Q: Over the years, my unrequited high school crush has become my best friend. Lately, however, he acts like he wants to be more than friends. I still have a crush on him but don’t want to risk our friendship. Do I let him know I am interested in being more than friends also – or do I maintain our best friends status quo?

A: Ahhh – the fine line between lovers and friends. Moving from one to the other is never an easy transition – but, if done just right, the resulting relationship is as rare and precious as the Hope Diamond. The key to this transition? Honesty and respect. No innuendos. No false moves. Just open, honest, respectful communication. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. But only the hardest things in life are worth anything and this is definitely one of them.

First, determine if you are reading his signals correctly. He’s your best friend. He may have rebuffed your signals in high school, but by now you’ve seen him send out these same signals to dozens of other girls so you know his game – you’ve just never been asked to play before. Think about it. Is he acting the same way with you that he did with his previous love interests? If so, he probably wants to play with you.

Second, forget that he rejected you in high school. So what. Live for the now and, right now, he wants you. In my new book, Discovery, the heroine, Grace, discovers her best friend and unrequited crush, Ben, had a good reason for rejecting her in high school despite being in love with her at the time. Now, while I doubt your best friend is a secret Guardian with superhuman powers (if he is, I want to meet him!), you might be surprised by the reason for his rejection of you in high school. It may not be as bad as you remember and, in any event, high school is over. Time to move on to the present – and presently, he wants you.

Third, ask him. It’s that simple. Ask if he wants something more from you. Be direct. Be confident. Be yourself. As your best friend, he knows you better than anyone else – and he still wants you, flaws and all. That says a lot about the depth of his feelings for you.

Lastly, and most importantly, set ground rules. You both have decided to explore this new level of your relationship – but what if it doesn’t work? Be prepared for the worst by promising to return to your best friend status quo if either of you discovers this isn’t the path you want. No harsh words. No immature outbursts. Again, just open, honest, respectful communication. This may be the hardest promise to keep – but it is crucial to maintaining your friendship no matter what.

And isn’t a beautiful friendship the basis for all great relationships anyway?

Lisa White, author of The Laws of Love and Discovery