There may come a point at which you develop an attraction for someone you’ve considered to be just a friend. This isn’t uncommon, and some of the longest-lasting and healthiest relationships start out with friendship.

However, if you are hoping to take things to the next level and begin a romantic relationship with your compadre, then you’ll need to take things slowly and think carefully before you make a move. Otherwise, you could end up losing the entire relationship.

Is the attraction mutual?

Before you declare your undying love for your friend, you should do some investigative work to see if the feeling is mutual. Some people may prefer the honest route – you can simply tell your friend that you’ve sensed things changing and ask if he or she agrees. If that method seems too risky, then you can do small things to see if your friend may have interest in you. For example, if the two of you have only ever hung out in groups, consider asking your buddy out for a one-on-one adventure. This doesn’t have to necessarily be a date, but it will give you a good idea of how your friend feels when no one is watching. You can also try some harmless flirting when you’re out together, as long as you know when to call it quits if he or she seems disinterested.

Where do you want to take it?

Once you’ve determined that your friend is indeed interested in you, you should think about where you’d like the relationship to go. Do you want to start dating this person, or are you hoping the relationship will turn into more of a “friends with benefits” scenario? Either way you’ll need to make sure that you practice safer sex by wearing a condom every time you have sex. Nothing will end a friendship faster than a sexually transmitted infection that could have been prevented!

Talking it through

The key to any successful relationship is strong communication, so you and your new partner should be sure to talk about your feelings and expectations before you make any changes in how you interact. It’s always best to set up a few ground rules, and be sure to keep your friendship at the heart of your relationship, no matter where it goes.