Belfast Telegraph

Could you fall in love with a friend?

By Stephanie Bell

They’ve been pals for a decade and had relationships with other people so what made Patrick Kielty and Cat Deeley realise that they were meant to be together?

Patrick Kielty and Cat Deeley became the exception rather than the rule when they started to date after nearly a decade as friends. Psychologists say it is quite rare for couples to suddenly decide to get it together after years in a platonic relationship. Already affectionately dubbed PatCat, Ulster funnyman Kielty and his long-term showbiz pal Deeley had been denying rumours of a romance for months.

But last week Kielty (41) finally confirmed to friends that they were a couple and that Cat (35) was the special lady in his life.

Speculation that they had become more than just good friends started last year when Patrick brought Cat home to Dundrum to meet his family. The pair were then seen last month flying back from Cabo San Lucas after a romantic break.

They have been good friends since they hosted one of the original TV talent shows Fame Academy together from 2002. In the intervening years Kielty split from girlfriend Amanda Byram, while Deeley’s previous relationship was with True Blood star Michael McMillian. Speaking recently about love, Deeley said: “I haven’t found my Prince Charming yet — and I’ve kissed a few frogs, too!”

Meanwhile, Kielty has said that he’d like 2012 to be the year that he ties the knot. “I think that might be my new year’s resolution — to get married.”

Fears of losing a good friendship if you do cross the line holds many people back from making the first move to deepening their relationship. For those who do, it can lead to a very special bond, rooted in strong friendship as three local couples who today share their story, found out.

Lady Gaga tribute artist Debbie Bradley (35) and husband Glenn (32), her manager, were friends for seven years before they became a couple. They live in Dollingstown and have two boys, Tyler (6) and Nathan (4).

Debbie says:

I met Glenn about 15 years ago when we started to work together in a band. If someone had said to me then ‘you'll marry that fella some day,’ I'd have laughed.

We were good friends but I never saw him in any other way. In early 1999, I moved to the Isle of Man. I came home to be a friend’s bridesmaid and got Glenn and some other band mates to meet up with me for a drink to catch up.

He had become this very handsome guy. We had such a laugh and somehow ended up in each other’s arms at the end of the night. When I got home Glenn rang me and we spent hours on the phone.

The next day he came up to see me and when we kissed it was like the scene from friends when Ross and Rachel kissed for the first time, I couldn’t stop giggling. We spent a few lovely days together before I went back to the Isle of Man.

As a relationship had ended abruptly before I moved away I didn’t want to rush into another relationship, so we remained friends. When I came home for Christmas 1999, I again met up with Glenn and I remember just looking at him and thinking, ‘I really do like this guy, very much’.

From that point we started to date and when I had to return to the Isle of Man in the New Year I felt very lost without him so I decided to move back home. After that I spent every minute with him. It wasn’t long until we had moved in together, started our own band, and everything just escalated from there — getting a puppy, getting engaged, buying a house and getting married. We now have two beautiful boys. I’m so glad we got together when we did, the timing was right and Glenn was my saviour, my rock and my best friend. He's the most genuine person I've ever met and I love him as much today as I felt that Boxing night.”

Glenn says:

The first time I laid eyes on Debbie I was just 14. She was singing in a band in Norman’s Bar in Moira and I was there with my brother. It is strange the way things happen because two years later I joined the band she was singing in.

I was always very friendly with Debbie when we were playing in the band together but I never really looked at her in any other way. She left the band and went to the Isle of Man and I just got on with my life.

Then she rang a friend a couple of years later and asked if we could all get together for a drink. She spent the night trying to set me up with her best friend and I wasn’t interested at all.

When we left the pub we were walking down the street together and we just started holding hands. Then I kissed her and when she went home I rang her.

It must have been half two in the morning and we talked for hours. I had always really liked her as a friend and after that night I just wanted to be with her.

When she finally came home from the Isle of Man a few months later we started dating and moved in together soon after that.

Now that we work together, we see each other more than most married couples as we both are home during the day and playing in the band Rio at night or doing Debbie’s tribute show. Shortly after we started going out together I realised that anytime I was with Debbie I was happy and when I wasn’t with her I wanted to be with her and that’s still how it is today.”

Model Gemma Garrett (30) had been best friends with her now husband Andrew Cosgrove, (29) a security system engineer for six years before they started to date.

Gemma says:

I met Andy in 2003. We hung out together in a big group of friends. He was going steady with another girl so fancying him never really entered my head.

He was single again when a large group of us had planned a holiday in Ibiza in 2009 and I needed a roommate. I persuaded Andy to come and share a room with me. Things started to change between us on holiday when we would sit up together until four or five in the morning talking about what we wanted out of life. We started to see each other when we got home but I had just signed up with Max Clifford in London and had been told for the sake of my career I needed to be single, so I didn’t tell anyone for a long time that Andy and I were a couple.

After Christmas he had got tired of our relationship being a secret and he gave me an ultimatum – either we were together as a couple or we should go our separate ways.

I realised how unfair I had been and it was a real relief to finally make it public.

Andy proposed a couple of weeks later in February and we were married in September. I think it has made a big difference to our relationship that we were friends first as we knew everything about each other and so there were no surprises after we got married.”

Andrew says:

Ever since I met Gemma we have got on really well. Even though she is a very good looking girl I only saw her as a friend for years.

When we spent time sharing a room together on holiday I got to know her even better and that’s when I started to develop really strong feelings for her.

Even though Gemma was living mostly in London and enjoying the high-life, I discovered that she was very down to earth and just wanted normal things out of life.

When we got home from holiday we started dating but Gemma wanted to keep our relationship quiet.

I knew I was in love with her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her so I decided I would confront her about her feelings.

I was a bit scared that she would choose her career over me and very relieved when she didn’t.

Having been friends for so long I felt that we knew each other very well and there was no reason to wait, so I proposed.”

Michelle McTernan (37) a Public Relations Consultant from Belfast dated husband Jarlath (38) a musician from Sligo briefly when she was 17. The couple were apart for several years before they realised they were meant to be together. Michelle says:

I met Jarlath on holiday in Sligo when I was 17. I was with a friend when we heard a band rehearsing in the Beach Hotel. We went to have a nosey and Jarlath was playing with them and he came straight over to us.

We talked and he asked us to come back that night and he would put us on the guest list. My later father Michael Murphy played in a band called the Craftsmen and he was also playing that night. After going to hear dad play we left early and went to hear Jarlath’s band. I had to be home by midnight and couldn’t stay behind. I wasn’t home that long until Jarlath was at the door asking if he could take me out again.

We dated a few times then kept in touch with letters when I returned home. I then got on with my life and went to uni and had other boyfriends although I never forgot Jarlath. Jarlath went to America as a musician with Lord of the Dance.

My dad died in December 2001 and he and Jarlath had always been close. When I bumped into one of his friends a few months later I told him to let Jarlath know dad had passed away. Jarlath was home from America on a few weeks break and phoned my mum’s house the next morning. We met up and he said he had let me go years ago and wasn’t going to let me go again. We dated and he kept putting off going back to America. He never did go back. Four months later he proposed and we married in 2004.”

Jarlath says:

The first time I saw Michelle she definitely caught my eye and I hoped she would go to my gig.

When we first dated I thought that she was sound and easy to get on with.

We broke up because of the long distance between us and we were very young. During the five years I was in America I did sometimes think about Michelle.

When I was home on leave for a few weeks and heard her daddy had died, I decided to give her a call. I didn’t have her number so I phoned her mother’s house. When we met up after five years I realised that she hadn’t changed. I don’t regret the years we were apart as we were too young back then and I think the time apart made us a better couple.”

Does it make for better relationship?

Advantages to being pals before lovers

  • You remove the judgement and really get to know who they are.
  • You know how they treat people of the opposite sex and the struggles they go through with them.
  • You get a sense of their character and strength and can develop a deeper bond than you would even years after being in a relationship.
  • Your emotions will one day let you know if you want to be with this person through eyes that know them completely.
  • There will be no surprises later down the road as you will already know and accept them for who they are.

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