Whenever I read guys dating profiles I always avoid the ones that say "I'm seeking friendship first, then see where it leads!" It seems that they like to get to 'know' the person before delving into anything more intimate. Men in particular, who fear commitment and hurt, love to hide behind this condition, while never really achieving their aim. But is such 'friendship' possible? And when, precisely, would the friendship change to something more intimate? Would BOTH parties desire that at that time? And isn't that putting the cart before the horse? Let's look at the evidence.
Friendship and dating do not go together because one is based on emotional needs (friendship) and the other is dictated by physical needs (dating). The emotional bonding in dating usually follows much later, if it gets that far. If we fancy someone like mad, that's a sexual need that will not go away until it is either brought to a conclusion or it fizzles out. Trying to repress those needs with 'friendship' is a one-sided situation based on fear of being hurt which usually benefits only one party - the one who wants to control the relationship for hisher own ends. It is difficult to be friends when you fancy the person and wish to get closer to them while they are holding you at arms' length, or vice versa, in the name of 'friendship'. It is a clear mismatch, and, in any mismatch, one person is losing out. So friendship isn't possible with dating because it has an unequal and superficial foundation.
When we fancy someone we can always fool ourselves that, should the fancying not prove mutual, it can then turn into friendship and everyone will be happy. Or that we can be friends first, to get it off the ground, and then sail smoothly into sex. But this seldom happens between two strangers seeking to be affirmed and valued by one another. In any failure to have mutual attraction, one person is bound to feel rejected and so friendship is unlikely in such a scenario because he or she will not feel motivated to get to know the other any better. Their sense of rejection will propel them elsewhere to get the affirmation they seek.
Another reason for seeking 'friendship' in the first instance is the desire for control a relationship instead of letting it unfold in its natural way. To prevent 'being hurt', some people believe that seeking friendship first keeps pain at bay. But if there is going to be hurt, no amount of having friendship at the beginning is going to stave off the pain! Such hurt usually comes when we are at the familiar stage in relationships; when we take each other for granted or when one or both parties begin to lose their appeal. Not at the start of the relationship. So seeking friendship first is really delaying the inevitable in a superficial way, especially where one fears commitment. It has little to do with the desire for real friendship.
The Basis of Genuine Friendship
Real friendship originates from understanding another's needs and aspirations and appreciating their pain and joy. It comes out of being able to empathise with them, in both good and bad times. Such knowledge and response are not possible until one knows another for a good while and feels comfortable with their presence. Thus true friendship is highly unlikely with anyone we do not know well. When it comes to instances where there is clear attraction, friendship is the last thing on the cards because the feelings of attraction will overwhelm all other platonic ones and get in the way of real friendship developing.
We cannot replace sexual feelings with friendship because friendship is enduring while fancying someone is likely to be fleeting. Putting the two together is a contradiction in itself, especially when true friendship is only possible when the heady feelings of romance have taken their course and we appreciate the person as someone truly valuable in our journey because we have grown to like or love them more.
Next time you are seeking friendship first, ask yourself why you need tons of 'friends' instead of lovers. You might be surprised by the answers you get. Not only that, look back at all the dates that have failed to live up to expectations and count up all the real friendships that emerged from them. You are likely to find that friendship is not really possible where we fancy someone, only if BOTH people like each other platonically. Once expectations were dashed, or there was any kind of rejection involved, friendship would be the last thing anyone wanted at the time!
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH)
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"