It was a year ago, when I found myself sitting in a college class on family. The discussion was on dating, and with over half the class unmarried and in the middle of the often-frustrating dating realm, there was a bit of tension in the room. It was at that point, a gentlemen on the left side of the class raised his hand to add a comment:
“A family-life professor gave my class the advice to go into dates with the mentality to make a friend. The next date I went on, I took that advice, we grew to be best friends and now she is my wife.”
Of course there was a simultaneous gasp, awe and then hush that came over the auditorium-classroom. Could it be? Could it really be that the best way to go into a date is by looking for a friend? But what about goals?! What about getting married??! Culture may be so wrapped up in the destination of marriage (even though marriage is a milestone and sacred beginning of another chapter) that the crucial foundations which bring joy in a marriage, aren’t getting the chance to develop.
I was one of those who loved his story. Though we all have different experiences, there is a lot to learn from this story. Best Loves are built on becoming Best friends. There is sometimes the idea that in order to be best friends with someone, there must be an extensive history, maybe even a childhood friendship, or close families. Though a situation like that is remarkable, I think it is safe to say many best loves don’t know one another for years before marriage, yet they still grow to be best friends.
The photo above is of my elementary school best friend and I. I think one of the purest forms of friendship happens before we get influenced by stereotypes, and are convinced everyone has cooties. So this is a photo of my partner in crime–I’ll have you know that currently he is busy studying away, and rumor has it he is still very good at baseball! He was kind enough to go over this post with me to make sure I kept our story straight! But, you have to know, we were quite the duo. I promise we weren’t a clown and tiger everyday, but we were best buds in and out of school, and whatever we found ourselves doing. There seems to be something that switches along the road, and the boys and girls start separating some, and life seems to get far more complicated. Looking back at how we built those close “best-friend” relationships, however, might actually help in looking at creating friendships what become best loves. Often, those things can be replicated where we currently are at in life.
What made the two of us Best Friends?
- We spent time–LOTS of it. We would have “play-dates” and made time. (interesting term, right??)
- We invited each other to group things at our houses. I was always the only girl at his birthday parties, and those are some of my favorite memories.
- We spent time with each other’s families. We would have dinner, and pray together at both of our houses.
- We were vulnerable, and took each other exactly where we were at. Thankfully, he never made fun of the fact that he could ride a bike before me.
- We found fun things to do, like making kick-the-can ice-cream, (I’ll post a recipe down the road!) jump on the trampoline, go swimming, or ride our bikes on his street.
- We had things we always did–things we could count on. We ate lunch together every day, and by 5th grade, we played frisbee on the hill as long as there wasn’t snow.
- You have “secrets.” There were at least things only he and I knew. We had a treasure map of where we had stashed a few things on the playground–but it was only for him and I.
- We had each other’s backs. One time someone was accusing us of “being in love” and he informed me he had to set the story straight, and “kick their butt.” I highly doubt he put his grandma in line, but it was the thought that counted. 🙂
- We took photos. At least our parents took photos of us.
- We didn’t text, we talked.
- We laughed, a lot!
- We both were into different things, and it was wonderful! He loved baseball, and was really good at it, while I was a singer, and was hosting tea parties in my spare time.
- We shared things we were interest in, with each other. He taught me about model trains that he and his grandpa would build.
- We would be concerned about each other’s wellbeing. One time I had quite the coldsore, and I can remember him asking me (as a fifth grader) if I had been to the doctor yet.
Life was good, and life is good. But has dating become more complicated than it needs to be? If I was to translate the friendship he and I had, into what it would look like today, I think it would be something like this:
- We set aside time to just enjoy each other’s company. We would make sure we see each other in person, on a regular basis.
- We invite each other to casual group things, or when friends are getting together. We don’t only see each other when we’re alone.
- We get to know each other’s families–we care about their siblings names, and are comfortable with each other’s family members.
- We are vulnerable, and take each other exactly where we are at. We understand we are all striving to be better. This does not mean we are blind to each other’s weaknesses, or marry them thinking it will all change, but we love each other as we are.
- We would find fun things to do. Maybe this is skiing, or lazertag, hike, randomly getting ice-cream or playing frisbee in the park, but we would keep things fun.
- We have things we always do–there is some sort of routine. Maybe Sundays we take the hammock out, or it’s that we play card games together one night a week. Maybe we walk to classes together twice a week. There is always something to count on and look forward to.
- We keep confidences, and know that when we’re talking privately, it stays private. There are things we know about each other, because we are close and trust each other.
- We take photos. We want to remember the happy times, and we don’t worry about always looking picture perfect.
- We talk, and keep our conversations out of the virtual. If we are far away, we set aside time to catch up on the phone, or through FaceTime.
- We laugh, a lot. Relationships have ups and downs, but we are able to laugh about it at the end of the day.
- We back each other up, and are a team. We are the other’s number one fan!
- We both have things we love, and we support each other in those endeavors. We even celebrate the differences we have.
- We get out and go hiking, swimming, visit museums and DO things together–spontaneously or planned.
- We would share our talents and interests, and learn from each other. Maybe I teach him a few chords on the Ukulele, and he teaches me what all is going on at a baseball game.
- We care about each other’s well being, and even though we love spending time, make sure we both sleep, and have our needs met.
I don’t know about you, but a relationship like that, sounds like something precious, and sounds like the foundation of a remarkable best love. It also sounds achievable. So where do we start? Let’s look at your next date, or the person you are dating. How can we be more true friends? The other parts of being Best friends and lover thrive on a strong friendship. There are best friends to be made, and I believe there are best loves to then come.
For more on becoming friends while dating, check out this article by John D. Claybough: Dating: A Time to Become Best Friends