You can’t predict where your heart will lead you, and it’s not uncommon to harbour feelings for the relation of a friend. There’s no law against such a pairing but getting the relationship off the ground will take some careful handling. The following scenarios could crop up on this rocky road. Here is our advice on how to negotiate them successfully.

When you’re not sure how you feel
If you make a move on your pal’s relation without being wholehearted, you could find the situation turns ugly. Such impulsive romancing risks breaking hearts – and if you’ve trampled over a family member’s feelings, your mate may understandably feel protective or offended by your behaviour. The best approach here is a cautious one. Spend time with the object of your affections before declaring your hand. Only once you know you’re serious should you up the ante.

What if it’s an unpopular relative?
If there’s some bad blood between your mate and the person you fancy, it could take some diplomacy to avoid getting caught in the middle. At worst, you may gain a new relationship at the expense of a friendship when you’re forced to take sides. But on the bright side, you could be just what’s needed to heal the rift. To make sure it’s the latter, tell your friend about your intentions before making a move. Then once things are up and running, persuade both sides to see things from the other’s perspective. If you can achieve some rapprochement it will make your life a lot easier.  

When the relative’s also a flatmate
No matter how relaxed your friend is about you dating a brother, sister or other relation, it will still take some getting used to. And any misgivings will be amplified if  some of the relationship takes place under the same roof. To put your pal at ease, make sure you consider his or her feelings. If possible, stay over at your place and avoid spending too much time behind closed doors when your friend is in the house. It may help if you ask your friend to join you when socialising. The more your mate spends time with you both, the easier and more normal it will feel.  

When your friend’s too protective
It’s not uncommon to feel concern for your family member’s wellbeing – especially if it’s little brother or sister. So if the apple of your eye is your friend’s younger relation, successfully wooing them will take some tact. For things to work out, you’ll need to avoid appearing in anyway predatory or exploitative. Before you dive in, tell your friend why you‘re interested and make sure you stress the personality rather than the physical traits that appeal. By doing this you should firmly dispel suspicions you’re a cradle snatcher.

When your mate’s the matchmaker
If you’re considering starting something with your friend’s relative, involving the friend in getting you together is the perfect strategy. Ask your friend to put in a good word, but make sure you preface the request by saying you know it’s a big ask. Your friend will be glad to have his or her feelings considered first. Once you’ve recruited your friend as cupid, the chances are you’ll have someone almost as keen as you are on getting a match made. As things progress, you can rest easy, safe in the knowledge your friend was behind it from the start.