Want Love? Don’t Date.

Carlo Alcos thinks you should be friends first. Really.

I have one piece of dating advice for you. Ready? Here it is: Don’t date.

I’m not saying be celibate. Just…don’t date. Sound like a weird concept? Maybe it is. The problem I have with dating — with seeking someone to date, specifically — is that it puts me in a state of want. Being in a state of want makes me feel unfulfilled. It makes me feel that I need someone else.

After separating from my wife I made a conscious decision to not actively pursue partners. I didn’t want to be set up, I didn’t want to go online to look for a date, I didn’t want to meet girls with this thought in my head of “could she be a potential partner?” All I wanted to do was spend some quality time with myself, and to share it with friends.

This also didn’t mean that I wanted to be single for the rest of my life. The decision just meant that any relationship I might find myself in in the future was going to happen naturally. It was going to flow with life. Dating, to me, feels forced. Throughout all of my 20s I had the notion in my head that I needed to find a partner. Every girl I encountered was looked at through this filter. It made if very difficult to appreciate the person purely for what she was. I found that any relationship I got into was tainted with expectations. It usually led to games, mind-fucks, and me being someone I didn’t really want to be.

Since the end of my marriage, I’ve been in two relationships, one of which I am still in. Both happened naturally; I became friends with them without any idea of a potential romantic relationship. My current partner and I experienced a beautiful friendship over the summer; neither of us having any intention of anything further developing. We pushed boundaries of friendship, exploring the line between platonic and romantic. We started saying “I love you” to each other; we could cuddle on the couch and watch a movie together. Still, neither of us looked at each other in a romantic way. I would tell people about the friendship, that it was the most pure love I’ve ever experienced before. Untainted with sexual desire or expectations of each other.

Things eventually evolved and we ended up becoming romantic partners. For me, it seems clear now, because I’ve actually experienced it like this. Years ago, if I were reading this, I probably would have been skeptical, thinking, “yeah right, buddy, you wanted to get into her pants from day one.” And you might think that. That’s your decision of course. But I would like to think that this would work for anyone, that this is the way it should work. Date yourself. Do things you love to do. When you focus your energy inward you’ll naturally express yourself outward in a more authentic way, and connections with like-minded people will happen on their own. Make friends, get to know people without setting up expectations. Be open. Live your life.

bottom of post widget GMP community logo (1)

Do you want to talk about how to have richer, more mindful, and enduring relationships?
About Carlo Alcos

Carlo is a Managing Editor at Matador and co-founder of Confronting Love, a forum that explores the evolution of relationships. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


  1. Kevin K says:

    I agree with him 100%. It is hard though to meet male or female who can just be platonic without sexual romance

  2. I used to go out thinking everyone I saw had “potential” as a date, I stopped thinking that way and became someone who doesn’t go out “looking” all the time. I live life doing what I like to do, not worrying about finding a mate

  3. Agree with some points except ‘date a friend’. Being more than friends with a friend whether heterosexual or otherwise, can be very risky (much more so) because if things hit the fan and goes south, not only is that relationship gone but the friendship can end as well.

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

    • So you want to start a relationship with a stranger. See, that is what I don’t understand about dating. Why do people want to start a relationship and, jump into bed with someone they met at a bar? I am more comfortable with dating a friend than starting a relationship with some random I met at a bar 2 weeks later after I met him. You will never be friends that long with the opposite sex anyway. Gay relationships? I don’t know. All I know is straight friendships don’t last that long anyway.

  4. This is so very different from “Fuck Yes, or no.”

  5. I totally agree with pretty much everything in this article. I have always believed that it is better to be friends first. I also strongly believe that dating is forced; it’s about trying to impress someone, so we get dressed up and get very nervous etc and end up being someone we are not.

    A friend is someone you don’t need to impress. The few relationships I’ve had have come naturally, out of friendship. When the romance flickers, the friendship is still there and that is a great foundation.

    Having said the above, the danger though is that when the relationship becomes like two friends living together instead of a healthy romantic relationship. That’s when problems develop.

    • This is so very different from “Fuck Yes, or no.”
      My summer was very messy trying to be friends first…
      Being told we were just friends and then kissing was way too confusingF

  6. Personally I would not be comfortable turning a friendship into a romantic relationship. Part of me would always wonder if they where only being friends with me to get to a sexual relationship and that just seems dishonest and creepy. I have some very close male friends, they are like my brothers, I trust them without question. If they turned around and tried to kiss me or make a move I would feel like it was a violation of that trust.

    • Everyone obviously has their own comfort levels but I don’t see a point in making any sort of “rule” around this. It closes minds. I find I can hear the universe more when I’m actually listening.

  7. Dating ruined my hopes in relationships, on every date I went I was filled with expectations and romantic fantasies that were never met, because they were not real. Deep inside I wanted a healthy relationship, I just wasn’t healthy enough to get it, so I attracted the not so nice men. Now I am “cold” I still yearn the relationship, but I am not anxious about it. I don’t go out much and I am a bit of a loner and I feel this inner peace inside. I am ok if I never meet “the one”; I had plenty of “the one” on every man I dated. I want to feel light and easy inside without expecting to meet someone. I am happier when I am not looking for someone.

  8. Worked with this guy for years but never spoke until about 6 months before we realized s/he was hot! Both not being in a relationship for decades were starved when we saw it was mutual and jumped in holding our noses and gave it our all. Even knowing each other months before as co-workers, nothing opened him up and I up until that intimacy and boy, we saw the dirty laundry and fought to keep emotional baggage at bay but all in vain. We broke up two years later.
    Fast forward, after two years of being broken up he and I are speaking and have become friends and it sparked old emotions and they’re charging in both of us but we know each other well enough to know what to expect and can talk about it all now without the sex. We have fallen in love again but it has become more serious than what we experienced before, the loneliness in those two years apart made us realize how better off we are as a couple. Although we didn’t find anyone else in that time, though we looked and went out and dated and hung out with the opposite sex. When we first spoke after two years, we couldn’t stop staring into each other’s eyes, the smile had become more serious, he said he never realized what was missing being single for 15 years he got used to being alone and never thought he would find anyone to love until he met me. We had to experience heart break to know we are better off together.

  9. Agree!
    Doing the same thing 🙂

  10. This does not apply to everyone though. Each person have their own way of connecting or reaching out to other people. this maybe having dates or just going with the flow. Each has his/her own needs in a particular phase in their life.

    Website Owner

  11. I’m a 21 year old female and I don’t like dating. It just feels false and too full of expectations. All my relationships have started out as friendships. But because I love the person’s friendship first before I love them as a partner, I end up falling deeply in love with the person and only succeed in getting hurt because I actually love them entirely for who they are. The last relationship I had started as a friendship. We have so much in common, we get along very well and we were also very intimate so attraction was not a problem. The thing is, I find men complain about the friendzone. But when they DO get out the friendzone, they end up not appreciating her enough because some men simply like the chase. They like that feeling of conquest knowing they EARNED the girl through dates and sweet talk because it gives them that feeling of accomplishment. Instead, they don’t appreciate the girl who loves them “just because”.

  12. I came across this and I’m so glad I did. I’ve been getting a lot attention from college classmates who keep asking me on dates and bringing me flowers and such. I don’t like the attention and feel pressured to go out with them although I barely know them and they are also a few years older. I’m 19, I barely know myself and this whole dating thing seems really scary. I’d rather “date myself” like you said and fall in love with a friend who actually knows me…your article put my mind at ease and has given me a new perspective and confidence! thank you! 🙂

  13. People gravitate toward each other and “become friends” because they have chemistry. Spend enough time together with an open mind and that will turn into romance. IT’S THE CHEMISTRY, PEOPLE!

  14. Great article, Carlo. I’ve long thought that this is the reason so many people end up dating someone they work with or went to high school with or some how got to know in a no-pressure-to-date situation.

    Although I am not anti-dating altogether, I do find it difficult to find a partner through traditional dating because it feels high-pressure to decide whether or not you’re attracted to that person very early on, perhaps earlier than it’s possible to know for sure.

  15. AnonymousDog says:

    Your whole approach assumes that you are going to just ‘accidently’ encounter women with whom you can strike up a friendship ‘first’.

    What’s your advice for the guy who lives, works and plays in a situation where he does not routinely meet unattached women?

  16. “Date yourself. Do things you love to do. When you focus your energy inward you’ll naturally express yourself outward in a more authentic way, and connections with like-minded people will happen on their own. Make friends, get to know people without setting up expectations. Be open. Live your life.”

    I’ve been doing this, and I like your premise. But my voracious hunger for sex leads me to relentlessly chase one night stands and friends with benefits. It’s like a mosquito in my ear, impossible to ignore.

  17. This is what I’ve always preferred to do. I hate “dating” and all the game playing and manipulation that seems to usually go along with it. Every relationship I have been in began as a friendship.

    BUT… it does seem difficult to find guys who like to approach things this way. Most are either attracted to a woman right away and want to have sex with her, or they put you in the “friend” category because they’re not interested in anything further and probably never will be. Maybe it’s because of what you wrote about men seeing friendship with women as being a “failure.” Hard to say.

    In any case, I don’t like to rush into things, and I’m sure there are lots of women and probably a decent amount of men who feel the same way.

  18. Thanks Jim. You really nailed it with this: “After all, it was originally our very individual selves, doing very individual things, who happened to cross paths and catch the attention and interest of one another.” I have a tendency to lose myself in relationships, to get consumed by them…this is a really important point to remember to keep that individualism.

    • Carlo, if you have a tendency to lose yourself in relationships I respectfully suggest that that is more of an issue than dating. Perhaps focusing on being your best self and staying true to who you are and what you want and need whether single or attached is worth the effort.

      Dating can be whatever you want it to be – serious, fun, both, or somewhere in between, so long as you are honest with others about your intentions. There’s no one magic recipe.

      At the end of the day, I don’t believe there’s only 1 magical soul-mate for each and every one of us. Obviously some people are better fits than others and not everyone is compatible but there are many people in this world who one person could fall in love and be happy with…dating is about opening yourself up to the possibilities. Someone who sees dating as a terrifying-yet-necessary evil to get what they ultimately seek is largely missing the point. Dating is a journey; it’s one I never expected to be on at this stage in my life but why not enjoy it? Even on dates with people that had no future I was still able to enjoy someone else’s company for a brief time. Dating can be about attraction, discovery, connection, friendship, fun, adventure, and mystery if you let it. Not to mention you just might meet someone amazing.

  19. I love this one, Carlo. In my opinion, you’ve hit it right on the head here. I was fortunate enough to meet Rachel in this type of manner, where our paths crossed at a time when we were both very intently focusing on our own interests and our own personal development. We took things slow (at my urgency as much as hers) and our romantic interests very naturally developed. What I have found to be one of the greatest ongoing benefits of having met in this fashion, and having allowed our bond to organically evolve in this way, is the level of appreciation and support we have for each other’s individualism. After all, it was originally our very individual selves, doing very individual things, who happened to cross paths and catch the attention and interest of one another. Our bond lies, as it always has, somewhere in the communication of, and learning from, each other’s experiences and interests, despite how different they may seem at times. By supporting each other’s individual growth in this fashion, we have found that we are, in a way, reinforcing our bond.

    With sincerity, I wish you and your new partner the best in your exploration of one another.


  20. sweet… really.

  21. I’ve tried this approach but have yet to find a man who is up for hanging without sex. These two are very lucky to have each other. I would love to be a friend first. Build trust and know that the person respects you. Where do you find a guy who is up for this?

    • My answer to this is to just do things you enjoy doing and be around people you enjoy being with…if you’re true to yourself and open and honest with other people you will invite the “right” people into your world.

      • tactition says:

        unless your past times are generally solitary or your industry has a community associated with it and that’s where you spend most of your time. Cus if that happens then you may attract a bunch of cool people but there will be no opportunity for “other stuff”

  22. Ka Ying N. says:

    I agree with your idea of not dating and letting it happen. It does, however, seem hard to find the right approach. For instance, there may be moments when I meet someone for the first time I find them attractive. It’s a bit difficult not to feel a certain way about them. I’m single and in my 20s. I have so much to do and the best destressor is an intimate partner. I currently don’t date anyone but I do want some sort of stress relief from a partner in that aspect of my mental health.

    My idea of finding a potential partner was really picky. I wanted an idealistic partner and many has come close to it, but one. He was literally how I would want from a man. I cherish that opportunity a bit too much that I made a mistake and end up losing the opportunity I’ve yearn pretty much growing up.
    To resolve my pain and yearning for him, many told me to hang out with my friends, go on a trip, do something for myself-I’ve done all that yet that void of wanting that person persist.

    Currently, I’m just idling the days away. I hope I can take your approach of making friends without intending to start a relationship and hopefully things will come naturally.

    ~Ka Ying N.

  23. Dating is an expensive, ineffective, and time consuming mating ritual.

  24. Recently having ended a dating experience. I am reflecting and thinking this is so right on. Once I open up, I open up a million times. Especially if sex is combined. So for me, it turns into this huge romantic fantasy and it’s hard to just be in limbo land, exploring and being in the moment.

    I also always think of Eat, Pray, Love ( the book) and how she waited and waited to take her connection with Felipe to the intimate level for a long time.

  25. Julie Gillis says:

    My 18 years long relationship started with us as friends. I had a moment one day where I looked at him, after about 6 months of purely friendship, and just “knew.” There were a few bumpy places to get there, but we did.

  26. David Byron says:

    Sounds a bit Tao of Steve-ish.

    Except the bit about becoming friends first. It seems like all you ever hear is that if you become a woman’s friend (the “Friend Zone”) then there’s no chance of a romantic relationship. That always seemed a bit crazy to me, but I don’t have any real experience to speak to it. But then women never seem to say, “That’s crazy!” either, so I figured maybe there was something to it.

    It’s kind of weird that you are opposing this, perhaps the best known rule of dating women ever, and you don’t even mention it in the article. Did that angle just not come to mind in writing the article?


  1. […] over a year ago I wrote an article for the Good Men Project titled Want Love? Don’t Date. The post was a response to a submission call by the site for “dating advice.” I drew […]

  2. […] relax a little and take it easy if you want a long lasting relationship.Powered by Yahoo! AnswersThomas asks…PoLL!!What Are Three Key Things To Keeping The Spark In A Relationship?Thank you.. :)a…t Are Three Key Things To Keeping The Spark In A Relationship?Thank you.. :)admin answers:True and […]

  3. […] Want Love? Don’t date  […]

  4. […] for relationship advice not an age reminder.admin answers:Try harder..Powered by Yahoo! AnswersMark asks…how to put the spark back in a relationship?me and my fiance are very close and still ob…nt">how to put the spark back in a relationship?me and my fiance are very close and still obviously […]

Speak Your Mind