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Abby Dates Austin

Abby Dates Austin: Should we be friends before benefits?

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couple walking holding hands in a field
No pinky holding until we've become bona fide friends. Courtesy photo

Since moving to Austin, I’ve felt actively pursued for my friendship more than anything, and it’s been the best. I like to do the "flirtatious friends" thing for as long as possible. The fact of the matter is, I’m a commitment-phobe and a serial "almost lover." I think this is due in part to my nomadic nature and tendency to switch up ZIP codes and continents on a whim. But that’s only part of it. 

It’s hard for me to pinpoint why it is exactly that when someone I’ve just met starts giving me come-hither eyes and slips “babe” and references to my appearance into conversation, it makes me recoil and turn red. I think it's because that, by coming on so strong, they’ve completely foregone the ultraimportant and oft overlooked friendship factor. No, I'm not talking about friendzoning, which is a different thing altogether, but the value that comes with just getting to know someone before any lip locking or pinky holding ensues. (Personal stance on pinky holding though: please don’t try it on me.)

 It’s hard for me to pinpoint why exactly when someone I’ve just met starts giving me come hither eyes and slips “babe” into the conversation, it makes me recoil and turn red. 

I believe at the heart of every great companionship is a great friendship. Of course, there are many types of friendships that exist, and the friendship one might have with their parent or sibling is going to be quite different from the relationship they’ll have with a romantic partner. But at the end of the day, friendship should be at the core of every good relationship.

As C.S. Lewis aptly wrote it in his book The Four Loves, "Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities." I think we so often make ourselves and our dates into strange caricatures of who we and they truly are, but if we were to think of people as friends first, and potential sweethearts later, we'd have better luck and less drama figuring out this whole love and dating thing. 

So, can we play it cool? While I obviously have some commitment phobias that I should probably look into, I don’t want to be knocked off my feet. And if we make it past that the friend phase without anyone turning into a level five clinger, we can move on to practicing synchronized swimming routines together at Barton Springs. But until then, be cool, man. Be cool.   

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