How would you judge the quality of the “wellness” in your relationship? Dictionary.com defines wellness as: an approach that emphasizes the prolonging of your life…or in this case your relationships. How well do you need to know someone before comfortably agreeing to begin dating?
I am wondering what your thoughts are on friendships in your romantic relationships. Is it necessary to be friends first, or can friendship come after you’ve already decided to begin dating?
I had the opportunity of interviewing some gracious volunteers to help begin our discussion. Some background info on the individuals participating in the interview:
*Ages: 18-35 (male and female)
*Relationship Status: Single, dating & married
*Average length of relationships: 6 months to 4 years
*Each question targeted the experiences in their relationships (currently or in the past)
Here are the questions that were included during each interview:
1) What is your current relationship status?
2) If you are currently in a romantic relationship, were you friends first before deciding to see one exclusively?
3) If you were friends first, how would you say that has benefited your relationship, if any? If you weren’t friends first, how has this impacted your relationship?
4) What advice would you give others considering beginning a new relationship? Is friendship mandatory before dating, or no?
My significant other and I met in an academic environment during undergrad. During the first month or two we had brief conversations in passing, but we’re berry much so strangers. Just by coincidence or fate whoever it may be construed, these passing moments became more frequent and the conversations deeper. There was an obvious attraction between us which led to a dinner date. We dated for about two months before considering ourselves exclusive. I would not consider us as haven been friends prior to the exclusivity in that there was that obvious attraction that served as a catalyst for future interactions. In that same breath, those two months brought us extremely close. We became friends during that time period and later best friends in our relationship.
The strongest influence of not being friends prior to our relationship has been experienced during times of conflict. During serious disagreements and even cliched “breaks” lines of communication were completely disrupted. For example, say there was a bad argument or we decided we should take a break from dating there would little to no communication between us. Largely because we did not have that history of being friends outside of dating and that less intimate relationship to maintain. Take the polar opposite scenario, two best friends begin to date but later decide things aren’t working out. They likely are inclined to work towards restoring that friendship that led them to give it a shot in the first place. My relationship does not have that luxury. There is almost an “all or nothing” atmosphere to us and we don’t have that preexisting friendship to return to.
Being friends first is mandatory for a healthy exclusive relationship. However, that friendship can be developed before that exclusivity occurs. As seen in my relationship, there are some nuances to manage. However, talking through periods of disagreement and deciding on the levels of communication in times of turmoil are ways to overcome the shortcomings of not having a long friendship prior to being exclusive.
Yes we were friends first and I do believe that to be the most important part in a lasting relationship. Nowadays, everything needs to be fast and it appears a lot of people want to rush the process. Knowing the person and being friends and actually liking to be around that person is what can get you through a lot of tough times.
Being friends helped because it allowed less pressure and promoted more ease in being myself. To me, the ability for two people to be themselves around each other without fear of ruining things with that person is a friend. Sticking a “boyfriend/girlfriend” label too early on muddles that.
My advice is QUALITY over quantity. Engaged people get asked the question “how long have you dated” and judgement is then given depending on the answer. In other words, if one couple says “we dated for three months” and another couple says “three years”, we quickly assume the later is better off. Taking time is great, but my advice is quality time. The couple with three months may have had numerous fruitful times together where communication flows, able to meet each other’s friend and family, and knows the other person very well. What I’m saying is dating, marriage is a big step and changes the course of your life. Do not take it lightly! Put in the quality (not quantity) time!
Click on the Relationships tab (or the link below) to see more results from these interviews. Don’t forget to leave a comment. Let’s talk about it!
*I will be posting more results from interviews throughout the day on Facebook.com/FreeBryd*