Ask Mochi: Can I Develop Feelings for a Friend? How Do I Explain My Passion to My Parents?

Photo: Zaffwan via Flickr

Photo: Zaffwan via Flickr

Dear Mochi,

My friend of a couple of years was in a relationship during most of our friendship. The relationship just ended, but he never mentioned it until a year and a half into our friendship. We’ve hung out in pretty intimate circumstances over the course of that relationship, though we haven’t done anything that would’ve been considered cheating. Now that he’s single, he admitted to me that he really likes me and I said nothing. I’m not sure how I feel about him. Can I develop feelings for a person that I’ve already categorized as a friend?

Leah, 21

Yes, it’s possible to develop romantic feelings for someone you previously considered a friend. This usually involves the right timing as well as learning to navigate the different expectations one might have of a friend versus a significant other.

We think the bigger questions are: Are you ready to jump into a relationship with him? Do you trust him? Think about why you hesitated when he asked you out–and why you thought to mention the “intimate” settings in which you spent time together while he was still dating his ex-girlfriend. Why was he so secretive about his previous relationship, and does that reflect on his trustworthiness as a boyfriend in the future?

We’re not saying these considerations are necessarily reason to cross him off or distrust him, but perhaps an honest conversation is in order. Open communication is key in every relationship, plus you’ve already built a foundation of friendship. Also, especially since he recently got over a breakup, it’s important to make sure that his feelings are sincere, and we strongly suggest allowing his and your emotions to cool down first before deciding what to do next.

Dear Mochi,

I decided to take the liberal arts route in school, much to the worry of my Asian parents, though I always thought I would get an MBA eventually. But in the last year of my schooling, I just felt so inspired and driven to be a teacher. Needless to say, this greatly upset my parents, who feel I’m wasting my time and talents—not to mention my lack of a teaching degree. I’m still open to many possibilities (business-related ones included) because I know life does lead you down some crazy roads. I don’t want my parents to watch in pain as I follow my passion. How do I balance all of that? When can I tell I am limiting myself versus selling my passion and potential short?

Isabella, 24

We understand how difficult it is to balance out what you want to do with what your parents want you to do. Sometimes, the best way to figure out whether something is a good fit for you is by jumping in and trying it out. We believe that you owe it to yourself to follow your passions.

And don’t despair about not having a degree. Many post-grad volunteer teaching programs, including but not limited to Teach for America and Peace Corps, accept applicants of all backgrounds. (You’ll have to do your research on what kind of environment and support best suits you.) These programs are usually two years long—not that long in the grand scheme of things.

If you later realize that you want to pursue another industry, it can be done (and the working skills you gain from teaching will still be valuable). People change career paths often, and switching fields has become the norm particularly among many 20- and 30-somethings. For an example: See our new feature on Christine Ha, who first studied business and then creative fiction before becoming a renowned chef, for an example.

The bottom line: You don’t need to know what you want to do for the rest of your life right now; you just need to do something. If teaching is where your heart is right now, go for it. Let your parents know this doesn’t mean you’re closing the door to other opportunities. It may be difficult to put your foot down at first, but if you believe that you can do it, your parents will eventually accept and support you as well.