Have you ever had to make the choice between dating a stranger and dating your best friend?

I have, and I chose to date, and later on marry, my best friend—not because of what everyone else was telling me, but because I felt comfortable and at home with him.

He made it easy to be myself, and I felt I didn’t have to try as much around him as I did with previous boyfriends. I’ve had a few experiences with dating strangers too, and most of these experiences turned out sour.

Maybe it was because I got caught up in the moment and didn’t take the time to really get to know and understand the person I was dating.

Whatever dating worries you may face, the following lists will help you to weigh the benefits of dating a friend or dating a stranger.

Here are some benefits that come from dating a friend.

—Trust isn’t an issue.

Trust isn’t an issue when you date your best friend.

You already know you can rely on the other person, and feel comfortable enough to be yourself.

You know you can face anything and you’ll both come out stronger because you have mutual trust and respect.

—There’s no pretending.

Your best friend already knows all your quirky traits, your likes and dislikes and all the embarrassing stories about you.

So, there is absolutely no reason to pretend. As Robin Williams once said as the Genie from Aladdin, “Bee yourself.”

—You’re ahead of the game.

Isn’t the ultimate goal of dating to find a best friend you can share anything and everything with?

If you start off dating your friend, then you are ahead of the game and no longer have to go through the long, tedious process of getting to know each other.

Yes, you’ll learn new things about each other every day, but you won’t have to start from scratch and persuade him or her to be your friend.

—You never run out of things to talk about.

There’s a reason best friends are considered best friends, and it has to do with the fact that they can talk about anything and everything for hours on end.

My husband and I have been married for a little over two and a half years, and I tell him everything.

—There are no secrets.

Dating your best friend means there are no secrets.

I tell my husband everything, even the deathly embarrassing stuff I promised I’d never tell a soul, like how in seventh grade juice shot through my nose, making it look liked I peed myself.

Here are some benefits when it comes to dating a stranger.

—You don’t lose a friend if things turn sour.

When you date a stranger, you don’t have to worry about or spend days crying over the friendship you just lost if you break up.

Chances are you won’t be too devastated over the breakup, and the recovery is much easier.

—Everything is exciting and new.

Dating a stranger leaves a lot of room for new exploration.

Have you ever tried rock climbing or snowboarding?

No? Me neither — well, at least not until I started dating this one guy.

He got me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things, even if they were terrifying.

—You can gain a new perspective.

When you date a friend, or someone who you know really well, it’s easy to fall into habitual dating.

Things will stay more lively and interesting when you date a stranger because you’re constantly trying to impress and win the other person over.

— You get to make and meet new friends.

If you date a stranger your circle of friends will constantly expand through the people you choose to date.

In the end, it’s up to you if you choose to date your best friend or a stranger.