Why I Want a Friendship Before My Next Relationship


By Matthew Estes

I liked her as soon as I met her. Her eyes were this special shade of brown, her hair unique as it shifted between brown and blonde, and the way she talked was something the likes of which I’d never quite heard before or since. I didn’t even know her middle name yet, but I did know it was love at first sight.

The next day I asked her out. Turns out she felt the same way and immediately said yes. We spent the next six months making out, going to movies, making out, going to dinner, making out… okay mostly just making out. It was so exciting at first, but one day I woke up and took a moment to think… maybe I’m not in love any more. Maybe I’m falling out of love. Brain love chemicals fading. Infatuation evaporating.

A week later I broke up with her, and it was anything but a clean break. With the force of a volcanic eruption, our hearts were ripped from each other. Three, four times we did this to each other until we hated each other’s guts. Fiercely, we took every moment to tear each other down in front of whatever audience would listen. And we could have had so much.

No, wait. That didn’t happen.

I’m sorry. I seem to have gotten my story confused with someone else's. You see, that relationship was missing a very important ingredient. It was missing the best friends component. Simply put, attraction is like plain soup. You can enjoy it by itself for a while, but eventually you’re going to need to throw in some vegetables to make it good for you. Being best friends is like having vegetables in your soup.

Odd metaphors aside, here are five important reasons to be best friends with your significant other.

1. Friendship lays the foundation.

Can you live with each other’s beliefs and habits? Sure, religion is a main one. But there’s also other things like how clean or messy he or she likes to keep things, how often they hang out with friends, and both of your opinions on having children. Having a friendship gives you time and space to understand these things.

It’s at this point where the structure of the relationship is being formed, and how intentionally you’re doing things determines how much it can take. When someone makes a mistake in the relationship, the friendship foundation can be the difference between the relationship recovering or ending.

2. It teaches you patience.

Say what you will about being in the friend zone (we’re still using that term…), it does teach you patience. That patience is going to be important when your significant other finds a way to get on nerves you didn’t know you had. Instead of complaining about not being together, perhaps have a little faith that your patience will be rewarded. Even if it doesn’t work out with a prospective romantic partner, at least you learn a few things when the right person actually comes along.

3. You can break up without actually “breaking up.”

I know you don’t want me to say this, but I am anyway. If you’re not in a relationship, breaking up isn’t nearly as painful for either party. The realization that two people aren’t compatible is a painful one, so at least if you never start dating, you don't have to stop. [Editor's note: At Mend we love highlighting a variety of perspectives. Here's an opposite opinion on the topic of informal relationships from a different author.]

4. It makes you a power couple.

Two people operating synchronously can be a beautiful thing. When two people look out for each other’s interests, each can achieve more. Attraction itself doesn't incentivize anyone to do that, only a true understanding of and care for each other can. This kind of sentiment usually arises out of friendship first. Without words, you can negotiate on each other’s behalf. It’s cool to see what best-friend couples can accomplish together.

5. You’ll be fine when the love chemicals in your brains are gone.

Infatuation may fade over time, and even superficial attraction. But the cool thing is that you can build new kinds of attraction. Attraction to how a person acts and thinks. When the “crush” portion of the relationship finally fails, the friendship you've created will have given the two of you an entire back-catalog of experiences. These experiences are worth far more than the “hotness” of your partner.

Life is too amazing to run from person to person. Life is worth having a person, if possible, by your side to enjoy it with. Life is worth having a true best friend.

Be patient.
Love other person.
You’ll be fine. We all will.

There’s no better moment to start moving on than right now. Download Mend in the App Store and start your free 7-Day Heartbreak Cleanse right now! We will teach you how to move on, step-by-step.

writer photo

Matthew Estes

Matthew Estes currently exists in the void between graduate student and full-time employee. One day he hopes to be a full-time novelist and blogger, but until that day comes he spends his time playing video games, eating pizza, and being with his soon-to-be wife. Visit marsgonemad.com to see more of his work.