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Mona Pereth
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05 Nov 2019, 11:27 am

To me personally, a friendship-first approach to romantic relationships has always made sense. And indeed my current and longest-lasting living-together relationship grew out of a friendship which in turn grew out of a business relationship.

But there seem to be a lot of people out there who see friendships and romantic relationships as radically different things, to be approached in radically different ways, rather than seeing a romantic relationship as one of several possible advanced forms of friendship.

I don't know what percentage of people take the friendship-first approach, vs. what percentage of people take a more out-of-the-blue romance approach. I would hazard a guess that the friendship-first approach is more common among people who have succeeded in getting into longterm romantic relationships, whereas the out-of-the-blue romance approach is more common among people seeking romantic relationships (mostly unsuccessfully). But I could be wrong.

In any case, there seem to be an awful lot of people who are into the out-of-the-blue romance approach, and who see friendship and romance as mutually exclusive categories. So the question is why.

Here, in the separate thread Platonic versions matchmakers helpful w/ friendships w/HFA?:

QFT wrote:
As a side note: the fact that people don't want to combine friendship and dating is something that I thought about for many years. One *theory* I have about it -- which most likely is wrong, I only thought of it because I can't think of any other theory -- is that women think of dating as some kind of superman context: their choice of man is the biggest, coolest man out there. Now, would the biggest guy in the room need friends? No, he is all so tough and macho, he doesn't need friends. So if a guy needs friends, then he would disqualify himself from being a dating material. Now, is this theory true or not? If this theory is true -- then this is why I take it as an insult when a woman puts me into a friends zone. If that theory is false -- then what is your theory?

Perhaps that theory is true for some women -- hopefully not a majority, but I have no idea how many.

As for why a lot of people (mainly, if not exclusively, heterosexuals) "don't want to combine friendship and dating," I really don't know. My guess is that this may be a leftover from the days of more-rigid gender roles and segregation of the sexes, when people just didn't have opposite-sex friends at all.


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Marknis
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05 Nov 2019, 11:44 am

I’ve always gotten conflicting views and messages about this when I’ve inquired about this topic. The pro-friendship first side will say it’s best to be friends first because women are generally afraid of strangers while the pro-romance first side will say you need to approach with romantic intentions first or else the women will think you aren’t interested in anything but a standard friendship. I am sickeningly confused and sometimes feel like I should just give up on love completely. I even want to kill myself when the confusion comes up.



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05 Nov 2019, 11:52 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
To me personally, a friendship-first approach to romantic relationships has always made sense. And indeed my current and longest-lasting living-together relationship grew out of a friendship which in turn grew out of a business relationship.

But there seem to be a lot of people out there who see friendships and romantic relationships as radically different things, to be approached in radically different ways, rather than seeing a romantic relationship as one of several possible advanced forms of friendship...
I think it goes something like this:

• Acquaintances first, with intentions of eventually becoming friends.

• Friendship, with intentions of eventual romantic involvement.

• Romance, with intentions of eventually becoming lovers (or "In Love").

• Lovers (or "In Love"), with intentions of eventual commitment.

• Commitment.

It's easy to become stalled at any one step, especially if one or the other person finds the current arrangement satisfactory. Taking the relationship to the next level should always be a consideration, however, until full commitment is achieved or the relationship is broken off.


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kraftiekortie
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05 Nov 2019, 12:11 pm

Most of the better relationships I have experienced contain a solid “friendship” component.

I can only make love with somebody if I dig that person as a friend.



magz
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05 Nov 2019, 12:41 pm

I'm on the Friendship-With-Additional-Special-Component side. Same relationship 15 years now, our friends circle is mostly shared, which I find great.


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Marknis
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05 Nov 2019, 12:48 pm

Ideally, I wish I could start off as friends but I can’t even make female friends. I’ve actually lost female friends because they got boyfriends and weren’t allowed to have male friends by them. Despite one calling herself a feminist, she still let the jerk tell her how to live. Things like that don’t encourage me at all and make me feel even more hopeless.



that1weirdgrrrl
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05 Nov 2019, 2:14 pm

Fnord wrote:
I think it goes something like this:

• Acquaintances first, with intentions of eventually becoming friends.

• Friendship, with intentions of eventual romantic involvement.

• Romance, with intentions of eventually becoming lovers (or "In Love").

• Lovers (or "In Love"), with intentions of eventual commitment.

• Commitment.

It's easy to become stalled at any one step, especially if one or the other person finds the current arrangement satisfactory. Taking the relationship to the next level should always be a consideration, however, until full commitment is achieved or the relationship is broken off.


I think I tend to take this approach, and to seek partners who are inclined towards the same.

On the note of stark lines between friendship and romance: I think this mentality is more common in young NT folks.

NT youth usually feel inclined to prove themselves to their peers (and having the hottest bf/gf falls in line with this need).

ND folk and older NTs seem more likely to know what they want and to seek a compatible partner.

Disclaimer: all of the above is based on limited and subjective observation. Take it for what you will.



QFT
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05 Nov 2019, 5:42 pm

that1weirdgrrrl wrote:
NT youth usually feel inclined to prove themselves to their peers (and having the hottest bf/gf falls in line with this need).

ND folk and older NTs seem more likely to know what they want and to seek a compatible partner.


I am 39 year old aspie, and to me "proving myself" is the one major component. I mean, yes, I feel lonely too, and loneliness hurts a big deal. But it is usually "the need to prove myself" and "feeling lonely" resonating one against the other that makes me hurt the most. If I were to "only" feel lonely without "proving myself" component, life wouldn't have been nearly as hard, not by far.

Incidentally, back when I was a teenager, I didn't care about proving myself. Yes, people were bullying me, but to me those were just inconveniences to get away from. Yes, I had a sense of pride -- in particular, I prided myself on the fact that I learned calculus at the age of 12 -- but the opinions of my classmates (or especially bullies) didn't count one way or the other, since I viewed them as way below my level anyway.

Well, bullying stopped when I was 14, but I countinued not to care. But then, at the age of 21, when I experienced ostracism, that was when I began to care, and get bitter. And basically from the age of 21 onward the whole "proving myself" become a factor.

So I guess I went through the same states NT-s go through, but in the opposite order. NT-s care about proving themselves in high school and they care about their studies in graduate school; I cared about studies back in high school and I started to care about proving myself from graduate school onward. So I screwed up both studies *and* social life probably due to having the timing so far off.



QFT
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05 Nov 2019, 5:49 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
As for why a lot of people (mainly, if not exclusively, heterosexuals) "don't want to combine friendship and dating," I really don't know. My guess is that this may be a leftover from the days of more-rigid gender roles and segregation of the sexes, when people just didn't have opposite-sex friends at all.


But the issue under discussion here is the situation where the two friends happen to be of opposite gender -- and the question is why is dating out of discussion. So the statement "well, its because opposite gender friendship isn't allowed" doesn't really address this -- after all, the two people under discussion clearly "do" have opposite gender friendship.

However, I thought about the theory that "incorproated" what you said in a somewhat twisted way. Could it be that, in case of opposite gender friendship, the woman instinctively views a man as if he was a woman? In other words,

a) She continues to feel like opposite gender friendship isn't allowed
b) BUT her friendship with that *person* IS allowed since she doesn't view that *person* as an opposite gender any more?

If so, that would explain why the "person" in question is no longer a candidate to date her.

Now, the whole transgender thing started just a few years ago -- but the phenomenon of friend zone existed back in the 90-s and even earlier. So could it be that, even though people became "consciously" aware of transgender issues just recently, back in the 90-s they used to have the same exact thing going on unconsciously?

I remember I was confused with a girl back when I was a teen just because of my physical looks. So could it be that the friend zone thing is the same kind of phenomenon just more psychological dimension of it?



Archmage Arcane
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05 Nov 2019, 6:01 pm

My longer-lasting relationships generally starred out as friends-first.

My current relationship also starred out as friends-first. It's pretty much following the progression Fnord outlined, except that initially there was no intention of being anything more than friends. Her situation changed a few months later (She was dating someone she thought was ASD. She actually contacted me for advice on how to deal with his supposed ASD. He turned out to be a covert narcissist...), then we discussed being more than friends and decided to do so.

Friends-first works well for Aspies. So does complete transparency (if you're polyamorous, you can already relate to transparency; if you're monogamous, look up the role of transparency in polyamory and apply it to monogamy). The transparency overcomes communication difficulties inherent when people with ASD get into relationships.



Sabreclaw
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05 Nov 2019, 7:22 pm

In my experience, every time I've started off friends with a woman that I've later developed feelings for, she's not reciprocated. Trying to find a partner through friendship first is extremely inefficient and likely to just lead to unrequited feelings. You're better off making romantic intentions known during the acquaintance stage and build a friendship DURING courtship.



Mountain Goat
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05 Nov 2019, 7:52 pm

It is where I have difficulty in a way because I rarely befriend any ladies of my age. It is like I naturally stay away from them... I think it stemmed from my early teenage years when my Dad said "I don't want to see you messing about with girls". I didn't know what he meant, so I stayed clear of girls!

Apart from on sites like this and the occasional visitor who are nearly all married or not of my age or are not available because they are not allowed to live in the UK (I have met lots of ladies from other countries due to my brother and his wife)... But I generally tend to naturally keep my distance.

The two that I have dated in the past... The first asked me out and it took some persuasion on her part.
The second... We had been chatting via an online website for ages... She used to have a boyfriend from abroad where long distance dating was not working. She caught him out with another though he said she was a friend. Anyway. They broke up. We were still chatting. I was friendly with both of them. But then he decided it best he leave the site.
Then one day she posted her picture. I casually said she was pretty. I didn't think much about it. She looked beautiful. We just carried on chatting and chatting... Then I was saying how ladies tend to stay away from me... (As somehow they generally do), and I had been saying women don't want to meet up with me... She said "I want to meet you". And we went from there.
After aboug a year or more of mostly online and over the phone dating and we did meet several times as she had three holidays down here for a week at a time or longer... , I felt God saying that she wasn't the one for me. It was more of a gut feeling somehow. I loved her to bits... But somehow, I had reached a stage where it was make or break, and I could not make if that makes sense? And it really hurt because I really loved her, and I know she qas really upset. I prayed and prayed that she would quickly find another so she was well cared for... And then, I noticed another chatter on the site. I realized he was single. I suggested that they would make a nice couple.
They met and met and met... And theh married. I was soo happy for them! It was wonderful.
It was very sad for me because even prior to this I had lost my best friend, as she foud that me contacting her to make sure she was ok was too much for her due to memories. So that was sad.
I am single and have been single now for a while. About three years. The issue I have is that for me, I don't get hints that well. I also tend to shy away from ladies if in real life. Online is easier. I also get faceblindness. So really, it is difficult for me to date but not impossible. A lady will habe to hold me and not let go! Haha!

But I have forgotton the reason that I am talking about now. Ah well!


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Kitty4670
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05 Nov 2019, 9:13 pm

I want a friendship first, I think it will last longer, I think that what I heard.


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The Grand Inquisitor
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06 Nov 2019, 2:14 am

I'm sure both approaches have resulted in relationships that last, and relationships that don't last, but the friends-first approach can be a challenge if you're specifically looking for a relationship.

Let's say you're a heterosexual guy looking for a relationship but you have no eligible female friends. First you have to find eligible single women to befriend who you could potentially see yourself in a relationship with, and if your interests are male-dominated and you don't have any women in your social circle or vicinity, that's already going to be a challenge. Then, assuming you meet some single women, you have to get to know them and befriend them, which is going to take time. Then, after you've made friends with them, you have to judge whether or not you think the woman you're interested in would be open to taking the relationship to the next level, and whether it's worth potentially making things awkward or putting your friendship on the line to ask her out. So then if you do decide to ask her out and she says no, that's almost always going to be more difficult to deal with than if you ask some stranger from tinder on a date and they say no.

That's not even taking into account the fact that you might develop an interest in her and she ends up partnering up with someone else, and then you have to deal with that. And you don't know where you stand in a friendship you want to take to the next level, which is difficult for anyone to navigate and figure out, but especially us on the spectrum as we're not as socially adept as our NT counterparts.

If you have friends that could potentially develop into something more, then great, no reason not to give that a go, but if you don't, trying the friends-first approach doesn't seem very efficient, and seems to have a greater potential to cause emotional distress and lead to unrequited love, and weeks or months investing in something that isn't going to blossom into a romantic relationship.

Starting off getting to know somebody with the understanding that both of you are looking to get romantically involved if all goes well seems to eliminate a fair amount of ambiguity and risks associated with the friends-first approach. I'm sure if the friends-first approach works out, then it ends up going great more often, but there seems to be more that can go wrong with it, and more to lose if your interest in your friend is unrequited.

Maybe a friendship-first thing seems better to you if you know you're not going to be the one who has to take the risk and do the asking out to escalate it.



magz
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06 Nov 2019, 2:20 am

The Grand Inquisitor wrote:
(...) the friends-first approach can be a challenge if you're specifically looking for a relationship.

This is true.
Friendship first works when you are looking for friendship first and you're content with being friends with that person in the first place.
Maybe with some dreams hovering at the back of your head but not much more in the beginning. Just comfortable with each other.
There may be a lot of such friendships but only very few grow to romance. Even more friendships without an option of growing to anything more, just good old completely asexual friendships - useless when you're looking specifically for romance but valuable as friendships are.


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