Relationship Series: Friends

But I don’t want to ruin our friendship.

I’ve heard of men making the above statement, but it is usually because the man was not interested in the woman for one reason (she’s unattractive) or another (he’s only pretending that she’s interested in him).  On the other hand, countless women seem to value female-male friendships to the degree that they are unwilling to risk ruining the friendship with a relationship.

She doesn’t want to risk ruining the friendship with a relationship.

What’s going on here?  Recall what I’ve said about monogamy?  It occurs to me that the notion that we should not date our friends is misguided.   There is no doubt that most relationships fail.  But why?  The list of reasons is beyond the scope of this blog and most books–for that matter, but I do think that I have identified the principal cause of failed relationships….

You were never really friends–just lovers.

As long as we continue to try to date and/or enter relationships before becoming friends, our collective relationship failure rate will continue to increase.  Do you wonder why she doesn’t respect you?  Do you wonder why he doesn’t listen to you?  Do you wonder why s/he acts like s/he doesn’t even know you after being in a relationship for several months? It’s because s/he doesn’t know you!

Friendships are valuable.  You can speak openly and honestly with a friend.  A friend will give you a candid response to difficult questions you face.  That same friend might make you laugh, cry with happiness, or inspire you to be more than you thought you could be.  Friends (not a “long-term associate” or “homie” or “buddy” or any other term we use to say that someone is not trustworthy enough to be called “friend”) tend to be able to ease your troubled heart and mind.  Indeed, a friend is not a typical or easy relationship to build or sustain.  But, since you have it, as long as you’re sexually attracted to one another, there is no strong argument against dating a friend.  Think about this: we abortively date in search of what we have with our friends.  We are looking for someone to accept us as we are the way our friends do.  We want someone to care about us the way our friends do.  We want someone who’s funny, intelligent, inspiring, and supportive the way our friends are, but we don’t want our friends?  Huh!?

Should you date every friend you have?  No.  Hell, most of your friends won’t want to seriously date you anyhow.  You’re single for a reason–or two (perhaps your kinky ways…).  But, when you have a friendship that connects you to another person in several meaningful ways (not just sexually) it is quite the backasswards venture to ignore that connection in order to commit to someone that you can’t call your friend.

Building a foundation with someone is difficult.  It requires time, energy, and experiences–experiences you are unlikely to have in the six months you’ve been dating Micah.  Develop a friendship with your potential mates, or date your friends.  You are more likely to have success through mutual respect, better communication, and understanding.  No relationship can be guaranteed, but there are dimensions of a relationship that will lead to more success than failure.  Friendship is certainly one of those dimensions.

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