Should you be friends first?
It’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself before. The timeline of relationships gets even messier through the lens of online dating, where people can skip the friendship stage. It’s tempting to transition off of dating sites and into the first date right away.
I believe you should definitely be friends first when you’re starting a new romantic relationship. Why? The answer is simple, really. You need to be friends at all stages of your relationship!
Friendship is a vital part of a relationship. My fiancé is my best friend. In fact, I can’t imagine wanting to spend my life with anyone who wasn’t. Everything I do is better when he’s part of it.
As always, the proof is in the pudding. So here are five reasons to go ahead with friendship first.
1. Friendship first changes your relationship expectations
There’s a certain stress that comes with dating. Don’t get me wrong, parts of dating (online or face-to-face!) can be thrilling. But there’s no denying the intense pressure that comes with wondering if you should touch hands, say a certain things, or go for that first kiss.
I can’t tell you how many movie dates I sat through with my hand palm-side up, in the hopes that the date next to me would see it as a painfully obvious sign. The reason I’m not telling you is because it’s an embarrassingly large number.
But the good news is that friends don’t hold hands! Men and women who are just friends don’t kiss! Friends don’t have a serious, unexpected conversation about defining the relationship.
When you get to know a person as a friend first, you get to spend time with them without stress. When your guard goes down a little more, you get a more authentic picture of who a person is. Being good friends will also open the door to more group outings, letting you get to know a person in multiple scenes, adding more to the picture of who they are.
2. Communication can start off better
I like to compare dating to interviewing for a job, because it’s actually pretty similar. In a job interview, you put a certain foot forward. It’s not dishonest but it may be polished. It’s not uncommon on a first date to talk about topics you weren’t expecting. It often feels like there is a “right” answer to the questions someone asks you.
I may have said on a date that I was open to all sorts of different comedies, and that Napoleon Dynamite had some comedic merits. It’s not a lie, but it’s softer than the truth.
The truth is that I want the two hours of my life back that I spent watching that movie! That’s something I can unabashedly say in the presence of friends, who I know are on board for me no matter what.
When you build a friendship, you create a situation where you can share authentically.
3. Friendship first helps you stay open to surprises
My fiance and I flirted on and off for a long time, years in fact. Then, our lives took us different directions and our relationship ebbed and flowed.
But it wasn’t until we lived in the same city and became actual, regular friends as adults that things began to truly develop.
It wasn’t the dates we went on that sealed the deal. It wasn’t the long conversations either, or the mystery of it all. In fact, he told me that he knew he was in love with me before we dated—when we were just friends.
The moment that he remembers was the day I helped him prep his house for all of his Thanksgiving guests and (poorly) chopped potatoes for the better part of three hours. This act of friendship was, for him, the moment he realized I was the one he wanted to share his life with.
There are moments in life that we think we know what an answer will be. First dates, second dates—these are times when we feel pressured to make a final decision about if a relationship has potential.
Starting off a relationship as friends allows you the chance to enter into something bigger and see where it goes.
4. Beginning with friendship side-steps the awkwardness
Introducing a friend is easier than introducing a partner (both to friends and family!). This might be an opinion, but it’s something I’ve found to be the case.
For instance, my dad really liked my fiancé when we were friends, and he was delighted to hear we’d fallen in love.
My parents would have been happy no matter who it was, but the fact that my partner and I were real friends first made everyone more comfortable.
5. You can trust your feelings
Trusting your gut is possible when you’re on a date. But the world certainly has a rose-colored tint to it when you’re in a relationship.
When you begin to get to know someone better as a friend, you’re creating space to get to know the most authentic version of your friend. But you can also intentionally be your most authentic self, too. Authenticity is how you become true friends with someone.
That truth will go a long way toward building a foundation toward a potential relationship. If your friendship doesn’t grow into a long-term relationship after discerning the vocation of marriage together, you’ll still have that foundation you created by building a friendship.
Ready to give online dating a try as a way to meet new people? Check out the Catholic Singles online dating app today in your app store!