Thursday, February 02, 2012

The False Dichotomy of Friendship and Romantic Companionship

In a previous post I hinted at the problematic distinction between friendship and romantic companionship. I have stumbled upon a very interesting post that expresses my concern in a quite eloquent manner.

The following are excerpts from that post:

I recently witnessed many discussions on how acceptable it is to pursue a friendship with someone you're interested in romantically, and I keep hearing opinions that are absolutely baffling to me. I hear things like: it's wrong, it's dishonest, it's not a "real" friendship, the other person will be rightfully furious at you when they find out, etc. etc.

It seems that, for all these people, friendship and romance are required to develop on absolutely distinct paths, right off the bat; otherwise, they see it as wrong somehow.

I suspect that the difference between us is this: they see friendship as opposed to a romantic relationship, like the two are mutually exclusive, whereas I see friendship as being a part of romantic relationship. Moreover, it is an absolutely vital part – I can’t have romantic relationships without it. All of my romantic relationships began with friendship!

Another point: friendship is not only a vital part of a relationship – it is also the most important one, by far! The most rewarding, the most fun, the most worthy to pursue. Whenever I really like someone, I’ll always be willing to give up the sex in order to be able to be their friend.

When I am trying to become friends with someone, it is because I find them interesting and fun and I want to be their friend. Now, I may also want to sleep with them; but I can’t emphasize the “also” enough. The romance is not mandatory – the friendship is. First, foremost and most importantly – I want to be their friend.

For me, spending time and energy on a friend is its own reward... Otherwise, what kind of friendship is that?! And regarding the emotional turmoil – yes, I agree, it can be not easy sometimes. But it’s totally worth it. (At least for me.)

source: Dishonest Friendship?

Although the concluding remarks in that post are a little bit off-topic, I am going to include them because I find them enlightening and address some issues commonly encountered in practice:

This post has a dual goal:

If you’re my friend, and you realize that I’m in love with you – don’t conclude that my friendship is not genuine. It is.

If you are interested in me romantically, ask yourself: if a fairy told you that she looked into the future and I definitely won't sleep with you, ever – would that knowledge make you not want to be my friend anymore?

If the answer is yes – that you’re interested in my friendship only on condition for the prospect of sex – please, fuck off! I mean it – we’re not right for each other, I don’t need you in my life.
But it is completely okay if you are interested in sex – as long as you are interested in me regardless of ever having it.


Jack said...

I think there is a very thin line between friendship and love.You have to decided whether your love the person who is your friend.Romance is a very beautiful think to feel.

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Devil's Mind said...

In my personal view, the difference between "platonic love" and "romantic love" is a difference of degrees not difference of substance. However, I am not entirely confident that there is no difference of substance when romance is involved, so my view is shaky at the moment and I might have to reconsider.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that you are using friendship as a panoply for sex and that is wrong. At no point did you separate between the two, you suggested that they are somehow intertwined.Again, that is wrong too. Friendship and sex are not related and shouldn't be successive in any manner.

Devil's Mind said...

I agree. Friendship is not a necessary precondition to sex or romance (at least as a matter of principle). And I do disagree with Ola's post in that regard. [Just because I am quoting her, doesn't mean that I agree with everything she is saying.]

However, I think I still disagree with you on two accounts.

First, I do believe that in practical terms having a friendship to precede romance and sex is a good practice. Not obligatory but recommended nonetheless (IMO).

Second, the idea that friendship should be separated from romance and sex is misleading. So your criticism that I did not separate the two, and you go even further to describe it as "wrong", that's where I completely disagree with you. So, from my own perspective, the fact that I don't separate the two is what I am doing "right", and claiming that this is "wrong" is a mistake IMO.

I know that the common wisdom of the world suggests that those should be separated, but I am questioning (and even challenging) this widely spread belief.

Anonymous said...

I agree as far as some friendships end up being sexual and other friendships end up being just friendship without sex.The point of contention is that it is not necessary to have one in order to have the other. You can perfectly having one without having the other. I have had sex with some girls that didnot even know my name. We both were drink and eventually had sex. Also, I have had friendships from several years with some females without having sex with them.The reason that I say they are not related because sex usually comes much faster than friendship. If I want to have sex with certain female I would want to focus on sex and not friendship so I could have it faster. I don't want to spend weeks and months building friendship just so in the end I'm going to have sex. When It comes to sex I would like to be able to decide instantly if I'm going or I'm not going to have sex.Somehow i feel that there is deception element in there if I start as a friend and then end up as a sexual partner.

Devil's Mind said...

Agreed. If you just want sex, then you should go for it. I personally have nothing against "one-night stands" or "fuck buddies". These are perfectly fine. Same goes for friendship without sex. It's fine.

But some people put forth abominations of ideas such as: Friends should not have sex because it would ruin their friendship. Or friends should avoid romance for that same reason. It is those sorts of views that I am questioning.

"Somehow i feel that there is deception element in there if I start as a friend and then end up as a sexual partner." - I agree that if you are only interested in sex, then befriending someone just to get them in bed is inefficient and deceptive. But if you were interested in the friendship just as much, then the element of deception is non-existent (albeit it is still inefficient)...

Anonymous said...

Interesting post.
I agree that it is possible to be both friend and lover - and to move between those roles.
But it's not necessarily easy.