Why Going On "Dates" With Your Friends Is So Important

At UCLA, it is easy to get caught up in any number of things, whether they are classwork, clubs, romance or huge groups of friends. What is often lost is the small intimate moment with one special friend. There is much more of a focus on hooking up and going to parties or bars with a group of people, but enjoying time with one person you can have a deep personal conversation or experience with deserves just as much personal attention as a romantic partner. It is relatively easy to tag along with a bigger group of friends, but spending time with one person, one on one, may often be far more profound and healthy. 

I always loved those times it would end up being just one of my friends and me on an adventure. It allows conversations to be more focused and allows you to open up more compared to being among a group of people. Some conversations can only happen with one other person, and those can’t happen if you're not already fairly close. The conversation with a person who knows you--who gets you--can be more honest and allow you to look inside yourself at something you have been avoiding. A date is only about impressing the other person you are with, unlike hanging out with your friend, who is already good with you. 

For me, these “friend dates” became more common when my parents moved away from California to New Mexico. Suddenly, my friends became a major part of my life, and I realized how important my relationships with individual friends had been for me. I made brunch dates, theatre dates, beach dates and ice cream dates, first with my lifelong friends, and then with others who had previously seen me in less intimate settings. I began to create “traditions” with these friends. For example, one friend and I would get together every Monday night to eat vegan ice cream and watch The Bachelor/The Bachelorette. It would always be just us and, as we watched the show, we would each talk about our week. We got to know each other far more than we had before, and we found points of mutual interest and worldviews we had not thought about before. We not only learned more about each other, but we were also able to speak freely about each other to help understand ourselves better, too.  

Too many times mass media presentations like rom-coms tell us that romance is the only time we should have all of our attention focused on one person. My experience over the past two years has made me recognize the importance of making sure each and every one of my friends knows how important each of them are to me. I make sure I spend time with each of my friends, going to a special place we have for ourselves together. In a world connected by cell phones, we need to remind ourselves not to take our personal friendships for granted, and to recognize that they have to be tended to just like any romantic garden. Romance does not have a monopoly on intimacy.

So get out of your friendship slump and go on a wonderful adventure with one of your friends! Take advantage of your time together and spend it with someone you don’t have to worry about impressing. Friendships do not seem like hard work, but to last, they need to be worked on. Friendships already have a basis for Platonic love and most importantly, trust. Building on that, nurturing that, will lead to greater understanding and acceptance of ourselves. The easiest way to deepen our friendships is to plan to spend some time in one another’s company, whether it be a grand adventure or something mundane like grocery shopping. Be open and enjoy your time with your friends!