I remember the first time a girl told me this deadly phrase: “I love you as a friend.” I was in high school. I wasn’t sure what she meant, but from the look on her face, I could tell it wasn’t a very good thing. Feeling a little embarrassed, I left silently but quickly. I later learned that it was a politically correct way to say “I’m not interested…” Ouch! I was hurt, but I recovered…
Had I been quicker on my feet, I could have answered something like: “You love me as a friend. That’s great! Now that we have the friendship part covered, we can work on the next stage…” I’m not too sure that would have worked, but it would have been a valiant effort.
At the time, I wasn’t aware of the vital role friendship plays in the success of a steady, serious relationship. I thought being attracted to a girl was good enough.
Had she agreed to my naive proposal to engage in a “serious” relationship (at 14 years old, I’m not sure we can call it “serious”!), our relationship would have failed within months, perhaps weeks. The truth is we barely knew each other, and I wasn’t really interested in building a friendship. I was attracted to her and that was pretty much it.
A strong friendship is key to the success of a serious relationship. Entering into a serious relationship without it is reckless. In fact, serious relationships grow best on the soil of solid, healthy friendships.
This is to say that you should always be sharpening your “friendship” skills (i.e. your ability to build solid, healthy friendships). An inability to build solid friendships makes your chances of enjoying a successful serious relationship slim; the skills you learn when developing your friendships serve you well when the time comes to build a serious relationship.
Here are 2 recommendations to help you sharpen your friendship skills:
- Develop your ability to communicate. Communication is a vital ingredient for vibrant relationships, particularly for vibrant serious relationships. Many struggle with communication because they place a greater emphasis on talking rather than listening. Both are important, but if you err, err on the listening side. (Click here for more recommendations.)
- Learn to show your friends you care. Never take your friendships for granted. Make sure your friends know you care: spend quality time with them, offer gifts, be genuinely happy of their success, etc. (Click here for more recommendations.)
Don’t underestimate the importance of friendship for the success of your serious relationship. Like elementary school prepares us for high school, friendships prepare us for serious relationships. Focusing on developing your ability to communicate and learning to show your friends you care will take you a long way.
Question: Why do you think a strong friendship is key to the success of a serious relationship? You can leave a comment below.