Problem Point: I Want a Relationship. She Wants to Be ‘Just Friends’. What Next?

Photo by Taylor Smith

If you meet someone, fancy them to bits, desire a relationship and the other person is mainly interested in being ‘just friends’, get out of there fast! It might seem like a great idea, playing to the other person’s demands to be ‘friends’ with the hope of being something more to them later on, or just accepting whatever they say to be near them. But there are a lot of things wrong with this situation, of which the following are crucial.

1. People who desire ‘friendship’ above intimacy, when there is clearly some attraction between the couple, tend to have hidden agendas. They are either commitment-phobes who cannot bear to commit intimately to anyone, but still want that person’s company, or, by being ‘friends’ they prevent the other person from finding someone else, deliberately to keep the attention on them, yet have nothing intimate to offer the party. Or they simply wish to control the relationship on their terms, regardless of how the other person feels. 

This is not a good situation at all because it means one person hands over their power to another who will be the decider of how long that ‘friendship’ lasts, and the rules they wish to play by, especially when any relationship between two people is usually decided by both. In fact, in these ‘friendship only’ cases, it is likely that the other party doesn’t fancy that person at all, but lacks the courage to say so, or just wish to keep the attention they’re getting.

2. You cannot have real friendship between a couple when the expectations are diverse. It means that only one person – the party controlling the relationship – will be getting what he/she wants. Worse still, the other party will be constantly yearning to move the friendship on, constantly hoping for something else and cannot do anything about it, perhaps wanting to hug them, embrace them and love them, but have to keep their distance. That can be sheer torture and causes a lot of negative feelings and unnecessary anxiety. In short, one person will always have to be hiding their true feelings and treading on eggshells to keep the ‘friendship’ going. 

That is not a healthy way to live. The longer this goes on, the more anxious and inadequate one party will feel, as they are denied attention and affection, and the more stress there is likely to be between the couple, especially if any pressure is being put on the other person to change the relationship to a more intimate one.

3. You cannot mix sex and real friendship. Genuine friendship is a platonic state where we like that person without intimacy because we are attracted to them in a supportive rather than a sexual way. The best friendship between couples who share attraction usually comes when the sexual attraction has worn off, or has been addressed, and the two people now understand each other more, can value each other because of what they have experienced together and view each other from a position of mutual strength and respect. Once there is sexual attraction, that will dominate the friendship until it is sorted. Hence one cannot have a one-sided friendship where someone is really attracted to the other person intimately, yet they just want to be ‘friends’. No kind of real friendship can result from that mismatch. One person is simply being used for the other person’s benefit.

4. Most important, while the couple are concentrating on being ‘friends’, one of them is missing the opportunity to find their true date or mate. They could have been using that time to be available to someone else who genuinely fancies them, instead of hanging around a person who doesn’t. Not only that, they will feel very crappy and excluded when the so called ‘friend’ then fancies someone else and they are supposed to accept it readily without a murmur. That is usually the worst part of the deal: seeing the ‘friend’ going after others while the other party has to simply watch, grin and bear it, and say nothing.

Be clear about your friendships so that the boundaries do not blur. Be friends with someone you fancy, by all means, but only when you have found a partner, too, and they can see that friendship means just that – a platonic association – to both of you. You’ll then be befriending that person on your terms, too, instead of just being a puppet to theirs.

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