Friendship is Essential…or Is It?

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After readin’ SBM’s post yesterday on things that aren’t dates, I got to thinkin’ about the courting process in general. If real dates are somewhat a rarity, then how is it that people are gettin’ to know each other so well and makin’ the decision to start a relationship? Eh, maybe that’s the reason that so many of ‘em end. A poorly built foundation will usually lead to travesty down the road anyway.

I know that I haven’t done much in my lifetime in terms of dates. It was always obvious that there was an initial interest on each side, which we both kept in mind as we hung out and prolonged our peachy phase. I think I can count the number of pre-relationship dates I went on with just one hand. None of my relationships began as true friendships. “Getting to know each other” pretty much meant that we were assessing our compatibility.

I wonder if they were friends first?

I wonder if they were friends first?

I thought of the people I know that have been in long term relationships or that are married. I even managed to question a couple. I started thinkin’ that developing a relationship with someone after being friends with them for a while was just some ish you see in one of those romantic movies that get women all googly. Y’all know exactly what I’m talkin’ about. The things that make you say aww. What else could be better for providing for a long standing relationship that a foundation of friendship that has lasted for a long time? From a couple couples I identified, there are some pros and cons. Let’s start with the good:

The Pros

You most of the time get to see the person in candid form

When you’re great friends with someone, you get to learn their good and bad relationship/courting/dating habits. You know if they’re prone to sliding off. You know what they do when their mad at their significant others. You get to know their resume and body of work more in-depth than you probably ever would if y’all just started seeing each other from the jump.

Trust is established

I’d hope that most of us trust our good friends. If we can’t trust them, then they prolly aren’t that good a friend. Trust alleviates a lot of the potential for insecurities to rare their ugly heads. Trust is also one of the key components of the foundation of a relationship.

Increased optimism about where the relationship is headed

If you’ve been good friends with someone for years and you develop feelings for each other, you don’t need to spend as much time wondering if it’s too good to be true. You’re also goin’ to be more compelled to ensure that the relationship works cuz once you cross that bridge, there’s usually no turning back.

The Cons

You most of the time get to see the person in candid form

Yep. One of the biggest pros is also one of the biggest cons. Some things are better left unknown. It doesn’t matter how confident or forgiving you are. For most men and a lot of women, knowin’ a significant other’s history and body of work isn’t as funny as it was when y’all were tellin each other about one night stands and who was da bomb in the sack. At least the dude knows if he’s gonna be “that guy” who is potentially dating the neighborhood smeeze.

You’re too comfortable with each other

It’s nice to start a relationship knowin’ you don’t have to impress each other, but if you’re not careful you may fall into the comfort zone. As it was explained to me, there needs to be a transition once the relationship starts. Yes, you’re still friends but you should be treatin’ each other like significant others and not just homies that spoon, use terms of endearment, make hot love, and communicate with other love languages. You can talk about past “encounters” in front of the homies, but not in front of the boo.

There’s no turning back

It’s one thing to start off with someone as a relationship prospect, then break up and remain friends afterward. It’s another to start off as great friends, start dating, then go back to being great friends. If things don’t work out, you risk losing a critical part of your life one way or the other.

Hopefully I’ve gotten everyone’s wheels churnin’ with this one. So for today, I want to know what folks think of these pros and cons as they were provided to me and as I have witnessed? Is it essential for there to be a serious foundation of friendship to ensure longevity of the relationship? Have folks been able to make the transition back and forth? Anybody else got questions for the SBM readers as it relates to this? I’m really curious what folks have to say.

Interviewing couples while enjoying tea and crumpets since 2009,

slim jackson

From Our Partners

  • http://www.kaniakennedy.com Afro Diva

    I think there is a huge space between being lifelong friends and just jumping into a relationship with no foundation. The whole point of dating (to me) is to see if there is the possibility for friendship AND physical attraction. I wonder what the hell are people doing or should I say how are you assessing compatibility if you're seeing if you could be friends. Then again most of my relationships have been great and we are still friends when things run their course.

    If I can't be your friend, there is no way in hell I'm gonna be your lover!

  • http://awomanslifeislove.com Beautiful Distractio

    I think it depends on what you are looking for. If you are dating to have fun and kick its, then a friendship up front is not as big a deal, (if this is what you are looking for though, it helps to communicate that to avoid a chix spazing on you later).

    If you are looking to settle down, reproduce AND have a great time – check for friendship. I want my potential partner to like me more than he loves me. I have family I love but I hate to be around. I want to feel like we have a stable connection rooted in friendship if I am looking long term.

  • goldensugarplum

    man whats funny is my best friend was my first lover (aww) and the good bad n ugly has happened but we still coo. so it can happen goin bak n forth…i prefer it cuz u do get to kno the person so well

  • http://Idkmynameismikki.wordpress.com Mikki

    This post is on point for me today!!! I got into it yesterday with a so called friend about this. He said that you shouldnt have to define a friendship aka put a lable on it. This is a side bar kinda but he said if u put him in a friend category that means you are not interested in him romantically. I tried to explain this isnt always true. I think he was more worried about getting used or played.

    I said first of all a friendship isnt one sided. You do things for each other and no body is obligated to pay for dates ect when u define it. Secondly if we make it clear that there is interest actions will follow, i want to see other people and if im clear that we are friends first you have a choice to either go along with it provided im actually treating you as a friend or u can bounce.

    i think the postive outweighs negative any day which is why i feel so strongly about it in the early phases. I have been getting to see the real him and welp i really wouldnt wanna be his lover.

  • smoove gp

    Man I've never been friends first with any of my gf's. Can't do it. Don't know why, but it never goes down like that. Had friends I wanted to fuck of course, but boo up? Nah. One of these days I'll figure it out lol.

  • http://nextbigthing.blogsome.com Hostess

    I don't want to have chex with any man I've put in the friendship zone. Hell, the reason they are in the FZ is because I don't want to ever do IT with them.

  • http://www.threewaystotakeit.com/ Slim Jackson

    @smoove and hostess

    The post for today could have gotten a lot longer with the points yall are making. A lot of peeps say men and women can't be just friends and if they are friends there is no chance ever for romance. I wanted to explore that, but may save it for another day.

  • http://thebookofjackson.blogspot.com Dr.J

    I think that a friendship is a good foundation for a healthy relationship. However, no one is saying that you be friends like Will & Grace, just friends in the sense that you are able to conduct a friendship without romantic tension.

    Only women have this "friend zone" phenomenon thing going on, and it's just archaic and stupid. Men have, "she's ugly" or "she's like my freaking sister" and those are usually the friends they won't ever have sex with or pursue anything with.

    In short, would you rather be dating someone who is your friend, or dating someone who isn't your friend? Now if that question doesn't resonate with anyone, that bothers me.

  • http://Idkmynameismikki.wordpress.com Mikki

    Dj u said just how i feel on the issue thanks!

  • http://truthmerchants.com/mag J

    I agree with Dr. J — The exes I'm friends with now are the ones I was friends with first. If we just started romantically and then ended, I really don't have any problem never seeing you again. I'm really just returning to how my life was before I met you.

    But if we were friends and then break-up — my life before we started dating still had you in it. So I may miss you or want to hang occasionally. Same goes for her. Unless, of course, I'm with somebody else. Nothing makes you forget about an old woman faster than a new one…

  • redlady

    well, this may sound corny but my husband and i have been together for 25 years and we've been married for 17 years…he is still my best friend. he was my best friend when we met in college and he is still my best friend now.

    we are both older and raising our children together and i look forward to the days when it is just me and him, sitting on the front porch, drinking lemonade (or something stronger) and laughing our asses off. he still makes me laugh harder than anyone i know, and i trust him. shouldn't everyone marry their best friend?

  • http://Idkmynameismikki.wordpress.com Mikki

    I just say there should be a clear transition between friends and now lovers, as long as u understand u actually court me once we decide we want to be more than friends. Not friends then straight lovers. There is a procesd that allows us to see if we should even take it there.

    I used to jump right in withour being friends first and none of those relationships worked out.

    Plus i think once u are actually official u stop asking questions that usually come with friendships, u wake up one day and realize u dont know as much as u should because u went so fast.

  • http://Idkmynameismikki.wordpress.com Mikki

    Aww redlady thats sweet!! I want to be like that 200% if u dont have that foundation it may be a lil harder when the lust dies

  • Plwatcher

    @ Everybody — the exes that I didn't friend, — Couldn't even tell you her favorite color, LOL…umm.. lets just say it ended worse than a fizzle and popp and ended quicker than it started, not to say there weren't some INcredible moments, but the price was paid and it was called DRAMA.

    Whereas, my overall longest and BEST relationships were definitely friends first and we started that progression thing, the only problem with friends is that if she puts you in the FZ there is no hope that she will even want you 'like that.' Well, maybe but you'll have to work really really hard, bc you'll always be the HoMMMMMIE, not the hit it and run dude. Its a catch-22.

    @ Redlady — Naw, not corny, Im an ATLien and I can't even begin to tell you how many of friends are servin or being served those papers by the Sheriff, or thinkin about pullin a trip to 'Argentina,' yeah and they got 4 boys too. Maybe people really aren't lookin for long-term, fun is fun, but is their such a thing as too much FUN? If there's not a solid friendship what do you have?? (unless your cut-buddies) ….

  • PeachyKeen

    I think that if you want things to last, friendship is essential. I was friends with my current boyfriend for a year and a half before we started dating, and it's the best relationship I've ever been in. I didn't second guess his feelings for me because he had gotten to know the REAL me; and since we already trusted each other it was easier to open up. It felt so good to skip that 3 month period where I felt like I had to present the version of me that would be most palatable to him, if that makes any sense. We came into the relationship having the answers to all our make-or-break questions, so there was no drama.

  • http://Idkmynameismikki.wordpress.com Mikki

    Plwatcher i think i would let u know at some point that there is an attraction. Usually Fz ( the real Fz)is because u arent that attrative to me. But u wont have to guess about you ending up there lol.

  • http://bit.ly/nyexaminer streetz

    Being friedns with someone is a gamble. And when you gamble you have to takr the good with the bad. The same way you accept when you roll 4-5-6 you gotta accept whe you roll 1-2-3. The odds are the same its just your luck that determines it.

    I dont need to be lifelong or deep friends with a women before dating. You can have a general baseline, and let that friendship develop as you get to know one another.

    All aspect of a relationship are earned, and frends earn it a lil easier than S/Os, so I'd rather you earn it as a S/O that way it would mean more.

    Im a dude who cuts off whether I know you for 10 yrs or 10 minutes, regardless of body of work, its the actions that count, and how you react to my backlash that determines how real the bond was.

  • LadyM

    People are confusing the "friend zone" phenomena with someone who is just a friend. If you were placed in "friend zone" from the get go, it was because I saw that glimmer of hope in your eye and quite frankly I don't ever see myself igniting that flame for you/with you. FZ, in my opinion and use, is just a title you place on that guy whom you'll never feel attracted to EVER. Those other male friends, in the right light, time space continuum,etc, always have a chance lol =)

    I am an avid supporter of the friends first scenario. It takes me a while to get to know a person and for them to get to know me and just get comfortable enough with the guy.

    "In short, would you rather be dating someone who is your friend, or dating someone who isn’t your friend? Now if that question doesn’t resonate with anyone, that bothers me."

    I concur…

  • http://Idkmynameismikki.wordpress.com Mikki

    Lady m i agree fz is that lil black hole u get put in and only called on if u need to hit up a function and need a quick date, or two u just bored as all get out lol.

    Usually i am not hangin out with friend zone men

  • Plwatcher

    @ Mikki – touche, yeah if there's some of THAT tension you def. feel it, haha. Sometimes that energy creates the best relations, I mean relationships.

    the FZ is not forever in the minor leagues, something spectacular or just being there in that time of 'need' can usually get you back in the starting lineup.

  • http://www.sleep-is-the-cousin-of-death.blogspot.com/ Tunde

    i can agree (partly) with this post. friendship can be a very good starting point in a relationship. my very first girl was my friend for 2 1/2 years before we eventually got together. i wanted her at first but she had a boyfriend. we eventually became good friends then she saw the light *pops collar* anyway, because we were such good friends, our relationship was great (when it was going good) but when it wasn't it REALLY sucked. like you said, we were TOO comfortable with each other way too early in our relationship. needless to say we aren't together anymore but we are still good friends.

  • Hugh Jazz

    I would never befriend a woman that I just met if I was interested in her. I'm not trying to be "friend zoned", so why would I start off the relationship with only that in mind? I think it goes without saying that if you are romantically involved with someone, you should be friends; if not, that relationship is doomed to failure. After all, what is the purpose of dating if it isn't to get to know the person?

    This is what I think of when a guy tries to befriend a woman he is interested in:
    http://www.theonion.com/content/opinion/but_if_we

  • http://www.threewaystotakeit.com/ Slim Jackson

    I think I may need to clarify a bit. I'm not saying that a folks should be like "Oh, that person is cute and has a good personality. I need to befriend them for a year and then holler". A lot of time stuff just happens. When people have that relationship story where they say they were friends for 2-3 years first and then got together, some would say that's ideal. Nonetheless, let's keep the dialogue going. This is a good one today!

  • http://Idkmynameismikki.wordpress.com Mikki

    HJ i read that and all i saw was " she is just not that into you" im sorry but it should take 6 years to figure out she doesnt like u that way and never will. Its like get a clue lol.

    Slim i dont even think it has to be 2-3 years it can be 6 months, just some point where u spent time and got to know them before u got into a relationship romantically

  • CPT Callamity

    Me and my friends usually stay just friends. They know too much about me and from what I've found…if there is no mystery, then there is no attraction. Plus…my platonic friends are that way for a reason. F*ck a friendzone!

  • Hugh Jazz

    Mikki: "HJ i read that and all i saw was ” she is just not that into you” im sorry but it should take 6 years to figure out she doesnt like u that way and never will."

    Mikki, you do realize that was a joke article from The Onion, right? It was satirical, but truth is said in jest.

  • http://Idkmynameismikki.wordpress.com Mikki

    Lol ummm well yea i knew that was a joke (blank stare)

  • Nicole

    I believe friends going from the relation phase back to friendship is the hard thing. It like starting a friendship from ground zero all over again. Plus, it also depends on how the breakup happened. If the breakup was mutual, then everything is all good. However, if the breakup was pretty ugly, that's another story altogether. There probably won't be a chance of starting over, no matter how long you were friends before.

    Personally, I'd rather not date friends. I tried it once and it ended pretty ugly. Friends should just stay in the friend zone.

  • Mz Good Heart

    I so have been in this. i had a friend and it turned lover and when we tried to turn it back it was hard. many of te reasons it didnt work was cuz we knew to much about each other pasted… but i still love him and he is apart of my life and we are both in realtionships now but it is no dening the the spark betweeb us!!!

  • smoove gp

    @ Slim

    That'd definitely should spark some good debate/convo no doubt.

    @ redlady

    In a perfect world, yeah, who wouldn't wanna marry their best friend…*crickets*

    I couldn't do it, but I know I'm not the only one…

  • Anonymiss

    I think its ideal to date someone whom you could also see yourself being friends with or already were friends with to begin with. If you wouldn't like a guy as a friend then what makes you think you're going to enjoy spending the rest of your life with him? I guess if you aren't really looking for a marriage partner and just "having fun" then it doesn't matter if you're friends or not but I think if you can't be friends the relationship is doomed.