Have you ever tried to bake a cake and it turned out nothing like the delicacy you had envisioned? Something went wrong. You put baking soda instead of baking powder; you thought you’d save time and use high heat instead of the medium setting it called for in the recipe. Any baker will tell you that successful cooking takes practice, and knowing your ingredients before you begin.

When dating, many of us fall into a very similar pattern of taking shortcuts or thinking it’s OK to replace elements in hopes things will still turn out for the best.

The reality is that dating today has moved more and more away from truly getting to know the other person on a friendship level. Instead of creating bonds, we’re skipping this essential ingredient for success and jumping right into what we think a relationship “should look like.”

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More Than Desire

Some relationships begin based on attraction or a mutual desire to be loved. We all want that after all right? For someone that we find attractive to feel the same and want to spend time with us exclusively? That typically grows into dating, and eventually maybe even moving in together. At this point, you may think you have it made. And then things go south. One partner gets bored, or another feels like they are sitting next to someone different than they first met. As many failed relationships prove, there needs to be more than just that passion for it to last.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have very close friends in life, then you can understand just how important those bonds are. Our best friends are the people who we confide our deepest secrets to, who know everything about us, and who have continually been there for us through the many highs and lows.

If our best friend is the person we turn to for everything in life, why are we not making that same connection with the person we are dating?

Being Best Friends

Once the courtship phase is over, and you and your mate have been dating, getting to know each other’s family and friends, and maybe even started living together, you’re going to need to have something else to talk about besides small talk and distracting yourself with kisses. Pretending to care about the score on the baseball game, or overlooking the fact that you can’t stand mindlessly pacing the aisles at Target, will eventually turn into an issue. The difference is you’d immediately tell your best friend when you didn’t like something they were doing, or if you had different ideas. Most people think they’re going to have to compromise to make a relationship work. But is that really the answer?

You’re going to have to eventually be comfortable with your partner knowing you have an annoying snore and that you do this annoying tapping thing with your heels when you’re nervous. Your best friend knows about it, you’ve been doing it since you were in third grade, and don’t even notice when it’s happening. Your best friend also knows that when you’ve had a bad day at work, some ice cream and a fuzzy blanket is all you need to get back to being yourself.  These are all things the person you’re dating should know too. If they can’t be that person for you, then how can you last decades with one another?

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New Kind of Love

Of course getting to know someone new can never compare to the years of experiences and bond you may have developed with a best friend. But the point is they’ll have to get to you know on this new level. You’re going to have to start sharing and be open and grow with one another. It’s like you’re making a new friend. Complete with new memories and opening up to a new kind of love.

Don’t also forget that it’s 2017 (now 2018!). We’re all on the same level playing field in relationships. While romance is okay and welcomed, being friends is far more important. We’re no longer confined to set roles of housewives and working men. Today dating is all about experiencing the roller coaster of life together – the highs and lows –  and having each other’s backs the entire time.

As best friends, you’ll be helping each other to grow and to become better people. We’re a newly awakened generation that’s also on our journeys of growth and independence in life. And this is most likely happening at the same time as we’re in a relationship. And we saved the best part for last. Having those deep connections with your significant other also drives more intimacy and better sex than you’ve ever experienced before. Love has truly never tasted so good!

Are you dating or in a long-term relationship now? Would you describe your mate as your best friend? Tell us more about it in the Therapeutic & Educational Community on Facebook that Rachel & Kyle lead. I’m in there and would love to continue this conversation. You can also listen to this blog post be discussed in Episode 23 of the WWC Podcast

Stefania Viscusi is a freelance writer based in Connecticut with a passion for self-awareness and betterment. When she’s not blogging and writing content for brands across the globe, she’s spending time in her backyard gardening or doing yoga.