Friendzones, Bromances, and Why You Shouldn’t Marry Your Best Friend

Friendzone

The English language has a problem. We have only one word for “love.” You could say “I love my son. I love pizza. I love my Country. I love my wife. I love God. God loves me.” Each of these sentences are grammatically valid uses of the word “love” and yet they convey entirely different concepts.

This confusion of language can become a confusion of thought for English speakers. 

C.S. Lewis, when teaching on “love”, forsook the English language entirely in his book The Four Loves where he compares the Four Ancient Greek words for love.

Those lost words are:

  • Storge (Affection or Parental Love)
  • Eros (Romantic Love)
  • Philia (Brotherly or Friendship Love)
  • Agape (Charity or Unconditional Love)

The Four Loves is one of the books I am reading as I do research for Courtship in Crisis. If you haven’t read the book, you can get a free version on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, and you can also find a decent summary on Wikipedia.

The Paradox of Intentionality

Courtship advocates often recommend the following advice for romantic relationships:

  • “Be friends first.”
  • “Be intentional.”

The problem with this advice is that friendship and intentionality can be mutually exclusive.

According to Lewis, the nature of Philia (Brotherly) Love is that it is a non-intentional love. It just happens as an outgrowth of companionship and common interest. Friends rarely ask, “where is this friendship headed?”  It is entirely possible never to realize how much you love your friend until he dies.

The lack of intentionality makes Philia a remarkably resilient love. Philia friends who have been apart for years can pick up the relationship right where it left off. In some ways, it is a love that transcends time and space. It is two people side by side, focused on their mutual interests and not thinking about the relationship itself.

Eros, on the other hand, is a highly intentional love where one pursues and the other responds. Eros is two people facing each other. Eros is passionately focused on the other. It is not at all uncommon for lovers to ask “where is this relationship headed?”  It is impossible to put a romance on hold for years and then pick it up right where it left off years later.

Philia friends don’t think about each other very much while Eros lovers can’t stop thinking about each other.

Bromances and The Philia Friendship Crisis

C.S. Lewis, writing in a time of radio and newspapers, mourned the loss of true friendships in modern society. He argued that moderns failed to value deep friendships, and that many had never experienced true Philia love.

Which makes me wonder, if C.S. Lewis thought we were alienated from each other then, what would he have thought of Facebook? We live in an age where all it takes to become “friends” is a few taps of the finger. Has Facebook caused us to forget what it means to be real friends? Here are 7 tests to tell your true friends from your Facebook friends. 

The ancients saw Philia love as greater than both Eros and Storge.

The most famous example of this kind of love in the Bible is David and Jonathan. Upon the death of Jonathan, David said, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26)

Lewis estimated that as many as 90% of people never experience true Philia Friendship in their lifetime. Our “friends” are often only Storge Friends, and our relationships lack the David & Jonathan level of Philia Love.

We as humans have a deep longing for the kind of love that David says is more wonderful than romantic love. Romantic Eros Love is great, but it meets a different emotional  need. Despite a passionate romance, without a true Philia Friend, we are still somehow unsatisfied.

There are some ways that only women “get” other women. The differences between the sexes are too much. As a man, I can say we don’t understand women nearly as well as we pretend. And we don’t pretend to know that much.

In one sense, Eros is a celebration of differences while Philia is a celebration of similarities.

I think that trying to find someone who can be both your Eros Lover and your Philia Friend has made finding a suitable mate much harder. While some may be able to find such a match, these couples are the exception rather than the rule. It is nearly impossible to find a single human who can meet so many emotional needs.  The hopeless hunt for such a perfect person may help explain why the marriage rate is dropping each year.

The Storge Confusion

A lot of people confuse Philia and Storge. Especially homeschoolers, whose closest friends are often also family members. According to Lewis, Storge Affection is responsible for most of the happiness in the world. It transcends not just the sexes but also the species. It is the love between dog and man and even between dog and cat. Americans often call “Storge” “friendship.” That is true in the sense that a dog is a man’s best “friend”.

This kind of Storge Friendship is not what Lewis is talking about when he talks about Philia Friendship. A Philia Friend could be translated into “Soul Mate”, but then we have moved that into our language for Eros. I think it is telling of our culture that we lack even a vocabulary to talk about this kind of friendship.

C.S. Lewis gives us several tests to differentiate between Storge and Philia. The simplest is that you can’t pinpoint when the Storge love began. Eros and Philia typically have a memorable instigation. To notice Storge is to realize that it has already been growing for a while. To find out about the other tests, I encourage you to read The Four Loves. It is an amazing book.

What many people share with most of their friends is not Philia love at all. It is Storge.

3 Pitfalls of Friendship Before Romance

Trying to be best friends before romance may not be all the roses and butterflies the courtship advocates promised you.

1. Pursuing a Romantic Relationship Puts the Friendship at Risk

As a friendship grows, it grows into something separate from the individual friends. The more of a friendship you build, the more precious it is and the less you want to put it at risk.

There is no turning back from the moment when you discuss whether or not to change the Philia love you share as friends into to an Eros Romantic Love you share as lovers. This loss of the friendship makes the rejection of the Romance all the worse.

Ladies, if you are wondering why the men in your life are not pursuing you, it may be because they don’t want to risk losing your friendship. 

2. Friendship Love is Not Monogamous

It is normal for a close friendship to include more than two people. While C.S. Lewis was Philia Friends with J.R.R. Tolkien, he was also close friends with the other members of the Inklings.

In fact, Philia Love can be so intertwined with the group of friends that it can be hard to parse out your specific feelings for a specific friend within the group. This is not a problem since Philia is rarely self-reflecting. 

That is, unless one friend is thinking about changing his Philia friendship with one of his circle of friends into an Eros Romance.  Then suddenly he has a problem on his hands. He has just changed not only his relationship with the one woman, but he has also altered the dynamics of the group. The romance introduces a foreign element into the community that has the potential to break it apart.

This path of “groups of friends” then “friends together” then “lovers together” is difficult and in some ways unnatural. The natural change for a love is that, with the influence of the Holy Spirit, it matures into Agape love, not morphing into a different lesser love. Is it any wonder that so many people are failing to make these transitions and are stuck in singleness?

3. The Friendzone Can Become a Relational Cul-De-Sac 

Let’s imagine that a guy, “Gus” and a girl, “Sally”, are friends. They are part of a group of friends who regularly meet in real life to “hang out” and to participate in group activities. As they become closer friends, Gus sees them as just friends while Sally has secretly started trying out wedding dresses in her mind.

Since friendship is rarely self-reflecting, Gus has no idea that Sally is starting to think of the relationship as something more. Gus, who rarely thinks about the relationship, thinks it is cruising along nicely on the highway of friendship. But for Sally, the relationship is a cul-de-sac of broken dreams. The faster things move for her the more likely everything is to topple over.

This is such a common occurrence, my generation now has a word for it. We would say that Sally is stuck in the “friendzone.” She is hoping for an Eros Romance and all she has is a friendship.

Don’t Marry Your Enemy

Before you start leaving angry comments, let me clarify what I am not saying. I am not saying that you should marry your enemy.  Despite what Hollywood may say, falling in love with an enemy will rarely lead to happily ever after. There is a reason romantic comedies don’t have sequels. 

What I am saying is that you should look for your Philia Best Friend with a fellow guy or girl. As a guy, you need fellow guy friends who journey with you on the road of life.

Your spouse can’t be everything to you.  Every David needs his Jonathan.

I think that once we stop looking for our Philia Friendship needs to be fulfilled through our spouses, both friendship and romance will get both easier and healthier. In fact, cultivating a close Philia friendship with a fellow guy or girl could revitalize your marriage, as you are more satisfied and have more to give.

So if you find yourself falling in love with your best friend, you need to make a conscious effort to cultivate other close same gender friendships. This will make both you and your romance more healthy.

Don’t Marry A Stranger

I am not saying you should marry a stranger. It is important to get to know the other person and to share mutual interests. While some people may fall into Eros Love at first sight, most people need time to get to know the other person. This time to get to know the other person is what Traditional Dating provides.

C.S. Lewis says that Eros Love makes a nest of itself in Storge Affection. As he says “Not all kisses between lovers are lovers kisses.” An embryonic romance can feel a lot like friendship, and in some ways it is. The difference is that you don’t often think about your friends, while you think about your lover a lot.

If you can’t stop thinking about someone, they are probably not a Philia Friend.

A Healthier Way 

I think the traditional wedding ceremony is a great model for what a healthy marital relationship should look like. The groom does not just have his Eros Bride. He also has his Philia Best Man. Watching from the pews are his Storge Parents and his Storge Friends. Standing between the couple is the minister who represents the Agape Love of our Creator. 

To be healthy we need all four loves in our lives:

  • Eros with our lover
  • Storge with our family
  • Philia with our friends
  • Agape with everyone


What do you think?



Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

16 thoughts on “Friendzones, Bromances, and Why You Shouldn’t Marry Your Best Friend

  1. What a breath of fresh air this article is to me. I’ve been frustrated lately by the inability of our culture to recognize strong same-sex friendships, probably due to the overwhelming influence of the gay agenda. Recently, the latest Studio Ghibli Japanese anime called “When Marnie Was There” had its US trailer debut. All the sites I follow that mentioned it commented on the “gay subtext” between the two girls. Except…I’ve seen this movie in Japanese theaters with my wife and there is no such thing! It’s about a lonely girl who finally meets someone with whom she can really connect and that enables her to break out of her self imposed isolation. But if I comment on the inappropriate classification, I get vilified. It reminds of those who cannot help but read a homosexual relationship into David and Jonathan. And is *very* sad that an entire culture appears to be losing a category of friendship in its headlong rush to affirm gay sexuality.

  2. I’ve been following these posts and am familiar with the book you are writing. From what I can see, I’m a little bit older than you and life-experience / relationship-wise, I might have a few more miles than you; married a decade now and a parent for almost half as long.

    Your attempt to define modern-day courtship and to draw attention to the pitfalls with the dating world is certainly noble, but it seems like there’s SO much emphasis on dating and landing a mate, opposed to the endurance that one must prepare for before committing to that whole til-death-do-us-part thing.

    While courtship may be in crisis, even more disastrous are one’s expectations regarding marriage and where life goes ones he monotony of monogamy, parenthood and that bunker mentality kicks in.

    As we get older, we soon learn that our life problems are all relative. When were teenagers, it’s all high school heartache, what to do on summer break and the frustration with a class schedule that doesn’t have you in the same homeroom as the person you have a crush on. Homework. Where to go to college. What to do when we grow up. All that stuff.

    College problems then arise. Then graduation, entry-level jobs and financially supporting oneself.

    The point in that rant; courtship problems are relative and in hindsight are far from the crisis they’re made out to be.

    Take this from someone married over a decade, who has dealt with marital bliss as well as nightmares (and almost divorce.) If there’s something I wish could explained to my 25-year old self, it’d have less to do with the dating world and more to do with where the simplicity of dating winds up; the complicated world of marriage and parenthood.

    To your point about not marrying your best friend, I humbly disagree. When you’re dating, everything is exciting and an adventure. I was in a long distance relationship for over a year and I saw more of the current city I live in that one summer than I’ve seen since, as I played tour guide to the girl I dated and showed her every square inch of my town. Almost 15 years later, I haven’t been back to the majority of those spots.

    Marriage is hard and the majority of the relationship (a few years in) becomes about careers, mortgages, bills, car payments, home improvements, parenthood, your child’s health, where to send them to school, what to download into their impressionable minds—while also balancing siblings, in-laws, parents and a social life that is forever changing based on where you are at in life, versus your friends.

    Back to the point; you better be in that foxhole with a best friend and someone like-minded that shares your interest, keeps you entertained, has your back and is on the same page. If not, prepare for an existence of separate lives; where you gravitate towards what makes you tick and your partner goes their way. It happens. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve lived it, too.

    You also paint some broad strokes here regarding the differences between men and women; going old school with this, “women only get women” and “men only pretend to get women” approach; as if the modern-day male is still a caveman and women are some enigma.

    Truth be told, we an all *get* each other if we stop, listen, engage, make the other a priority and get out of these gender roles. I live in a home where a women does the bills and I do the cooking. Laundry is on both of us and career-wise we both thrive and work full-time while raising a family.

    That also shows our children that men’s roles versus women’s roles and many stereotypes are dated and pointless if you want a marriage to thrive. Family first, as the sum becomes greater than the individual parts.

    I respect your stance on a throwback to a more traditional way of dating, but feel there needs to be more of an answer or blueprint focused on the end game; marriage, children and surviving the monotony of both so that partners don’t stray, throw in the towel or retreat to their own corners, surviving instead of thriving.

    It also makes sense to work things backwards. I’ve known too many people—women, mostly—who simply want to be married, just to be married. They feel it validates them (as does motherhood) and as the years roll on, I’ve seen the desperation reach scary levels.

    If they don’t marry the college sweetheart, they then have to try to hold down an entry-level job and date—which it brutal for this generation where Tinder has become acceptable and insta-hook-ups are the new norm. (Talk about courtship in crisis…)

    The longer it takes to lock a guy down, the quicker the standards drop—almost like a game of musical chairs and a desire to just land SOMEONE. (I had an ex who was overly concerned with her cultured, well-off boyfriends staying tan and fit. A decade later she married a pudgy, pasty Irishman who was not her type, but was available, divorced-without-kids and had a decent job in the deep south.)

    She’s now gearing up for (an unexpected) baby number three and upon a recent conversation, told me she’s completely lost her identity, has no idea how she got here and how she longs for her simpler single days. Ouch. In short, she chased the wrong things. It wasn’t the courtship as much as the fabricated end game she felt like she needed for personal validation through marriage and parenthood.

    I do hope that your posts eventually incorporate more of the relationship end-game, opposed to just a laser-focus on the courtship side of things as they truly all have to tie together.

    On that note, keep up the ambitious work as this certainly isn’t an easy topic to take on.

  3. Hi, Thomas. I read Lewis’ The Four Loves a couple years ago and enjoyed it very much. This article has brought back several reasons I liked the book. Thanks!

    You have great points here. We need Philia love throughout life, before and after Eros comes on the scene. Many people begin an Eros relationship and create a “trade-off” that alienates their Philia relationships, secluding themselves as a couple with no time for friends. After marriage, these couples quickly find themselves isolated, lonely and dissatisfied and wonder why.

    Another note you touched on–the friend zone. Many relationship advisers insist that maintaining Philia with the opposite sex is all but impossible. I’ve seen this several times before, a guy and girl who say they’re just friends and not considering a relationship, then the next week they’re dating. I also have an acquaintance who seems to “fall in love” with every girl he becomes friends with after only a few days of text messaging. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    Thanks for sharing. This is a very interesting post.

  4. I’ve been married 12 and a half years. Been through ups, downs, rough times, four children and I really, really love my husband and find a lot of joy in marriage. Why? Because you learn that all four types of love are needed and then some. You run through affection, friendship, passion, and most of all, charity. You use them all. This “best friend” thing is silly and irrelevant. Yes you should have a circle of friends, rather than “just” each other, but if you marry a woman expecting not to be best friends, at least at times, you are a fool. The camaraderie, shared laughs and conversations, meeting of minds and admiring and being tickled to death at how different we are, and yet sometimes alike; that is priceless. Your article smacks of desperation and a touch of cynicism. And I don’t think I would hold C.S.Lewis as a paragon of relationship advice – his emotional formation was in some ways warped and stunted as a child and his experience was not vast. Human love is not so neatly boxed as he would seem to indicate.

  5. You have some great points here. I think one thing that I found about it is that it a bit dissected for me.
    As someone that is trying to figure out a better way than the courtship model I saw demonstrated, and being married for eighteen years, I would say it is hard to dissect human nature.
    Often people that marry are ones that know each other before hand. You marry who you are around. Some people marry total strangers, and it works out well at times. I personally would love to encourage young people to not overthink it. If you enjoy spending time with someone, enjoy spending time with them. You don’t have to carry it to romance too fast or a serious commitment like courtship. Spend time with several people. If you marry someone, make sure you have similar interests. Yes, you are all unique, but marrying someone that hates everything you love is a recipe for disaster. Later, all you have in common are your children and the fact you own a car and home together.

  6. You have a great point about friendship and romance having different trajectories, and I do think it creates a lot of misunderstandings and difficulties. Friendship is an open-ended, free-flowing relationship–romance needs definite choices and has an end goal. Navigating the change between the two is always going to be tricky, especially in a fluid society without a lot of shared customs. This is true of any kind of friendship, though, so simply saying that we shouldn’t expect Philia friendship in our romantic relationships doesn’t solve it–odds are most romantic relationships are going to start among Storge friends, among buddies and people who know each other to some degree, and there still is going to be a challenge of navigating that change and the possibility of disrupting circles of friends when romance enters the picture. I don’t see any way to entirely avoid it without cutting off all casual friendship between men and women, and that is far too drastic of a remedy for the problem. Love is risky and always will be.

    Also, I agree that there is something of a deemphasis on friendships and community outside a romantic bond, and those need to be strengthened. We need people, and we need deeper and longer relationships with those people.

    However, though I appreciate many of Lewis’s insights about friendships I think he was limited by his own time and experience–in his day, especially his youth, men and women were still largely educated separately and with different end goals. The possibility of them sharing common goals and deep understanding was much lower. I don’t think that is true to the same degree today.

    I do feel like my husband and I are best friends and our relationship is strongly one of working side by side; we met in law school, in fact, and we’ve just opened our own practice together, a long time goal. We probably would have done the same had we been the same gender, but since we’re not, we happened to get married and have four kids on the side. Neither of us can imagine being married to someone who didn’t have the same understanding and focus. BUT we have lots of friends who married someone very different from them and they are quite happy, too. And I would say their marriages probably have more romance in them. I do think there’s a bit of a trade-off, but it’s one we’re quite happy with.

    So I would say it’s generally good advice that you shouldn’t *insist* on someone being your best friend first; on the other hand, if your best friend happens to be a person of the opposite gender, that’s not a bad place to get started. Different relationships can shape up in very different ways.

  7. Thomas, I have great respect for your work, especially the pitfalls of modern courtship, but I have to disagree with where you’ve gone in this article. Saying “Trying to be best friends before romance may not be all the roses and butterflies the courtship advocates promised you.” is part truth and part error. Yes, it’s correct that it’s not easy. It’s hard, and you *will* have a broken heart. Probably more than once. But this article implies that is something to be avoided. Sorry, but this is life. It’s full of sin, and the consequences of sin, and that means we get our heart ripped out on occasion. As men, it’s time that we manned up and dealt with it. Life’s tough, and it’s tougher when you go about it without God’s help (a Christianized version of John Wayne’s pithy proverb). Ladies, you don’t get a free pass either. Man or woman, if you’re a Christian, you’re wearing a target on your back. Expect adversity. Deal with it properly, and you will come out refined as gold. Do so in the arena of courtship, dating, dourting, or whatever is your Biblical conviction (the most important component), and you might just come out with a gold counterpart, too. Not sure I came out all gleamy, but I sure found someone who is! Now I’ve got a family, and can say for certain that until you’re on the other side, your views on marriage are pretty imperfect, your concept of what it’s like to look on your firstborn child is terribly short-sighted, and your views on how to get there are probably questionable. Listen to the advice of people who are already there and are being successful in marriage. Most of all, listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

    Oh and one other thing: I did marry my best friend. She’s still my best friend.

    • Thanks for a thought-provoking article.
      And Joshua Finn, thanks for an encouraging comment! I am a single and want to marry a guy who is my best friend. 🙂

  8. This makes a lot of sense. The wedding analogy is perfect. I also really like the line “If you can’t stop thinking about someone, they are probably not a Philia Friend.”

  9. Danny Silk has a lot to say about this… especially in his DTR stuff: http://www.lovingonpurpose.com/

    Personally, the way I see it: I only get one wife… so she better be a best friend if not “my best friend”. Otherwise, why would I want to marry her?! Consider this: your wife is the ONLY one you can share every type of love with: Storge, Philia, Agape, AND Eros! Sounds pretty awesome to me! Choosing a “helpmate” strictly for eros (sexual) love seems like a recipe for disaster! Didn’t God make Eve to be Adam’s friend?

    Here’s a bit from wikipedia about “storgic love” btw:

    “Storgic lovers are friends first, and the friendship can endure even beyond the breakup of the sexual relationship. They want their significant others to also be their best friends, and will choose their mates based on similar goals and interests… Storgic lovers place much importance on commitment,.. Children and marriage are seen as legitimate longterm aims for their bond, while passionate sexual intensity is of lesser importance than in other love styles.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storge

    So, God I want a storgic lover above all!!!… a real friend… someone I can trust… someone I could raise children well with… travel the world with… Whatever You call me to do, she’ll be able to be helpmate -not a hurtmate. Of course, she’ll be beautiful -but that’s the easy part. But to find a pretty girl that has her own personal relationship with You enough to be patient and wait for You to arrange it for her… now that sounds more like a a good gift from my Dad who knows me -aka “The Lover of my soul”! 😉

    Real talk ya’ll. Grace and peace to you! If you are single and reading this: Get friends!!! Good ones! Lot’s of them!!! People that have your back. You really can never have too many people that appreciate you and vice versa. Call people. Meet with new people. Don’t hang out with folks who drain you… hang out with folks who fill you up! Get the hell off facebook, or netflix, or whatever and go to a friend’s house instead…. and then you may find yourself more content. Not to mention, your friends will actually keep a look out for candidates for a good helpmate for you! Seriously. But that should not be your goal of course… your goal should be to abide in Him. Ever heard Him through a stranger -soon to be friend??? That’s what I’m talking about.

    PS: Everywhere I go is a friend zone man!
    Because… the Creator of the universe…
    is my friend.
    and that is a beautiful thing indeed.

  10. I married my best friend. There isn’t anyone I’d rather spend life with. Know how my husband met me? A group of church college/young business folk went on a ski trip. He decided to ask out every girl on the trip when he got home. He did. His theory: all they can say is “no.” One said no. Two said yes. I went out with him on a 1st date and declared him “not my type” to my roommate (as he did about me to his guy friend). He met my roommate when he came to pick me up and asked her out the next weekend. They dated seriously. She graduated and moved away. We commiserated her loss as we hung out together for weeks with friends at my apartment. He hitchhiked to the east coast to visit her. He said to me once, “If you’re starting to like me, don’t. I’m loyal” (to my roomie). Two months later, I started having eros feelings. Without any prompting, my former roomie said on the phone one day, “It’s okay if you like him.” I said nothing.

    How then did we marry? I told my pastor my dilemma. And Big Dan said, “Tell him he either needs to date you as if he’s interested in marrying you or treat you as an acquaintance.” He understood that deep feelings were involved. “And tell your old roommate.” So I told them. He felt torn (loyal man and they were dating long distance). Three days later he made a decision to date me (to this day I don’t know if they talked – phone calls weren’t cheap then; internet non-existent). Our philia friendship became eros love. Six months later we were engaged and married in six more. And my roomie, his ex girlfriend, was my maid of honor; my ex boyfriend, one of our ushers, ended up as one of his groomsmen when the best man got stranded back east during a transportation strike.

    I had one date in high school. After that I dated limitedly. I was out right rejected by one guy I told how I felt – no fun. I can count two guys I wanted to keep dating who broke up with me – ouch, at the time. I can count two where I said “no” to continued dating – not fun for them. And a few where I said no point blank – always unpleasant for everyone. And one date with an old friend where I told him we’d drive each other crazy because we were too much alike. There were a few other 1st dates that went no where. Of those above, the good, close friends I dated are still good friends. Others fell by the wayside in college or moved away. Granted, laying out how you feel can involve some relationships going by the wayside. How dating works is not all cut and dried. But it is almost always about risk. All those attempts and successful dates and relationships came with risk.

    In my final dating relationship, I had to ask my friend to decide to date me. He could have said no. And later, I had to say, “Listen if you aren’t seriously considering marrying me, we need to stop now. I am too deeply in love.” I knew I blew his surprise when he answered, “Let’s just say you know I’m going to ask and I know what you’re going to say.” That’s not how it’s supposed to go – or so “they” say. I took the risk because I couldn’t pay the price if I didn’t – I didn’t want to fall from a higher height; I needed to protect my heart.

    There is NO formula.

    You can marry your best friend. You don’t have to monopolize your best friend either – it’s okay to have other close friendships: non-eros, of course 🙂 But I will say that no friend I have, not one, is as close, dear, valuable, or delightful to me as the man I married. David and Jonathan didn’t have the opportunity to experience equality in friendship with women or the ability to share most any activity/hobby with a wife or co-share managing a family/life. Our culture is different and the friendships between men and women are different today even too from Lewis’ time.

    Start hanging out. Don’t date someone you wouldn’t marry (should be a short list of “will nots”). Be friends with the opposite sex (philia). You may grow into marriageable love with one (eros). And eventually you start to lay down your life enough that agape love becomes your reality in the relationship (though that is a life-long goal).

    After writing this I asked my husband of 34 years if he had a friend he’d rather spend time with than me and he said point blank, “No.”

  11. Not sure I agree with the idea that friendship can’t or shouldn’t mature into romantic love. Every significant dating relationship I had began as a friendship. In the case of my marriage, in fact, we began as friends who never saw ourselves dating. What was really cool about that was it gave us an opportunity to forge a relationship based on a deep level of honesty, because neither of us was trying to put a best foot forward or be charming. Yes, the transition from friendship to dating was super rocky. We spent a lot of time agonizing over whether it was the right thing. We worried that a later break-up would have much bigger ramifications on our larger social circles. (It would have.)

    So I agree that it’s definitely not something to do lightly. But my experience is that dating as a process of getting to know someone is far inferior to becoming friends and moving into a dating relationship after establishing history, shared worldview and common interests.

    I’m willing to be an anomaly, though. And I’ve definitely seen co-ed friendships fail because one party has romantic feelings that simply don’t blossom in the other party. That can be really painful. But any break-up has the potential to be painful. And the break-up of any long-term relationship will have larger social ramifications, whether it began as a friendship or began as a dating relationship.

    I also agree with what you say about the bridal party demonstrating our need for larger community. So. True. Husband and wife trying to be one another’s entire social world is very often a recipe for disaster.

    Thanks for sharing your post!

  12. Can’t say I liked this article. Firstly, the author mangles many of the meanings in ‘The Four Loves.’ Secondly, the one thing he did get right exactly disproves his point. The metaphor Lewis uses for romantic love is two people face to face, intensely studying each other; the metaphor for ‘philia’ love is two people sitting side by side, facing the thing they both love that is the foundation of their relationship. Hence why a marriage has to have both kinds of relationship: you have to love your spouse, but a marriage based solely on that will collapse, so you have to be friends side by side, united in your love for God.

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