The Friendship-First Approach to Dating

How a small shift in perspective can completely transform our dating lives

Steve Dean
Dateworking
Published in
11 min readFeb 5, 2015

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Setting the scene…

Last year, I met a girl named Jessica on OkCupid and we agreed to meet up and go on an adventure date throughout Seattle. We explored new neighborhoods, meandered through parks, and people-watched out of a coffee shop’s balcony. The next week, I hosted a board game night and invited her so she could meet some of my friends. Over the course of our time together, we talked about plenty of our romantic and sexual preferences, but neither of us pressed for anything physical. We kept things friendly and fun rather than expecting things to turn romantic or physical right away.

By not overtly expecting sex, commitment, or even compatibility upfront, and instead focusing on just creating a series of fun, memorable experiences, we had implicitly set the precedent for a friendship-first approach to dating. This friendship-first approach has fundamentally changed my understanding of dating and relationships.

Observe what happened next…

Enter: The Friendship-First Approach to Dating

The Power of Friendship-First

A year after meeting Jessica, I needed to travel to a new city for work and I realized that I had no place to stay there. I mentioned my predicament to Jessica, and she excitedly revealed that her good friend had just moved to the city I was visiting. She quickly connected us via Facebook, where her friend and I immediately hit it off and subsequently spent the whole weekend together. Jessica later introduced me to yet another awesome friend in San Francisco, and once again, her friend and I ended up having amazing chemistry.

Jessica and I met up as friends, without any overt attempts at wooing, courting, or sleeping with one another. We created a space for mutual support and growth. She came to understand my background story and my relationship goals and preferences (friends talk about these things all the time), and I learned about hers. Using these insights, we both began introducing each other to awesome people within our respective friend groups, and have been doing so for…

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Steve Dean
Dateworking

Dating Industry Consultant & Relationship Coach, Dateworking.com | Host of Dateworking Podcast