Bravo's 'Friends To Lovers?' Explores Changing Relationships For Love

Charley and Darion take the leap from 'Friends To Lovers' (Bravo)

OK, so we've all had that friend who you start to look at a little differently. Do you make a move to become more than friends? Or do you watch them connect with someone else and miss your chance forever?

Bravo’s new reality series “Friends To Lovers?” follows several friends who are taking that step, including Charley and Darion, who have been friends for years but now that Charley is out of a long-term relationship, he’s ready to ask Darion out on a bona fide date.

I grabbed some time with the guys to find out what we’ll see in the show and, without spoiling the outcome, can friends actually become lovers.

Charley, what was it that made you see Darion as something other than a friend?

Charley: Darion has always been very special person in my life whatever the context.  Running a PR firm I can sometimes admittedly be overwhelming with my fast-paced career and social schedule, and he’s one of the few people who I think not only “gets” me but is really understanding of the sometimes chaotic way I live my life.  I feel like he grounds me because I look up to him as someone who really has good balance in his life with his friends and family who can all count on him, while still achieving tremendous success in his passionate work life.  I think when we all think of someone to share our lives with, these are the types of qualities than stand out and so when I started thinking about romance for the first time in a long time, my radar just immediately bleeped toward Darion!

Gay men often start with sex and then move into the friend zone. Do you think it helps a relationship being friends first?

Charley: This is a really good point and quite frankly something that I find challenging with the gay community. I think inherently there is a more blurred line between friendship and love, and that it can be confusing when you develop feelings for someone.  The ideals of “commitment” get easily confused with attraction, and I think this is something you’ll see a lot of on the show because it did impact our situation.  It’s honestly hard for me to say whether a friendship helps provide a good framework for more, but I can definitely say it completely changes the experience of dating.

Darion: I think I’ve always kept those things very separate – none of my good friends are people I’ve had a romantic relationship with. That being said, I think it does help to know someone really well when starting to date them. Of course, it also causes some problems as you will see on the show!

Once you try going outside the friend zone, can you ever go back to it?

Charley: I would sure like to believe so.  We live in a world and time where in some ways we have more options for exploring “love” (however you define it) than ever before.   This can be both exciting and also intimidating.  But I do believe whole-heartedly in the concept of certain people being destined to be in each other’s lives, and hope that wins over any other obstacles.

Darion: Some people can, some people can’t. I’ve certainly seen that with friends of mine before doing the show. Some hold grudges, and I think when you see that other angle of a personality it does permanently change things. I feel it’s one of the more captivating elements of the show.

Darion, if Charley hadn’t been in a relationship for the past 5 years, would you have made a move to date?

Darion: I’m not a big risk taker. And putting a close friendship on the line is probably not a choice I would make of my own accord. Also, the first time Charley said “Huh what?” to a witty video game reference, I would have been like…. yeah, notgonnahappen.

What's more important in a healthy relationship? Sex or friendship?

Charley: To me if you don’t have friendship than it’s not really a “relationship” at all!   I have much more experience with friendship than dating so I’m no expert, but I do have a new outlook that good friends are the people who are there for you no matter what.

Darion: I don’t know any couples that have lasted more than a few months on just great sex. If you don’t have a great friendship, I don’t think you’ll last through life’s ups and downs.

It seems like you guys are part of a circle of friends — did that make it tough to take the step knowing that your various friendships could be at risk?

Charley:   Funny enough, so many people already wondered if we were a couple because we were always together and having a blast!  That being said, one of the most awkward moments for me in this experience was officially announcing to our friends that we were in fact “dating”.  The reaction was mixed as I think you’ll see on the show!

Darion: We have like 400 friends in common on Facebook. That is less of a circle and probably more of a gaggle. Ha! Oh lord, the party where we ‘come out’ as dating – I still blush! I never worried about losing friends, but I did imagine if the worst scenario happened if it would suddenly be like “Well, you get to go to this party, and I get that party”. :)

What advice would you give to someone wanting to ask a friend out on a date?

Charley: Before this experience I would’ve absolutely said “Go For It” – because otherwise how will you ever really know if it was meant to be or not.  Following, my advice has changed a bit to “Tread carefully” and really determining what qualities of the friendship are most important to you both.

Darion: Before and after this experience I would say be very careful, and ask yourself is the friendship worth gambling? Look at your friend, are you really compatible on all those layers? Dating changes everything, and you could end up with an amazing partner, or losing everything. Whoa, that sounds like a tagline.  I will say if you really wanna spice it up, add cameras to the mix…

What’s the main thing you learned about yourselves from the experience?

Charley:  I learned that it’s really important to know who YOU are at a particular time in your life before delving into any relationship, and to really determine for yourself what are the qualities and values you hold sacred that you don’t want to let go of for the sake of being “compatible” with another person.  That was honestly a HUGE learning step for me personally!

Oh, I also learned what “LARPing” means, and how to blend into a world of dorkiness at a nerd convention  :)

Darion: I learned that when it comes to dating a friend, through the ups and downs, it really helps when you can still laugh at each other. Throughout our entire friendship, Charley and I are two dorks who can laugh at anything, and that definitely helped. Also, my dorkiness translates to camera.

“Friends To Lovers?” airs Mondays at 10pm on Bravo. 

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

Got a comment for the LGBT site? Tweet @JimHalterman or his Facebook page with your question.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

,