Friends with (more than) benefits

Can friends become lovers (and perhaps one day spouses), too? 

It’s a question that’s been posed by writers ranging from Jane Austen (“Emma,” “Sense and Sensibility”) to Nora Ephron (“When Harry Met Sally”). And now it’s being taken up by a new docu-series that Bravo calls “a social experiment of the heart.”

In “Friends to Lovers?,” which bows Jan. 12 at 10 p.m. for eight episodes, five pairs of besties set out to see if their BFFs should be friends with more than benefits. Among the couples are Kristen Ruby, who has her own public relations company, the Ruby Media Group, and Alex Goldman, whose business is New York City-based Five Senses Catering. Friends for eight years, they heard about the series and decided it would be a great way to take their relationship to the next step.

When Kristen first met Alex, at a W Hotel in Manhattan, they were still in college. He was a bred-to-the bone New York City guy. She was a confirmed suburbanite from Waccabuc. (Her mother is WAG columnist Jackie Ruby, who appears in the series along with Alex’s dad and brother.)

Says he: “I was taken by her charm and beauty, and my intention was to date her.”

Says she:  “Alex was one of the few people from New York City who would come to visit me in Westchester.”

Still, they fell into what Alex calls “the friends’ zone.” “We were like siblings, finishing each other’s sentences,” Alex says. “When I met her mother, it was like I was part of the family.”

Kristen and Alex would fight, yell and scream but at the end of the day, they were there for each other – to borrow a thought from another pals-to-lovers show, “Friends.”

But the timing was never right. If she was free, he was in a relationship and vice versa. Then there was the career stuff, mostly hers.

“My focus was on building my company,” she says. Very often when she’d be working late on a Saturday night it would be Alex who would get her to stop and savor the moment.

Such is the intensity of their relationship – and their strong New York personalities, Alex says – that they are able to forget the cameras are rolling.

“It’s as if no one’s there but us,” Alex says.

The show is an opportunity for the pair not only to explore that “us-ness” but to see sides of themselves they never considered before. This has been a revelation, particularly for workaholic Kristen:

“I’m finally able to say ‘yes’ to what life has to offer, and for that I’m grateful.”

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