“Love is friendship set on fire.” ~ Unknown
We often date with the expectation of finding love—but not friendship.
It’s interesting that so many of us have heard that we should be friends with our partners first and that the best relationships are born from these very situations, yet we start dating and forget that we aren’t supposed to be building romance, but a friendship.
While it may seem simplistic, there are a number of reasons why when we first start dating someone we should only be focusing on the friendship aspect of the relationship—and not necessarily the love potential.
We are taught that love is amazing, incredible, magical and addictive. It’s what so many of us spend our lives trying to obtain and enjoy, but perhaps we often mistake love for something else.
Love is different for each one for us; it seems that we each speak a different language when it comes to matters of the heart. So, maybe what we are all looking for is just someone who speaks our language.
But if we go into a relationship looking for love and not for a solid friendship, then the basis for the entire relationship suddenly becomes faulty and shaky.
When we think about our friendships, it’s important to consider what qualities we need those around us to have. Do we foster our friendships and work on them, or do we just expect them to take care of themselves? Do we accept our friends for who they are, or do we gossip about them to others? Our romantic relationship will become a mirror not only for our own issues, but for the other relationships in our lives.
If we expect a friend to possess certain qualities, like dependability, consistency, understanding and humor, then we also need to realize that it’s those qualities that need to first be built within a new relationship.
Quite simply, we need to stop worrying about whether we can fall in love with someone, and instead concentrate on if this person would be a good friend to us.
Successful relationships and marriages are successful for one particular reason—the couple knows how to work well together. This means they take turns being strong, they lift each other up, inspire one another, offer understanding and acceptance, care for and nurture the other—all of the qualities we look for in a friendship, but somehow have stopped placing importance on in terms of a romantic relationship.
The thing we have to remember is that if we build a positive healthy friendship, love can always grow—but if we build love first, often times we are unable to develop the strong roots of a friendship.
Many times the only difference between friendships and romantic relationships is sex. And in between all the lovey-dovey feelings, we seem to have forgotten that our lover can be our best friend as well.
Life is hard enough already without signing up to share that experience with someone who we can’t be our true self with and talk about all the ins and outs of our mind. Yet none of that is given time to develop unless we go into a new relationship wanting to build that aspect first.
It seems that many people get so caught up in being chosen, that they forget to stop and wonder if they actually want to be chosen by that particular person.
We want love, and sometimes it seems we are willing to do anything to receive it, even if it means chasing it, but somewhere along the way we often stop and wonder what it is we are running after.
We can’t control love—we can’t make someone love us nor can we stop someone from loving us.
But, as amazing as the love can be between two connected souls, without friendship, what will get them through their darkest days?
Love isn’t a marathon, but an endurance challenge.
It’s slow going, and sometimes frustrating—but that’s only if we go into it expecting and wanting only love. If instead we approached a new relationship looking to build those friendship qualities, we might find that love ends up coming more easily.
It seems that so many of us can easily converse with our friends of the opposite sex. We can text them without worrying if we are being seen as needy, we can crack jokes or ask questions without thinking our words will be taken the wrong way, yet when we begin getting to know someone under the guise of dating, somehow all of that changes and we end up not treating that person like a true friend.
We worry if they don’t call or text back, and instead of texting them like our friends and saying “everything okay?” we instead think it’s a reflection of their interest and our self-worth. We become anxious about where the relationship is going all the while missing the point that friends don’t worry if they are going to lose one another—because they know they never will.
And that is the biggest mistake we make going into love.
Because love changes over the years, as do our needs and wants, but friendship—someone who will have our backs and let us just be us—that is something that not even the brutal test of time can change.
So next time you begin talking with someone new, or go out on that date, ask yourself if you are trying to find love or grow a friendship.
Because friendship can always grow into love—but love doesn’t always turn into friendship.
“Relationships are stronger when you’re friends first, and a couple second.” ~ Unknown
Author: Kate Rose
Image: Stephanie Overton/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron