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Ask Ogonna: If you wanna be my lover, you gotta be my friend

Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at askogonna@gmail.com and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna


Reader: I’ve heard of people saying they “married their best friend” or are now “dating their best friend” and I’m wondering how important it is to build a friendship before a romantic relationship.

Ogonna: I’ve heard it said that some of the greatest relationships stem from some of the strongest friendships, and I fully agree with that idea. But I feel that many times when we hear this, we think that these types of romances pop out of the blue. One day you’re friends, sharing a Coke and making goofy faces, chatting about nonsense to each other. The next day, Cupid hit you with an arrow and it’s as if the clouds over your eyes that you never knew were there in the first place were lifted — you now suddenly see your friends in a new light and you two immediately engage in a happily ever after.

While some of these romances do spring up seemingly out of nowhere, I am not one to say that these relationships must occur organically, as if it’s only a natural chain of events to fall for your best friend. But I do really appreciate and support the idea of two people becoming close friends before starting a romantic relationship.

Think about it: in friendships, there is no pressure to be anyone but yourself — that is, in real, honest, true friendships. When anyone pursues a friendship, that person is going in with the intention of finding someone to trust with secrets, insecurities, hopes, dreams and all that other gushy stuff — things that you wouldn’t necessarily broadcast to the world, but would be totally fine with just one person knowing. It’s easier to form this bond in platonic friendships rather than when dating because aspects like attraction and showing affection don’t play as major of roles. The two people are not only trying to say what the other wants to hear, rather, they are pursuing intentional friendship because they want to get to know each other and care for each other in some non-romantic way.

I also believe it’s important to be friends with someone before you date him or her seriously because friendship with no ulterior motives proves honesty and trust within that bond. With our friends, we don’t feel pressured to look or act a certain way. And even though we should still feel free to be completely genuine with our significant others, we can’t help but feel that perceived pressure to think a little bit more about what we’ll say or wear with the potential of running into him or her. I’m not saying we all go Selena Gomez level crush-mode and write a pop-ballad about how much we want to impress our significant others with the way we look or act, but we have to admit — we think a little bit longer about what we’re going to wear and say when we see our crush. I’m not saying we actually change out of our comfy sweats because of that reason, but we do take a longer pause to wonder about the “what ifs.”

The process of dating and being in a relationship is a constant learning and growing experience for the pair. It’s not like being the best of friends before dating means you know everything about each other. Courting, dating, whatever have you, it’s all a journey that allows for both people to continue to learn about and grow toward and with one another, building upon that friendship foundation and strengthening that relationship even more.

But while, yes, I do think a wonderful relationship can bloom from an already strong and established friendship, I also believe that the most unexpected things can happen in the most unpredictable ways. To each their own, and may their own make them happy.

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