Can you really stay friends with someone you met on a dating app?
The relationship between friendship and attraction can be complex. While many people remain friends with their ex-boyfriends, and while some people successfully turn friendships into lasting relationships, it’s easy for one party (or even both) to end when you try to move from one situation to another with hurt feelings .
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So what if it’s about someone you just met through a dating app and who you don’t know very well yet? You might not be clicking on a romantic level right now, but you just met a cool new person and you want to keep in touch in some way. Is it possible to control this in such a way that everyone is happy?
To help separate a great new friendship from the impending emotional drama, AskMen spoke to some experts. Here’s what they had to say about whether you, as a friend, should keep a match in your life:
Why stay friends with someone you met through a dating app?
Sam Nabil, CEO and lead therapist at Naya Clinics, says it’s always a good idea to expand your circle of friends, especially with the impact of the pandemic on social connection.
Just because you didn’t connect with your date on a romantic level doesn’t mean you didn’t experience an emotional connection. According to Nabil, we have emotional responses to people with whom we have no intention of being romantically involved on a regular basis.
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“Any emotional reaction from interacting with a new person can lead to a deeper connection like a friendship,” he says. “Bringing your dating app together as a friend gives you a new person to socially interact with, connect with, learn from, and share common interests with.”
In theory this is all positive, but in practice things can get a bit more complicated.
Possible pitfalls when befriending people you met on dating apps
It’s rare, says Kevin Darné, the author of Online Dating Avoid the Catfish!: How to Successfully Date Online and Pump your brakes! How to stop having bad first dates“for two people who met through a dating app to become true platonic friends encouraging each other to find happiness with someone else.”
“There’s always a risk of someone harboring resentment because they weren’t selected,” he explains.
In other words, staying friends has to be mutual. But if you meet or date on a platform that has been developed so far, the chances of being on the same page in terms of maintaining a friendship aren’t necessarily very high. Also, it’s common for people to suggest staying friends as a “consolation prize” if they’re not interested but don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.
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Darné recommends staying away from these types of offers — ones where “the person making it is doing it to feel less of a ‘bad guy’ because they’re rejecting the other person,” he says. “It’s rare that both people realize it didn’t click. A person usually feels rejected – and nobody wants to be pushed into the friend zone.”
That means you should also be honest with yourself about your own intentions if you’re considering friendship with someone you met through a dating app. Are you trying to just let her down, or are you genuinely interested in building a friendship?
There’s another factor to keep in mind: people tend to put their best foot forward on dating apps, says Nabil: “We’re all programmed to make a good impression on others, whenever this is possible, so it may take longer before you really know who your new friend really is and if they are worth keeping in your life.”
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“Should they show their true colors and you’ve found they don’t fit well into your social circle, you’re faced with the challenge of choosing between embracing all parts of them (the good and the bad). or make the painful decision to end the connection and deal with all the wasted effort to build this new friendship.”
How to decide whether to stay friends or not
If you’re unsure if you really want a friendship from your dating app connection, Nabil recommends asking yourself if you’re capable of performing the duties of a friend for that person. “Building a friendship means staying in touch, meeting up every once in a while, and doing activities together that friends do,” he says.
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He also suggests connecting with them on social media first to get a better sense of who they are before committing to a friendship. “That way you can make an informed decision about whether you’re actually willing to put in the effort to make that connection and take on the role of friend without romantic motives,” he adds.
Finally, if you do have feelings for someone and they suggest staying friends, don’t. It’s not worth the heartbreak. “When you find that someone can’t or won’t meet your needs, it’s usually best to go ahead and wish them well,” Darné says.
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