You can probably identify one married or committed couple whose claim to fame [your envy] is that they were friends before they were lovers. Their situation is almost as idealized as those married folks who were also high school sweethearts. Now, consider how few and far between those situations are.
You’ll drive yourself bananas trying to match the love lives of your friends. You ain’t them, and they ain’t you. Furthermore, get your head out of entertainment’s version of relationships and dating. Your dating life is not a cheeky romantic comedy, and if you think it is, then you’re likely driving dates and potential mates crazy by attempting to rope them into this fantasy. Insisting that any romance you enter into is preceded by a lengthy friendship is unrealistic and naïve. What a great mate you’ll make for someone by being unrealistic and naïve…
Consider the source.
Being friends before lovers is one of those things pushed by the same people who discourage sex before marriage. Like, WTF, right? Other times, it’s pushed by people in friends-before-lovers situations who are unrealistically expecting the rest of the world to match their unique life paths. Many times, if you get to the bare bones of those friends-before-lovers situations (which are none of your business, really), you’ll find that at least one of the people carried a romantic torch for the other the whole time. And, guess what? That shit don’t count!! Not only does it NOT count, but these silent torch-carriers are part of the reason most of us can’t have an innocent, platonic relationship in peace! How many times has your, “Naw, me and so-and-so are just friends,” been met with a look of total disbelief by one of your friends or by the person you were dating? Or, how many times have people from your Friend Zone kept trying to get at you, even becoming upset at the fact that you just don’t see them in that way? These silent torch-carriers ain’t friends; they are Game Phuckeruppers.
The Friend Zone exists for a reason.
The Friend Zone is where you put people who are pretty cool and usually nice. Some of them are smart, some are dumb; some are quite attractive, others not so much. However, you have this fire of passion that is burning inside of you, just waiting for somebody to stoke it and stroke it just right. The Friend Zone is for people who DON’T stoke or stroke it with their mere presence in your life. Think of those people you’ve met whom you were strongly physically attracted to right away. You’ve seen some of them naked already, and you’re just waiting patiently to see the others. They stoke the fire and stroke your insides by just being there. Yet, there are other people with whom there is NO SPARK. You may like the same comic books, sports teams, movies, or music… close, but no cigar. They’re cool, but you’ll pass—for whatever reason. And that’s okay. Note: Some people do not know what a Friend Zone is, because they’d have sex with anyone and try to make it alright somehow, even if they’re not interested in anything more than the act of sex. These people cause a lot of frustration to others, and their mental-emotional-stemming-from-childhood-attachment-issues-having asses are too fucked up for full analysis in this piece.
Consider the breadth and depth of ALL of your zones.
Some of y’all are fucking up the Friend Zone definition by placing that sign over any category of people you’re not having sex with. In reality, we have many zones, not just The Friend Zone and The Lover Zone. For example, some folks have a “Might As Well” Zone, which exists as a corral to pull from when or if they get lonely enough. We also have the “Platonic By Default” Zone. You know, that one for people such as your ex’s cousin or sibling, or anyone with whom a romance would cause drama for others. (Sometimes, we dip into that zone if we think no one will find out.) There is also the “If This Other Thing Doesn’t Work Out” Zone. That one includes those people you’re lying about when you tell others, “Naw, we’re just friends.” You’re totally keeping them in the queue for if your current thang doesn’t pan out. There is also a zone for “Yeah, I’d Hit That.” You’d hit, but you have no plans to commit. Unfortunately, this zone can produce things like children, stalking, jail, and murder, but that’s too deep for this piece. The point is, that these are NOT Friend Zones, and the people in them are NOT “just friends,” simply because you haven’t had sex with them yet. If you end up with someone from one of these zones, then you were NOT really friends-before-lovers.
If you’re calling someone a “friend” simply because you haven’t had sex with them yet, then you’re fucking up the definition. If you have romantic or sexual intentions toward a person, then the person is not just a friend. If the person had romantic intentions toward you and you just gave in one day… well, maybe you just settled, and it was more important for you to be in a relationship or marriage than for you to feel the fire of passion. Friends are given that designation because they are NOT potential romantic partners, NOT family, nor are they people you don’t give much of a shit about. Surely they mean something to you. You expect them to help you move and to be in your wedding. But for whichever deity’s sake, please let your FRIENDS off the hook for potential romance. Sheesh.
You ain’t them and they ain’t you.
The truth is that no relationship advice is “one-size-fits-all,” no matter how much fun it is to read (and to write). You are unique, just as the people you date are unique. For some people, only that fire of passion is important. They want fireworks, so later for that friendship shit. But for others, that passion is not important at all, because—in all honesty—they couldn’t feel it anyway. It’s just the way some people are built. Some people were built that way by culture. Their salient culture guides them to build something that lasts forever, allowing for “love” to come later. If this ain’t you, don’t sweat it. But don’t try to force someone into your way of life, either. You are in a few people’s Friend Zones, but you also have people in yours who seem to be oblivious to the fact that you don’t feel the fire for them. All they want is to be able to call you theirs, and they can’t even see the imminent heartbreak if you were to give them a chance. If you know good and damned well that you’d treat the person like dirt or cheat, don’t let them out of the Friend Zone. It’s for their own good.
Become friends WHILE becoming lovers.
Think of a person you’re romantically attracted to who doesn’t seem to exist in one of your zones. You feel a spark with the person because you always have. There’s the attraction, and they’re cool, and you have stuff in common, and they stoke that fire. You could see things working out with that person, and you’d be willing to give it a shot. BUT, THE TIMING. Damnation, the timing. Timing is a realistic bitch, but it’s not pessimistic. It could work… one day. In the meantime, you can totally become friends with the person, but you gotta put your bid in. You gotta let the person know you’re interested. A “friend” in this case means becoming “a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts,” as TheFreeDictionary.com says. In such a case, you are becoming friends while becoming lovers. This is different than people plotting their escapes from The Friend Zone, because it’s on some real shit. Both parties know what’s up.
Bottom line is…
We’ve heard people say things from “You’ll never meet anybody worthwhile at a nightclub,” to “You can’t make it work with someone of another race.” They’re wrong. Most people give you advice based on their own fears and limitations. Fuck ‘em. Don’t let them shame you on this friends-before-lovers bullshit. It often IS a good idea to get to know people better before having sex with them, but biology and emotions aren’t always complicit. That’s real life as we know it. That’s also why it’s important to be realistic about your own zones, your own culture, and your own needs… without being an asshole. You have the right to your desires, but when you’re real with yourself, you can be real with others. Let the chips fall where they will. Despite any dictionary definition, we know what friends are and what friends are not. Friends are friends and potential lovers are potential lovers. Get that shit straight, and there’s only 90% more to figure out about finding the right life mate for you.