disaster.  I suppose that is on some level how one of my relationships was.

First off, I use the word relationship loosely since we were not dating but we were more than friends who had sex.  He was the only guy I’d ever let myself fall for since I am usually a guarded person and a casual dater.  However, there was some connection there that drew me to him instantly and it never really went away.  After 8 months of hooking up, I was in love and he was indifferent.  I struggled with the emotional disparity for a long time and I don’t know that the hurt of not being loved or really even cared about back will ever fully go away but it was a valuable lesson learned and life changing experience none the less.  Over those 8  months where I was falling for my best friend’s friend, I was always turning to my BFF for advice or help with my emotional frustrations.  I hurt everyday, wracking my brain as to how he could not feel the same for me…how he could not love me too.  All the while I was not thinking about how unfair and/or uncomfortable this was for our mutual friend.

The entire “relationship” came to an abrupt end thanks to one evening filled with alcohol-induced ramblings and love proclamations.  I will get over the guy and if he is going to stop being friend with me because I got drunk and said that I loved him than he wasn’t worth my time anyway.  What I cannot move on from is that the entire event ruined my best friend’s birthday and negatively affected our friendship for some time.  While everything seems to be fine now and I believe the drunken debacle was far overreacted to, I still get upset over the fact that I hurt one of the best friends I’ve ever had and all over a boy.  Now, since his friend and I are no longer speaking, he has to choose who goes to what event and feels uncomfortable having both of us at the same parties and occasions.  While I am an adult and can fully handle seeing this guy, it is still an unfair situation to put my friend in and after his chaotic birthday he wants to avoid future drama at all costs.

Dating within the friend group of course works out very well for some people but my advice is ultimately to proceed with caution.  If you can handle the casual hookup scenario where you will have to see him again for potentially years to come and possibly with other girls then go for it.  Yet, be wary that you may fall for him or it may hurt to see him hitting on other people, watch him marry someone else, or have him not feel the same for you as you do for him and all of these things can affect your mutual friends and your important interpersonal relationships.  Was it worth it for me?  Well the jury is still out because who knows what the future can bring.  Will I date a friend of a friend again?  Probably because we cannot help who we are attracted to but I will do so more judiciously in the future and ever since the events with this guy I’ve had a very guarded heart and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  I suppose my advice for dating within the friend group is the same for dating in general, be careful not to fall to quickly and be wary of a broken heart yet don’t be so guarded that you are closed off for the possibility of love.  Remember who you friends are and never prioritize new people over those who have been there through the thick and thin and anyone who bails when things get the slightest bit tough have done you a favor so don’t stress, move on.

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