Why You Should Build Your Network of Platonic Friendships

benefits of building friendshipsRegardless of whether you are over fifty, or about to reach your twenty-first birthday, the value of a solid network of female AND male friends is extremely high. Even if you already have a strong network of friends and acquaintances, I’m going to make the case today for expanding that network.

Here are eight good reasons to build your network of male and female friendships if all you really want right now is just one good romantic relationship. I also have an important warning for you if you choose to date someone you were introduced to by a friend.

Let’s start with the eight reasons why you should build your social network of platonic friends.

1. Purposefully building platonic friendships is less stressful than directly pursuing single men. Nonetheless, your expanded network of friends will automatically put you in contact with friends of friends, some of whom will be interested in you as more than a friend.

2. With an expanding list of friends and interesting people in your life, your judgment and patience will improve when selecting a dating partner. When your social life is full, you feel less lonely, so you are more likely to take your time and carefully choose a dating partner.

3. Friendships are worth a lot regardless of if you get anything else out of them.

4. Most of the time, dating someone you met online or at a grocery store is just fine. However, there are advantages to dating people that you met through a network of friends who can screen people for you. They can not only protect you from bad experiences, but also give you the inside scoop on a guy you might be interested in.

5. Did you know that social psychology research has shown that we like someone more after we do that person a favor? It’s true, and one of the favors friends most enjoy is playing matchmaker to set you up. As you build your relationship network, give your friends permission to spread the word when you are single and looking.

6. When you build your network of friendships with men, you feel more natural and relaxed hanging out with men. That translates to feeling more natural and relaxed on a first date with a guy that you actually want to make a great impression on.

7. In the process of building your friendship network, you will accidentally run into people you are actually interested in as a dating prospect rather than simply as a friend. Because you were just looking for friendship when you introduced yourself, the pressure was off for both you and him. It’s a simple shift in mindset that takes some of the pressure out of dating.

8. There are practical benefits to having a large network of friends and acquaintances beyond those associated with your goal of meeting a keeper. For example, when you’re trying to move, a group of sixteen friends makes it feel like quick work. When you need a job, research suggests word-of-mouth is still the primary method by which people attain employment; even in the age of monster.com and other online job listing sites.

And now I have a warning for you. If you take this advice and work on building your social network, your friends will introduce you to people that you end up dating. Before you accept a setup of this sort, it is important for you to develop an “exit strategy.”

An exit strategy is just what it sounds like. It’s a plan for how you will exit the relationship. Finding “the one” usually doesn’t happen on the first try (I know…duh).

Relationships end all the time, and emotionally mature people know how to handle that well. However, not everyone you date will be an emotionally mature person. An exit strategy is most important in situations where you find yourself dating someone who is not the most emotionally mature.

benefits of building friendshipsThe key is that you don’t want to damage the relationship you have with a friend in the process of exiting a dating relationship with someone your friend introduced you to. An exit strategy simply makes it a little bit easier to back out of a dating situation if the need to do so should arise.

Some people like to use time-limited dating as an exit strategy. In this situation, you simply tell the guy you would like to just get to know them across the course of three weeks, letting them know in advance that you want to get to know a lot of different people right now rather than spend a lot of time dating one person. Personally, I think there are too many limitations caused by that kind of exit strategy.

I prefer a more straightforward approach. The point of having your exit strategy is to protect the relationship you have with a friend or group of friends in case you need to break up with a person your friend introduced you to. I say go straight to the source.

Setup your exit strategy by having a frank discussion with your friend about the fact that (in all likelihood) you will not continue dating the person they set you up with indefinitely. Tell them you don’t want them to feel they need to defend you or the other person if that happens. You don’t want them to feel stuck in the middle of two people badmouthing each other if things end badly for some reason.

In most cases, that is all that is needed. Having that discussion psychologically prepares your friend to see the end of the relationship as a part of your healthy pursuit of the best life possible.

The other component to a good exit strategy is consideration of the way group dynamics may change if you date someone in a group of friends and then break up. That occurrence often changes the dynamic of a group dramatically. Just think it through and be prepared to accept the potential change…or else don’t date the guy. There are many advantages to dating friends of friends. I just want you to think ahead and be prepared.

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15 thoughts on “Why You Should Build Your Network of Platonic Friendships

  1. Railah fathil said:

    Hi james, this is railah, am in college, my parents couldnt afford rent , i decided to live with my boyfiend while studying, but he has been stress for me, he drinks from monday to monday, and he doesnt care as in he cant buy me lotion, clothes, or even vive me money for my hair, he works but idnt work, ilove him but sooo tired of his behaviours, icome from school rushing to come and cook for him, when my friends call me, he comolains they are my guys, pliz ineed advice , what should i do

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Railah. Relationships generally go better when you start from a position of independence. I understand why two people would decide to share resources in order to reduce expenses. However, the two of you are facing many of the frustrations that a married couple would typically face…but only after a serious commitment with vows to love and cherish each other. But when you are thrown into that cohabitation environment near the beginning of a relationship, all the stress of living with another person can push two young lovers apart rather quickly.

      While the decision is entirely yours, some people find it easier to share rent with friends and maintain a sense of financial independence by working a part-time job, even though that reduces the amount of time you can spend enjoying and building up the relationship with a romantic partner.

  2. Susan said:

    Thank you for this one, James. You hit another home run. I ran into a situation like this last weekend, and there is much to think about in your post & the comments…

    I’m still trying to get over a very bad breakup from last year. In the current stage of recovery, I’m focusing on what qualities & communication skills he has that make me miss him so much, then looking for those things in other friends but especially trying to develop them in myself–using his example to learn from him how to express that to others. He is a full-blown narcissist so he isn’t good relationship material AT ALL, and he fooled me and sucked me in. But in the hands of someone who isn’t a narcissist, using some of the highly-developed good skills he has would make the world a better place and would improve my experience. As horribly painful as this experience has been, as Odette said, it is for sure a gift for a better future.

  3. I like this post very much. It addresses a very fundamental
    issue for both men and women.

  4. Jen said:

    A friend of my son’s (she’s my age, though) went on a date with a man whom her friends introduced her to. They said he was the perfect man for her. On that first date he was telling her about having hit his ex wife. After the date, she found out from someone else that his ex wife died under VERY suspicious circumstances and that it is rumored that he killed her. I will stick with meeting my dates online!

  5. Marie said:

    Brenda I feel for you.
    The brain of a love-sick works like a drug addict trying to quit. More you try to avoid thinking about him and more you obsess over him. In marketing we call that Buyology… This is why the negative ads about quit smoking don’t work!
    I also dated an ex-colleague of mine once. The fling ended. It was doomed from the start anyway because of huge, irreconcilable differences,,,
    Funnily the end of something that was supposed to be an insignificant fling became a very painful one. I cried for days and felt miserable for weeks. Digging deeper, I realised that not my heart but my EGO took the hitting!
    The best way for me to get over it was by writing a list of his most ennoying and negative traits and focus on them.

  6. k2015 said:

    Good article. Good ideas.

  7. Odette said:

    yeah! I married my boss, lost my job as a result, had three children then when he left, cleaned out the bank accounts!!! Its a wonderful thing to learn these things…. they make for a much wiser more grounded person. Think of these experiences as gifts for abetter future!! 🙂

  8. Odette said:

    That sounds like a bit of a generalisation…. there has been many times when I wished Id had an exit strategy so that I could be clear when I was not comfortable to continue dating a man…. he should not have to “sense” it…. it is up to you to be clear, fair and honest… and sensitive. The only way to be that is to have thought it through.

  9. Van said:

    I can not agree here. I have dumped almost all of my boyfriends (even my husband) and I am not saying that is easy. You always need an exit strategy because it changes your life (ending a relationship) whether you like or not, regardless of who is leaving who here. I do not want to sound heartless but I do not believe in relationships which are not good for me.

    • Mary-Jean Palmer said:

      Amen sister! You rock…He may be a great guy or not…if I stay is my choice!

  10. ….Been there, done that…It sucks! I feel for u…But, now u know, DON’T DO IT AGAIN! LOL….

  11. tat said:

    Oh give me a break, girls don’t need an exit strategy, it’s always the guys that leave. I’ve never had to let a guy down in my life. If I’m even slightly not into him, he can sense it right away.

    • paulette said:

      I have always had to be the one to break up with a guy. I’m not talking casual dating but those that I dated for a substantial amount of time it had to be me to end it.

  12. Brenda Cremer said:

    I dated a guy at work, now I’m miserable every day at work because I see him every day, I’m still in love with him and I should have known better. It’s not possible for me to change jobs so I’m stuck, what a horribel way to learn a very hard lesson.

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