Don’t Be Friends First

So as I’ve mentioned before I’ve read a whole lot of online profiles.  I mean a lot.  One thing that always makes me laugh is when the woman says something to the effect of, “I want to marry my best friend” or, “I want to be friends first.”

Gentlemen, don’t believe this.  Here is what that means in reality.  The whole friends first thing is just a safety measure.  It means essentially, “I want to lessen the pressure on this situation.” It can also mean, “I not attracted to you but I’m not good at saying no to people so I’ll say this instead.”  It does not mean they want to be “just friends” for a while and will be attracted to you later.

When a woman says she wants to marry her best friend, it means that she wants to be best friends with the person she is already attracted to and wants to marry.  That is not a bad thing by the way.  But it doesn’t mean that she wants to become friends and then marry someone even though she isn’t attracted to them.

Friendship in a relationship is extremely important.  In the book, The Mystery Method, “Mystery” (you can search this guy out on your own – I don’t condone all that he says but there is some good stuff) offers this equation: Attraction + Comfort = Seduction.  Read that again.  Here’s the idea.  If you create attraction with a woman but aren’t friend material (read comfort) eventually it won’t work.  But if you create friendship without attraction – that is all it will ever be.  You are stuck in the friendzone.

The point is that people, male and female, date people they are attracted to period.  End of story.  We’ll talk about how to get out of/avoid the friendzone later, but that is not the point of this post.  Today I want to talk about pursuing women under the guise of friendship.

This is especially important in the “Christian” dating (or courting or whatever you call it) culture.  Just because we are not going to have sex on the first date does not make us “friends”.  It means we have morals.  But this idea of being her friend so she will eventually like me is weak.  If I’m interested in pursuing a girl I should not approach it as a friendship. Why?  Because that is not what I actually want and that makes it shady.

It drives me crazy when guys do this.  This isn’t legitimate friendship.  It’s false.  It’s a strategy.  There are all sorts of reasons for this strategy.  Maybe, I don’t have the guts to ask this girl out so instead I will become “friends” with her.  Or I know she doesn’t like me but I like her so I’ll hang around her as much as I can and hope that eventually somehow she will “like” me.

Maybe I’ll join her small group, join her cause (something she is passionate about) or worst of all, I “minister” to her, thinking that eventually she will like me. If I do all of this with the hope/intention of turning it into more, then I’m not really being her friend. I’m using friendship as a way to pursue her.

Now I’m not talking about someone who is a friend and later becomes someone of interest. That can sometimes happen.  I’m also not saying don’t have female friends.  What I’m talking about here is using the friendship angle when you don’t mean it.  It’s bad because it’s intellectually dishonest.  Frankly it’s also a waste of time.  Once you are in the friendzone you are done.  Why go there on purpose?  You will never turn that into more as long as that is how she views you.

Honestly there are some guys who are lacking self confidence and think this is literally the only way to get to hang out with women they like.  I feel legitimate pain in my heart for you if that is where you are at.  But you are worth more than that. Stop subjecting yourself to this.

Finally there are guys who are “friends” first because they aren’t sure they want to actually date a particular person or they want to be “friends” with multiple people.  So they “hang out” (read date but without any kind of responsibility) with their “friend”.  Maybe it’s a girl who you think you should be attracted to or who your friends want you to be attracted to. It doesn’t matter. You already know you aren’t attracted to this person – or you’d ask her out.  Don’t drag it out and lead her on.

Look, at one point or another in the last 25 years I’ve done all of the above.  How many times did this work out?  Zero.

So have you ever used the “friend’s first” strategy?  Did it actually protect you?  Have you ever seen it work?

21 thoughts on “Don’t Be Friends First

  1. I love everything you say here about not using the friendship angle as a sort of cover up. I do want to comment on the situation with women writing in their profiles that they want to be friends first. If you are doing on-line dating and a girl writes that in her profile, it most likely means, “Don’t try to get physical with me before we get to know each other.” I’ve done the on-line dating thing… it’s not a pretty situation. No matter how much I talked about my faith in my profile and in emails most guys went straight to the physical stuff. Women are just trying to figure out how to build in some space so that they can get to know a guy a little bit before a guy is all over them. Remember that cheesy thing they told us in junior high, “Women are like ovens, men are like microwaves.” Give us a chance to warm up, but yes, it shouldn’t be too long. Like you said, don’t do the Christian dating thing and put yourself in the “friend zone.”

    • Hey Michelle. Great, great point. I was focussed on the way guys read that and use it the wrong way. But you are exactly right on that. It can definitely mean that. Online dating as a female has to be crazy. Thanks for bringing that up.

  2. Hi there,

    Whatever happened to old fashioned courting? Going back to square one like our grandparents did and being gentlemen and ladies? They have lifetime marriages. How did they do it? Rather than reinvent the wheel or create an dating eWheel monster – how do we pick up the legacy of life lasting marriage that they had laid down for us?

    Friends first does work sometimes. I have friends who are gearing up for their marriage in October next year. They were friends only for 8 years before they realised they wanted to be together. They are the happiest and most caring couple (caring about each other) that I know. It was actually a surprise to everyone when they decided to become a couple because they were best of friends and I can tell you the result in their relationship is visible. They already know each other so well as friends, which takes away the facade that people put up when they are dating for more than just friendship, that their relationship has no secrets – they already accept each other, they know each others bad points and good points and as friends they were able to move through those points and all they are left to do is love each other. They have been in their relationship now for about 3 years and will be married next year.

    So it can happen successfully. She wanted to be friends. He watched her go with guys who treated her poorly, and she watched him go through the same while he waited for her – they were able to help each other as friends only through those periods until one day they both realised that they really did care much more about each other. (yes, they are unbelievers but they are on to something? Friends first.)

    I don’t envy what they have, my husband is my best friend and marriage has taught me that. But we weren’t friends first and our relationship (yes, we are now believers, but we weren’t when we met).

  3. I guess this is where patience is most important? They were friends for 8 years. No rush for anything more. The relationships they had that were rushed, didn’t last.

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  6. Patience in a friendship/relationship is really important, because honestly, if you’re going to be together forever in marriage, you have to learn to be patient in the slowness of God’s timing, not ours.

  7. Ok.
    Now how do you explain it when a guy says that he wants to be friends after a girl told him about her feelings but keeps dating her (one on one diners, meeting the family, meeting friends and events together)??

    • If you mean that the girl shared that she liked him and he said he just wants to be friends but then keeps doing all of that I’d say that most likely one of a couple of things. Either he wants to date her but is being religious and doesn’t want to call it that unless he gets married. Or it’s convenient for him so he keeps her on the line so to speak. If they are both over 25 years old, if I were the girl, I’d say if you want to date me, let’s date, if not then what gives?

      • Thanks for your answer!!
        I understand that usually men don’t waste their time with girl they don’t like… and we’re not friends with benefits neither so i don’t know how to deal with this situation…
        Thanks again

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  10. I think of the “friends” speech as this:
    From a guys perspective dating a woman and she wants friends…….it’s because she’s made so many poor choices on past she has put up walls. Which is fine for her…..but the new guy is paying for what the last guy did. He’s paying because there are walls and her controlling most of everything. This is how a guy can be made to feel.

  11. I really love this. I have heard a couple of instances where two people were friends, and then a “switch flipped” causing them to fall in love and get married. I have also heard that men don’t spend time with women that don’t interest them. However, I do regularly encounter single men who seem to want to hang around near all the single women, but who never seem to take that next step and actually ask someone out. TO me it feels like guys are freeloading on female companionship, and this feels bad. This problem grows more intense with every passing year, to the point that I don’t even want to hang out in “singles gatherings” anymore. It is better for my mental and emotional health (and maybe for stirring the men’s motivation?) to stay away from those, and ____ instead (still figuring out how in the world to meet available men!).

    • Karis

      Good thoughts. Part of the problem is that we have created such a confusing context in our churches. Guys are often paralyzed. Sometimes because they don’t know how to interact with women for sure. But other times because they’ve sort of been taught to be friends first or that dating is bad. It’s all a cluster really. But I think you are on the right track here. When you figure out a good word for ___ I’d love to hear it.

  12. Hi Justin! Great article, very helpful! My question is what do you do though when you develop feelings for your friend and want to pursue a relationship with her? I’ve always approached dating by getting to know women for a short time before asking them out. But, in this case I have been friends with a certain girl for a year and a half and I’ve recently realised I have developed feelings for her that transcend friendship. I never initiated the friendship with the hope of starting a relationship, but now that I feel this way what is the next appropriate step to take? Thanks!

    • Hey Jordan

      That is an interesting situation and it definitely happens. Let me ask you a couple of questions just for clarification (understanding that even then every situation is different).

      Tell me a little more about the friendship. Do you go out together? What’s the context? Work? School? Church? In other words tell me a little of what the friendship looks like. Also, how old are you guys?

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