Which is Harder to Find: Romantic Dates or Friend Dates?

Yesterday I started reading a book called The Science of Single. You may wonder why I’d read a dating book, considering the fact that I’m married.

Here’s why: The author’s project is incredibly similar to mine, save for two small details. 1) Her search takes place in Washington D.C., and 2) She’s looking for boyfriends rather than best friends.

The Science of Single author, also named Rachel, “committed a year of her dating life to trying every mainstream (and not-so-mainstream) method of meeting potential mates, from single’s events and dating coaches, to speed dating and online personals.” She spent a year romantic-dating, I spent a year friend-dating.

Rachel Machacek feels about dating exactly as I feel about searching for friends. She discusses how hard it can be to meet someone “naturally” but also that if you do the work and put yourself out there, dates aren’t that tough to find. First dates, that is. Connecting with someone who you want to see again, and maybe again and again, is a different story.

The premise of The Science of Single got me wondering: Which is harder for women—finding a spouse or finding a BFF? And who is easier to meet and date? Potential suitors or potential friends?

Now, I recognize that I lucked out in the romance department. Meeting your husband in college is totally the easy way out of the dating scene. But my personal experience aside, I’d still argue that if you are new to a city, romantic-dates would be easier to find then girl dates.

There is a protocol, a vocabulary, and a playbook for dating. Generally, people know the etiquette of meeting someone and going on a date. Singles aren’t embarrassed, from what I can tell, to be on the market for romantic dates. Also, there are a million services/websites/mixers geared toward daters. According to Machacek, dating is a $1.8 billion business, “and there are thousands of resources everywhere for the people who are looking to date.”

Looking for friends as an adult hasn’t reached the social acceptance that romantic dating has. To discuss my BFF search, I have to borrow lingo from the singles scene. There are some services—speed-friending, friendship matchmakers—but they are few and far between and only a couple of years old. From my own experience (and that of some readers who’ve been kind enough to share), starting a search for friends is embarrassing. I thought about my local friend dilemma for two-and-a-half-years before I decided to ignore the humiliation and mention it in public. Now I know that I had nothing to be embarrassed about, but I had to work up the nerve to discuss it on this blog in order to figure that out. And I’d venture to guess that the monetary value of the friending business is way lower than $1.8 billion, though I don’t think anyone has ever studied it.

This is not to say that dating is easy. I know that it’s not. But if you are starting at square one in both the romantic and friend dating arena, I still say you might have a harder time finding a best friend than a boyfriend… (I’d add to that argument that the best friend is the more vital relationship).

What do you think? Do you agree? Or is my head just clouded by all friends, all the time?

13 Comments

Filed under The Search

13 responses to “Which is Harder to Find: Romantic Dates or Friend Dates?

  1. Noemi

    Friendship dating is MUCH harder! When I moved to Philadelphia in 2008, I literally met the man of my dreams on my doorstep. He moved into the upstairs apartment of my duplex only a month or so after I did. We both had kids, they started playing together, we started talking, and VOILA! A relationship is born (actually we got engaged a couple of weeks ago, so I guess a marriage is born!). On the other hand, I spent almost a year trying to figure out where to meet new friends, mortified that I couldn’t find them, and shy about asking the few women I did run into out on “dates”. This blog was actually the catalyst for my making the first move a few times, and it has definitely paid off, but I still don’t have as many local BFFs as I did when I lived in NY. The journey continues, but finding BFFs is just sooo much more difficult than dating.

  2. Suzannah

    I think the idea of a significant other being a vital component of a person’s general happiness is universal, so being very public and even determined, is not viewed as a negative…
    But I do believe we have very varying ideas of the place/ priority that friendships should hold in someone’s life….and as crazy as this sounds, some people think of a best friend as a very childish idea…almost an assumption that the title is passed around frequently while lots of drama ensues…..
    More over, to say ” hey I am trying to meet some new friends” can sound sad and lonely, even worst needy….

  3. Layla

    I completely agree. It’s normal for girls to complain to their BFFs about how they don’t have a romantic relationship and wish they did. You rarely see the other way around because people don’t tend to advertize that they wish they had a friend-relationship.

    I’ve also had great luck in the romantic-relationships department… Luck, plus all the skills I taught myself when I was working on trying to have a BFF. The skills are transferrable

  4. San

    I wholeheartedly agree with you on this one. It’s much easier to hunt for a boyfriend (everybody is out to look for “the one”), but when you’re actually looking for girlfriends, it is much harder to a) admit that and b) go about it.

    If you don’t have a significant other, people will most likely instantly know and support you on your quest. Nobody instantly realizes when you don’t have a good friend and a lot of people – especially when they’re in relationships – don’t think it is that important.
    But I agree with you that the best friend is the even more vital relationship.

  5. Lorrie Paige

    Looking for a friend date is definitely much harder for me. Finding a romantic date has never been a problem for me, but a platonic date….that’s another story….

  6. nelli

    totally agree……i moved to the US 15 years ago. been busy with kids and never made time to make my own friends. now i’m scared it’s too late!!! i never thought of the concept of a ‘friend date’, the thought of it embarrasses me because it makes me seem lonely/needy.
    i also agree that local friends are really very important, so maybe that’s why i’m scared, in case i try to make friends and it doesn’t work out…….

  7. Anonymous

    I agree! Especially about the embarrassment factor.

  8. Ashley

    I agree, and somehow when I moved to Chicago, finding a group of girlfriends fell right into my lap, but I realize this is definitely not the norm. When I lived in Ohio, I felt stuck with my girlfriends and only had the ones from high school and college and felt like we had outgrown each other. Moving gave me to motivation I needed to look out for new friends and say yes to every invitation. I feel like people think it’s completely normal to not have a significant other, but people think there’s something wrong with you if you don’t have close friends.

  9. Kelly

    Being romantically single is something we all experience at some point – we all now what it feels like so can empathise. Whereas lots of people in their 20s have truly never been in the situation of not having a local bf so can lack understanding/be judgmental. If I want to tell someone I want to meet new friends there is no terminology I can use…I always have to justify my situation.

    I’ve recently joined an online socializing service and it’s interesting that even though we are all in the same situation of wanting to meet new people, our opening conversations almost always touch upon the reason why we don’t have enough local friends. I bet that online daters don’t have this conversation’… I sometimes feel inferior to the ‘new in town’ crowd with my ‘hometown girl – friends moved away for jobs/had babies so won’t come jive dancing with me’ tag line!

  10. JenC

    Love all the comments. It’s refreshing and reassuring to read that so many women are in the same boat. If only we could all meet!

  11. Erica

    Not to be contrary, but I think it’s a function of where you are and what your situation is. I’ve changed cities three times since college, each time going to a new city where I had a job and maybe an apartment but knew nobody or close to it. In the first city, it was easier to meet men to date (however unsuccessfully) than friends, perhaps because everyone my age in the town was either newly coupled-up (and therefore not focusing on girlfriends) or looking to be coupled-up (and therefore dating a lot). In the second city, both were very difficult. Now, in New York, I find that meeting new friends, especially girlfriends, is easy, while getting a date is, sadly, not. Perhaps this is a demographic issue; cliche or not, the city seems to be full of interesting, intelligent, successful women who not only don’t have a boyfriend or husband, but haven’t had a date in months or years (yes, really).

  12. TC

    Actually, I think it depends on the individual’s priority and expectations. Have you ever realized the one thing you want always seem to be slightly out of reach? Or perhaps you have to work extra harder to obtain it?

    I googled Rachel Machacek and read a couple of her interviews. She kept mentioning in the beginning that her expectations were pretty high thus finding the one seemed hopeless; however, as she progressed through her experiment, her expectations of the dating process became a bit more reasonable. She took the date for the experience it was…meeting someone new.

    I feel that we put soooooo much pressure on ourselves sometimes! We have to have the perfect guy who totally gets us and/or we have to have the BFF who totally gets us. And of course with the pressure mounting up everything seems all the more difficult to obtain.

  13. Melonie

    I’ve been out of the dating loop for a really long time now so I guess it would be easy for me to say that it’s easier to get a romantic date than a friend date. From reading the comments, it seems that alot of us are in the same boat in terms of moving away from our “old” friends and having to take the leap into new friendships. It gets sort of sticky for me because it seems that I only meet people that are parents of my kid’s friends. I’ve had one mom friendship go horribly wrong and my son paid for it. I’m not so sure I want to go there again but on the other hand, it seems that I either don’t have much in common with non-moms or they aren’t interested in me because I have kids. What’s a girl to do?

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