The reason I'm writing about this out now is that I'm hearing more and more women provide dating advice that I experienced first hand. Basically, my "dating strategy" was to friend zone every one who was interested in me. Every last one of them. This approach had so many advantages and I'll tell you why.
Before I get into the method behind the madness, I'll share why I decided to friend zone my potential boyfriends in the first place. Let's start from the beginning.
I didn't date in high school. I considered myself a tomboy and academic who focused on my grades first and foremost. As soon as I turned 18, I started paying more attention to how I dressed, wore my hair, etc. Suddenly guys were flirting and wanting to be around more. Some of the same guys who practically ignored me in high school suddenly wanted to find out "why I didn't have a man." At the age of 18, I met the guy who would become my first boyfriend. He was charming, assertive, and pursued me aggressively. Soon after meeting him, we got into a relationship that lasted a total of five years.
At the end of it all, I felt like this guy has thoroughly wasted my time. I vowed to reclaim my time and never allow myself to get into a dead end relationship again. Don't get me wrong, I loved the guy, but ultimately, he wasn't aligned with what I wanted in life. He was cute, gave me lots of attention, but he was not the one for me. If I had friend zoned him (like the ones that came after him) I would have realized that we were very different and would have moved on months, not years later.
Determined never to make that same mistake again, I vowed to abstain from all romantic relationships. Don't get me wrong, I still entertained conversations from potential suitors. And I still went on "dates" but I made it perfectly clear to every single one of them that I wasn't interested in having a boyfriend. Some of them thought I was joking. Eventually, they all realized that when I said that we would only be friends, I was dead serious. Part of my reasoning was to avoid the pain associated with a broken relationship. But my main motivation was to prevent myself from developing deep feelings for someone who would not be in my life long-term.
The experience was eye opening and I learned a ton. For instance, I learned that I was attracted to the wrong guys. Many of the suiters, who I thought were my type physically, were not at all ready to be in committed relationships (in their 20's). I realized this because I could look at their behaviors objectively since I wasn't already involved. That objectivity and clarity was amazing. It allowed me to give up on trying to change or fix people. I didn't try to convince myself or excuse their behavior. If I had to cut ties, it was easy. Best of all, I left each experience whole. I wasn't a broken person who wasn't able to trust again. It was so liberating.
One day, I met my now husband at a grocery store. I gave him my number because I thought he was cute and really liked his energy. During our first phone convo, we instantly connected. Eventually, informed him we could be friends. Whenever I told a guy about my friendship clause, I would typically get a variety of responses. Some thought I was joking or that friends meant a "friends with benefits" type agreement. I clarified that friends meant that there would be no physical interaction. During this time, the only type of physical contact I gave was a hug. I'm not saying that this is the right way to do it, but it was my way of setting clear boundaries. Most guys were taken aback by my methodology but my (now husband) didn't even flinch.
We were friends for a few years before we actually started dating traditionally. During that time, we had movie nights, we spoke on the phone for hours, we even lost touch when life got busy. Even though he clearly expressed his desire to date (and even marry me), he was respectful of my desire to remain friends. Over time, we solidified our friendship which endured even when he moved out of state. Although he would often tell me that we would, one day, be married I didn't always feel the same way. I found him attractive but thought he was too much of a pretty boy so I dismissed him as disingenuine. Over time, I finally came to realize that his words and actions were aligned. That's when I finally let me guard down. We were engaged soon after I finally came around and we're celebrating 13 years of marriage this coming year.
The other day, I was watching a Law of Attraction documentary and when they got to the part about relationships, the LOA expert said this:
"It's important to clear your field so you are creating a very intentional signal. Not dating, or having flings. You want to create clarity to erase confusion. It's vital to clear your space, make it open and available to actually find the true soul mate that you're looking for."
With every interaction I had with male suitors, I came out of the experience with incredible clarity about what type of man would be best for me. I would use the opportunity to identify which qualities about the person I liked and which ones were deal breakers. Some of them seemed very excited about our friendship in the beginning, but soon lost interest when they didn't get what they wanted. My now husband was one of the few who wanted to be a part of my life even though we weren't physically involved. Even though he wanted to be involved romantically, he fully respected my decision.
I jumped on an Instagram live recently. And the young lady proclaimed to her followers that she was abstaining from dating for all of 2018. Earlier in the year she talked about the broken relationships she'd endured in the past. Her reason for remaining single and celibate was to revive her ability to discern and determine which relationship(s) are worth pursuing.
Just because we meet some guy who's attractive and charming, doesn't mean we should automatically get involved with them. We give too much energy to guys who deplete our lives instead of adding to it. By the time we realize their shortcomings, (or the misalignment) we jump into "fixing" mode because we're in too deep. This isn't healthy. The young lady is working on her discernment because too often our judgment is clouded by how the guy presents himself. We don't allow enough time for his true nature to appear before deciding if we should be intertwined.
Her objective now is to utilize her single life to discover her true self. Then she can clearly determine if potential suitors are aligned with who she is. In her words, "if who you are doesn't align with who I am, you have to go."
I'm not saying that everyone needs to take this "no romantic relationships" approach to dating. There's a lot you can learn about yourself from dating, which is why I still continued to do it. But, ask yourself, what is your intention. If you're looking for a serious relationship, maybe taking a little time out from traditional dating. Or maybe you can try to date differently to heighten your sense clarity. Trust me, if a guy really wants to be with you, he'll stick around. Work on yourself first and clear your energy so you are able to date with intention.