by Anastasia Strgar
We’ve all heard that it’s best to be friends before you start dating someone. And don’t we all wish that we could live out the fantasy that, years later we’d run into our childhood best friend, realize that we’re meant to be and think “Wow, I’m so happy that I’m in love with my best friend” or know someone for years and always secretly have a crush on them and then suddenly one day, it turns out they’ve had a crush on you all along? The different scenarios go on and on- and while the fantasy is nice, it doesn’t always turn out that way.
After all, dating is complicated. Always was, but is even more so in this new digital age, which is why these organic relationships can’t always form the way we want them to. However, there is a get-to-know-you period when you start hanging out with someone. This period is called either “seeing” someone or “dating” someone. It is during this period of time that you really get to see if you connect with someone.
It is this first period of a month or a few months that is critical to the rest of the relationship. This is the period where the “friendship” is developing and it cannot be rushed. Unfortunately, too many people jump into the sexual game too soon. And sex makes things complicated, doesn’t it?
This is where being friends becomes crucial, because after the initial period of time where you feel “in love” with your partner wears off, being able to be their friend becomes one of the biggest factors for long-term relationship health. The truth is that sometimes relationships feel shitty. You and your partner may not always see eye to eye or you could be operating under the belief that relationships should always feel easy and should always make you happy.
Well, think about it this way. Any one who’s had really good friends over their lifetime (and I’m sure everyone’s had at least one) can recall a time when you and your friend didn’t agree- about the choices he or she was making, the choices you were making, or whatever. Sometimes you didn’t talk to that friend for a while or other times, you stood by their side and said to them, “I don’t agree with you, but I’ll still be your friend.”
This is exactly what you have to do with a long-term partner from time to time. You may not agree with them, but you still love them, even if, at that moment in time it doesn’t feel like you do. So, next time you and your partner get into a hard spot in your relationship and you’re not feeling very loving toward them, at least try to look at them and treat them as if they were your dearest friend- because think about it, they probably are. Look into their eyes and tell them: “Well, I don’t agree with you, but I still love you.”
Often, a simple statement such as that is just enough to pull you into the more objective mindset that you take with your friends and pull you out of the mindset, which makes your partner’s actions feel so much like a personal attack. So, when all else fails, be each other’s friend and watch how that helps your relationship to flourish.
Anastasia Strgar, a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with a B.A in journalism, has been writing about love and relationships for several years. She has written short stories and romance novels, penned the love and sex column in the school newspaper and wrote several blogs. As the eldest of founder Wendy Strgar’s four children, she has been inspired by watching her parents’ marriage and strives to put those lessons to use in her own relationship. She believes that teaching her peers early on about how to maintain healthy relationships is essential to creating a future generation of loving partnerships. She currently works as the Director of Public Relations and Magazine Editor at Good Clean Love.