My friend and I have been talking a lot recently about the pitfalls of societal dating. One that we have been focusing on particularly is dating your friend. Now let me clarify before you all run and send the text to your home girl or home boy telling them yall are supposed to be together. That is not what I am saying exactly. What I am talking about is the lost art of becoming someone’s friend first and then allowing that friendship to foster and be the foundation to your relationship.
We’ve gotten to a place where we have allowed intentionality to cause us to forget the art of having fun. We’ve gotten so wrapped up into the end goal of getting into a relationship or marriage that we forget to enjoy the time it takes to get there. That time getting there is the time building a friendship takes place. We are so focused on romance, that we lose the friendship in the process. So many people say they want to marry their best friend. Well that person has to be your best friend first. How do you expect to get to that point if you never foster an actual friendship? You don’t get engaged or married and then become best friends. You should be fostering a friendship from day one.
Concepts like the “friend zone” and phrases like “let’s just be friends” has brought a negative connotation to the friendship stage of dating. Society and pop culture has made it seem as though friendship is the death to a getting into a relationship. While it seems like being someone’s friend doesn’t get you to a relationship or marriage, it actually is the best way to foster a healthy one. Jada Pinkett-Smith in an interview once said that love comes and goes in relationships and marriage. She stated it is the friendship that will keep the relationship going when the love isn’t there some days. If you don’t have a genuine friendship though, you won’t have anything to fall back on when love gets low. Society has taught us “the love will keep us together.” WRONG!!! Love comes and goes, especially if you allow it to. Friendship though has a stronger foundation that is less predicated on feelings which allows it to be more stable.
Now going back to the concept of dating a friend. This is always a tricky situation. We all know some successes and some failures of people who decided to be more than just friends. The problem is not that relationships ruin friendships, it’s that people forget to keep being friends that ruins the friendship. People will have an amazing friendship, yet as soon as they move to more serious stages of the relationship, the friendship takes a back seat. You are so worried about the romance that you forget to simply enjoy each other like you used to. You don’t play video games together like you used to. You stopped watching funny youtube video’s on a Friday night. You stopped sending funny meme’s to make each other laugh throughout the day. Instead you started trying to fit the societal mode of what you think a relationship is supposed to look like and what romance is supposed to be. You’re so serious all the time and you stopped allowing yourselves to be friends. The difference between the success or failure of dating a friend is whether you can keep the friendship without overly focusing on the romance. Now success does not mean that the relationship will work. Some people do maintain the friendship and realize they don’t work well in a relationship. The friendship though, if consistently nourished, will remain the same and survive the relationship.
I know it seems backwards but building friendship first can really enhance the romance later. The romance will come. Initially, just take your time to get to know someone and enjoy their presence. Let the friendship strengthen to be able to withstand a relationship. The key is whether you’ve known each other for two months, been together for three years or been married for 15 years, your friendship should be your core. Your friendship should get just as much attention at all of those stages. Don’t let the focus of romance cause you to lose what is really the foundation of your relationship. Never stop having fun with each other or enjoying the things that made your friendship special. When all else fails, be friends.