To answer that in dating, you have to look at several aspects.
Do we have mutual interests? Do we genuinely care about each other? Can we support each other in whatever comes up? Is there mutual respect, appreciation, concern? Do we enjoy each others presence as we go about our daily lives and there is a chance to do things together? Do we want to spend time together? Do we miss each other when we are apart? Can we talk about everything as friends do? Can we share parts of our hearts as friends do? Do we want our friends to meet this new friend because we appreciate them so much?
A friend [per www.dictionary.com] means:
a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter.
Some people state you have to be friends first before you can be lovers. Others state you have to have an attraction in order to date and to be "those kinds of friends".
I look at it differently. I think that every relationship is different and how it develops has its own attributes and characteristics, and so you may be friends first and then become lovers or you may be lovers first and develop into friends. If there is a deep attraction from the get go, I don't think you can say you have to back up and "be friends" first. I think that encourages you to deny your emotions which God gave you, the attraction and connection you felt for this person, as we all connect to certain people easily and with our hearts. But the fact remains, I don't see how you can progress in a [potential] marriage relationship in which you will live with someone the rest of your life if you aren't friends. True friends. Not surficial friends. Not friends of convenience. Not friends just when you are in need. True friends. A friend who is someone that is everything to you that you want them to be. Who wants to be with someone you only are romantic with? Who wants to be with someone you don't find fun to hang around except on dates nights or time spent alone in mad passionate love?
I honestly don't believe my parents were friends. They had reasons why they matched up with each other and got married, but they were not friends. They didn't have very many things they liked to do together. And the few things they did enjoy doing together, eventually died and they no longer did. They didn't enjoy, truly enjoy with no ulterior motive, just hanging out and having a good time with each other. If my parents were friends at the beginning of their marriage, it didn't last and they didn't develop the friendship deeply because of how they interacted with each other when I was older.
I absolutely don't want this kind of relationship. I would rather live alone then deal with being with someone and feeling alone, more alone because you have someone and aren't connected. I think that would be worse than just living in my own world. Someone I don't feel is on my side and supportive of me as a friend would be very sad.
I want to be with someone that I love to do absolutely everything with!!! You think I am joking? I am not. And guess what, if you don't want to be with me doing every little thing either, then I would hate for you to be obligated at a relationship with me. Life is too short for that. I am not gonna force anyone to be in my world...any more than I want you to force me to be in yours.
Don't get me wrong. I want my space too. I want you to feel free to go and have fun with your friends or alone and I want to be free to go and have fun with my friends or alone. I am not feeling I need to or have to be with you 24/7, but I sure don't want to dread being with you and if given the opportunity to join you, I would want to be with you over being alone because I want to want to be with you that much! That's what I mean.
Figuring out what being friends is in a relationship though takes time. For some people "just being friends" has one meaning and for others another meaning.
I had one guy tell me that he can be friends with every girl he dates because he just can because he is that kind of a friend. When it came down to us getting to know each other and it becoming obvious that we were not a fit because of deal breakers and some signs that he had character issues that I couldn't accept and deal with, he said he would still be my friend and we could just go and do things and hang out. But he was jealous when I went out on other dates. He was perturbed I didn't do something with him every night of the week. I addressed this and told him that we were just gonna be friends and that meant he shouldn't be jealous of someone else in a more personal space in my world in a way that he wasn't. In the end, he couldn't just be my friend because he wanted more and though he had said he would just be friends, he couldn't and he realized it later. You have to realize not everyone can be your friend. Some people want more than that which means they can't back up and just be friends. They don't know how to be friends without expecting to connect in a romantic way.
I had one guy tell me not to call him friend because when I did, that made him think that there was not a chance for anything else. This isn't how I meant it...everyone who is truly a part of my inner circle is my friend. I care about you. I want the best for you. I want to support you. I want to pray for you. I want to encourage you. I want to show you love [as a friend, not a lover]. But friends to him meant that nothing potentially would ever be deeper and I had to understand his meaning of friends to relate to him and make him feel comfortable with what friends meant to me.
There are other times when people say: "I think we should just be friends." This typically means, I don't want to date you and I don't want to hurt your feelings by telling you I really don't want you in my personal space. I personally think it would be better that people not state they "just want to be friends" unless that is just what they want and follow through with it. Be a friend if you are going to say you are, otherwise you are casual acquaintances instead. Not friends. More times than not, when someone says this, they don't have the heart to be open, honest and authentic about where they are in the relationship. And they should. It doesn't help anyone feel that the person is being real if they can't address the truth of the friendship and what their expectations are out of the relationship. If you are wanting to just be friends and see that you have that foundation first before you bring romance into the picture, then you need to keep your feelings in check to not send mixed messages.
Friendship can mean different things to different people and there are levels of to being friends. But either way, I believe guys and girls can be friends as long as there is a mutual understanding of what that means and an honest evaluation of where each individual's heart is in connecting as friends and what the expectations are out of the friendship. I was raised that guys and girls can't be friends. I have friends who believe this is correct and I have friends who believe this is incorrect. I pray that I am able to make some good guy friends that I can have a part of my life that encourage and support me because I want them in my life like that.
So I ask you to define for me, what does being friends in a dating relationship mean to you? How do you show someone you are willing to be their friend? What qualities must be developed in a friendship for the relationship to survive? Do you believe guys and girls can be friends?