Frog Hunting: Fear and Friendship

Start at the beginning of the series Frog Hunting: My First 100 Dates

Round #1 of dating: go out with anybody (unless you feel unsafe…then don’t go out with that person). 

Results:lots of dates—like so many I had trouble keeping them all scheduled

Round #2of dating: go out with just people you think are cute. It’s okay—this is just for fun. You’re not trying to find your soulmate, just experiment, meet new people and have a good time. 

Results:A drastic decrease in the number of dates. But I did score my first “real” kiss, so that was a win. 

Round #3of dating: go out with just Christians. (Disclaimer, I realized half-way through this round that I forgot to shed my “only cute people” standard—which significantly decreased my pool). 

Results:After nearly two months, I have not gone on a single date. 

I need to admit, that once I was only dating Christians, my enthusiasm drastically decreased. Why? I’m not sure yet, but it might have been the timing of my old friend Fear of Marriage resurfacing. Back with a force and fury. 

And since my success at dating is directly proportional to my enthusiasm for dating, it might have had something to do with it. 

Several conversations with my therapist and my best friend (who has a delightfully good-yet-real marriage) gave me the courage to explore this fear of marriage with the eyes of an experienced dater (a title I can now happily claim). 

My therapist also recommended a book Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work that gave me a new thought to ponder. And of course I needed to write about it. 

The book claims that friendship is the foundation to any happy marriage. It emphasizes the need to nurture fondness and appreciation of your partner. Seems common sense, but when I thought of marriage in terms of friendship and not as this enigma of relational confusion that I couldn’t possibly understand or relate to without experiencing it, it helped bring this imaginary enigma down to real size. 

If friendship is the foundation for a happy marriage, than I’m halfway there. Well, sort of. I at the very least know what it’s like to have friends. Good friends. Close friends. I’ve had beautiful friendships with both men and women. Non-romantic, yet intimate relationships that caused flourishing and greater understanding of ourselves, one another, and the rest of the world.

So this is marriage? 

Okay, maybe, just maybe it isn’t so scary. I can do friendship. I can do fondness and appreciation. Heck, I can take it a step further and do excitement and thrill and the feeling of gratitude at just how lucky I am to have her for a friend or him for a friend. 

I understand friendship. And if I understand friendship, than it isn’t a far jump to say I understand love—at the very least, what it is and what it isn’t. 

What about romance? Still don’t know about that one, but according to this book, romance is a whole lot easier if there’s trust rooted in fondness and appreciation. 

My next question is, why didn’t this resonate with me before? Seriously. I mean I’ve seen a thousand and one Instagram engagement announcements: I CAN’T BELIEVE I GET TO MARRY MY BEST FRIEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! followed by the obligatory emoji diamond ring and fireworks. 

Followed by the obligatory eye-roll from me. Can you be just a little more original? 

Perhaps I’ve seen so many of those that it just became white noise. Or perhaps it was just so obvious that I completely missed it. 

I realize I’ve diverted from the original intent of this (periodically ongoing) series. The whole purpose was to date and have fun and not date for marriage. The whole purpose was to grow and learn and have a good time. 

I guess I realize, when you’re dating, you can’t completely rid the thought of marriage from your mind. That’s okay. But remembering to be a good friend to the person you’re sitting next to, whether you see them for one hour or have known them for 16 years, is the main focus. 

I can do that. I can be a friend. 

Maybe the Friend Zone is something we should consider reframing. Maybe the Friend Zone is exactly where we want to be.