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The next week, I hosted a board game night and invited her so she could meet some of my friends.Over the course of our time together, we talked about plenty of our romantic and sexual preferences, but neither of us pressed for anything physical.Despite the romantic promise of most dating sites, the likelihood of discovering that your internet date is truly compatible with you across all major dimensions of compatibility is quite low.According to PEW research, as of last year, only 11% of US adults have used online dating sites, and of those, only 23% have actually entered into a relationship with someone they met there.Jessica later introduced me to yet another awesome friend in San Francisco, and once again, her friend and I ended up having amazing chemistry.Jessica and I met up as friends, without any overt attempts at wooing, courting, or sleeping with one another. She came to understand my background story and my relationship goals and preferences ( talk about these things all the time), and I learned about hers.Sex and romance can definitely still happen in the context of friendship-first dating, but they are never assumed or expected, and the top priority is always to understand and validate someone’s existing preferences and goals rather than imposing your own goals and expectations upon them.

Observe what happened next…A year after meeting Jessica, I needed to travel to a new city for work and I realized that I had no place to stay there.Last year, I met a girl named Jessica on Ok Cupid and we agreed to meet up and go on an adventure date throughout Seattle.We explored new neighborhoods, meandered through parks, and people-watched out of a coffee shop’s balcony.Using these insights, we both began introducing each other to awesome people within our respective friend groups, and have been doing so for years.The friendship-first approach centers around sharing fun and memorable experiences with the people we meet, and seeking to learn their stories and their preferences, free of any overtly sexual or romantic expectations.

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We kept things friendly and fun rather than expecting things to turn romantic or physical right away.

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