Be Friends with Your Man (Just Not All The Time)

How To Be Friends with Your ManDo you consider your partner a friend? You should.

Sometimes.

The French philosopher Jean de la Bruyere once said, “Love and friendship exclude each other.”

This is a deep topic. I mean, think about what the average dating relationship is like.

There are similarities to friendship, for sure. You share mutually enjoyable activities, hang out, talk, support each other, and generally stay in close communication. That doesn’t sound all that different from your connection with your best friend.

And then there’s the stuff you DON’T do with your best friend. Like kiss.

In one sense, an underlying friendship makes romance stronger. But, to our French friend’s point, there’s a reason we use terms like “the friend zone” to describe guys you’re not into. Friendship is NOT romantic love.

Researchers have even studied the tension between the two concepts. Here’s what they found.

When you’re not friendly toward your guy, he’ll want you more. Basically, he’ll be more inclined to chase what he doesn’t have. But without the underlying likeability of friendship, he’ll be less satisfied with what he gets when he catches you.[1]

What a catch-22. Be his buddy, but kill the passion. Or keep the passion alive, but crush your actual connection.

How in the world can you be friends with your guy without wrecking the romance? You have to be his part-time friend. Sometimes he’s your pal, and sometimes he’s your MAN.

Striking that balance is tricky, but doable. You have to intentionally cultivate both the friendship and the romance. That means doing two things…

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Romantic Friends

how to be friends with your loverShortly after meeting each other, Harry turns to Sally and declares, “You realize of course that we could never be friends.”

“Why not?” Sally asks.

Harry continues: “What I’m saying is–and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form–is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.”

In this classic scene from When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal’s character asserts that physical attraction will always keep men and women from embracing true friendship. Harry sees friendship as a bond between two people that must exclude romantic feelings.

Can a man and woman be best friends?

Some people say the best relationship is one that allows you to act like lovers and best friends at the same time. But what does it mean to be “best friends” with a man?

I suppose that depends on what your definition of friendship is to begin with. I see friendship as a bond between two people who value each other for reasons that have nothing to do with romantic feelings. This definition does not suggest you cannot also be in love with your best friend.

Friendship is born when two people walk a shared path together. Each one expands their sense of self, their outlook on life, to include the other. They share their highs and lows. They team up to accomplish things. They have fun together, do work together, help each other, support each other, and bond throughout the process. It doesn’t matter if you’re venting about your day, painting your nails, moving furniture, or going to dinner–friendship is about sharing your life with someone else, the good and the bad.

While romantic chemistry might have sparked your relationship, the relationship will never be all it could be if you and your partner do not also develop a solid friendship. Friendship builds slowly, while feelings of attraction blossom fast.

Attraction is wild. It’s like a spark that ignites a fire. Friendship, on the other hand, is a slow burn. It’s all about companionship, loyalty and respect. Can a romantic connection really be complete without those traits?

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Befriending the Ex

can you be friends with your ex?It’s the standard line. Everyone’s heard it at least once, and most of us have actually said it. Sometimes it’s spoken with sincerity, and sometimes it’s just a lame attempt to let the other person down easy. Either way, it means the end of a dating relationship.

“We can still be friends.”

The vast majority of the time, neither party puts too much effort into a post-dating friendship. It’s mega awkward, for one. Also, even if you were friends before dating, it’s hard to work your way back to that place. You’ve been a couple with this person. Returning to the friend zone is no easy thing.

Instead, most of the time, both people go their separate ways. Apart from an occasional social run-in, very few of us try to carve out a permanent spot for an ex in our close circle of friends.

That said, what if you want to? Is it a good idea, or a disaster waiting to happen?

It depends.

First, you have to think about what’s really good for you. Sure, in the wake of a breakup, you’re likely to feel the void left by the other person. You’re probably used to talking to them daily. You’ve shared your life with them. It’s weird to turn around one day and find them missing. The idea of keeping them in your life as a friend is appealing because you obviously like something about them. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have dated them!

But, sometimes maintaining a friendship is just a way of clinging to the hope that you’ll get back together. That’s likely to take the awkwardness to a whole new level, and that’s definitely not good for you. Maybe you’ll date again and maybe you won’t, but that chance is no basis for friendship.

You have to be realistic.

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