Or romance before friendship?
When it comes to relationship advice, Di Daniels isn’t the only Fulcrum writer who can dish it out. Recently, two editors got into a friendly debate about whether or not couples should be friends before dating. Neither editor was willing to budge, so they took to the opinions section to duke it out.
BFFs: Best friends first!
How does the rhyme go again? First comes friendship, then comes love, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. This might not be the exact rendition of the little ditty, but it should be. Dating can be tricky, and navigating your love life might feel as though you’re playing a shitty video game all the time, with no lives left—but if there’s one piece of advice I’ll give, it’s to befriend your potential partner before the romance begins.
While it’s understandable that this doesn’t work for everyone—there are exceptions to every rule—people might experience less heartbreak if there was more friendship and less romancing during the early stages of getting to know someone.
One of the perks of dating a friend is that you actually know the person. Instead of wasting time learning their strengths, weaknesses, and what makes them tick, you already know and like them. Are they a neat freak? Check. Do they like animals? Check. What’s their favourite trashy reality TV show? All of them. These are but a few details you’d be privy to as a friend…and you know what they say, knowledge means your relationship will be stronger (okay, that’s not what they say, but it’s what I say).
You know this person isn’t a stalker or a serial killer, and you probably already know their friends and family. Going this route in love means you get to ditch the whole façade people put up in the early stages of relationships.
Of course, when the relationship ends—if it ends at all—you usually lose not only your lover, but also a friend. While this does suck, don’t all relationships involve a certain amount of risk? Usually, if a couple were friends beforehand, they’d have an idea if the relationship would even work before they jumped right into it.
Finding love in a club is near impossible, unless you’re one of the Ying Yang twins and whispering away. The fantasy of falling in love with a complete stranger seems scary, exciting, and sigh-worthy—and it’s usually just that: a fantasy.
How long you have to be friends before moving to the next level is entirely up to you and the other person, of course. Some people are friends for years before adding a little passion to the mix. Some are friends for a few short months. The point is that they were friends first. And at the end of the day, shouldn’t we all follow nursery rhymes religiously, especially when it comes to dating?
Friends first… And never again
Some might argue that there is a place for friendship in a relationship. I am right there with them—everyone should be friends with their partners. The key is the order. (It’s all very scientific, really.) My method is essentially an adapted, less antiquated model of the old practice of arranged marriages. First get married, then love grows. I say first fall in love, then friendship grows. To people who say you can’t fall in love with someone you’re not friends with, I say, watch me. I’ve done it and I’ll do it again.
While it’s nice to think that the relationship you’re in will last forever, there’s a chance it won’t. And what happens then in the “friends first” model is that you lose a friend (unless you have mastered the difficult art of “let’s still be friends.” Call me up if you have found someone who has. I’d like to meet them). And what if that friend you lost was a close friend? What if that friend was also friends with your friends? Watch how quickly it becomes tangled and complicated. Breakups are hard enough to endure when you have a bestie, some serious ex-bashing, and a tub of ice cream to get you through; the last thing you need is your mutual friends picking sides in the breakup and no one bringing you Häagen-Dazs. Believe me, it can get nasty.
In the “friendship grows” model, breakups are still heart-wrenching. You are still losing a friend, after all. But the stakes are not as deep; you still have other, better friends to turn to, who will always be there for you (i.e. don’t sleep with your friends).
On a side note, have you ever heard of “the friend zone”? Have you ever been stuck there? There are fewer things more awkward than trying to take that step from being friends to being something more. Might sound easy, but in reality it can be worse than a slow tooth extraction. Better to get it all out there and call apples apples, because ripping that hottie’s pants off right away avoids the embarrassment of ripping your best friend’s pants off later.
And don’t even get me started on the misery of unrequited love. Friends first might seem great, but what if one person wants to be friends forever and the other person wants babies? If neither of those people change their mind, it can lead to a lot of misery for both parties and no sex for anyone. I say get the attraction part over with early—you will be clear about your feelings for each other and it’s a great boost of self-confidence. If you become friends afterward, great. If not, all you’ve lost is a little propriety and perhaps a bra or two. Say, “See ya,” and try for someone else.