What should you do if you realize that you are romantically attracted to one of your friends? Should you risk embarassment and heartache by asking your friend on a date? What are the pitfalls of admitting to your friend that you are attracted to them?

This is a problem that commonly comes up in friendships between men and women, whether they are young or old.

It can be agonizing or confusing if you have a friend that you are attracted to, but you don't know whether or not that person likes you back. You don't know if the two of you are really just good friends or if you should try to ask them out on a date.

You want to have a romantic relationship with this person, but you are worried that they will reject you if they don't feel the same way about you. What if you ask that person for a date and they turn you down? What if they say that classic dreaded line, "I just want us to be friends".

Here is another possibility you need to think about - what if the two of you date for a while and then you break up? Then you've lost both a lover and a friend.

On the other hand, what if dating your friend leads to a successful romance? Many successful romances and marriages do actually start out just this way - two people who are friends with each other gradually become closer and closer and eventually they realize that they truly love each other.

When you are secretly attracted to your friend, you are constantly torn between not wanting to risk the friendship, not wanting to be embarrassed or rejected, yet tormented by the possibility that your friend might secretly love you back.

No doubt about it, deciding whether or not to date your friends can be a tricky problem.

In some cases, one person may be trying to send the other person little signals to show that they are interested. But the opposite can happen as well. Both people may try especially hard to make sure they don't send any signals at all that might show that they are interested.

They want to be safe and not risk any humiliation. Sometimes both people are too timid to say anything, but the mutual attraction is definitely there.

What should you do if you are in a friendship, and you can't tell if there's a mutual attraction or not? What if you're not very good at understanding those signals of attraction? What if both people are acting very much as if there is no romantic undertone whatsoever to the relationship?

This kind of situation is particularly difficult for young people to go through.

As you get older you have more experience in dealing with this type of situation and you become less terrified of making a fool of yourself. As you get older and more experienced, you are more likely to correctly interpret the underlying signals the other person may or may not be sending you.

When you don't know how the other person is going to react to a request for a
date, it's best to start off slowly.

Here's a strategy you can use if you are timid. Start out by asking your friend for a mid-day lunch or coffee. If the coffee or lunch works out successfully, ask your friend to accompany you to a fairly brief, but fun event where romance is not the focus.

Each time you go out on one of these "mini-dates", tell the other person freely how much you have enjoyed their company. After one or two successful mini-dates, ask the other person if they would like to do more dating, or whether they wish to remain simply friends with you.

By this point, you will be in a much better position to know whether a romantic relationship can start, but you can still go back to being friends if that is what both of you wish to do.

Author's Bio: 

This article was written by self improvement author and friendship expert Royane Real. Visit her new website to read many more self improvement articles and sign up for the free self improvement newsletter at http://www.royane.com