Should We Be Friends First?


“I really want to make things work with her,” a male acquaintance of mine said during a birthday dinner. “Part of me wonders if I’m determined to make things work because I worked so hard to get her. I mean, I really chased her in the beginning.” He took a sip of his drink and I waited patiently for him to continue.

Its not often that I get to listen to a straight guy analyze his relationship, so I was all ears! (I won’t detail this guys relationship issues, but he’s got some very legit reasons why he’s working things out with his girl.) Anyway, he explained to me that he used his best “game” to get his girlfriend years ago. He had wined her and dined her and won her over, so even though things weren’t perfect now, the memories of what he had done to get her when they first met helped him to hold on now.

Of course as he spoke, my mind drifted to my relationship with Robert.

Robert and I were “just friends” for a very long time. The elements of a romantic relationship were always there, but no lines were crossed, ever. Those of you who have been with me through the whole “Um… Are We Dating?” story on this blog have watched the progression of CeCe & Robert from coworkers, to friendship to dating unfold. You also know how other guys treated me and I think in those other relationships (particularly with Kevin and Adrian) there was a stronger “chase” element.

Hmmm… I thought to myself, Robert didn’t really “chase” me… we just spent time together, became friends and things developed over time. Should I have made him work harder to “get me”? Do guys really need “the chase” to be fully vested in a relationship?

My male acquaintance continued to talk through his relationship issues. “But you know,” he continued “Because I spent so much time chasing her, we never became friends. We’re trying to build a solid friendship now, but its hard to go backwards. If I had come at things differently from the start, learned about her… what she likes… what she doesn’t like… and then seen where things went– I think our relationship now would be much better now.”

Whoa, I couldn’t help but smile, what he described is pretty much how things unfolded with Robert and me. By the time Robert and I went on our first date, he knew so much about me. And the more time we spend together, the more he learns. There is a comfort level that we have that didn’t exist with the guys that chased me, but maybe that’s not a bad thing.

It might not be as overt as when guys run game, but I see Robert work to impress me and make me happy and I appreciate it. When it comes to courtship, I think that being friends first has its pros and cons. But in relationships I’m starting to think that the friendship foundation is key.

At the end of the day, the guys who “put in work to get me” aren’t around anymore… and Mr. “Friends First”, Robert is still here, so maybe that’s my answer… time will tell.

Do YOU believe in being friends first?

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  • Maria

    My husband of 28 years were friends for 2 years first I used to tell him about days with other guys and even used his truck when my car broke down to cruise the strip for guys with my friends. To this day he is still my best friend.

    • thebiggirlblog

      LOVE IT!!!

  • Pet

    I’m the opposite. Once he is in the “friendzone”, I can’t see any romantic potential.

    • CeCe Olisa

      Really? I think with Robert it always felt like we were dating even though we werent, so maybe he was never fully in the friendzone…

      • thesavvyblackbird

        I met my husband the first day at a new school my junior year of high school. To register, we had to open our lockers to get the necessary papers, but mine was broken. He fixed mine but was so shy he couldn’t even talk to me. His mom later told me that he searched all over for me that first week. (He was badly bullied and was about to switch schools–first day was horrible) I added a class that he happened to be in. When I walked into class that next monday, he literally fell out of his chair. He chased me, and I caught him. We knew we were meant for each other within the month. I was the hot new girl, and everyone could not believe I was dating “a loser”. He is the most amazing man I’ve ever met. We’ve been together almost 20 years. Sparks flew, but a deep friendship also developed at the same time. We both love having our lovers and best friend in one person. I found out that I was sick with a heart condition and couldn’t have children. He didn’t think twice about still marrying me. He’s been amazing although I’ve continued to get more sick and am now disabled. Love isn’t like the movies–not all love burns amazingly hot at first. Pick the guy you want to spend all your time with–sex isn’t everything. This is a person you’re going to spend your whole life with. Do you want flash in a pan or a slow burn?

  • Rebekah Jo

    I’ve been on both ends of this. I’ve dated guys that chased me and played the game and those relationships died out pretty quick. However, the men I had friendships with first lasted longer, and most of us are still friends now.

    It’s a fine line. It’s like we want to nice guy, but if he’s too nice into the friend zone he goes and there he stays. I think women too are guilty of putting guys in what I like to call the penalty box (aka friend zone) and then never letting him out. Generally we put him in there because we are waiting for something better to come along, but when nothing does he’s still sitting there and it doesn’t cross our minds too often to let him out and give him another chance.

    • CeCe Olisa

      I agree with you on this, for sure…

    • HP

      Hmm, I’m starting to feel like the only one who has male friends that I would never have any interest in dating and vice-versa. They’re friends BECAUSE I’m not sexually attracted to them. While I get close with them, I still could never see myself dating them, that specific type of chemistry is not there and I’m sure they feel the same way.

  • stargazyrr

    I’ve always believed in being friends first. I think it’s a more honest way to get to know each other because there’s no romantic or sexual agenda. When you’re dating someone and trying to get to know them at the same time, everyone is so busy trying to make a good impression and put their best foot forward, that I think it’s harder to genuinely learn about someone.

    I met my husband when I was 18 and he was my best friend’s coworker. We got to be friends and kept in touch for years, even after he moved away. When I was 27, he moved back and the sparks flew. If anyone had told me that I’d marry that goofy guy that brought an air horn to our high school graduation, I would’ve never stopped laughing.

    • CeCe Olisa

      haha… that’s adorable!

  • tank54

    Love your blog Cece!

    • CeCe Olisa

      Thank you!!! xoxo

    • tank54

      Whoops, meant to finish my comment. This is such a fascinating topic. Ultimately, I think, in terms of long-term relationships, it doesn’t really matter where it begins but how it develops. My partner and I weren’t friends first but now he’s my rock and I don’t think that can happen without developing a deep friendship. If your friend had been dating his girlfriend for years and still doesn’t consider her his closest friend, that would be a red flag for me. I also think developing a friendship in a relationship can be a weird process because its different from any other friendship in your life — it’s different from you best girlfriend, your closest friends at work, friends from growing up.

      Maybe the problem is not so much that your friend and his girlfriend weren’t friends first but that they haven’t been able to figure out how to develop a friendship that uniquely supports their romantic relationship. I’d say to your friend that he doesn’t necessarily have to go ‘backwards’ in order to develop a friendship with his girlfriend; they both just have to figure out what kind of relationship makes them happiest, how they can best support and care for each other. Maybe, at this point in their relationship, the whole “wine-ing and dining” aspect (although who doesn’t love a nice night out!), should become second to actually learning who is girlfriend really is; the problem with the whole “game” part of dating, IMO, is that it puts women on this somewhat unrealistic pedestal in the eyes of the man. Of course, we love to be admired and complimented, but it should be for who we really are, not for that lovely facade we all put on in those first few months of dating; that’s the difference between flattery and genuine respect.

      Maybe your friend and his girlfriend could try doing something they haven’t normally tried to do in order to develop their friendship — like go on a road trip together or volunteer together — something that would put them both on an equal playing field. Hope it works out for them!

  • Rebekah Jo

    I also wanted to add this…I do have male friends that are strictly male friends. I may be fool enough to believe that men and women can have platonic relationships, therefore I have a few. These are not guys that I have any sort of feeling toward. They are my guy friends. I call them when I need advice, need help at my house and I have used more than one of them as a plus 1 when I didn’t want to attend a function alone.

    There’s a distinct difference between “friendzone” and your male friends.

    • HP

      I’ve always had lots of male friends, and I don’t feel anything for them in that way. They are my friends who are guys. I’ve always found it weird that apparently women “can’t” have male friends. I’ve never had to deal with any of them having feelings/crushes on me, so maybe that’s why? But I think it’s very healthy to have friends that aren’t just girls.

  • Jeka

    I think all relationships and people are different. I became cosmic friends with a guy and he knew all of my secrets. Fell for him and he broke my heart. Then I dated first became friends later with another guy and he broke my heart too. I guess what I’m saying is, let the man chase you and just let it be, no over-thinking, over-stressing. Of course as women, thats difficult to do. x

    Twitter: @LaMaisonDeux
    IG: @AlmaMusical & @LaMaisonJeke

  • Cassandra

    If a guy and I are interested in each other, I take the friend route first then get back on path to be more. This has helped me out a lot when we break up and are able to still be friends. Some of my friends think I’m weird to be friends with my ex, but I think that is how all relationships should begin..

  • Tee

    Great post, I found hearing your friend’s thoughts very interesting! I think it boils down to if the two are right for each other, period. If it’s meant to be, it will be. In most of my previous relationships we were friends first. But once it progressed to something more I found myself not feeling it as much as I had hoped. I think a lot of times friendships progress into relationships just because it’s convenient. Hey, you already know each other, you’re both single, makes sense. With my current relationship we did the “romance thing” first (I met him at a club of all places!) and we’ve been together for 3 years now. Which is my longest relationship ever. Lol. And, and the risk of sounding like a cornball, I LOVE that there are new things for us to learn about each other everyday. It really brings us closer together.

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  • Anna

    When you “work to get” someone, you’re not doing it for them. You’re doing it for you. The rest of the relationship is built on keeping a mental tally of who did more.

  • megda

    Sorry – but even that’s no guarantee. At all.

    I was friends with a guy first. For several
    months. Didn’t even think I’d ever fancy him but we just both clicked: same sense of humour, same whacky interests, same taste in music and films… in fact, he approached me first and asked to meet up. We just hung out with friends and just the two of us. Then BOOM suddenly I started developing feelings for him. Asked him out. He said it was the coolest thing ever cause no girl had ever asked him out. It all went really fast and because I thought I knew him and could trust him, didn’t think much
    wrong with it.

    Then after a month of us being involved, he suddenly started to pull the “Oh, I usually don’t go that fast” crap. Yeah, right “that fast” my butt, I mean, we’d known each other for over half a year as quite good friends…. how he was old-fashioned and him not over his ex, but he’d still like to get to know me better and see where things go, blah, blah…

    End of story: this BS sent me to
    crazy town, I believed it, went along with it for a while and in hindsight turned myself into a commplete doormat until after two months I just couldn’t pretend everything was alright anymore, told him calmly that I can understand it’s hard breaking it to someone that feelings have changed, but that it’s just
    downright disrespectful and cruel to act as if nothing had ever happened between us, when I’m obviously very into him – I mean, hand-made birthday gift, concert tickets, horizontal activities and cuddling we both thought were amazing several times a week… huh? Guess what he replied: “Yeah, I know that wasn’t right, but you’re really awesome – can we still be friends, though?” Like WTF?! Yeah, sure, you broke my heart,
    keep walking all over it, no probs… seriously? What are some people thinking?

    A few weeks ago, he re-friended me on fb after I had deleted him (explaining that I thought it was healthier for the time being). Still don’t know what to do with this. I’m not over this thing. I don’t hold grudges but it still infuriates me how selfish he was and obviously still is. Cause apparently, his whole agenda was to snoop around on my profile, not much more came after that.

    The worst bit is, because you get no decent face-to-face ending and a sense of “It might not have worked between us, maybe we can be friends in the future, though”, you don’t really learn anything from it – apart from maybe “Don’t believe anyone anything they say”. Great. Thanks for that.

    Screw people. They all suck. Even the ones who you think are your friends.