The nightmare scenario. We’ve all thought about it.

The tightest knit group of friends you’ve ever seen. Dare we say, real life Friends? Suddenly, one friend starts dating another other in the group and it all falls apart completely. The friendship group is no more. Friends becomes friendless.

As a species, we have an inherent negativity bias. When it comes to dating amongst friends, we only hear the horror stories:

“My mate Max started dating my flatmate Lucy and now I have to choose between them.”

“Alex and Jaimie have broken up but they’re living in our flat together next year!”

“I should never have introduced Tom to my sister!”

Well fear not, this writer knows a great true story of friends dating that will give you faith  and hopefully help you navigate the often dreaded nebula that is the friend turned partner.

This story is true but I am changing the names for the sake of privacy. Aside from that, I will tell the rest exactly as it occurred. …

At the University of Edinburgh, Cat and Bea lived together in their first year; the joyful result of random room allocation where universities hope that people will get along. It was 2020 (the year of Covid) and so Cat and Bea and the rest of their flatmates couldn’t go out, and in turn, they had to spend much more time with each other than most first year flatmates would.

This could have been catastrophic. This easily had the potential to be eight people who hated each other trapped inside the same flat together like some bizarre reality television show. 

Only, the opposite happened.

The whole flat got on with each other. Some better than others, mind you. But it was a good experience overall. Then, the question of flats for next year came around and Cat and Bea decided to live together with a couple others. They signed the letting agreement during their first term of first year, and by the third term it was set in stone.

Cat and Bea had been friends for ten months. They had been complete strangers before that. They were friends who lived together, both in that present moment and for the foreseeable future. Neither party would want to do anything to jeopardize that, right?

Well you see, Bea had developed a crush on Cat pretty early on, and likewise by third term, Cat had also developed a crush on Bea as well. It all came to a head after a flat party (Covid restrictions were lessening at this point in time) where the pair were sitting on Bea’s bed and they accidentally kissed.

According to them, at this moment, billions upon billions of things ran through their minds:

“You like me?”

“You like me back?”

“What will our friends think?”

“Will people want to pull out of the housing contract?”

“Will people be accepting?

“Have I just ruined everything?”

Solemnly, the pair agreed they were just friends. 

It was for the sake of the friendship group. After all, they were known as “the friends: Bea and Cat!”. It was also for the sake of their studies; they had so many mutual friends who they shared lectures with. It was for the sake of the future, it was only the first year and they didn’t want to ruin the university experience, as people say. They shook on it and as the summer holiday came, they parted ways and waited till second year began.

Now in hindsight, the writer of this piece thinks this next part is quite funny.

Bea and Cat had broken things off before they had begun in the hope that it would make them happier and avoid the pitfalls of dating someone they knew. They had done it because they thought it was safer and, most importantly that it would make them happier.

Lo and behold, the pair, individually, had the worst summers of their lives. They were absolutely miserable. 

It’s not that they didn’t try to be happy. Bea went abroad with her family, and yet detested her whole holiday, and Cat generally just felt morose.

Then second year finally rolled around and they moved into their new flat. Initially, they continued their “just friends” mantra. They went to lectures and parties together- just platonically of course. All of us could see how good they would be together, but it wasn’t our place to force them. 

The writer of this piece was especially good friends with Bea and couldn’t help but notice how often conversations would shift to the topic of Cat whenever they had coffee together.

Finally, by late November of 2021, Bea and Cat confronted each other. At last, they agreed to give dating each other a go, both fully aware that it could result in disaster, but both acknowledging that they had been more unhappy in the last few months apart than they would have ever been had they been together. 

So, they began to date.

Now, over two years later, I can happily report that they are still dating. They are both working in London and hoping to move into their own flat together. More importantly, they are both deeply in love.

I think that’s a lovely story, but you may be thinking, how does that help me? Well, what can we learn from Bea and Cat?

Although the phrase “stranger danger” rings true on many occasions, in the dating scene it means someone can come into your life without any social baggage attached. But, when you date a friend, it can be baggage galore. There’s an expected dynamic within a friendship group That’s why we feel safe and happy with our friends because we care for them and we know what to expect.

But someone dating someone else in the group? That can change the dynamic completely.

Personally, I believe what it comes down to is a willingness for change and a trust amongst friends. There must be an unspoken agreement that even if the people who are dating break up, it doesn’t mean everyone has to stop being friends. (Unless it’s down to something like cheating of course). 

In the case of Bea and Cat, sometimes you see two people who are so perfect for each other, it is almost more maddening and more likely to end the friendship group if they don’t at least give it a go.

Perhaps this whole piece is wishful thinking, but this writer believes that friends can make some of the best partners. 

Because what is a partner after all if not one of your best friends?