“So you’re telling me you could be attracted to me, but because we are friends, not be romantically interested in me?” I said, with a mix of frustration and intrigue.
“This is about as logical as investing in a subprime mortgage loan,” I continued, using a surprisingly apropos financial markets analogy, given my lack of knowledge in the subject.
Since the New Year, I have found myself wrestling (not in a cute cuddly way, but instead in an aggressive this isn’t fun after awhile way) with this concept – should you permanently place people in friends’ zone. While to me, the answer is an obvious no, perhaps we should be actively engaging our friendships as a new possible source for relationships. Think of it like expanding to an emerging market in which you are already quite familiar with the demographics.
Thinking even more about the subject, I encountered the poet (and rapper) Ludacris, who put it best in the 2004 song Lovers and Friends, when he stated, “Sometimes I want to be your lover. Sometimes I want to be your friend.”
Does Ludacris have a point? Is it possible to want to date your friends? And if so, is dating your friends a smart idea? An even more scandalous question, perhaps, is how many so called friendships are actually nothing more than two people with awkward sexual tension?
I can hear my readers now: “Kwama – dating ruins friendships!” “Some people just work better as friends!” “I can’t even imagine making out with (insert name here), they are like a (brother/sister) to me.”
Now, I am not intending to go down the oft debated When Harry Met Sally theme that guys and girls cannot be friends. Maybe in the 1980s before the internet and cellular phones when people rented movies from Blockbuster, men and women couldn’t be friends; but today, I mean, we’ve got a black president, I can wifi on my Ipad to gchat my friend who is vacationing to Cambodia while I am traveling from NYC to London in six hours – anything is possible.
In fact, it’s healthy for your personal development to have members of the opposite sex. And that’s why this article is not a repudiation of male and female friendships.
However, I do want to challenge you to look through these friendships with a different lens.
Think about it like this – when searching for someone you want to be in a relationship with, what are the things you look for? At the top of the list is probably compatibility. Somewhere near the top is someone who will care for you, respects you, and trusts you. Now, at this stage, can you pick a better mate than one of your close friends? I think not.
The final major variable of course is the physical connection. Indeed, romantic compatibility is important (or else I wouldn’t have a column), but therein lies my whole point: how can you test this compatibility without, well, dating. Now I get that some people just aren’t physically attracted to one another and this notion is fair. But how many people will admit in their current relationships that they BECAME attracted to their partner? Furthermore, let’s be honest, we’re at HBS, everyone here is roughly equal on the attractive scale.
Right, so I understand that it is (sadly) impossible to date every friend you have. Indeed, there are many ground rules or qualifications to my argument. Perhaps now is a good time to discuss when it might NOT be appropriate to go for a friend.
First, it is never a good time to go for a friend when they are in a relationship. This should seem obvious, like never eating and speaking while on a first date, yet just like that person who spits food on you, people seem to still do it.
Next, make sure the friend is somewhere around you on the attractive scale. Don’t be one of those people who will befriend others solely because they are attractive. Wait, fine, that’s not entirely true; let me further define this (as most of my friends are around me for my looks) – you should not befriend someone way hotter than you with the hopes of changing the relationship from friendship to more.
Finally, you must be willing to endure the friendship if the relationship doesn’t work or if the person is just flat out not physically into you. This point should be fine – we’re all adults, and you did at one point value the friendship.
That being said, I don’t see what’s stopping you. So, go out and make some friends! And my good female friends – can we all be wearing red at the not to be missed SA Valentine’s Day party “For Love or Money” on Feb. 9th?
Feb 10th 8 PM; Hennessy’s Hooley House
I would be remiss to not put a special plug in for this week’s Charity Date Auction. In addition to expanding the opportunities for love at HBS, the proceeds are going to amazing causes: Go Kids Boston and Cycle for Kids. My good buddy (and single man) David Meckstroth and Jen Neff are leading what promises to be the greatest Harvard Date Auction of the year. The event takes place at Hennessy’s Hooley House, features HOT 20 RC and ECs up for bidding, and will have $2 beers. Could you ask for anything more? Please go down on February 10th at 8pm. First round on me?