In the world of rom-coms and celebrity love, the idea of the “friend zone” is undesirable. It’s where people (usually males are depicted) often feel stuck and unseen by the person for whom they feel attraction. This misguided concept undermines the essential value of friendships. It also underestimates the vital role friendship might play in courtship.
Innumerable couples share stories about being friends first. No, It’s not the only way things can go. It’s not “required.” But a fair amount of people — from researchers to happily married partners — swear by this progression.
Why? Focusing on friendship allows time to build a foundation. No long-term relationship can thrive without a strong foundation.
It Takes a Long Time to Really Get to Know Someone
Whether your primary focus is friendship or marriage, it makes sense to take your time. Yes, of course, you can feel an immediate connection. This is one of life’s greatest gifts. But do not mistake that for knowing each other — especially in the digital age. Today, it’s normal to present a very skewed version of your life. This happens on dating apps, social media, and beyond.
Accept that time reveals what you need to know — now more than ever. This mindset helps you slow down and pay attention. In a state of mindfulness, you can better assess areas of your harmony and discord. “Love at first sight” and “soulmates” are wonderful ideals. They do not constitute a license to be reckless in friendship or dating.
3 Reasons Why Dating Couples Should Focus on Friendship First
1. It’s Not Only About Lust
There’s nothing wrong with passion. There’s nothing wrong with a consensual connection based solely on lust. But if “long-term” is your goal, you will need more. Friendship empowers you to find countless other ways to build closeness and respect. If and when you add sex to the mix, you’ll likely feel much better about it.
Close friends have a way of talking that can feel like their own language. The inside jokes, the facial expression, the trust — it all adds up to the creation of healthy communication. No romantic bond can survive without healthy communication. Friendship first gives you the opportunity to hone this crucial skill set.
3. You’re Friends
If you’ve become friends, that means you like spending time together. You have things in common. You respect each other. It’s usually much harder to build a friendship from a casual hook-up than the reverse. In most cases, you’ve done the hard part first.
One Reason Why Dating Couples Should Do Whatever Feels Right
There’s a catch to any and all dating advice. You see, romance (and friendship, for that matter) is a case-by-case situation. Commonalities definitely exist. But, for the most part, each couple sees things its own way. Therefore, the only advice that may land with you is that which you get from an experienced therapist.
Because everyone sees the world differently, their advice will naturally reflect and honor this reality. Working with someone who is trained to approach each person differently is a huge step for anyone seeking relationship guidance. In the meantime, there are some dating and friendship basics to never forget:
- Communication: radically honest, steady, direct, and face-to-face
- Respect: in every way, shape, and form
- Autonomy: giving each other room to have a fulfilling independent life
There Are Many Reasons Why Dating Couples Should Consider Counseling
You may be:
- Friends with someone and you’ve developed feelings
- A lustful couple seeking to deepen the friendship part of your bond
- A couple shifting from friends-only to partners or vice-versa
The variations are numerous but the value of counseling remains. Human interactions can be tricky. It really makes a difference to get help from someone who understands.
I’d love to help you explore your relationship. Please read more about couples counseling. Let’s set up a consultation to talk things out soon.