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Contrary to popular belief, true friendship does not tend to come after seeing each other naked.
It’s almost impossible for you to switch from a romantic relationship to a platonic friendship just because one or both of you have decided to do so.
To stay just friends with a long-term sexual partner is like digressing from marriage to engagement; the dynamics and foundations for the bond have already been set from the start, and anything different will only complicate things further.
Other than in some cases where you have to be friends with someone you’ve been romantically involved with, like when you’re separated and have a child or a business is involved and must maintain a functioning relationship, being friends with someone you’re interested in is almost always a bad idea.
So before you drop the “I can’t imagine life without you. Let’s just be friends instead?” line at the end of a dead-end romantic relationship, here are a couple of things you need to know:
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1. Friendship Never Really Takes Place
Some people don’t realize that what makes a successful friendship is its unintentional buildup, to begin with. Friendships are usually accidental and unexpected. We get to know each other briefly through a mutual friend and, before we know it, we find ourselves exchanging memes related to our failed relationships and our inability to refrain from giggling during inappropriate times.
In most cases, there is never a need for a friendship to happen. There are no hidden agendas or reasons behind these strong bonds. The best of friendships naturally takes place when two people find each other to be compatible as friends without even trying.
When platonic love, mutual respect, and lots of inside jokes form these special bonds from the start, they become some of the best experiences life has to offer.
Having said that, a bond that has at least one emotionally and sexually invested in the other will never develop into the kind of friendship that lasts. Or at least not the kind of friendship we promise each other when we realize we’re doomed in a romantic relationship, but can’t let go.
At best, agreeing to remain in this situation will result in a decaying connection in the long run. At worst, someone’s going to have a hard time coping and eventually get hurt, which will also lead to the death of the “friendship”.
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If you’re okay with just being on good terms, then you’ve made the best choice for you both. You know that seeking true friendship just because you “can’t imagine life without each other” will most likely not benefit you both, and ending things on a positive note can be a very mature conclusion that leaves your ego and good memories intact.
But staying friends when you want more means there’s a great chance you’re forcing a bond to be something that it’s not, even if you both wish for it to become so.
What typically happens in this scenario is that the person who’s less emotionally invested than the other will either feel guilty of stringing the other person along and end the so-called friendship or will just wander off to someone or something else when the opportunity presents itself. Much to the dismay of who’s on the other side of the equation.
On the other hand, the person who’s more emotionally invested than the other will struggle to cope with the newly formed friendship. They will either try to get more out of this “friendship” or leave the other person completely. The pain of being reminded that they can’t have what’s right in front of them will always outweigh the friendship.
This isn’t to say that true friendship cannot happen in these cases, but it’s important to note the challenges that come with offering friendships after a long-term relationship or a could-have-been relationship.
Sometimes you need a long break before coming back to discuss friendship. And sometimes just leaving on good terms or staying in touch is all you need.
2. You’re Settling For The Next Best Thing
There’s a common tactic people employ when they’ve been separated from their partners or never really quite got into a full-blown relationship with them from the first place but secretly still want them; the tactic is as follows:
Even though the scheme seems logical, there’s always the huge chance that it works against you for two main reasons:
A. It’s Not What You Really Want
Putting effort into maintaining a fake connection just so it might develop into a real one that you’ve been hoping for is very emotionally draining.
Because then you’ll have to be careful with everything you say or do. To play your cards right, you must monitor your emotions so that you don’t reveal your true intentions too soon. You’ll also have to deliberately not be true to yourself to have a chance at developing this friendship into something more.
Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?
The bigger problem with this very common approach is that the pretending will never really stop, You’ll find yourself stuck in the frustrating act of remaining untrue to yourself in order to keep pleasing the other person enough to be with you.
What you might think is temporarily necessary will become the only way to move forward when you’re not getting what you want.
Even if you do get that other person to be with you, you’ll be forced to continue pretending to keep the relationship going. Any disagreements or complaints on your side will seem “out of place” and incongruent with what you’ve been offering since the beginning.
“But you didn’t seem like having a problem with that before? You’ve changed!” your partner would say.
Nice guys are masters of this scheme; they do not go after what they want out of fear of rejection or getting friend zoned, and then get frustrated for not truly getting what they want.
B. You Play By Their Rules
Another problem with staying friends when you want more is that you’ll be less likely to disagree with them when it’s absolutely necessary.
Sometimes when we’re afraid of losing someone we love, we quickly choose to become very accommodating to their needs through our semi-friendship.
Rusted warfare - rts. Out of that fear of loss, we’ll be willing to let things go to avoid being disliked by them. If we have a disagreement, we’ll think twice before speaking up. If we have been wronged by that person, we’ll brush it off.
Furthermore, this dynamic tends to leave us in a vulnerable state where we consistently have to compromise a little more than the other person just to keep them around. The compromise will let the other person sense that we’re desperate to keep this “friendship” going and understand that this isn’t what we really want, which might in return encourage them to take advantage of our vulnerable state one way or another.
Therefore, any sort of relationship that doesn’t allow you to freely be who you are is never worth pursuing.
Never stay just friends with someone you’re romantically interested in just to be “close” to them or just because you don’t want to lose them. It puts you in a weaker frame of mind. More specifically, it puts you in their frame of mind, so deep that you end up losing yourself.
Besides, one of the many things that will always make you attractive to the opposite gender is realizing your worth; that you’ll be willing to walk away from anything that’s less than you deserve. Scarcity is attractive, availability isn’t.
3. You Risk Becoming A Beta Orbiter (For Men)
First things first: what is a beta orbiter?
A beta orbiter is a person who’s willing to settle for bits and pieces of a relationship hoping they’ll get more.
This is someone, usually a man, who accepts being a second option or a backup plan for a woman, who in return, does not rate the orbiter highly as a long-term romantic partner.
Beta orbiters end up orbiting because they don’t think too highly of themselves. They don’t respect their own time, emotions, and resources. Consequently, their romantic aspirations end up not reciprocated by the women they’re chasing. And rightfully so; a man who doesn’t value his own time, money, and attention shouldn’t expect others to do that for him.
Moreover, when met with the woman’s “let’s just be friends” proposal, a beta orbiter will be willing to accept that proposal thinking that, one day, things will magically change and that the other person will finally recognize their true potential and end up happily ever after.
But life isn’t a fictional romantic movie where the guy ends up marrying the girl of his dreams after consistently pursuing and reminding her of his noble intentions.
In the real world, these men are too available and usually end up in the friend-zone for being too agreeable and lack a purpose of their own. More on why beta orbiters end up shelved here.
What a woman usually does in this dynamic is to let the orbiters do their thing and orbit by giving their free attention, dates, validation, and sometimes even financial aid. The woman becomes satisfied with the free service and the orbiter becomes partially satisfied with her satisfaction.
But there’s a point in time when the orbiter does get frustrated, and that’s when he realizes that the connection he has with the woman has not yet been upgraded to a more serious relationship, even though he has been giving her everything a wonderful partner would have to offer.
Once the orbiter decides to speak up out of frustration, the woman will either ignore the orbiter’s complaints and remind him that they’re only friends as they’ve agreed upon, or distances herself away from him “realizing” that’s not what he wanted.
But do these orbiters ever stop orbiting and recognize the cycle they keep falling in?
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They rarely do, and that’s mainly because after investing too much time and effort into spending time and effort in their chase, they have a hard time admitting defeat. They become too afraid to let go.
Quite the contrary, they’re usually stuck into thinking that they’re almost there and that they just need to try a bit more to win their desired women over.
Loss aversion at its best.
This toxic cycle tends to go on till either the woman gets completely bored or annoyed and abandons the frustrated orbiter, or the orbiter gets too emotionally drained and broken to continue the chase.
Only then do the beta orbiters understand the position they’ve put themselves in. That’s assuming they have the self-awareness to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them.
Having said that, that doesn’t mean that a man must always demand something in return from a woman he’s interested in; after all, a healthy relationship is not a business transaction.
However, if you keep entertaining and providing for someone in order to win them over when the only thing they want to offer is friendship, then the only person you can blame when you get frustrated for not getting what you desire is yourself.
And the best way to deal with this situation is to never to invest to change her mind.
Because usually when a woman says she just wants to be friends with you, then this is all she has to offer. How you react to these clear words is your responsibility.
But we’ve all been in a situation where we wanted to “prove ourselves” to women we’ve been interested in through our friendships thinking it’s the best and safest way to get close to someone. It’s an understandable mistake we all have to deal with to learn how relationship dynamics actually work.
In fact, I believe it’s very important for any man to go through the beta orbiting phase to learn how to make the right choices when it comes to investing in people, dating prospects included.
We owe it to ourselves to be responsible for the time we spend and the people we choose to be with. It’s only after we start recognizing our worth do we break out of this dynamic completely and never settle for less than what we think we deserve.
Here’s an article I’ve written to know the signs of becoming a beta orbiter.
So… Don’t Stay Just Friends
Having said all of that, I’m not saying you should never be friends with someone you’ve once seen a romantic future with. There are cases where you have to strategically become friends for greater purposes.
But if a friendship isn’t truly what you want, then don’t fool yourself and the other person into having one. If a romantic relationship is what you desire but can’t have, then it’s better to have nothing at all.
Your peace of mind and dignity are more important than those of others.
Always remember that pursuing anything other than what you want will only make you operate in someone else’s frame. And Frame is everything; it’s what gives you the respect you need to be loved and appreciated in your relationships.
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