Wednesday, March 6, 2013

PowerLife Love II: Friends or Lovers

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Friendship and dating are very similar to one another. They are two of many ways in which people interact with, demonstrate feelings for, and enjoy the company of one another. Both begin with some sort of attraction between two people. Yet they also have distinct differences. In addition, the meanings for friendship and dating have been expanded in recent years to include terms such as hang out, f--- buddies, hook up, or friends with benefits

This makes navigating the process of keeping friends and finding dates quite complicated. The need for individual clarity and honest communication become crucial because the risks can be anything from coming across as a socially awkward chump to losing your best friend. Never fail, there is hope. The Living PowerLife approach to happiness, well-being and clarity is as close as your computer. This means that you have a personal blueprint to gain the clarity that will help you navigate the sometimes choppy sea of human attraction.

There is no right or wrong way to understand either friendship or dating. Indeed, at first glance you may very well find that they seem more similar than different. When I first began thinking about what made friendship different from dating, I had the same challenge; I could not verbalize what made them different. This led me to take a different approach which was examining my expectations of each relationship. By looking at my expectations I could see that they changed based on whether I was with a friend or a date. From there I could see how friendship and dating differed to me. 

There are two main differences between friendship and dating. The differences are best illustrated through motivation and focus; what motivates us to engage one another, and where the majority of our attention is focused. Friendships are forged between people who are motivated to connect around a common activity—a hobby, community involvement, political agenda, cultural/social interest, etc. In other words, while there is an emotional aspect, the main motivation for a friendship is social. 
Some of the reasons why people seek friendships are to:  
  1. Expand their social or professional connections.
  2. Have companionship with a hobby.
  3. Find support while experiencing a new challenge in life.
On the other hand, dates are initiated by people who are motivated to connect around a common need-find a lifelong mate, establish a family, have consistent intimacy, etc. In other words, while dating certainly has a social aspect, the main motivation for dating is emotional. Some of the reasons why people date are to: 

  1. Find an exclusive partner.
  2. Replace a lost lover.
  3. Enjoy sexual excursions.
  4. Fulfill community/family expectations.
     Just like motivation, the focus for friendship differs from dating as well. Friends are mainly focused on their common interests when they are together. For instance, I enjoy dancing as a hobby and have connected with people who have the same interest. My motivation to connect with them is social and my focus is dancing. 

Dates are mainly focused on another person. While each person may have a different emotional motivation for deciding to date (one may want regular sex while the other is responding to family/friends expectation to marry) the focus is the same—a person. Time spent dating is time used to get to know another person. Maybe meet the person’s friends or family members. Learn about what the other person likes or does not like.

     Another way to determine the difference between friendship and dating is through standards. Often, without even realizing, our standards for a relationship are based on whether we are friends or dating. For instance, I have more room for seemingly incompatible religious beliefs or political affiliations with my friends than with a love interest. Indeed, I often seek out friendships with people who have different political views because I find that our conversations are more interesting. With my dates, however, I would prefer someone closer to my views. I developed this preference because I have found that couples with very different religious or political views tend not to last. Since I know that dating for me is a precursor to becoming a couple (after time), dating someone with greatly opposing views does not make sense.
 As you continue your Living PowerLife Love Interrogation, think about what friendship and dating mean in your life. Consider your motivation and focus. Explore how your standards and expectations change based on the type of relationship. Think about why you change. Write down these differences as they come up. Then use the clarity you gain from consciously exploring your feelings to inform how you decide when to date and who to date.


As you think about what friendship and dating mean to you, try to identify exactly how you react when you are romantically attracted to someone. This is important because once you understand how you function when your interests are romantic, you will be able to do two things. First, you will be able to recognize what you are feeling. Thereby being overcome by emotion (without making the conscious choice) will be less likely. Second, recognizing your feelings, will allow you to put them into context. Context will make managing your feelings easier.

One quick real-life example: when I am romantically attracted to someone I get STUPID. I behave stupidly—sentence structure is nonexistence, tongue grows to three times its size, brain works intermittently, ears hear what the heart wants only and eyes become blind to the very useful RED FLAGS. Because I now know this about myself, I can recognize where I am emotionally, remember the fallout from past decisions when I felt the same way, and pull back until I am once again able to think, act and feel at the same time.

From my PoweLife to yours,


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