From Friendship to “All I Need Is A Friend Like You”
Once you have necessarily made a lover out of a friend, keep both
After acquaintance and with growing knowledge comes friendship. This stage in relationship is an indication that the people involved have developed some level of mutual affection for each other. Such bond could be characterized by aligned interest, mutual understanding, compassion, honesty, trust, openness, empathy and even sympathy among other reasons.
Most people make the mistake of considering friendship as only a stepping stone to a romantic relationship. They forget too soon the very foundation upon which their love life is built on. True friendship is the cornerstone of intimate relationship.
Friendship versus Love
People often regard love and friendship as two separate entities. But are they really different? The oxford dictionary defines love as “a strong feeling of affection and sexual attraction for someone” or simply, “a strong feeling of affection”. How different is that from friendship if you discount the sexual component and the adjective STRONG?
The difference between friendship and love is thus defined by the intensity, depth and magnitude of the affection. Love therefore is a progression of friendship. No person will consider you a true lover unless there is some level of trust, honesty, openness, understanding and mutual sharing. And aren’t these expected in friendship too?
But then you don’t fall in love with all those whom you are friends with and you don’t necessarily get sexually attracted to only the person you love. But again, who say you can’t?. It is quite possible to get sexually attracted to a person you do not love, the reasons are many. It include a person’s aesthetics, smell, voice, dressing, sexual orientation, physical qualities and even alcohol consumption. This possibility has cost many their intimate relationships.
It is equally possible to go from being a friend to being a lover, the difference remember, is in the magnitude of your affection. This can be a function of time. There is a mystical attraction which can turn a friend to a lover overnight. There is a point where love branches out of friendship and takes it course. Again, this possibility has cost some people their relationships and favorably earned others one.
Once you have necessarily made a lover out of a friend, keep both. But don’t forget the difference. If you truly cherish that beautiful date and would like it to grow, you must draw a line between your romantic love life and friendship.
Drawing the line
This is where most people fail, drawing the line between friendship and love. Personally I am not a proponent of opposite-sex friendship when in a serious relationship. I am not talking about acquaintances, peer groups and the likes. You just can’t be best friends with that one person– not long-term at least. Such friendship is like a timed bomb waiting to explode.
But I do not rule out the possibility of a healthy opposite-sex friendship either. Where such friendship needs to be maintained alongside a serious romantic relationship, the following tips can be helpful in keeping your most cherish relationship secure:
- Communicate clearly: set boundaries to keep a platonic friendship from becoming uncomfortable by being clear about your intentions. If you genuinely want someone to study with for example, but the boy or girl you are friends with is secretly hoping you will fall in love with them, the friendship is bound to pose a threat to your romantic relationship.
- Set ground rules: to maintain appropriate boundaries in your friendship, you need to set some ground rules. These could include avoiding late night parties, meeting only at certain times and places, not taking alcohol when together, avoiding discussion of certain topics among other things. This list is entirely up to you
- Monitor physical behaviour: DO NOT engage in physical behaviour with your opposite-sex friend that you wouldn’t with a friend of the same gender orientation. If you ask yourself “can I do this in front of my girl or guy?” and the answer is no, then it is probably not worth doing. And if you find your friend guilty of this, you should think twice about your friendship.
- Know when to exit: this one is simple, know when to dissolve a friendship that poses serious danger to your romantic relationship. Very importantly, friendship with an ex-lover is a serious no-do. In this case, the boundaries you are seeking to create have already been crossed. Focus on the moment and the future, not in the past.
Closing the gap
Once you have taken measures to protect your friendship from your romantic relationship, it is very important to let your partner know of your friends. You may even include him or her in your outings with them. The most important point here being awareness, secrecy can be deadly. But it is very importantly that you do not divulge information to your friend that you wouldn’t tell your partner. This can breed distrust and lack of confidence in the relationship.
You partner should be able to see clearly the measures you have put in place to keep your opposite-sex friendship from being a threat to the relationship otherwise they could get really insecure and things can get out of the way.
Very importantly too, you should leave the door of communication wide open in your relationship. In a common situation where your partner does not approve of your choice of friend, you may have to decide between your friend and your partner who to keep.
If he or she has gone from being a friend to being all you need as a lover, then the relationship is worth keeping at all cost. After all, you also have a friend in him or her.
Have a beautiful relationship!