If you google “friends + dating” you’ll likely either find a spoiler-ridden synopsis of Ross and Rachel’s relationship and a slew of articles offering advice on what to do when your friends don’t like the person you’re dating or how to get out of the dreaded “friend zone.” But what about the positive side of friendship and romance? From better health and a longer lifespan to the phenomenon colloquially known as “friendfluence,” friendships can be hugely beneficial to various facets of our lives — including dating!
To get more insight into the positive impact of friendship, I spoke to leading life coach Carole Ann Rice. Here are a few ways your friends can help your dating life.
- Friends remind you of who you are.
“You choose to be friends – you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. The people in our lives who can be draining at times are often our family, but we can’t simply delete them from our lives. Whereas with friends are those we choose to be around, unlike the duty-bound family ties,” says Rice. It’s easy to feel set adrift in the sea of dating, but as our chosen family, our friends keep us grounded and remind us of who we are in the first place. Plus, our friends often understand us even when other people (family members, that dude you went on a Tinder date with last night) don’t.
- They help you create balance.
Whether it’s a life-partner or a friendship, it’s simply not healthy or realistic to expect one person to fulfill all of your needs. Having a diverse group of friends with different interests allows you to live a more well-rounded, balanced life. As Rice reminds us, “you may have a gym buddy, a pal you play music and drink wine with, or a pal you grab coffee with every couple months and catch-up. A friend you catch the latest movies with, a networking friend, or even an ‘old’ friend you remember good times with.”
When you have different friends for different parts of your lifestyle and personality, you stop looking to have all of those things fulfilled by the people you date. Instead, you can enjoy dating and relationships for what they are — a cherry on top of an already delicious life.
- Friends love you.
Sure, dating can lead to love and happiness, but at the end of the day, our friends love us first. “Reminder: not only did you choose to be pals with them, but they did the same! Your friends all love and respect you. They make you feel good and laugh,” says Rice.
- Making new friends keeps your social (and dating) skills sharp.
Expanding your friend circle is a great way to add some extra zest to your social and dating life. “It could be you’ve started a new job and you start a conversation with Brad from accounting, or you’ve moved houses and your neighbors help you unpack. There are always new ways and opportunities to connect with new people. Expanding your social circle is an ongoing thing; you’re not bound to the pals you made in your 20s,” says Rice. Not only does meeting new people keep your social skills sharp (making dates less intimidating), you always never know who you’re going to meet.
- Friends will be there for you.
You don’t need the intro to a very popular 90’s TV show to tell you this. “When you’re low, you always have a friend to download onto and vice versa. And when you’re on a high in life, you have people to raise a glass with. If you genuinely love seeing your pals, they can be a massive tonic of wellbeing for us,” says Rice. Dating is full of ups and downs, so having friends who can be your support system is crucial.