I’d heard from an early age that the best way to build a long and happy relationship was to establish a friendship first. I’m still on the fence. I’m of the mind that you should consider your partner a friend, but I don’t think that you have to go out of your way to be friends with someone first before jumping into a relationship.
But, I’m not infallible, so let’s look at both sides.
Let’s say you do want to be friends with someone before you start dating…
Here’s are some of the potential positives if you take this approach:
- You get to know them before you invest emotionally
- Building a friendship could make communication in a relationship easier
- You get to see the “real” version of them, not the first date version of them
- You’ll develop a level of comfort around each other
- You’ll learn about them in ways you wouldn’t on a first, second, or third date
In my experience, those things can be really good positives, well worth waiting to date. A lot of the time, you realize that you’re not a good fit if you build a friendship first. Sometimes you figure out they are a good fit for you, but you learn to appreciate them a little more, or you learn their communication style. Both things that are crucial for building a lasting relationship. That said, it’s not all sunshine and roses if you try to be platonic first, then romantic. Here are some of the potential negatives that can come from this approach:
- They might meet someone else
- They might come to see you as just a friend
- You might lose any romantic momentum you had
- You might get too comfortable with them, losing your initial attraction
- You might feel like you’ve wasted your time
It’s entirely possible that all of the reasons you want to wait it out and be friends with someone will backfire. Yes, you can really get to know them as a person, but it’s possible that someone will swoop in and get to know them…carnally. Sure, you can build a strong friendship with them, but maybe that friendship will quell any romantic feelings between you both. Maybe spending all that time and energy really getting to know them will slow down any romantic progress you’ve already made. Maybe you’ll get so comfortable together, you start to feel less like potential lovers and more like siblings. Hell, maybe all that time learning about them will feel wasted in the long run.
All that said, I’m not completely against starting as friends first, but I just don’t have the patience for it personally. If you do, by all means take the plunge. I just don’t think that dating someone precludes you from building a friendship at the same time, but I understand why some people do it. It might be for you, if you think the above positives in the pro et contra exercise above outweigh the negatives.
But, let’s look at the flip side before you decide
Let’s say you don’t want to be friends with someone before you start dating…
Alright so let’s look at my preferred approach. Remember, it’s just a preference, it might not work for you.
Here are some of the advantages of dating without trying to establish a friendship first:
- You’ll quickly figure out if you’re a good match
- You get to know early on if you have chemistry
- You’ll determine their dating style early on
- You can figure out if they have long-term potential early on
- If you do realize you work better as friends, you can make your intentions clear quickly
The positives really all boil down to speed. Everything you’d want to know about what dating is like with someone, you find out much faster if you just cut to the chase. Now, were you the sort of person who knows exactly what they’re looking for, how to get it, and want that expeditiously, this method works for you. The thing is, we don’t all date that way. What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. Here are some potential negatives to jumping into dating before befriending them first:
- You might feel rushed to meet certain dating milestones
- You might not build rapport as quickly as you build chemistry (basically, you’ll have nothing to talk about)
- You become more focused on going on good dates, rather than getting to know them
- You might lose an opportunity to make a friend
- You still might feel like you wasted your time
When you sacrifice patience for speed, you lose out on the benefits of taking your time. Fortune favors the bold, but only fools rush in. Or something like that, I dunno, I’m not a philosopher. But seriously, if you have to choose between developing a friendship first, or dating first and trying to build a friendship that way, there are risks there too. Maybe you’re the stubborn time who will push through relationship milestones that are usually based on how well you know a person, just because you’ve been dating them a certain amount of time. Maybe your entire connection will be built on physical chemistry and common interest, but not on a deep understanding of who you’re dating. Who knows, maybe the person you chose to date would have worked better as a friend, but dating them would now remove that option. And, as with all dating situations, you might just feel like you’ve wasted your time. I’ve taken both approaches and that’s always a risk.
Building a friendship that could lead to dating might work, but it’s the slowest way to do it. Sure, you might build a strong foundation before you start dating, but who knows how long that will take. If you jump right into dating before building a friendship, you have to simultaneously build a strong foundation while learning the basics about a person. Sure, you’ll figure out early on if you’re a good romantic match, but what about the other stuff? You can date someone without ever knowing where they want to raise children, or how important spending the holidays with family is to them.
So what should you do? Honestly, I think this is one of the instances where I’ll have to say “Do as I say, not as I do”. Unless you’re on a short time frame, give platonic first, with a romantic option later, a shot. The worst that can happen is no worse than if you rushed into dating someone. The best that could happen is that when you do decide to date, you’ve got a solid foundation to build something great on. I think that’s worth the risk.
Good Luck Out There.