Most single ladies tend to have a male friend who we can call upon to play the role of “plus one” for events. In fact, he’s usually around to lend a sympathetic ear after breakups, to indulge with you when you have a craving for wing, and to help you put together IKEA furniture. So it’s not unusual to wonder whether this person who has always been a good friend of yours could be something more?

Rachel Russo, is a Dating, Relationship and Image Coach for marriage-minded singles & couples. The focus of her practice is teaching clients how to design a dating style. Here she offers relationship advice on whether or not you should consider taking that next step with a close male friend.

Look for signals
Before you take the plunge, it’s important to look for signals that he’s on the same page as you, says Russo. Has he complimented you a lot? Has he joked about hooking up? Does he get touchy feely at times? Does he seem affectionate towards you? Does he seem jealous when you talk about your ex? Does he start noticing little details about you, say if you changed your hair or you have a new outfit and he never commented on these things before? “Things like that can provide a sense of security that you won’t be rejected,” says Russo. She sees the above as green lights that you are both on the same page.

Take the plunge
“The first thing to do is acknowledge that sometimes both parties may have an interest but they are afraid to bring it up,” says Russo. She suggests going straight to the source. Sure you might be tempted to ask other friends for relationship advice and their opinions, but that often results in being more discouraged and uncertain. If you realize you have feelings for a friend, it’s best to take the plunge and bring it up to him in an in-person conversation, in a non-threatening way, when you guys are enjoying yourselves.

There’s more you need to know if you’re moving beyond the friend zone and into a new relationship on the next page… 

Saving face

It’s natural to doubt yourself and question whether saying something might ruin your friendship. How do you to save face when bringing it up? Russo says: “A serious conversation is better when there’s a third party. There’s not that fear of rejection when it’s done this way and the other person doesn’t feel put on the spot.” So bring up a dream you had that he was in, or watch the movie
Friends With Benefits and gauge his reaction. Russo suggests asking his opinion on the situation and posing it as a question to him. By not directly putting yourself out there, you can sense if he’s on the same page.

Talk it out

If it turns out he’s as into you as you him, then it’s important to be clear from the get-go what your intentions are in this newfound relationship. “With this kind of relationship things can tend to progress quickly because you already know so much about each other. This is why it’s important to talk about these things at the outset so as not to risk the friendship,” says Russo. Find out whether he just sees this as a “friends with benefits” situation, or whether he wants to be in a committed relationship, and what his thoughts are on a future. Sure it’s a bit aggressive, but you likely know each others dating history anyways and it’s not worth starting something if you both have opposing views.

Telling friends

Don’t go updating your Facebook relationship status just yet, and certainly don’t break the news at a friend’s wedding when you bring him (yet again) as your date, but this time debuting him as your lover. “The important thing to do is to talk to your friends when he isn’t there,” advises Russo. They will likely be shocked, and may respond negatively: “But he’s like a brother to you!” so it’s best to prepare them and transition them into a comfort level as seeing your guy BFF in this new role as your boyfriend.

The fact is if your friendship has been strong over the years, he obviously likes you as a person. He spends so much time with you so he likes who you are, the rest is easy if you just take the plunge and work things out. As for getting physical for the first few times, Russo suggests indulging in a few cocktails first: “Maybe a little alcohol could ease the tension and the nerves – just don’t overdo it.”

Read more:
Dating advice: Top 5 dating truths from men

A user guide to finding your perfect match
Friends with benefits