Being best friends isn't enough to make the relationship work.
James, in his mid-30s, was ready to meet his life partner, get married and have children. After dating many women, he met Cindy. "She's really beautiful, although I'm not sure she's my type. But I think she is perfect for me. We have the same interests, the same values, we go to the same church and we both want children. My friends think she's dynamite."
"But…?" I could hear hesitation in his voice during our phone counseling session.
"I don't know. There doesn't seem to be a spark, and I don't miss her when I'm not with her. In fact, I rarely think about her when I'm not with her. And our conversation doesn't seem to flow easily. We run out of things to talk about," he said. "Maybe the spark will grow. Does that ever happen?"
I advised him to spend a little more time with Cindy to find out if something would come of the relationship. But it became apparent within a few months that the spark wasn't going to grow and the conversation wasn't going to flow. James still didn't look forward to seeing Cindy.
In our next session, I told James, "It doesn't seem that this relationship is going to become what you want it to be. Perhaps it's time to move on."
But James was afraid of ending up alone and afraid he wouldn't meet anyone as sweet as Cindy again. He ended up staying in the dead-end relationship with her for two years before finding the courage to leave.
The real problem was that James and Cindy were wonderful friends but not good life partners. Romance just wasn't there. He loved her but he never fell in love with her.
Another client, Abigail, found herself in the same position as James, only she had stayed in the relationship with Andrew for seven years hoping that romance would grow. She knew at the beginning of the relationship that she wasn't sexually attracted to Andrew, but he was such a nice guy and he really loved her.
The sad thing is that Abigail really wanted children, but by the time she finally left the relationship, it was very close to being too late to have children.
I asked her "Why didn't you leave sooner?"
"I hate being alone. I don't know that I can be alone, and I'm afraid that I won't find another partner. Besides, we're best friends," she said.
Both James and Abigail could have saved a lot of time if they had understood the difference between friendship and romance.
It's my experience that if the spark and the flow aren't there at the beginning, they generally won't develop. I won't say never because I have seen a few relationships where the spark did develop over time, but this generally isn't the case.
So if the spark doesn't develop within the first six months of the relationship, it's time to move on — unless a companionship relationship is acceptable to you. But if spark, flow and romance are important to you, then accept that you and your partner have a wonderful friendship, but not a romance.
James soon met another woman, Val, with whom he had romance. He was very attracted to her and they could easily talk for hours. But he soon discovered that romance itself is also not enough. Val didn't share his spiritual beliefs, his values or his interests. Her rigid religious beliefs deeply conflicted with his deep spiritual beliefs, and he knew he couldn't raise children with her beliefs. He realized within the first few months of the relationship that none of this was going to change so he moved on, now open to finding a woman with whom he can have it all.
"Am I too picky?" he asked me.
"No! Stay solid on what you want and you will find it!" I told him. The same goes for you!
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This article was originally published at Inner Bonding . Reprinted with permission from the author.