The Fine Line Between Friends And More Than Friends

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Hey Kirstie!

Wondering if you could elaborate further on the last portion of your Feelings That Are Easily Mistaken For Love article, where you describe having a lot of guy friends, and both they and you sometimes try to cross into a romantic relationship when you shouldn’t.  I’m bisexual and have an equal number of male and female friends, though don’t struggle with whether to be more than friends with them—I struggle more with how to tell when I’m going on a date with someone if I feel an instant connection as friends or as more than friends.  

I understand determining whether or not you’re attracted to the person is a big factor in that initial date, but I’m hoping you might have some more advice…as I tend to approach dating as “who would I want to be friends with first and foremost, and then am I also attracted to them,” and find the latter harder to determine once I’ve spent time getting to know them as a person, outside of the romantic elements.

…I hope that made sense.  I just went on a date with a woman on Friday that has me wondering if I had a really great time with, but I’m not sure if I’m attracted to.


More Than Friends?


My first question to you would be, what's your intention for dating?

Are you looking for a life partner? Someone, to just have fun with?

If you're looking for a fling or something casual, then my advice would be to stay friends with the person. If the relationship is going nowhere, why risk losing a solid friendship over a warm body next to you in bed?

But I'm going to assume you're looking for something long term; I feel like you wouldn't write in if it were just a fling. 

First, I want to address the pink elephant in this email: I am a heterosexual female. I don't want to sit here and talk like I know what it's like to date other genders. I'm sure that adds an extra layer of complicated when trying to determine if there's a connection as lovers or friends. 

But I'll give it my best shot. 

You've asked me this question at a really interesting time. Two years ago, I would've had a different response for you. But now, my views on love are a bit different.

My current boyfriend and I have been dating for four-ish months, but we've known each other for two and a half years.

I used to think love looked like fireworks, butterflies, and a rollercoaster of emotions. Not so much anymore.

I'd be lying if I said I had an instant connection with my boyfriend; I didn't. My current beau is a genuinely amazing man. I always knew that about him, even when we were friends.

We gave dating a try about a year ago, and I just didn't see the potential of a relationship with him. Then, this past summer, our mutual friends all met up for a going-away party of someone in our crew. My beau and I talked all night. A week later we went on another date.

I still didn't feel with him what I felt from my past relationships. What I felt was a connection with an awesome person, but I worried things couldn't blossom into a romantic relationship.

But I knew all my past relationships didn't work out for a reason. They were laden with insecurities, and the men I chose to date, often cocky and condescending, brought out the worst in me.

So I took a chance. I bet on my boyfriend, and I'm fucking glad I did.

Because we're taught that fireworks and instant sparks are what's necessary for a relationship: but I beg to differ. I tried all of that, and it didn't work out. What I really craved was someone who could be vulnerable with me. Someone that is emotionally stable. Someone that could be my friend first and lover second.

The position you're in sounds like a great one. You're at least establishing you can be friends with the person; the question is, how can you tell if there could be more?

My advice on how to know if there is more than a friendship is to bet on someone. Go on a few dates first. If you can see there being a healthy friendship— sharing of emotions, respect, and the person isn't an asshat— than try to give love a chance. Lean into the romance: hold their hand, give them a compliment. See how it feels. 

Here I am, maybe contradicting what I wrote in the article you wanted elaboration on. But in a sense, I'm not. The men I referenced that I mistook our friendship for something more had red flags up the wazoo that I ignored. My current bf, not at all.

So if you see the person as someone you can be friends with, that's great. If they're someone you think is a genuinely great person, give romance a try. And I implore you to give it more than a date or two to realize if it could work. A relationship is something that could last a lifetime, there's no need to rush it into something like what we see on TV. Maybe that kind of connection will take longer, but in the long run, it will be stronger. 

There's always the chance things won't work out. At that point, you can have a healthy talk about uncoupling and staying friends if you think that's a possibility. I've done it before; if you're both mature, there's always the possibility of going back to being just friends. 

Life is a long fucking rollercoaster, and we're lucky enough to choose who's in that seat next to us. When I'm falling down, and my stomach is in knots, I want to reach out for the hand of someone caring, loving, and my best friend. Not a person that I chose to be with because they're hot or we have great sex. 

In your case, I say, give love a chance. Attraction comes from more than what you experience on a first date. 

All the love,


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