How might a man establish a best friendship with a female to set the foundation for an intimate relationship?





Years ago when I was reviewing sex education programs with student teachers, I discovered the Teen Ed program developed in Medicine Hat, Alberta which provided a useful view of an intimate relationship. The structure of an intimate relationship is like a pyramid; at the core of an intimate relationship is closeness . The foundationof the pyramid is friendship. Like the foundation of a tall building, friendship does not develop overnight. But friendship is the foundation that will allow for a relationship to continue overtime. Too many of my patients have complained that their relationship began on a very positive note, but later became uncomfortable and unworkable. I believe that the foundation of their relationship, friendship, was not
not stable before they progressed to other elements
of an intimate relationship, especially emotional
Many of my patients and friends relate a
fear of developing an intimate relationship. I
suspect  they view the development of intimacy  as an
upside- down pyramid, thinking that the
first step in the relationship is the Sexual intimacy
part. Sexual intimacy is not the first step.
Friendship is the first step. Once friendship becomes a firm foundation, the movement toward physical, emotional and sexual intimacy can become more comfortable. Some of my clients seeking marital therapy complain that something happened with their partner after they became friends.
I wonder if their friendship was as solid as they thought.
So how does one build a solid friendship?  Can a man have a solid friendship with a female? I believe the best relationships are those where the individuals respect one another and do not attempt to control the other person. Respect for the woman involves her whole person: her ideas, her feelings, her dreams, her interests, her activities, her communication style and her physical characteristics. Whatever is important to the woman is seen by the man as important and something to be respected. What is important to a woman is not meant to be a target for the man wanting to change the woman but rather an aspect of acceptance of the woman as she is.
A relationship will often start with the man being very accepting of the woman. He is polite to her and perhaps is thrilled to be in her company.  But the relationship can change with time. At some point, the couple might believe that their relationship has developed a degree of permanence. This perception can be one of the most devastating developments in the relationship. Permanence often becomes  a licence to treat the other as thought he or she was the other’s property. He may think that he has the right to impose his will on the her life.  The man may realize that his new girl friend thinks differently that he does. She may do things differently. She may act differently. If he feels uncomfortable with this new awareness of her difference, he may begin to suggest she do or think his way. Such a move on the man’s part violates the values underlying their friendship. The friendship is based on respect for the other person, and the willingness to let the other person be in control of herself.
The friendship that is needed for the development of an intimate relationship needs to be the best friendship of both persons. Best friends will say that the other is the best friend, not second-best or third-best, but the best. If a couple want an intimate relationship, they need to have developed a foundation in which he or she are best friends. It is important that each member of the couple have friends outside their relationship. But, they will put their best friend above all their other friends.
The successful friendship that is the foundation for an intimate relationship will be one in which both man and woman feel they enjoy the company of the other person the most
This perception still allows for other friendships, but the other friendships will not be as important. We need to have other friends, but they will need to be secondary to our primary partner. I think when this idea is ignored, when one thinks that he or she can maintain another person as their best friend outside the intimate relationship, troubles will arise as the couple attempt to develop an intimate relationship. (See note 1)
What happens in this situation is that a man wants to spend time with the woman, but he still thinks that his other friends or outside interests are more important. It is not surprising that his new girl friend will begin to think that she is coming out second best. If  the man wants to spend more time with a ” best” friend that is not his intimate friend,  she will feel jealous, resentful and will pull away from what she thought would be her best friend.
Many couples I speak to give the impression that they are not best friends. Often, I hear that the man’s best friend is another man, or the woman states that her best friend is another woman.  However, here a change in perception is needed. The male who has a best man-friend needs to consider the importance of his female friend with whom he would like to have a long-term, fulfilling and intimate relationship. If she is not going to be #1 in his eyes, then their relationship is going to be less fulfilling than either would want it to be .
One way to check to see if a best  friendship is developing is to check how much pleasure they get talking with each other. The early period in getting to know a new girl friend often involves a lot of very pleasant talking. As they grow to understand one another, the couple will choose to  move closer to other person, feeling a sense of comradeship with this new friend and experiencing  pleasure with their conversations. If both sense the pleasure in their communications with one another, this will signal that they may in fact become best friends. However, if the couple think that the person they are getting to know is somehow disagreeable to them, we would expect a change in their talking and perhaps much less contact with one another.
Problems in conversation will occur if a man talks to control or disrespect the person he would like as a girl friend.  You don’t develop a friendship by either disrespecting or controlling the potential friend. If the girl thinks this is happening, she should warn herself that  the friendship is not going to be solid. Many girls fool themselves in thinking that if they progress to physical or sexual closeness, then friendship and emotional closeness will come naturally. I don’t think this is true. They will continue to be distant with each other, and neither will gain the satisfaction from interaction that comes from a best friendship. They will be creating a pyramid that does not have friendship as the foundation. And communication problems will be a common complaint.
In the early days of friendship, each person is very interested in being in the company of the other. One of the easiest ways to create opportunity for conversation is to share common activities.  They may enjoy walking together with one of their pets , exercising,  going for coffee or lunch, enjoying films, watching television, going out to concerts, listening to music, watching their friend play sports, going shopping, and perhaps visiting family members. Both begin to participate in the life of the other person and to talk about their activities. If the friendship is to last and fulfill these new  friends, these activities are important not just at the beginning of the friendship  but throughout the lifetime of their relationship.
If you are thinking that you would like to progress to an intimate relationship with your new “friend”, you need to ask yourself:
Is this person the most important person in my life at this time?
Will this person continue to be my number one friend?
Do we respect each other at all times?
Am I controlled by the other person?
Am I trying to control or change my new friend?
Am I getting genuine pleasure in the company of my friend?
Am I ignoring any warning signs that my new acquaintance is not going to be my best friend nor am I his best friend?

NOTE 1   Couples who wish to create or maintain a strong friendship without the intent of moving toward a potential  love relationship  will be less concerned which friend is most important to them. Their friendships will be part of a social network which may open the door to many productive activities within their community and provide wonderful enrichment to their lives.