Friendship before romance?

I was reflecting the other day on some of the patterns I have seen myself take with past relationships, and there have been two major paths. The first path was after meeting a girl, I immediately wrapped my head around getting romantic with her. Our relationship rocketed off, and I quickly dived deep into an intimate ordeal probably within a month. The other option I have taken was befriend a girl without ever really thinking about dating them, and a few years down the road realizing that there was great potential for something further to blossom.

I am not married so I suppose I can look at each relationship being a “failure”, although I have learned a great deal from each of them. There have been pros and cons that I have been weighing in my head at this fork in the road.

When it comes to dating immediately, I have noticed that most of the time (note that all of this I am drawing purely from personal experience) the relationship is much more exciting and new and passionate towards the beginning. I barely know this girl and I am getting to know her so very thoroughly– emotionally and physically. The unknown is quite exciting. However, this has often led to, in the later stages of the relationship, unpleasant surprises. Many people are not very open right away and tend to front-load their best qualities (which is understandable), but this can also leave one susceptible to deceit.

Whereas when I have dated really good friends of mine, there are really no surprises. I already know all of their strengths and vices and the relationship is much more comfortable. However, I am saddened by the fact that the friendship I have had with some of these girls was never the same after our romance ended. There is some discrepancy with this scenario; I am sure many people have been able to resume a normal friendship after a break-up splendidly, but I have not learned this secret art of not letting history affect the post-breakup friendship.

So I suppose I was curious to see what formula you guys have found between friendship and romance that has worked (in general) better for you. Can a good comparison even be made or is it just another one of those disappointing “it just always depends on the couple” sort of ordeals? Is there any rule of thumb that you follow before involving yourself in a romantic situation when it comes to getting to know them? Should I stave off the romantic impulses with every girl I meet and focus on building a backbone of friendship that could potentially be tarnished later or should I succumb to my emotional impulses and jump right in? OR is there even a clear line at all between the two? I have heard some people consider romance simply an intimate friendship with sex.

I would just be interested to hear some general thoughts on this matter.

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8 thoughts on “Friendship before romance?

  1. DavidIsGreat says:

    [Well there is accepted theory that the basis of a good marriage is friendship. My parents were childhood friends and didn’t date until their twenties.

    But personally, I agree that the first group is more exciting. You can build a strong friendship from that passionate start.

  2. Shelly says:

    [While it is somewhat oversimplified, I fall into the category of “some people consider romance simply an intimate friendship with sex.” There are a lot of similar qualities that make one a good friend that also make one a good romantic partner – integrity, compassion, responsible, etc. However, the emotions involved with a friendship are different those in a romantic relationship, so just because someone is a good friend doesn’t mean they’ll be a good fit for a significant other. Also, in my personal experience and in watching those I’m closest to, those relationships where people genuinely enjoy spending time with the other person (and not just for sex, although that is very important, too) usually have a healthier relationship than those who don’t.

    Even though I see similarities between romantic partners and friendships, I don’t think you should always become friends with a girl first. Not only will some girls will put a guy in the “friend zone” and not consider anything romantic, but as you’ve experienced, there’s so much excitement and intensity in first meeting someone and pursuing a romantic relationship with them. Although it is fleeting, you don’t really want to miss out on that in every relationship, so I wouldn’t “stave off the romantic impulses with every girl” you meet. On the other hand, if you find a friend with whom you have mutual attraction and interest, I wouldn’t hold back, either.

    There is no “formula”, unfortunately. Dating usually involves meeting a lot of people who “might” be someone special, but until you go down that path, you don’t really know.

  3. Maracuya says:

    [I don’t really advocate becoming best friends with a girl first. It takes so much time, and (at least I) usually write off a guy if he doesn’t seem interested in me. Years down the line, it kind of surprises me. But I think there are success stories on both sides of the table-people who had their one-night stand lead to marriage and people who were best friends for 10 years until they realized they loved each other.

    My relationships have been somewhere in between. I know them, but we’re not best friends, more friendly. Then we get to know each other better and that’s that. My boyfriend and I were always friends but we didn’t hang out or talk all the time.

    I think that just because those two approaches didn’t work in the past doesn’t mean they won’t work in the future.

  4. faraday says:

    [I friend-zone guys I’m not attracted to. I’ve dated two guy friends…both I regret horribly because the attraction just wasn’t there on my end….if I can’t “get it up” for a guy on the second or third date…I never will be able to. And I want to not be able to keep my hands off whoever I’m dating….or what’s the point?

  5. Matt Sanchelli says:

    [Wow, this could have been written by a past version of me (I swear I am not the anonymous author here).

    Any relationship we have needs to have a foundation of some level of friendship. Does this mean you have to establish strictly a friendship before venturing into something more romantic? No, absolutely not. Actually, these days I’d say definitely don’t do it that way.

    In high school, college, and even most of my 20’s, I would meet a woman and focus on building a friendship before making any romantic intentions known. This almost always resulted in the dreaded ‘friend-zone’ speech.

    When I subtly altered my actions where my romantic intentions were made more obvious the results improved; to the point where I was at least given a chance in the realm of dating the woman of interest.

    There is a way to establish a deep-rooted friendship with a wo/man while also having a romantic relationship.

    Basically this is done by not taking things too seriously all the time (and I used to be the poster boy for being more serious the free-spirited). Take time to laugh together and have fun. You can be interested in someone and still be completely ridiculous. If the mutual interest is there, you’ll know when it’s time to be “serious” and take advantage of the romantic element in the air.

    I’m currently dating this woman who I met just a couple of months ago. When we first met we had no problem talking and laughing. Our first meeting was for coffee and we sat there for 3 hours without a break in conversation. It was great.

    Since then the relationship we’ve built has elements of friendship; talking a lot, laughing a lot, giving each other crap…it’s a relaxed feeling. At the same time we’ve made it clear to one-another that there is obviously a romantic interest as well (this is VERY important). We also recognize that there is a particular chemistry between us that separates things from a just a friendship; again this comes from mutual understanding of what we both are looking for out of this.

    Typing this out I think the main things that really comes to the front are communication, honesty and ease. If you can openly communicate without having to really “think” about things…there’s potential.

    Sometimes what seems to be complicated can turn out to be completely simple…with the right person.

  6. Jasmine says:

    [Formula? The only formula I know to get over a relationship is one part gin one part tonic. It takes a lot of drinks (and a lot of time) to get a friendship back after a failed relationship!

  7. Solstice says:

    [I’ve done it both ways, although I haven’t had friendship lead into romance since college. Now that I’m older, and more interested in having a relationship than I was in high school or college, I feel that anyone I meet I’ll either want to date or else put in the friendzone right away. In the past feelings have evolved from friendships. But it seems that nowadays I have more of an instantaneous “I could see myself with this guy” or “I couldn’t see myself with this guy” when meeting someone new.

  8. lilredbmw says:

    [First of all, I don’t like that you consider past relationships failures. The way I see it, dating is like training for a race(the race being marriage, let’s say). You have to do a lot of training(dating) to lead up to that race(commitment). So ultimately, nothing is really a failure. Please don’t look at past relationships that didn’t work out as failures.

    Now, on to the good stuff. All of my succesful relationships have started out as friendships. A strong foundation has already been built before we begin a true romantic relationship. I have found that people who are friends first are usually very honest in ways that people who just outright date just aren’t. Some of my friendships have blossomed in to relationships that lasted a long time, but didn’t work out in the long run. Some of my friendships have led to nothing romantic at all, but hey…now I have some great friends. And the best friendship of my life ended up being my husband. The way I see it, if you are friends first you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain, no matter how it turns out!

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